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Hana Yori Dango Review

April 14, 2007

story 4/10

Hana Yori Dango screenshot

There are many individuals online who seem to believe that all anime, regardless of its genre or general quality, is art. According to them, each and every series is something to be admired from a suitably safe distance, and any sort of criticism is basically heresy.

The problem with this theory lies in shows like Hana Yori Dango. The show seems interested in nothing but catering to the lowest common denominator, and throws all manner of clichés into the work to do so. If Hana Yori Dango is "art," so is fast food.

The shows derivative nature is most noticeable in the plot, which seems to be moving on rails from the very start. Even those with minimal experience in either traditional shoujo or Hollywood romantic comedy will still probably find the "twists" predictable and the by-the-book dialogue all too familiar. Everything feels hackneyed and overdone. In one scene, a character shouts out that he loves the protagonist, but his voice is drowned out by a noisy vehicle that happens to be driving by at the time. Seriously, who hasn’t seen that somewhere else?

Despite this, the plot is initially entertaining on camp value alone. The cheesy and predictable nature of the plot lends a certain charm similar to what Fushigi Yuugi had going for it. However, this isn’t really enough to carry the series for all 51 episodes; it’s only a matter of time before the gas runs dry and the show tanks.

All of this leads to an ending that is at once obvious and moronically illogical. The contortions that the writing has to go through in order to twist the ending into something acceptable to the studio execs surpass mere deus ex machina and into absolute absurdity. The anime doesn’t quite dip to the level of the “it was all a dream” style of conclusion, but comes far closer than any respectable work ever should.

animation 3.5/10

The series is also hurt somewhat by its age; the animation was most likely only serviceable when the show was aired, and has since aged horribly. In particular, the character designs feel extremely dated and ugly, and any sort of action looks clunky and unnatural.

sound 5/10

For the soundtrack, practically the entirety is comprised of classical music mixed at a fairly high (and noticeable) volume. This might have actually worked better in a classier show, but when played alongside the soap opera antics that the characters engage in, the music feels distinctly out of place. The music also becomes a little repetitive when the same handful of tracks is used for all 51 episodes.

characters 5/10

Such a story has been saved in the past by a set of solid, likeable characters, but Hana Yori Dango has no such luck. The protagonist has the perky, survive-through-any-hardship vibe that seems to be a universal trait among shoujo heroines, but is otherwise a blank slate (similar to male “heroes” in harem shows). The two main love interests fare slightly better in originality, but I hated them all the same. One character is a violent, stupid and snobbish oaf that will probably be beating his wife in 20 years, while the other shows so little emotion that it’s difficult to feel anything for him at all. The two personalities seem as if they were made specifically to appeal to shallow female adolescents, most likely because they were. The supporting cast ranges from mildly annoying to completely forgettable.

overall 4.5/10

As a whole, whatever charm the series might initially have in the beginning is lost as the longwinded, predictable and dull plot drags out the premise to the point of tedium. The technical elements are lackluster, and the characters are sub-par. Like other "classic" romance anime from the 80s and 90s, the show will never be forgotten by its fans, but probably should be.

Anime Info

The average Tsukushi Makino attends the snobby, elite Eitoku Academy, which is dominated by the Flower Four (F4) – the sons of the most powerful families. Like the rest of her classmates, Tsukushi keeps a low profile until one day she can stand it no more! For her obstinance, the F4 declare war and it's Tsukushi against all. In the middle of it all, she finds herself drawn strangely close to two of the F4; they might not be as bad as they seem. With her heart torn between two boys, will Tsukushi be able to find the love she desires?


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comments

neverafall avatar neverafall
Jul 23, 2012

I completely agree. I loved the manga series though. It was a much more well-rounded story line and the characters looked better. 

coffeebreath avatar coffeebreath
Feb 22, 2011

I love the fact that practically all these comments are, in summary, saying "yeah you're right but this shit still rocked" and I'm here to do the same.

I do agree with most of your points, although I think in story you were too harsh... were you completely passive to the drama side of things with the bullying and the underlying discourse of class difference? I related to all that. Maybe to most it was just side fodder, but I read an interesting review in a magazine that related HYD to bullying as a social phenomena in Japan, as apparantly the Japanese do not discuss it (like a lot of things) and it leads to suicide. That's a whole new debate though... I definitely didn't take HYD that seriously, it was good indulgent fun for me.

The characters definitely pissed me off quite often, and I certainly hated people like Sakurako, even Tsukushi was annoyingly dim-witted at times. Tsukasa, well... I have to say I shocked myself because I cannot deny I adore his character despite him being a violent woman-beating almost rapist.

Still, good ranty review... I like the idea of HYD being "fast food" anime. McDonalds really just hits the spot sometimes.

pcharmon105 avatar pcharmon105
Jan 5, 2011

I actually really enjoyed Hana Yori Dango. Like, I get what you're saying, buuuutttt, it was still awesome. lol

redfire389 avatar redfire389
Dec 1, 2010

Well I watched this anime some years ago, It took me like only 3 days to finish it, cause I got stuck watched one episode after another. The story just kept me watching, and it's not like I had watched lots of romance stuff so I wasn't aware of all the clichés. Anyway I loved it, I agree with almost everything you say, but I think it had a good animation for that time, and I like the drawings style the show wasn't as bad either, I would probably give it an overall 6.5

Tyr162000 avatar Tyr162000
Nov 16, 2010

WOREST REVIEW EVER!!!!!

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