Japanese Drama Review: Hana Yori Dango 1, 2, and the movie

Hana Yori Dango (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Hana Yori Dango 1, 2, and the movie are available at MySoju.


Hana Yori Dango, also known as the Japanese version of Boys Over Flowers, is based off of the Japanese Manga HanaYori Dango. Note: Hana Yori Dango came out prior to the Korea’s Boys Over Flowers and after Taiwan’s Meteor Garden.

Hana Yori Dango follows the tale of a middle class girl, Makino Tsukushi. Makino is a junior at Japan’s preeminent high school. In Hana Yori Dango, Makino enters Eitoku’s High School following in the footsteps of her idol Todou Shizuka. Shizuka, a world renowned model, visited her middle school and encouraged students to strive for the stars. Shizuka was also a graduate of Eitoku.

After arriving at Eitoku, Makino, realizes that the school is less about academics and meritocracy and more about social status and economic power. Since, Makino is not rich, she is quickly labeled an outcast and tries to fly under the radar to avoid the all powerful F4. The F4 rules Eitoku and is composed of four male high school seniors. These four males are the richest and most powerful heirs in Japan and the future leaders of tomorrow.

The F4 rules the school with an iron fist. They place a red card in a person’s locker if they offend the F4. The red card signals students at the Eitoku to attack the person who has disrespected the F4. In this version of Boys Over Flowers, attack actually means attack, i.e. really bloody.

The most violent, richest, and leader of the F4 is Domyouji Tsukasa, which makes him the most fearsome. In contrast, Makino shows that she is not afraid of Tsukasa, when she sticks up for her only friend at school. When Makino’s friend spills ice cream on Tsukasa’s shoe, he orders her friend to lick his shoe. Makino argues on her friend’s behalf. Tsukasa fires back that Makino can lick his shoe instead, but Makino rebuts his request with her fist. Tsukasa, astonished by Makino’s disobedience, puts the F4 card in her locker. As Makino continues to survive the attacks of Tsukasa, the F4, and her classmates, Tsukasa begins to admires Makino’s will to survive. At the same time, Tsukasa is bewildered by his inability to stop himself from falling in love with Makino.

Although, another F4 member strikes Makino’s fancy, Hanazawa Rui. Hanazawa Rui is the strong and quiet type.  Rui plays along with the F4’s shenanigans, but does not directly participate. Makino develops a crush on him and his aesthetic. On the other hand, Hanazawa Rui is actually is in love Makino’s idol, Todou Shizuka. When Rui’s first love, Shizuka, leaves the country, Rui follows her.

While Rui is away, Tsukasa persistence, protective nature, inability to recall Japanese idioms, and impetuous charms win over Makino’s heart.

Relationship Summary:

It starts off as, Tsukasa —> Makino —> Rui —> Todou Shizuka. Then, Rui and Tsukasa —> Makino. Later, Rui—>  Makino —> Tsukasa. Finally, Tsukasa —> <— Makino, but Tsukasa’s Mom tries to split them apart.



So many reasons to love this drama, but here are the top 5.

Lead Couple: Tsukasa and Makino, Jun Matsumoto and Mao Inoue respectively, are the cutest couple. The chemistry between the two is very romantic. They seemed to really fulfill/ rekindle  the dreams/memories of a first love. See Elevator Scene. Tsukasa passion, excitement, and care for Makino was magnanimous. It was easy to see why Makino would fall for Tsukasa in the midst of his tendency towards violence and his inability to translate Japanese idioms. Makino does not view Tsukasa as her antagonist, but as a person she can help grow.

Makino is portrayed as a strong willed, mature, and contemplating character. Her character seems more dimensional than Jan Di in Boys Over Flowers, I blame this less on the actresses and more on the writing. Jan Di is younger in the sense that she is more naive,pe contra Makino’s vulnerable characteristic is that she hopes for the best in everyone.  Jan Di’s relationships with other characters have less depth, because they are black and white; the characters are less complex and can easily be placed in the good or bad category.

There is little to no physical affection displayed in this drama, in fact there is another immaculate conception final chapter of the drama, the Han

a Yori Dango Movie. See Goong. The lack of affecton does get annoying by the time you get to the movie, but does not get in the way of the first 2 series.

Violence: I thoroughly enjoyed the fight between the F4 members that takes place on a quiet street. While the outlandish violence of Tsukasa  and the F4 may have bothered some people, I found that it was a continuous source of laughter. At first I was taken aback, by the amount of scenes devoted to Tsukasa’s violence. However, in terms of the plot, the rise and fall in Tsukasa’s violence played an integral role in the transformation of his character. It was clear that Makino’s kind and incorruptible nature was the reason for Tsukasa’s change in perspective.

Friendships between Male Characters: The friendship between the F4 was a prominent theme throughout the series. Prior to the F4, each member was a lonely rich child with poor or non-existent relations with their parents. The story emphasized the fact that the F4 evolved out of a brotherhood that provided solace for their loneliness. While, the apple story was weird, it did seem better than the story regarding the toy. (Yes, I know the toy belonged to his dead parents. The apple was about more about trusting others after they have wronged you.) In addition, the story centered on the F4 helping each other live their best life (Thank’s Oprah), rather than solely focusing on Tsukasa and Makino relationship. Additionally, Tsukasa and Makino’s brother forged a strong bond in this version. This option was available since Makino’s brother was older. Through Makino’s brother, Tsukasa was able to learn more about himself and the importance Makino in his life.

Secondary Character Storylines: 

Tsukasa’s mother is presented as a strong woman that has no other option except to marry her son off (the story insinuates that she has tried every other way to save the company). In this version, Tsukasa’s mother is less concerned with status of Makino and more concerned with the future of her corporation and her families’ legacy. The methods of Tsukasa’s mother seem less egregious and more understandable in the context of Tsukasa’s past behavior. See Tsukasa smack talking in NY. It also makes Tsukasa’s ending of the relationship more reasonable.

F4 member Mimasaka Akira’s womanizing behavior is explained. Who would not be going for older women, when you go home to that house. Additionally, was I the only one who felt a bit weird when his little sisters wanted to marry him.

While F4 member Nishikado Sojiro and Matsuoka Yuki (Makino’s BFF) relationship seemed less than certain at the end of the 2 seasons and the movie, the story of love lost went more in depth.

Makino’s Family: Makino’s family seems more loving and balanced than in Korea’s Boys Over Flowers. The action’s of Makino’s parents were never ridiculous. Makino’s father had a salary job and was trying to get a promotion. The scene where her parents put shrimp in Makino’s lunch box to make her feel more comfortble with her peers that eat lavish meals touched the heart. Given that the overarching theme was that Makino was smart and that her parents were sacrificing so that she could continue to go to a good school, you were always on her family’s side in spite of her dad’s gambling problem. Finally, the fact that her family went to a fishing village to make money, but her dad got sea sick from being on ship and they were destined to manufacture seaweed was charming.

Moments of Personal Annoyance:

  • Makino don’t keep girls that like your boyfriend, kidnap you, or assault your boyfriend around.  Furthermore, don’t forgive those that do all three.
  • As cool as skinny-tall Tsukasa is, he is not going to pick up another F4 in america made up of large white rugby players.
  • Not clear whether they could only find black people to use as robbers or that was planned.
  • Rui when you are scaring off 3 robbers with a gun, you might want to take a step back to to ensure you can protect yourself.
  • Makino’s boss had great stories about her men, however, that guy looked nothing like John Lennon.
  • Rui is not fit to serve as the leader of the wedding ceremony.
  • A maid, who is old and well regarded, does not outrank the lady of household, who also happens to be the leader of a huge conglomerate.

The problems I had with this drama arose out of things lost in translation and differences in cultural norms. Thus, 5 stars.

Sidenote: I want a gold cell phone.

Up Next: Boys Over Flowers, then Personal Taste/ Personal Preference.



  1. Pingback: Korean Drama Review: City Hall « Public Investigation
  2. Becoming Bitter

    I’ll buy you a gold cell phone for Christmas just for writing this review. You should know how happy you’ve made me.

  3. Pingback: Korean Drama Review: Protect the Boss « Public Investigation

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