a.k.a. Boys Over Flowers
Tsukushi Makino is a normal, working-class girl attending Eitoku High School, home to the rich and upper class. A group of four boys, known as the F4, rule the school unopposed with no regard to other students, teachers or even their uniforms. One day, Tsukushi’s path crosses theirs when they bully her friend and only she has the courage to stand up to them. In return, they and the other students begin to torment her. Tsukushi declares war on the F4 in retaliation. Who will be the victor? And why is she developing feelings for members of the F4?
summary by Madoka
Highs: Unpredictable plot; powerful performances by seiyuu
Lows: Touch of melodrama; recap at beginning of each episode
Fans of Marmalade Boy rejoice; here is a romantic drama of the same caliber, down to the toy voice recorders and relationship woes. But unlike Marmalade Boy, Hana Yori Dango is an unpredictable story filled with dramatic twists and turns and some moments of comedy. You may think you know who Tsukushi will be with, but just as it seems certain, another roadblock appears to complicate her life. Not even the ending of the series is clear-cut. With a strong vocal cast and emotional story, this shoujo drama is sure to be a favorite of romance fans.
From the strangely addicting opening theme reminiscent of 1960s pop songs to the muted colors of the plain character design, this series purposely creates a sense of realism. Add to that the stirring performances by the lead voice actors and you quickly become involved in the series. Tsukushi, in particular, who could give Kyosuke of Kimagure Orange Road fame a run for his money as anime’s most indecisive character, flawlessly delivers passionate monologues filled with emotion. She carries almost all the emotional weight of the series.
At times, however, that emotion touches the melodramatic side, fueled by an orchestral and overbearing musical score. Most annoyingly, the repetitive soundtrack begins each episode accompanying the repeat of the last few minutes of the previous episode. Adding to the melodrama, a few of the situations that arise tend to detract from the realism. No one, not even a teacher, helps a student dragged behind a car? Not likely.
But if you are willing to accept those situations, Hana Yori Dango is a great series sure to please anyone who loves a romantic story. If you are looking for an introduction to shoujo anime, I highly recommend this as a series to start with.
Hana Yori Dango can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.
SEE ALSO: Hana Yori Dango: The Movie