Manga Made into Dramas: Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (2007)

These reviews of pop culture adaptations of books were something I did back in the day and which I have revived lately. I’ll only be reviewing movies/miniseries/television shows based on books/manga/graphic novels that I’ve not only read but feel I remember pretty well, though this is by my own discretion.

After rereading (for the third time, I do believe) Hisaya Nakajo’s manga Hana-Kimi (full title: Hanakazari no Kimitachi e) as part of a manga-reading project with Debby (Snuggly Oranges), Steph (Cuddlebuggery), and Gillian (Writer of Wrongs), I decided to try the drama again, especially after some prodding from Debby. Ironically, Debby came to regret that, because it’s one of her favorites and, while I did like parts of it, I cannot flail about it. Sad day. There are ways in which the 2007 Japanese drama improves on the manga series, predominantly in plot and brevity, but it fails utterly (for me, at least) in terms of shippy swoons, which is sad, because I LOVE me some shippy swoons. Depending on what you like best about Hana-Kimi, the humor or the romance, you might want to try the jdrama.

Nakatsu cosplay

Probably the best change made for this adaptation is to the back story. In the manga, Mizuki decides to transfer from her American high school to a Japanese boarding school for BOYS all to meet the athlete she fangirls over. Um, you’re a stalker hon. A BIG CREEPY INTERNATIONAL STALKER. That’s not normal. Also, she became obsessed with a high jumper she saw at one event on a family trip to Japan and it wasn’t exactly professional quality, since they were kids. It’s just weird and stalkery all around. However, in the jdrama, Sano was at some event in the US for his high jumping and he saved Mizuki from some creeps, but the creeps hurt him in revenge. Mizuki feels guilty about the injury he obtained rescuing her and decides to go to Japan to help him get back his motivation to jump. Still somewhat creepy, but more well-intentioned and less pure stalking.

The makers of the jdrama really embraced the humor aspect of Hana-Kimi and they make use of the school festivals and things, adding even more of them. While I didn’t like the festivals in the manga due to the insane amounts of info dumping, they were a lot funnier in a visual format. For all that the manga is absurd, the jdrama takes it a step further, with things like the inventions to test someone’s gender or whether or not they’re lying. Only in one episode does anyone actually seem to do any studying, but, hey, it’s funny and silly and not trying to be realistic.

And they did keep Sano being a kissing monster when drunk. Yay!

And they did keep Sano being a kissing monster when drunk. Yay!

They did, however, change the school to be one only for pretty guys, a really needless change that makes me even more judgmental about the attractiveness of the actors. Call me shallow if you want, but part of what I like to watch TV for is the pretty, ESPECIALLY if I’ve been promised the pretty. Sadly, there wasn’t a single boy that made me swoon. Not one with so many male actors. Ugh. The drama also added a closer connection to St. Blossom’s school, the partnering girls’ school. Every single morning, all the girls of St. Blossom’s would come out and squee about how hot the guys are. COME ON, LADIES, you see them EVERY day. Also, shouldn’t you be going to class too? It’s just weird. Anyway, want to see what they’re swooning over? Let’s bring out some of the cast!

Sano and Nakatsu
Sano
Nakatsu
Nanba
Kayashima
Oscar

The guy who sticks his tongue out, Nanba-senpai, becomes a model after he graduates. Ummm, yeah, no. Maybe it’s better shirtless? Come on, Sano! Save this!

shirtless sano

Or not. Every time they took their shirts off, I found myself yelling at the show “PUT IT BACK ON.” The prepubescent chests really were not working out for me. I mean, on some of them that makes sense, but DUDE Nakatsu and Sano at least are athletes and should not have chests that are practically caving in. To each her own, of course, but, man, I was not going to be swooning just from the attractiveness of the actors and the plot didn’t bring that element either.

The manga centers around the relationship between Sano Izumi and Ashiya Mizuki. The drama feels much less like a romance. It’s there, but sort of tucked into the background. If you’re in this for the swoons, you will not be satisfied. In fact, I’m almost surprised the jdrama didn’t rewrite the ending, because the whole show basically seems to center around Nakatsu. While I don’t ship him with Mizuki, I think I’m closer to shipping them than Sano/Mizuki, which is sad because I was a hundred percent for them in the manga. Of course, with what they chose to do with Shin’s character, Nakatsu’s a lot more interesting and they really got his character right. But almost all of the gifs from this show are of Nakatsu, which pretty much highlights how much the ship failed. Shippy gifs generally are the most popular, so yeah.

Nakatsu logic

Why did the romance fail? Partly it’s me being shallow and partly it’s the way they set up Sano’s character. While they did do an accurate representation of Sano, it’s only SOME of Sano’s character. They took all of his grumpiest moments and very little of him being caring and lightening up. It’s like they chose all his worst moments in the manga and thought that would be good. It’s not. And then there’s Oguri Shun. Debby loves him, and that’s fine, but he’s so not working for me.

On the right is the way the character is drawn in the manga; on the left is Oguri Shun as Sano. Now, I know the drawing isn’t particularly realistic, but they could have done better than this. For one thing, Shun doesn’t really have the lanky build I associate with most sorts of track, the build that is referenced many times in the manga in reference to both Sano and his rivals. Then there’s his hair, by which I mean his mullet. Bad hair is a big problem in jdramas and kdramas, and this series might take the award in that, but seriously WHY THIS HAIR? I’ve looked at some pictures of him from other things and, while I’m still not swooning, I can see his appeal. Why would the drama-makers intentionally make their star look his worst? I do not understand.

Sano and Nakatsu Maid Cafe

The emotional arc of the series really didn’t work without the shippy moments. Rather than feeling like a whole, it’s a bunch of vignettes at this crazy school. Not being romance-driven might broaden its appeal, but, with the romance having been my favorite aspect of the manga, I was left really disappointed.

One response to “Manga Made into Dramas: Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (2007)”

  1. Dana says:

    I love manga and anime, but I’ve never been a fan of Asian dramas. I have tons of relatives that enjoy them, though.
    Dana recently posted…The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

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