*You can skip the introduction if you don’t want to read all of this.*
Many of you might think that I am a bit of a Weeaboo, a Koreaboo, and a bit of a Sinophile. I understand that these people are not looked upon very kindly by the public. These people are considered those guilty of “cultural appropriation”. Basically, people look at them as individuals who “think” they are Asian, but are not. :/ To some people, my obsession over Korean entertainment, my personal critical reviews of other cultural art and perspectives, may seem offensive.
Sure, I love J-pop, K-pop, and some C-pop. I even watch dramas from many Asian countries. I do own two Chinese-style dresses and a Chinese-style modern top. I enjoy cosplay of my favorite characters from my favorite video game Kingdom Hearts. I hope to learn at least one Asian language in my life-time or visit an Asian country. I am fascinated by Japanese and Chinese history. I’m new to Korean history and more familiar with their modern pop culture.
But this actually goes for any culture. I enjoy music and shows from France, New Zealand, Tanzania, Peru, Turkey, and many other countries. I am fascinated with Turkey and it’s Topkapi Palace. You can literally say…I LOVE THE WORLD. <3
If you want my honest opinion, I am not racist. I am an African American who doesn’t think my culture is superior to another person’s. And I don’t get offended when people want to adapt a part of my culture. I actually feel flattered. I see culture as something universal, not something “owned” or “exclusive”, like I’m in some snobbish exclusive club. Cultures have and always will change. Women in many countries have adapted American styles of dress, like wearing jeans and skirts, using westernized mobile phone devices, and other westernized products. You can say these people are trying to be American, but some of these items make life more convenient for others. It does not offend me to see a Korean girl wearing a pair of jeans…It does not offend me to see a girl wearing hip-hop clothing…
But of course, other people will not see it my way.
I treat all entertainment as if they are all the same. I treat it all as if it came from the same country. I am a firm believer in cross-cultural fertilization. I believe people are the same everywhere; no matter what culture, each person is their OWN individual. There are things that I like and dislike about all cultures, including my own, but I do not think one culture is superior to another. We all have faults…
So why am I saying all of this? Well, because I’m about to go on a looooonggg spill about some Asian dramas I’ve been watching. I don’t want to offend anyone if my remarks seem harsh, judgmental, or a bit blunt. I really have nothing negative to say, but I may say some things that these cultures may find inappropriate.
I love Asian entertainment, but I don’t know everything about Asia. I was born and raised a black American. I do not know the ins and outs of each culture. All I know are people, and people are various. I also know myself, and for the sake of this blog, that’s all I can be.
I used to be one of those uber-obsessed people. At one time, I even wanted to live in Asia. I used to look at Asia as a Utopia, a way for me to escape my weirdness in school, my feelings of being an outcast, and of not really fitting into my complete African American community very well. I was always open-minded, but constantly tormented for being different. Asia seemed like a place I could escape all of my troubles. It seemed like a place that would accept me. First off, it was on the other side of the Earth from where I lived. Second, there was a certain innocence and purity within the cultures that made me happy.
But sooner or later, as I became an adult, I actually met people who lived in my favorite Asian countries and learned that, again, people are people, where ever you go. There are mean people everywhere; there is no escaping that. And I learned that there are social rules and laws in Asian cultures that would not be ideal for me. But I met some really nice friends from other countries, too. Particularly in Korea, I met a friend that told me her brother was going to be drafted soon. My friendship with her taught me the most about Korea. I no longer see Asian countries as Utopias, but real places that REAL people live in.
Still, it would be fun to take a trip and visit some of my friends, eat foreign foods, and get lost in a new city within a new country… (to add, really learn a new language fluently).
I’m a little nervous about actually visiting Asian countries though. For starters, I like to feel like I can be myself. My friend (and other bloggers) have stressed the importance of manners in Asian countries. I have a bad feeling I will screw up and make the people around me hate me…Unless, someone is forgiving. Of course, going to a new country, you can’t completely be yourself. You have to consider the social etiquette of the land. This is very frustrating for me…and nerve-wrecking. I am not good at remembering things. I know I will forget something..
I am also afraid to share my interests in Asian entertainment and fashion. I don’t want the people there to think I’m making fun of them. I want to have something in common and I like what I like. Maybe that’s American of me? :/ I don’t want them to think I’m stereo-typing…
I will be watching many dramas from around the world for the next two months. Mostly, I’ll be watching Asian dramas and discussing them with my readers.
The Hana Kimi Adaptations
Last week, I became really sick with a fever. I could hardly get out of bed for two days. So, I was stuck at home. Being bored at home, I caught another kind of fever. This time it was a good fever. I got “drama fever”. That’s right. I became addicted to dramas.
I tapped into my Netflix and got whatever movies I could get. I also became addicted to Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dramas.
The latest dramas that caught my interest were the many adaptations of Hana Kimi. Hana Kimi (or Hanazakari no Kimitachi e) is a popular Japanese manga series. It was adapted into drama first by Taiwan, then by Japan twice, and then Korea.
Hana Kimi focuses on the story of a young American female (Ashiya Mizuki) who admires a high-jumping athlete (Sano Izumi) that she happens to spot on TV. Somehow, his jumping inspires her to want to meet him in person. She’s determined to see him high-jump. So, she signs herself up to the all-boys’ school her idol attends and pretends to be a boy. She somehow becomes her idol’s roommate, which greatly affects their relationship throughout the story. He’s not the easiest to live with…But eventually, she melts his cold exterior.
She’s not good at acting like a boy, and is considered a ditz with a cheerful personality (not uncommon in anime and manga series). This is why it was so easy for the school physician to notice right off that she was a girl. The physician becomes a good friend of the lead character, and shows a supportive role in helping her keep her secret. There are many others who discover her secret throughout. She’s not good at hiding her feelings, especially when she likes someone. She’s impulsive and easily angered by remarks made toward the people she cares about.
Along her journey as a boy, she meets some new friends. The first friend she becomes acquainted with is an extroverted soccer champion (Shuichi Nakatsu). He eventually starts to develop feelings for the lead girl, which leads to him questioning his sexuality (because she is disguised as a boy). He gets her adjusted to school and introduces her to some of his friends. He becomes a love rival throughout the story.
The school is divided by three dorms. Mizuki, the lead girl, is a part of Dorm 2. Many of her closest friends reside in the same Dormitory.
I happened to watch all of the adaptations. I didn’t watch in any particular order. I watched according to whatever series I found out about first. Though all were adaptations, of course, they were not all alike. Each story had something charming that maybe another story did not have. Some stories stayed more true to the manga than others.
The genre of this series is romantic/comedy. I am very skeptical of the romantic genre when it comes to manga or dramas. For starters, I’m not a romantic person. I think it’s mushy and to watch it makes me want to puke. It’s very hard for me to get into a romantic story, and when I do, it’s hard to keep my interest. BUT what really turns me off about the romantic genre stories are the following things:
1) Love triangles-I really, really dislike love triangles, especially when it’s involving the main character. I get it. They are supposed to make the story interesting. But for me, all they do is confuse me and make me change my mind about a romantic situation. As someone who is deeply compassionate, I always side with the underdog lover in these “triangles”, and more often than not, that “underdog” is not the main love interest. There are very few stories that turn out the way I want them to. Often, I feel dissatisfied with romantic stories. This was my problem with Twilight…Love triangles do not suit my mentality.
This is especially so if the main love interest is a douche with a bunch of other girls crawling all over him, while the “nice person” or the humble person is finishing last. These kinds of triangles irk me.
I also have a problem with love interests who are unimportant to the overall story. It’s irksome when they outshine someone who is actually important to the development of the story (Ran vs Haibara from Detective Conan would be an example). When a rival character is more important to the story, the development between the main character and the love rival will be even more interesting.
There are only a few distinct ways I can accept a love triangle.
First, I can accept a love triangle if the love rival receives a more interesting love interest than the main character. And this rarely happens.
I can also accept a love triangle if the love rival is completely idiotic, with poorly developed feelings, and a shallow outlook. For instance, all of the love rivals in Ranma ½ were complete fools with mostly bad intentions. This made Ranma and Akane such a well-developed pair, even if they were rather predictable.
I can accept a douche love rival if his story is well-developed and/or his change is so drastic it affects the events in the story. Hana Yori Dango is an example.
My favorite romance story is Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura and Syaoran. No romantic story has been able to top it in my book. The manga had hardly any love triangles. But everything turned out unexpected in the end. I never thought the main character would receive the sullen, raggly, uncool Syaoran as a lover.
Peach Girl also impressed upon me.
2) I dislike a boring, predictable relationship-I don’t like those stories where you already know who will be the love interest in the end. I don’t like when characters fall in love “at first sight”. I don’t like smooth betrothals that turn out peachy in the end (unless the two really hate each other at first). I don’t like when love is predictable. Even though in real life, a predictable kind of love is a beautiful thing, it is not really entertaining in a show.
I also dislike boring or uninteresting partners. If one of those love interests are boring, dull, or too cool, I’m bored. I like people that the audience would least expect to be the love interest.
I don’t hate beautiful/handsome people, but if they have no personality beyond good looks, I do not approve of it. It’s not enough to throw a love rival in there. That doesn’t make a RELATIONSHIP interesting, that makes a story more interesting. But if the love rival is not around, and the relationship seems less interesting than when the rival was around, I can’t enjoy it.
People say a person is entitled to like who they like, but this is a story. It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it or watch it. It doesn’t mean I won’t have preferences.
Unfortunately, Hana Kimi had many elements that irritated me. It had love triangles, so of course I sided with the underdog as usual. The main love interest was a cool, dull, douche…The exact types I dislike. The main romance story was predictable. The main relationship was boring to me and I found myself skipping all of the scenes that overdid their relationship.
But the story itself was interesting…
The thing that makes me a little iffy is the motivation. A girl, traveling all the way to a foreign country, for some complete stranger that she saw on television high-jumping….And she thinks she’s in love now? And this romance actually works? Despite the fact that she was trying to deceive him by lying and pretending to be a boy? What kind of relationship begins with deception? She’s basically a stalker fan, and rather than being sweet and endearing, it’s a little creepy and frightening that someone would even try this. Don’t try this at home, kids. The best part about dreaming about an idol is never knowing who they really are and keeping the dream alive. Trust me. Not every idol is going to turn out as receptive as Izumi Sano. In fact, most won’t, especially if you try to deceive them.
The Japanese versions do a better job in explaining away this obsession, but the other adaptations, especially the Taiwanese version, do not.
This article is a review of the adaptations I’ve watched.
*The Following Review May Contain Spoilers*
To the Beautiful You (Korean Version 2012)
This was the first one I watched. Being a fan of f(x), I wanted to watch Sulli act in this drama series. I was introduced to the Hana Kimi series through this drama.
Of all the adaptations, I felt this movie version was the most different from the original story. In many ways, the differences made it better, but in other ways, the differences made the story worse.
First, the story mostly focuses on the athletic Dorm 2 and hardly gives the other dorms any attention or development. Second, many characters that were supposed to be friends of the main character were omitted or combined with other characters. Third, many personalities and relationships were changed. Because this was the first one I watched, I didn’t realize how different it was from the original. But without knowing the original, it wasn’t hard to figure that something was missing…
The setting was ritzier than the other adaptations. The dining area showed wealth and the dorms actually looked up-scale. The dorm room Jae-Hee stays in has two beds. One has a winding staircase leading to almost another room. It’s a more advanced bunk-bed of sorts. The bathrooms even look bigger in the Korean version compared to the other adaptations. It was quite an elite-looking school.
Pros: The story was so engaging. I would say the Korean story was more entertaining than the others. There were serious and dramatic moments that made me want to know what was going to happen next. The Korean version was also a bit more realistic in presenting its school and dormitory than the other adaptations. Jae-Hee was required to bring transfer papers in order to enroll in the school. The other adaptations did not go into detail how the girls were able to enroll in the schools without transfer papers…The Korean version didn’t have the sense of exaggeration that the other versions had. This version was also more modern.
Goo Jae-Hee (Korea’s Ashiya Mizuki) is very cute and lovable. She was so cute that it was believable when random people would find out her identity and when random guys would fall in love with her.
She was careless, but not quite as dumb as some of the other girls in other adaptations (though she was still dumb). There was one scene, a dangerous scene, where she was caught in a car with a stranger. This girl had enough sense to notify someone by phone and was strong enough to fight for her life.
This version, out of all the other versions, focused the most on the romantic story.
I was also happy that f(x) songs were sprinkled throughout the show. F(x) are my baes. I was happy to see Sulli in her glorious lead moment.
Cons: They can stick Shinee’s Minho (Kang Tae-Joon) and f(x)’s Sulli (Jae-hee) in the same room. They can throw in little scenes with Minho taking off his shirt. They can try to over-emphasize the relationship between the two supposed love interests with random scenes of them falling on top of each other every chance they get…And I still did not think they belonged together. I tried my best to be team Minsul…and I just couldn’t hang.
First, of all the love interests in other adaptations, Tae-Joon was a complete butthole. Cha Eun-gyeol (played by Lee Hyun-woo), the supposed love rival, was the main character’s first friend. He was kind to the main character. He helped her feel welcome. When Tae-joon was acting like a jerk and making Jae-hee cry, who was there? Eun-gyeol was there. When Tae-joon left Jae-hee under the stars to run back to the city, who was there with Jae-hee? Eun-gyeol was there.
Eun-gyeol also struggled the most with his feelings, thinking he was gay, and really considering his feelings seriously. I was so impressed with him that moment he found the courage to admit that he loved Jae-hee (thinking she’s a boy), even risking his reputation, considering how homophobic some people can be. He said, “Girl or Guy, I love her”. I felt this character TRULY loved the main character from the inside. In my opinion, he was the strongest character in the series.
And yet, I feel like the lead girl just stomped all over his heart. Even when she gave him a chance, she rudely contacted Tae-Joon while on a date with him. I understand you don’t love him, but don’t agree to go on a date and then contact another man. That’s not even a friendly thing to do. I honestly lost all respect for this character after that. I felt that she was caught up in the glory of being around her idol, but it just didn’t feel like true love to me. It felt like an infatuation with an ideal dream…But not real.
To me, Tae-Joon only started to like her AFTER he found out she was a girl and after he found out that she was there for him. To me, he only loved the attention. Everything else sounded like BS. Eun-gyeol saw what was special about her from the very beginning.
The manga can try and pull that “he was just attracted to her femininity” crap when it comes to Shuichi Nakatsu. I don’t buy it in the Korean adaptation. I, in fact, think Tae-joon (Korea’s Izumi Sano) was just attracted to her because she was a girl and loved having the attention. But I did not think he had the same chemistry with the lead girl as Eun-gyeol.
For this reason, I did not like the main love story. They spent way too much time developing the love rival’s moments with the lead girl. That really prevented me from connecting with the main love story.
Another thing that was really distracting to me was the fact that there truly was nothing boyish about Jae-hee. She, in fact, never even tried to act like a boy. Aside from being super tall, unlike the other adaptations, and having a short hair cut, her personality was just too feminine. I’m surprised that people throughout the story couldn’t even figure it out. I feel that the director should’ve made sure that Sulli (the actress) tried to act more masculine. The Japanese and Taiwanese version recognized this a little more.
I suppose boyish girls are so rare in Korea, girls can get away with being a boy as long as they just dress like one…
And they didn’t even do a good job of developing a motivation for the lead girl. Her reasons for going to an all-boys’ school was even more suspicious than the others. They tried to say she had heard that Tae-joon stopped high-jumping because of an injury and that she just wanted to see him high-jump. But it was clear she was trying to persuade the boy to fall in love with her. Her intentions were really unclear throughout the whole show. I dislike a woman who is not direct with her feelings, especially when she uses deception to win someone over rather than being honest. It’s not fair to anyone and I just couldn’t support a relationship that was developed from that. It is annoying.
The final thing I disliked about this version was the fact that most of the main characters from the manga, some of my favorite characters, were completely omitted. Many of my least favorite characters were added, such as the lead girl’s “first love”. Remember I said I disliked love triangles? Well, I dislike love squares even more…
I disliked the fact that some characters that were considered gay in the manga were either changed or had poor, unhappy endings in the Korean version. I guess it just shows their conservatism.
Overall, this was one of my least favorite adaptations and not because it was a bad series. In fact, the series itself was probably told the best in this adaptation. I just hated the ending and how they changed the characters. I left feeling a little unsatisfied. First, they pulled a Pretty in Pink on me when it came to Jae-Hee and Eun-gyeol. Then, the ending failed to show the main character’s connection with the school like the other versions did. She solely seemed interested in Tae-Joon and showed hardly any development between other students. Thus, in the end, she didn’t feel like she belonged there. She just left with poor feelings and never even graduated with the other students. I didn’t feel her connection with the other cast members, so I wondered why they were even in the story.
Characters of mention:
Eun-gyeol–It’s hard to miss him. He’s lively, friendly, and active. He’s also handsome. His struggle with his feelings makes him an interesting character to look out for and really makes the story worth watching. I feel he transforms the most throughout the series, even changing his hair.
Director Jang–Despite the fact that she was never in the original story, I felt her presence held weight. To me, she almost seemed like a second mother to Tae-Joon. She’s his manager, and manages many sports affairs. She is a reflection of idol life in Korea.
Seol Ha-na–A girl who begins as an aggressive pursuer of Tae-Joon’s, she seems a little annoying at first. But as the series progresses, she shows remarkable intelligence and strength. She’s definitely a character that is memorable.
Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (Japanese version 2007)
The Japanese version is pretty close to the manga, but many things were changed here, too. Many characters and events were omitted, but no personalities were changed. The Japanese version was more exaggerated and comical in the acting style. Most Japanese dramas are like this, especially if there are comical characters in the series.
The setting seemed to be in an old, rustic western style school. It was surrounded by gardens and statues reflecting a calm spirit surrounding the school. The dorms weren’t extremely big and the main character slept in a loft of sorts. Compared to the Korean version, it had more natural surroundings.
The classrooms are ridiculously large for a high school…
Shun Oguri plays in this drama as Sano Izumi…He usually plays “cool, handsome” roles. I remember him from the dramas Detective Conan and Boys Over Flowers.
Pros: I liked that the story actually developed the relationship between the main character and the other students. The cast is large in this series, and yet, each character had a life of their own. At first, I couldn’t see any character being developed in-depth because of the large cast. But I realized that was the lovable part about the Japanese adaptation. The characters were shallow, but they were fun and lively. Eventually, I began to see Mizuki (the main character) as a part of the school. She formed a close relationship with many of the characters, not just Izumi Sano and Shuichi Nakatsu. I liked that she eventually wanted to stay for more than just Sano. She grew to love all of the friends she’d made at the school. The strong bond the cast felt shined in the series, and it made the ending a tear-jerker.
I liked how supportive the school was in the end.
And who couldn’t like the scene where the school broke out as cheerleaders and began dancing to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”. XD Completely worth it.
Cons: There are very few cons for me. The thing that I felt was bittersweet was the relationship between Izumi Sano and Ashiya Mizuki. Again, there were moments where I just couldn’t ship him together with Mizuki. Nakatsu also interfered with my interest in this love story but not as bad as in the Korean version.
Both Nakatsu and Sano started off as jerks. Really, all the boys were a bit rowdy when Mizuki first came to the school. So, either one was fine with me.
Still, in the end, I hated the Nakatsu was the one hurt. He had the hardest time expressing his feelings. The difference is he found out she was a girl much sooner than the character in the Korean version.
The girl they tried to pin Nakatsu with (I guess so a rejection wouldn’t feel as bad with the audience) was dull and showed no chemistry with him, but at least a girl showed interest in him. Even in the special episode, she continued to give him chocolates and express her love. Poor Eun-gyeol in the Korean version got a girl who hadn’t seen him in years, which made for an awkward relationship that hardly developed.
The characters were a bit shallow and one-dimensional. Some characters were pointless. I would have liked some characters to be developed more, especially in Dorm 3.
There were also some pretty offensive things sprinkled without. I understand one scene was trying to put on an act, but the use of” black face” cloak in order to pretend to be a black person, along with disheveled Afros (they could have at least combed it), was just offensive.
But there was one scene where they actually had a real African American man named Bob.
And why does Japan always portray foreigners from America, especially White Americans, as having blonde hair? In the special episode, Mizuki’s foreign friend is seen sporting blonde hair. Basically, she’s supposed to be half Japanese and half White. But most mixed children still carry the dominant genes…
The actress looked like a Japanese girl with a wig on…
Overall, I enjoyed this version and would watch it again.
Characters of mention:
Namba Minami-They cast a very handsome man to play him. He is in fact one of the best looking characters. His affinity for women is one thing, but the fact that he has a strong serious side and surprisingly protects the main character and his fellow dorm mates like a big brother throughout the series makes him a character worth mentioning.
Kayashima Taiki-The man who can see spirits and detect auras. Pay attention to him. He knows a lot more than he lets on.
Sekime Kyogo-He seems like a quiet presence, but his presence is also powerful. In this drama, he was actually Mizuki’s first REAL friend. While the other dorm members were going crazy trying to recruit her to their dorm activities, or teasing her and treating her as insignificant, Sekime calmly listened to her woes and introduced her to what the school had to offer. She, in fact, found out what dorm Sano was in through him. Throughout the series, he also showed himself to be a supportive friend of Sano’s.
Nakao Senri-Probably the only completely openly gay character in this adaptation. His feelings for Namba Minami motivate his character. At first, he was the main character’s rival because he saw her as a threat to his reputation as the school “idol” (since he considers himself cute and adorable). But there was one moment in the series where he and Mizuki really bonded and connected. I really enjoyed that scene.
Dean Kitahama-A scary presence in the story. Though his moment was brief, he left an impression on my mind. His anger with what happened in his past really made me interested in him as a character. He isn’t initially likable and misunderstood.
Principal Tsubaki-She was never really a character in the original manga, but she should have been. I noticed one thing about all of these adaptations…We never met the principal of these schools. Isn’t that strange? Well, colleges don’t really have principals, so the Taiwanese version is excused.
Hanazakarino Kimitachihe (Taiwanese Version 2006)
Of all the adaptations, this was probably the most comical (rather than exaggerated silliness). I felt that this version reflected the manga better than the Korean version. Well, it was the first adaptation. But there were differences from the manga as well.
First off, this version did not take place in high school but in college. Most of the students were 19 years old and older. Basically, they’re all adults.
Second, this adaptation also focused mainly on Dorm 2.
Despite the fact that all of the characters are older, they actually act much younger than those in the other adaptations.
The setting is just like any normal college. Each dorm has a bunk bed and a bathroom. The rooms are very small. It is implied that the school is on a strict budget. Nan makes it clear that the food is not too tasty and that the students have to shower early because the hot water turns off at a certain time.
Pros: Ella Chen was the perfect girl to be cast as the lead female character. She did well in portraying the ditzy character while still maintaining a “boyishness”. Really, she actually looked like a boy. Ella Chen is from the girl group S.H.E. and she is known for her androgynous looks. It’s not surprising she was given this role. I was really satisfied with her portrayal and felt that she conveyed the strongest personality of all the girls cast for the lead role.
What kills me is that almost everyone in this version can almost guess she’s a girl more than in the other adaptations, but she looks the most like a boy than the other girls! Oh, the irony. If she wasn’t such a twat, I would’ve never guessed she was a girl.
While in this role, Lu Rui Xi was portrayed as an energetic, but impulsive girl. That was handled well in this adaptation. She was a little feisty in this role, but didn’t know how to pick and choose her battles well. She had the second greatest personality in this series (next to Xiu Yi).
I really enjoyed all of the characters in this show. They didn’t really add every character from the manga, but they did put in the most important characters. I felt the lead girl developed a strong relationship with her fellow dorm members.
Jin Xiu Yi provided a lot of color to the story and made it extra enjoyable.
What I liked most about the story was the fact that Jin Xiu Yi was treated with better dignity than the other love rivals. Sure, he was in love with Rui Xi. But, of course, we knew she was not interested in him. In fact, she seemed rather annoyed by him. I’m glad they found him an even better love interest, one that made his relationship even better than the main love story. I would really like a separate story regarding Xiu Yi and his love interest.
However, Taiwan did the best of all the adaptations in developing the main love story. I really liked the sensible and perceptive Zuo Yi Quan (Izumi Sano). He wasn’t really a jerk, he was just quiet and to himself. He was a bit of a nerd who liked to read. And his tattoo on his right arm was just everything. <3 He wasn’t arrogantly jealous like Tae-joon who really didn’t care about Eun-gyeol’s feelings. Quan was more perceptive and helpful.
Cons: The ending was bittersweet. There really isn’t anything I dislike about this version, but I wish it had ended a little different. It really left a cliff-hanger. Now, I want to see more. XD
Though I liked Ella Chen’s portrayal of the main character and felt she acted the most like the manga character, that is just it. She was really annoying in the manga. So, she was really annoying in this adaptation. She really had little clue how to act like a boy and play off the fact that she liked Quan. She also didn’t know how to pick and choose her battles carefully, so she wound up in situations she couldn’t even fight off. And who was the first person she screamed annoyingly for when she got herself in stupid situations? Quan.
I also wish Xiu Yi’s feelings had been taken seriously, but in the end, it all worked out.
I also want to point out that there were quite a few holes in the story and some scenes were just too forced or not explained. For instance, there was one scene in episode 6 where the main character is caught in a situation with a stranger and so must flee for her life. Of course, Quan, being Mr. Loverboy, saves her. He tries to carry her back home, but loses his footing. They end up isolated from others, far away from home, for hours, and the main character develops an illness. Now, by this time, all of the characters have shown that they have cell phones. Instead of using his cell phone or Riu Xi’s, he calls “Help!” over and over again. Not once did he look in his pocket to see if he had his cell phone or look in her pocket to see if she had hers. And okay, say he forgot his phone and maybe she did, too. Why wasn’t that explained? To me, it felt that the scene was put in there to build upon the romance between Quan and Rui Xi, but it was constructed poorly. It was confusing because clearly they both had cell phones…Therefore, it just didn’t feel natural. Maybe Quan wanted to get lost with her, but if he really cared about her, wouldn’t he want her to get home so she can get better? And maybe there was no signal…But these are guesses. It should have been explained.
To add, Xi Yi has a cell phone. While he was sitting at the house, waiting and worrying, why didn’t he call Rui Xi to see where she was? Why did no one suggest to call the missing teens by cell phone? They thought about calling the police but no one thought to call Quan or Rui Xi? It was simply unbelievable.
Just like it was unbelievable that no one went through Rui Xi’s school files. How was she able to enroll in the school? Who helped her forge papers and create a new identity? This was also not explained in the Japanese version.
But overall, the characters were entertaining and everyone lived happily ever after in the end. So what can I say, this version was my favorite. ;) The story itself was over-comical, but it lifted my spirits.
Characters of Mention:
Lu Rui Xi-She was honestly a girl with a lot of personality. It is hard to forget her. Of all the girls, she showed the strongest individuality and made me fall in love with her. She wasn’t just a cute and pretty face. She was never sober and depressing. And unlike the other girls, she was the most honest with her intentions. They didn’t come up with some lame excuse for her. On the flip side, that also means her intentions were not pure. XD
Zuo Yi Quan-A hot body with a tattoo is one thing, but intelligence, practicality, and sensibility are whipped cream, sprinkles, with a cherry on top.
Jin Xiu Yi-Charming, lovable, and also with a big personality, he was bound to be a favorite of mine. This character comes across energetic and brave, but we also see moments where he is sensitive, caring, and supportive. I also admired his courage when he came out as “gay” (though not really). Watching him in action is very entertaining. He’s also handsome and has a sexy voice.
Mei Tian-Long-haired and sexy, this man is gay and proud. I’m very happy they did not try to change him. He wasn’t stereo-typically gay either. He is handsome, smart, and knows his craft. He was also a good guardian for the main character and got her out of many sticky situations. His portrayal was very interesting.
Da Shu-The man who can see spirits. He is really cute. I’m surprised no one pointed out how cute he was. He was not considered for the school pageant and I kept thinking…Man, he would look good in a dress.
Julia-Rui Xi’s feisty American friend. She is no stereotype. She is part Chinese and speaks fluent Chinese but also speaks English. In fact, she speaks in English often throughout her time in Taiwan. Of all the adaptations, this was the only one that developed Julia as a character. I like her voice.
Shen Le-Initially an irritating butthole who reveals more to him than expected.
Yang Yang-Of all the adaptations of Senri Nakao, he is the perfect depiction of cute. The other guys in other adaptations believed they were cute, but umm…No. This guy is really cute. He’s quite sweet, but has a vindictive side to him.
Wu Wan Juan-A sports journalist who focuses on Quan’s success as a high jumper. She wrote under the pen name “KK” and is actually where the lead character got all of her information. She has an interesting but pretty face. Despite her eagerness to get the scoop, she revealed a moral side.
Yuan Qiu Ye-A mysterious and yet strange photographer. He is quite perceptive and talented. He fascinates me.
Wang Tian Si-Leader of Dormitory 1, he seems mostly like a meat-head character, but he is a character who fights fairly and takes responsibility. I can honestly say I respect him.
Man, there are so many characters that I loved in this adaptation.
Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (Japanese version 2011)
So Japan decided it would be a good idea to remake Hana Kimi for a modern audience. But the only thing more modern about this version was the cast and setting. For 2011, it wasn’t over-emphasized with new technology, which was surprising. I didn’t understand why this new version was even made.
But since it was…I gave it a try.
This version was similar to the original, though not as exaggerated and more dramatic.
Someone decided that an Akb48 member should be cast as the lead. That proved interesting.
The setting was just like the original: An old, western-style school with old dormitories. Each dormitory has two beds and a loft of sorts. The difference between this version and the original is that the school was even more worn-down and falling apart. Literally. The plumbing was screwed, students were falling through the floor, and it needed a paint job badly. Still, the students love the school. I’m not sure if the school improved, but apparently the students continued to stay there, despite its flaws.
Pros: Ashiya Mizuki’s role was less annoying than the others. Maybe because she just couldn’t get away with acting dumb like the other girls in other adaptations. With the other girls, it felt that their selfish actions were handled too delicately (I mean a girl sneaks in a school to meet her idol, deceives everyone, and tosses feelings aside for her own selfish feelings…for a guy she hardly knows? And hardly recognizes the dangers? Unbelievable). But in this version, much sooner than the others, she recognized when it was time for her to take her leave more than once. And really, it made her character a little more tolerable (I really despise the ditzy female characters in anime, but especially when she gets away with everything).
Unlike the other girls, she actually met this guy before and had a decent conversation with him. She actually formed a friendship prior to the story. It wasn’t too unbelievable when she wanted to meet him again.
I also liked how well she connected with the rest of the cast, which was just like the original version. They didn’t take that away from the story like the Korean version did.
All of the characters were just as lively and colorful as in the original, and many were better interpretations of the characters.
Though this was 2011, it had a timeless, classic feel that I appreciated.
Cons: This version did a very poor job of developing the relationship between Ashiya Mizaki and Sano Izumi. I thought the Korean version was bad. This one beat the Korean version as having the least developed romance of all the adaptations. And the Korean version wasn’t even poorly developed, just not as developed as the friendship. At least in the Korean version Tae-Joon made many efforts to express his interest in the main character. Sano Izumi never expressed any sort of interest whatsoever besides him yelling at her out of jealousy or anger. He never bought her anything. He never even kissed her properly. There were hardly any romantic moments between them. Most of the times, he made the lead character sad. But oh no. She’ll put up with anything. She’s a martyr. She’s humble and submissive. Somehow, some way, she can just tell that his feelings are sincere (though he never makes clear these “imaginary feelings”). Whenever he gets mad at her, she likes to blame herself because she seems to think his feelings matter more than her own.
Shuichi Nakatsu hit it on the nail many times. Their feelings were TOO reserved. So reserved, in fact, I felt she had an abuse syndrome of some sort. The guy was nothing but mean to her. He never supported her at all. All she did was support him. It just didn’t even feel worth it to me. It felt dull.
And here she has a man, Nakatsu, who is willing to make her happy. She has a man beside her who cries when she cries and laughs when she laughs. And yet, she falls in love with Mr. Reserved and Mr. Shallow. And I know a girl can’t help her feelings, but isn’t she an example of why so many girls end up heart-broken and deceived? Because they blindly go after men that are not good for them, that harm them emotionally. This is another case of the “nice guy finishing last”. Looking at this story, I believe the saying is true. She was in love with a bad boy, a mean guy, the guy she couldn’t have, the idol that all the girls wanted, the complicated one. Not the guy who was determined to protect her, oh no. How dumb can she be?
Still, it didn’t make it any better that Nakatsu never received a proper love interest. I think the original girl that dated him was cute but dull. Nakatsu has such a large personality. He needs someone who makes things more interesting, not someone who dries him up.
Speaking of Nakatsu, I felt this guy received way too much air-time. I mean, he was in every scene. He almost seemed more important than Sano Izumi. He also carried strong leadership abilities…There are hints that these abilities led him to being a part of the “Sakura Committee”. He was always the one motivating everyone and trying to get everyone to smile. And who did that for him? No one. But at least the main character recognized her selfishness, unlike in the other versions.
Another thing that possibly contributed to a poor development of the main love story was the lack of time. In the beginning, everything seemed rushed. The main character’s connection with the school happened fast. Nakatsu’s confession occurred too soon. But unfortunately, Sano and Ashiya’s relationship didn’t happen fast enough. This could be because there were only 11 episodes. Still, it made the story a bit bland and superficial. I couldn’t connect with this version as well as the others, though I still teared up at the end (more than I can say about the Korean version).
What ultimately disturbed me was how they brought back ONE cast member from the old series from Hibari 4. I was happy to see her, but she seemed out of place in a sea of new faces. I placed her with the old cast. Her chemistry with them was so strong; I couldn’t understand why she was even put in this version.
Characters of Mention:
Nakatsu: His energetic personality shines in any version, but in this version, he had an even stronger presence. His leadership abilities were made evident in this adaptation.
Namba-Sempai-As dormitory leader, he always catches my attention in the Japanese adaptations. Even when unexpected things are thrown his way, he keeps a cool head and looks over the dorm like a big brother.
Taiki Kayashima-He’s always interesting, but in this version of the adaptation he was more than just a weirdo. He was the voice of reason and wisdom. He gave many of the characters advice almost like an adult figure. His abilities to see spirits and read the auras of people had more of a purpose in this adaptation and I’m glad they made him more useful. He took the place of Dr. Hokuto Umeda in many instances, who often usually gave the main character advice in other adaptations.
Nakao Senri-Much cuter than usual…In fact, he could also pass for a girl. He was just as short as the main character, so she had no need to feel awkward in that regard. He had striking dimples that made him noticeable.
Kyogo Sekime-He was more than just a friend in this version. He was someone with his own trials and challenges as well as victories. He was also one of the only people Sano Izumi actually smiled at. He hardly smiled at Ashiya Mizuki.
Hanayashiki Hibari-Guess who is back to reprise her role as St. Blossom’s fierce leader? Yes, the same actress from the 2007 version is playing this role, too!
Kishinosato Juri-A delicate flower, a graceful presence, but a vindictive heart. Very complex.
Watanabe Ikkei –I was wondering who cooked the food for all the students. This was the only version that developed the chef as a character.
Itsuki Sakura-One of the headmistresses of the school. She’s a strange woman. Really, really strange. Somehow, though, she sees the potential of her students.
So that’s my spin on the many adaptations based on the Hana Kimi manga series! Have any of you readers watched? If you have, tell me your favorite drama or moments? What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know!