Manga Review: Boys Over Flowers

I received this book for free from Library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Manga Review: Boys Over FlowersBoys Over Flowers by Yoko Kamio
Published by VIZ Media on June 9, 2009
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

When her only friend, Makiko, accidentally offends F4 leader Tsukasa, Tsukushi boldly defends her. Enraged, Tsukasa puts the dreaded red tag in Tsukushi's locker — a sign that she is now a target for the abuse of the F4 gang and the entire school. But when Tsukushi fights the gang with their own weapon, Tsukasa finds himself falling for her!

Warning: this review may contain spoilers.

For a lot of people when they think of manga, they’ll probably think either of a battle manga, like Naruto, or an over-the-top melodramatic romance series, of which Boys Over Flowers is a perfect example. It is in every way absurd and improbable. There is nothing of the real world about it. Every page oozes with romantic drama, love triangles and betrayal, not to mention amnesia (oh wait, I just did).

However, I did read the whole thing (twice…because I wanted to review it and my memory was fuzzy), although I have no plans to read it ever again. At the outset, I actually rather liked the story, even though I find a school so in the thrall of its students preposterous. I mean, at one point, Tsukushi is tied up and dragged behind a moving vehicle in front of the school. In what universe would a teacher or administrator not put a stop to this, if only for liability’s sake? (I told you it was over-the-top.) Plus, why would these guys allow people to call them the Flower 4? Yes, that’s what the F stands for. SUPER LAME!

What I liked though was Tsukushi’s spirit. She’s not particularly attractive, she’s poor and she’s not even brilliant. Still, she refuses to let others make her feel like she’s worthless. If only to spite others, she finds resources within herself to face the challenges and pain life gives to her. That trait I found to be rather admirable.

Another thing I appreciated at the beginning was that this is not another story where the girl pines away for the guy she’s been obsessed with, waiting for him to want her. Instead, Tsukasa is desperately in obsession with her, but unable to make her his. This brings me to one of the many in this story that I just cannot get over or accept. His frustrated longing for her makes him do something stupid, namely to attempt rape in the school. He doesn’t actually do it, but he does force kisses and rip open her shirt. As much as the story takes the reader in hand, I find it impossible to ever forgive such behavior.

This may be why, even though after that incident Yoko Kamio tries really hard to show the reader Tsukasa’s true feelings for Tsukushi, I just don’t buy it completely. Even now, after reading all 36 volumes and Jewelry Box, and additional volume she added to close some plot lines, I still ship Tsukushi more with Rui Hanazawa. His character grew into such a great person and it’s really a shame.

A lot of what happens here is just awful. Still, there’s a reason it’s so incredibly popular. It’s addictive, much like Gossip Girl and Twilight. The lives and loves it depicts are in now way something to emulate; they’re a car crash and you just want to watch, even though you hate yourself for it.

P.S. Yoko Kamio’s actually the author of one of my favorite manga’s Cat Street, which is not yet licensed in the U.S. It’s so much better than this one, her most famous work.

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