This might be my very last review before my last year of being a high school student begins. Therefore, I thought I should send this whole thing off with a huge hit. So, I’ll be presenting the big solo debate. How do all of the popular Hana Yori Dango versions stack up? Which one is the best? And which drama had the best cast? I’m going to break it all down for you and go as in-depth as I possibly can. So for the past two days, I’ve somehow been dragged into the whole Hana Yori Dango craze again. Now just to bring you up to speed, this hasn’t happened since 2006- 2009. So I’m just as shocked by this.
(Forgive my proper use of the English language, somehow after watching so many episodes of Hana Yori Dango after my year-long anime hiatus, my confidence with it has dropped. *sigh*)
I had my first experience with the Japanese Drama: Hana Yori Dango in 2006, when it first came out. My sister and I watched both seasons when my Auntie bought both seasons 1 and 2 for us. Back then, I remember falling madly in love with Hanazawa Rui and thinking that Domyoji Tsukasa was incredibly misguided. (Honestly, you Japanese casting directors can’t just pick the new up and coming pop star to play a role that so clearly does not suit him! I don’t care if he’s the only Japanese guy that somehow has curly hair. You can’t just base it off of that!) However, thanks to Matsumoto Jun, I was introduced to the ARASHI group at the young and impressionable age of eight. (Ohno’s my favourite. My least favourite would be Sakurai. How about you?)
Remember this was definitely way before I went anywhere near the anime version. So I didn’t even have a clue as to what the original characters were like or meant to be. Now that I have finally watched the anime, I have a very clear image of how everything is supposed to be. So let’s kick it off with the character analysis of Domyoji Tsukasa.
Domyoji Tsukasa (Anime Version): Let’s say that this is the template for how the character is supposed to be like. (Because it kind of is..) So Domyoji is egoistical, temperamental, forceful, weird and also… kind of cute. Let’s start it off with: he’s a spoilt brat. Money comes easy to him, he has no real idea of how to interact with other human beings and I get the feeling that his brain is slightly underdeveloped. His stand out characteristics that really pin-point his character is-
His curly hair Apparently it’s natural. In the anime version, it actually looks normal. A lot of people nowadays actually have that haircut. (Not that I particularly agree to it) but maybe it was a little bit modern for that time. However, during the 80s and 90s, that hairstyle was definitely very common in America. In some of the episodes, his hair is seen to be straight. The first time was intentional, to look nice for Makino. The second and succeeding times were completely unintentional, due to his curls losing its shape once it has any contact with water. Honestly, I have nothing against his hairstyle, sure it’s not exactly my type, but I wouldn’t judge him for it. It’s not like he purposely styles it that way. Since, his hair appears to be way too long when it’s straight, I prefer his curly hair.
2. His lack of language skills – For some reason, his grasp of the Japanese language is off. He tends to speak weird Japanese, reading Kanji wrongly, completely disregarding the onyomi and kunyomi system of it and completely messing up the mood of things by messing up the proper sayings. In a sense, he’s a little dimwitted. But I guess they had to drown out his harsh personality with something… and this is just what they resorted to.
3. His child-like behaviour – Domyoji is very childish, his obsession with Makino should say it all. However, this really softens up the audience to him because it just makes you pity him and sympathise with him. I’m not going to lie, his very innocent personality, despite how he comes off, is very adorable. Especially in the anime because even though he’s such a big-shot. He’s still a virgin that has zero experience what-so-ever. And good for him! If you haven’t already figured it out, the anime is definitely much more explicit compared to the drama spin-offs, I guess they wanted to water all of it down a little bit in the dramas.
4. His violent and almost animalistic nature – Of course, in the dramas, Domyoji is violent. He beats people up for basically no reason. Somehow he has incredibly strength and has no intention of ever controlling it. He’s the biggest bully, not only at school but in the streets. In the dramas, this was not believable at all. However, this was very convincing in the anime. He’s tall, big-sized and he’s just all-round crazy. In the anime, he was definitely very progressive towards Makino. On account of almost raping her. (Don’t worry, I was freaking out too, however after Makino cries he backs off and tells her not to worry.) After that he just grabs her and kisses her a lot. Which is still very shocking for me because I never really thought that Domyoji would be the the aggressive-kissing-manly type of guy. They definitely cut this off in the dramas. However, I’m not going to lie, it brings a whole different dimension to his character which kind of appeals to me.
Tsukasa (Anime) VS. Tsukasa (JDrama) VS. Jyun Pyo (KDrama)
Okay, let’s do this.
Prior to watching the anime version. Jyun Pyo definitely won me over. (Not that it was very hard to, MatsuJun was a wimp) Lee Min Ho (Jyun Pyo) is tall, is relatively stronger than MatsuJun and he’s definitely better looking. And naturally I gravitated towards him more. I do not hate Matsumoto Jun. I have a very deep past with him. I just don’t quite agree to him being an actor. Especially since, I’ve only seen him play roles that were definitely not cut out for him. He’s also not very good at interpreting characters. For me, I feel like the only time he was actually able to accurately portray Tsukasa was when he was embarrassed and even then, it felt a little forced. Honestly, you can’t blame him for not being able to fill the role. His body type wasn’t capable of portraying the tall and muscular Tsukasa. Matsumoto Jun, is definitely destined to have a career as a singer despite his somehow successful acting career. Damn him for being considered the sexually charismatic guy in ARASHI.
Lee Min Ho definitely fit the physical criteria. So he definitely did come off as intimidating whenever he got physical. (However, I do not agree with all that crap of him being afraid of insects and swimming, that was definitely not in the original one and somehow it felt odd that a man of such power would be afraid of swimming. He owns so many islands, what does he do with them if he can’t even swim?) That wasn’t Lee Min Ho’s fault though. Come on you Korean scriptwriters! Step up your game!
Out of the two dramas, Lee Min Ho’s interpretation of Tsukasa was more believable and so, he takes this round.
However, compared to the anime version. He still loses. I also don’t really like the hairstyles of Tsukasa in the dramas. Both of them didn’t shave the bottom of their haircuts and so… it really looks weird.
In my opinion, if they needed a tall, muscular and tanned man for the job. They should have gotten Rain Bi (A Korean actor/ singer/ dancer), he’s an amazing actor. He has played two action movie roles in America and even got himself up in the the Time Magazine for being in the top 100 of the most influential people in the world. He’s played great roles in many other Korean Dramas. For me, it’s Full House, where he starrs as a man that is very wealthy as well. (Of course, nowhere near the wealth of Tsukasa but still) In that role he was very egoistical as well. He would have done an amazing job, especially since he’s a very physical actor, on account of having to go through all that hard training when he acted in Ninja Assassin. Some may argue that he’s way too old for the job but he still looks relatively young. Especially since everyone in the Korean adaption looked way too old to still be in high school. Don’t even get me started on Jan Di.
Hanazawa Rui (Anime): Hanazawa Rui is the silent type. He plays the violin, he’s wealthy and he has a crush on this beautiful model. Though things get slightly out of hand. (Let’s just say she ditches him and runs off and marries a French man. Talk about being fancy.) In the anime, he looked very stoned to me and I couldn’t really warm up to his character, especially ever since Oguri Shun was the first Hanazawa Rui I had ever met. (and fell in love with) Honestly, I didn’t like that non-approachable feel to him. After awhile, I kind of …. “No wonder Todo Shuzuki left him!” … you know?
Hanazawa Rui (Anime) VS. Hanazawa Rui (JDrama) VS. Ji Hoo (KDrama)
Let’s get this straight first, Oguri Shun’s Hanazawa Rui is hands-down the best. No one can compete. I don’t know how he did it but I think… It’s just him. He IS Hanazawa Rui. He’s silent, stoic but also adorable. Ji Hoo’s portrayal of Hanazawa Rui really made me feel like grabbing him, shaking him and then punching him. That long hair, with the long fringe and urgh…. I can’t even go on. Don’t even get me started on his pre moustache stubble that always clashes with his overly brown hair. It was… fake. I don’t know much about the actor, (I don’t even know his name.. so I’m just going to keep referring to him as Ji Hoo) but he seemed to do a pretty okay job of playing Irie from Itazura na Kiss in the Korean adaptation: Playful Kiss. However, he just looked like a very tacky mess in this one. It just wasn’t right.
Now, I understand why I didn’t like the way he acted, I guess he was just trying to follow the anime version by being stoned all of the time. He didn’t bring any character to the role at all and frankly, the love triangle completely collapsed because he was not believable at all.
Back to Oguri Shun’s version.
Oguri Shun filled the physical criteria completely. He was tall, and very relaxed. Throughout everything, it didn’t feel like he was acting at all, it was completely natural. Of course, I fell in love with him. Who cares if I was eight? That’s just how good he was. After doing some research, I have come to realise that Oguri Shun is just that silent, tall and slightly adorable type. Because he brought this personality with him when he acted in the Hana Kimi Drama. (I didn’t really like him in that role because he was a little too silent. But I’ll save that for another day.) For me. Unlike the Korean adaptation, he definitely pulled off the brown hair. It definitely didn’t look unnatural on him and it was a nice shade of brown that complimented his features. And to top it off, he looked comfortable with the violin. Definitely not out of place.
I also like how Oguri Shun brought certain qualities to Hanazawa Rui. Hanazawa Rui in the anime doesn’t smile as often as Oguri Shun does, he doesn’t say “Makino” like Shun does, and he definitely doesn’t make my heart flutter as much. All those little things that Shun did, those nice little ‘Makino’s whenever he called her, how he always smiled at her (Except when he was really supposed to be serious) and how he was just so naturally charismatic.
(Not to mention, he saved her getting raped like three times. Does he have a radar that goes off every time or something? How does he move so fast from one place to another so quickly?)
I can’t express how much Shun has brought Hanazawa Rui to life for me.
I definitely rooted for him over Tsukasa in the Drama.
(I’m actually going down memory lane so much, I’m falling in love with him all over again..)
Back to lightening up the mood.
Shun’s depiction of how pissed off Hanazawa Rui would act was great. I loved how he didn’t give any other girls the time of day (Other than Makino and Shizuku) and he instantly weeded out the bad girls from the good ones. He was definitely the man that conveyed what the audience was feeling. And I really appreciated that. Without him in the picture, I may have very well dropped the JDrama series from all of the misunderstandings and drama.
In this round, Shun’s Hanazawa Rui trumps both the KDrama one and even the original anime version. He improved Hanazawa Rui and for that, I am thankful.
Please, don’t even hate on me for not liking the Korean one, did you see that Ji Hoo handed Jan Di a paper towel instead of proper handkerchief? I mean seriously, how rich are you? You can’t even give her your handkerchief? And what kind of rich guy even carries around a paper towel? And just one sheet? Are you kidding me? And do you also lack common sense? Have you never cleaned in your life? How in the world is one paper towel sheet supposed to clean all of the flour and egg off? You can’t even wet it without it tearing! Let me just smack him, please!
Trust me, just go back to episode one and watch that scene again because how do you expect to clean anything off like that?!
Makino Tsukushi (Anime): She’s practically the only commoner in Eitoku Gakuen (Eitoku High School). I don’t remember the exact details but I think that she was only able to snag a placement into such an expensive school because of how intelligent she was. (And she needs to graduate from this school to pursue her dream career of being a laywer?) However, I don’t really understand how she’s so smart if she never really studies. In all of the anime episodes she’s just thinking about boys and all of the drama. I really don’t like how she’s so completely loose in the anime. She lets any of the guys kiss her, she really does string Tsukasa on by allowing him to kiss her and it’s just not very appealing. I found it extremely hard to sympathise with her at all. I’m very pleased and grateful that they pulled that quality out of Makino in the dramas.
Makino Tsukushi (anime) VS Makino Tsukushi (JDrama) VS Gum Jan Di (KDrama)
For me, I finally understood why Makino was slightly annoying in the Japanese Drama. It’s definitely not Inoue’s fault at all, she was just doing her best to follow the original Makino in the anime and manga. I definitely agree with the casting director with this choice. Inoue definitely has a resemblance to the original Makino, be it the haircut to her body build. I’m very happy that they chose a girl that looked like a teenager, who wasn’t extremely thin. If you compare Inoue to the anime version, you can definitely see a resemblance.
The Korean choice on the other hand…
Wasn’t very good. They chose a woman that definitely did not look like she was in high school at all, she didn’t even come close! She looked old enough to be Jun Pyo’s big sister. She could easily have been passed off as a thirty-year-old. It also wasn’t convincing watching her play the ‘poor girl’. Especially when she was telling all of the rich girls off for having gone under the knife. Because the actor herself has definitely been under the knife, be it for her eyes, her nose or even her cheeks. Her hair was another factor that didn’t click right. The very essence of Makino would be her signature braids. Which was not even included until the very end…it’s just plain stupid. Plus, what is with her becoming a doctor? You can’t go around changing things like that!
In this round, Inoue as Makino Tsukushi takes the win. She looked like the anime version without all of the super annoying traits and so for that she gets an extra gold star.
Now for Akira and Soujiro, we’re just going to be super quick with it.
I actually really liked Soujiro in the anime version, he looked good and he was a great friend. Now, I’m not sure if I can ever get over Akira’s long hair, but he wasn’t too bad in the anime either.
For both the dramas, I would choose with the Japanese casting for Akira and Soujiro, they just stayed really true to the character and truth be told, they look pretty accurate. Except for Akira maybe, but I don’t think you could give anyone’s Akira’s hairstyle while expecting them to remain somewhat presentable. So I’m choosing the Japanese Akira because the Korean one’s face pissed me off.
Don’t lie, it pissed you off too.
I was initially pretty upset with Soujiro’s hairstyle in Hana Yori Dango 2, however after watching the anime, I understand that they just wanted him to look like the original one.
All in all, I like the casting better for the Japanese one however, I like how the Korean one attempted to stay true to the events that occurred in the manga/anime. Aside from Jan Di becoming a doctor, Jun Pyo being afraid of insects and swimming, Ji Hoo being afraid of driving and Korean Soujiro making pottery instead of tea. You know what SCREW IT! The Korean one butchered it up too, and maybe even more..
Let’s not forget that no one in the Korean Drama looked like they were actually still students
You can’t just get a whole bunch of old farts to play High School students! That’s just not how it works!
All in all, the Japanese Drama wins!
I’m tired now.
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