Hana Yori Dango
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Notes: Also known as "Boys Over Flowers" a play on an idiom "Food Over Flowers" referring to the importance of the former over the latter. There is also a Japanese live action series and a Taiwanese live action series.
Makino Tsukushi is a girl from a poor family who attends an elite private school called Eitoku Academy. She is surrounded by snobbish rich kids from high society families. The worst are the "Flower Four" (F4) who practically run the school. The F4 leader Domyoji Tsukasa is the son of the wealthiest, most powerful family in Japan. After Tsukasa stands up to his bullying, hot headed Tsukasa becomes infatuated with her, but Tsukushi has a crush on his best friend, the ultra-cool Hanazawa Rui.
This is an older anime and as such the backgrounds are flat and not detailed; the colors are muted rather than bright and vibrant. The character designs are in a nice simple shoujo style. However, the score is tip top with lovely string instrumentals and a very catchy and lively opening song "Steppin' Out." The strength of the series is the main characters, who are all well voiced with the right personalities and expressions. But there are a couple of more minor characters with very annoying grating voices that seem too young and are more suited for little kids than high school students.
This series is an excellent romantic comedy drama centering on a love triangle between stubborn Tsukushi, hot headed Tsukasa and apathetic Rui. Although it is rather a long series at 51, it doesn't feel that way and even the handful of mediocre episodes still advance the development of the characters and their relationships.
After Tsukushi stands up to Tsukasa's bullying, by knocking him out, Tsukasa decides she's the only one for him. However, he is unable to express his feelings in a normal way and instead still treats Tsukushi like an inferior. Tsukushi has feelings for Tsukasa's best friend Rui, a quiet and emotionally muted boy who is in love with someone else. Things become complicated as Tsukushi's feelings shift from one boy to the other and back again ff as other characters interfere.
As with any melodrama, there are contrived situations (being stuck in an elevator, getting lost, getting sick), but it's forgivable since the characters are so strong and likeable. Tsukushi's feelings are realistically portrayed; Tsukasa gradually changes into someone more sympathetic and loveable; and even Rui is warmed by Tsukushi's vibrant personality.
Rated PG with a few light sexual situations. Recommended for all, especially romantics and couples.
Hana Yori Dango (Japanese Live Action): B+ This is a good albeit relatively short adaptation which concentrates more on comedy than drama. The second season is very poorly edited and not as good as the first.Meteor Garden (Taiwanese Live Action) B+ The first season is a good faithful adaptation of the manga. The second season deviates from the manga and is not nearly as good, suffering from slow pacing and too much screen time with annoying characters. Concentrates more on drama than the Japanese version.