Ok, I TOTALLY have an excuse for being away from this blog for so long. I know my musings on manga have been sorely missed. *Crickets*
My excuse came in the form of the highly addictive- but quite long- manga, Hana Yori Dango by Yoko Kamio. It's been translated as Boys Over Flowers and made into quite a few TV shows- and anime! ...And...um...after reading the extremely loooong manga, I ummm...discovered Netflix had the Korean TV show version of it available on streaming...and...yeah. Geek.
Ok- fuuurst: I really liked that Makino Tsukushi is so kick ass at first. That kick assitude (sorry, oh my past English teachers) warbles a bit halfway and towards the end, but not enough to have turned me off from the story. I also liked that Domyouji Tsukasa falls for her so hard. He's a spoiled brat and Tsukushi is the one "thing" he can't have just because he wills it so.
In a way, it's a Beauty and the Beast story- over the course of time, through the many, many(...zomg, why so many?...) trials and tribulations, they emerge transformed because of their love for each other. Domyouji is still a bit of a jerk, but he's a gentler, kinder jerk (huh?) and Makino learns how to open her heart a bit more and show her more vulnerable self. I mean, there are some real heart-grabbing moments in there, where you can see them move more in sync and grow.
I thought the mangaka could have had them be a little more affectionate with each other- sometimes the bickering got a little heavy-handed and felt badly timed. If these guys ever get the "star-crossed lovers" label, make sure to add "star cross-eyed lovers," because, oh boy, did the cosmos have it out for them! A little more tenderness and closeness would have been a lot more satisfying after all their shared disasters. Also, is it just me, or was the ending not quite satisfying? Yes, it is implied that they will end up together...but couldn't we have a peek of that? I mean, waiting years to be together? Get on a freaking plane and meet on the holidays... Bah. I always liked seeing them together and getting along at last, so I guess that was the final image I wanted before diverting my gaze away from the final page- just that last reassurance that they would be okay...*Sigh* (Ok, everyone on 1-2-3: GROW UP!)
Ok, to Makino.
She's so adorable. She goes from the person who just doesn't want to get into trouble and blend into the masses to defender of the defenseless. Did I mention she's the only one who has the cojones (oh, that should bring all kinds of unexpected and colorful traffic to this site) to stand up to the arrogant F4- the clique of guys that dominates their high school.
I love the before and after drawings of her:
The before picture is all uptight- quite literally even: check out those braids. They might as well have been her resolve tied into a knot!
Then...the fabulous after picture: Defiant, cute, and spontaneous. Love her.
She gets the red flag in her locker- a flag that indicates to the other students at their prestigious school that the F4 is displeased with them for whatever capricious reason, thus launching open bullying and harassing season on the unlucky recipient. What does my grrrrl do? What? She smacks them with her own red flags. I actually yelled "HA!" when I first saw this. One of the best moments in shoujo manga. Ever.
They don't know what hit them. MWAHAHA!
I like how Domyouji is drawn. He doesn't have the stereotypical bishie hair flowing. He's got a bunch of curls springing out of his head. He's immediately unique, not just because of his behavior, but because of his appearance.
The Korean TV show is, apparently, compared to other versions, the best one. I thought that Geun Jan Di, Makino's Korean counterpart, held her own alongside the adorable Goo Joon Pyo, Domyouji's counterpart. I mean, it's a TV soap- plot lines were altered, of course- but I think it remained true to the spirit of the manga, even if it was far more PG than the manga. Plus, the Korean Domyouji, Lee Min Ho, is the only one honoring and rocking those RIGHTEOUS CURLS:
The series is worth watching just for Geum Jan Di's outrageous family. The scene when they drag the aristocratic Goo Joon Pyo to the public baths is just side splitting...Or am I just being reminded of great embarrassments perpetrated against me by my own kin??