Tsukushi Makino is a poor dance student who works at a theater in New York. By day she cleans the theater and watches Hanazawa Rui’s production from afar, while by night she dreams of someday having her own turn in the spotlight. When the female lead is hurt in an accident, the star Doumyouji Tsukasa announces he will choose her replacement himself. Is this Tsukushi’s chance to be a star?
summary by Madoka
Highs: Holds true to themes; vocal songs
Lows: Clunky dance movements; short length tries to cram in story
This 30-minute movie will mean very little to anyone who hasn’t seen the Hana Yori Dango television series first. Although this version holds true to the themes of its predecessor, beyond that there is so much crammed into the plot that it will leave most viewers who haven’t seen the series scratching their heads.
Since this story is based on the life of dancers and musicals in the alternate universe of New York City, it’s no wonder that songs and dance make up a huge part of the movie. Tsukushi’s song at the beginning of the film, called “Someday”, sets the mood and gives it a real musical feel. However, her accompanying dance movements, as well as the rest of the dancing in the movie, look clunky and robotic. The poor animation and the same subdued colors as the television series do not create attractive, movie-quality visuals.
Along with the series’ animation style come the same themes that make up the heart of Hana Yori Dango. This is the story of a girl trying to stand her ground in a hostile world. Through her own independence, willpower and perseverance, she finds friends and love, and eventually reaches her goals. It’s a story that originally took fifty-one episodes to tell, so trying to refit it into thirty minutes is like trying to cram volumes and volumes of manga into one movie (*cough* Akira *cough*).
If you are already familiar with the story and characters, this movie is fun to watch. Seeing your favorite character in tights and leotards is definitely one of its charms. But as a stand-alone movie, you’ll end up being more confused than entertained.
Hana Yori Dango: The Movie can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.