Sooo I thought I might as well start reviewing the jdramas I’ve seen! I apologize if I’m not particularly insightful on these shows; I’m not a great writer or anything, and I’ve never done anything like this. But I’d like to voice my opinion on them, and make sure not to give out any spoilers, so take a look and see if a certain drama might interest you!
For this first review I’ll write, I just have to do the one that many of you have probably seen, an absolute classic: Hana Yori Dango. Although technically not the first drama I’ve ever seen, it might as well have been as it really brought me into the wonderful world of jdramas. You might be familiar with the manga (I was never a fan), and the show does often feel like an anime come to life. Funny, great actors, and if you don’t mind romance, this is definitely a great “first” drama.
The plot might seem rather stereotypical and unrealistic, but I think that’s what brings it a certain amount of charm - the classic manga situation. Makino Tsukushi is a girl that comes from a poor family but is sent to attend an elite school full of ridiculously rich students. The four most influential of these, a group going by the name of F4 (who are not only rich but really attractive), lord over the school: Mimasaka Akira, Nishikado Soujiro, Hanazawa Rui, and their leader Domyouji Tsukasa. Domyouji is especially aggressive and arrogant, and he targets specific students to torment to exhibit F4’s power. By a twist of fate, Makino becomes one of these targets, but for the first time in F4’s history, Makino stubbornly fights back. She becomes entangled with F4 in a flurry of love triangles, comic arguments, and many outrageous situations. The ending of the series, in my opinion, was very satisfactory, and while there is a sense of closure, it also definitely sets you up for the second season, which I might like even better. In the second season all the old characters are back along with several new ones for more laughs and tears. There was also a full-length movie that takes place after the second season to wrap up the story, which I won’t really go into as much although I did greatly enjoy it as well.
There were so many things I loved about this drama, although it’s hard to clearly explain why it’s so addicting. The characters were great and the actors had such good chemistry. While you sort of hate F4 at first, especially Domyouji, those feelings completely reverse themselves somehow as the show progresses. Domyouji is always angry, but comically so, and his clumsy manners in showing his affection can actually be pretty touching – I love the way Matsumoto Jun played him. Hanazawa Rui was one of the first jdrama characters that I just fell in love with – not only is Oguri Shun super handsome in this, but his quiet and mysterious, yet very kind and caring personality can make any girl melt. Soujiro is so cute, especially in the first season, and I really liked his character and story. Akira is the nice, peaceful one who’s always trying to get everyone to get along despite all the drama (poor guy). F4’s relationship oftentimes seems like it wouldn’t work due to such different personalities, but somehow their chemistry is really great. Makino Tsukushi is one of my favorite female characters ever in jdramas; Mao Inoue is so cute! Makino’s crazy family, who are really poor but always full of life, along with the other friends and enemies at the school, just bring so much color and extra humor to the show. Overall, there are so many laughs and ridiculous situations that make this show interesting.
I will admit the show can be pretty frustrating at times. A lot of the unfortunate situations wouldn’t happen if the characters would just… communicate better… it’s a little much sometimes. Love triangles can be pretty tiring too as someone always loses… Super romancy dramas don’t usually appeal to me because of the cheesiness of it all, and when I think about it logically, there are many of those elements in Hana Yori Dango. Sometimes I feel that the actors over act a little bit too; the show very much behaves like a cartoon. Yet somehow all of these typically negative (for me) aspects somehow didn’t bother me at all when I was watching this show. Something about it sets it apart from other romantic dramas. The flow of the story and the chemistry of the actors just work so well and make Hana Yori Dango exceptional.
Ultimately, this was a great romantic comedy that revolved around lovable characters and employed some really fun humor. I would strongly recommend this one, as it’s definitely one of my favorite dramas of all time. If you’ve never seen a jdrama before, Hana Yori Dango is a good one to start with.