Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers)
The Japanese manga series Hana Yori Dango, created by Yoko Kamio, is a popular story of a poor girl who comes across the path of her school’s ruling elite group of four boys that goes by the name of F4. This is a shoujo romance manga series that has been acknowledged as the best-selling shoujo manga in Japan of all time!
The story starts with Tsukushi Makino, a working-class girl, going to school in a rich and elite school wherein the rich and famous attend. In this school, there is a group called F4, which is comprised of the four richest and most powerful guys in their area. The F4, however, can be abusive of their power over the school. Even the school principal and the staff cannot object to their wishes. The families of the F4, after all, are among the owners of the school.
Tsukasa Domyouji is the leader of F4. His childhood lonely and extraordinary, he grew up angry and dominating. One small word or action that pisses him off will make the person responsible and sorry. If someone stands up to them, the consequence is constant bullying and never-ending suffering. Everyone was afraid to be the subject of contempt of the F4, most of all that of Tsukasa Domyouji.
Until Tsukushi Makino, the leading lady of the story, stood up to them.
From there, the story begins to revolve around their love story, which has undeniably captured the hearts and attention of many audiences across Asia.
But the point of this post is not the story! The point of this post is to compare which of the two F4’s is better: Japan’s or Taiwan’s. After its hearty response among the readers of the manga series, Hana Yori Dango was made into a live action series.
Taiwan’s Meteor Garden
Taiwan went first in making the TV series. They made some changes over the story: The setting was made in a university instead of that in high school, and the Japanese names and title was changed to Taiwanese. Hana Yori Dango was changed into Meteor Garden.
Jerry Yan plays the equivalent of Domyouji Tsukasa, who was renamed Dao Ming Si in the Taiwanese version. I have to say, he did a great job looking like the towering bully that the character is.
Vic Zhou plays Tsukasa’s best friend and his rival in love, Hanazawa Rui, renamed as Hua Ze Lei. Singer and dancer Vanness Wu (who did the rap in Beyonce’s Asian version of Crazy In Love) plays the guy who likes to play around with older women, Mimasaka Akira, renamed as Mei Zuo. Lastly, Nishikado Soujirou, renamed as Ximen, is played by Ken Chu. Barbie Hsu plays the leading lady, Tsukushi Makino, renamed as Xian Cai.
Japan’s Hana Yori Dango
Japan only made their live version of the manga series after Meteor Garden received enormous popularity across Asia. They stuck to the original title and names (it’s originally in Japanese, after all). They also used the same high school setting as in the manga series.
Jun Matsumoto (middle, right) plays Tsukasa Domyouji. Shun Oguri (top left) plays the silent Hanazawa Rui. Tsuyoshi Abe plays the womanizing Mimasaka Akira (top right) and Matsuda Shota plays Nishikado Soujirou (bottom). Tsukushi Makino is played by Mao Inoue.
My Verdict: Well, each one has their strengths and weaknesses. But overall I choose Japan’s F4. While their look as a group isn’t as overpowering and bully-like as that of the Taiwanese F4 (Jun Matsumoto is the shortest among the four and he’s the leader?!), their acting skills make up for it. Jun Matsumoto is a well-established actor, and so is Shun Oguri, whereas the Taiwanese F4 are only at the beginning of their acting careers when they made the series. The female lead also added some spice (of course!). Barbie Xu, however okay her performance was, could not add up to Mao Inoue’s display of willpower and determination as is required of the character.