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?
StoryThere 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.AnimationThe 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.SoundFor 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.CharactersSuch 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.OverallAs 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.
StoryHana Yori Dango is a shoujo anime that has been around since 96. It’s about Tsukushi who joins Eiken Academy â€“ a school for upper-class people. This show deals with three themes. The first theme, which becomes apparent quite fast, is bullying/harassment. It isn’t quite sandbox bullying "Gimme back my spade! Gimme back my spade you dummy!" type of thing. This is real-life school (be it junior high, high-school or university, even workplace) harassment depicted in its purest, most raw, uncensored way. Tsukushi comes from a poor family who insist on her going to Eiken because of one or more underlying reasons. Also, in this school we have F4 â€“ the most respected (because of fear) group of men who will make life a hell for anyone just looking at them the wrong way. This is shown by the victim receiving a 'red note' in his or her locker. Once that has been done everyone on the school will stop talking to the victim, a group of violent people will harass the victim, another group will spread bad rumors and so on. It's a physical and mental all-out harassment. This is shown exceptionally well and feels very real, because it happens in today's modern society. In this show Tsukushi manages to get one of those red notes when she defends a friend of hers who accidentally fell onto one of the F4 boys. From there on her personal hell begins. So, we get to follow Tsukushi who keeps on fighting for her rights, not only that but she declares war of the F4 leader Domyouji who is son of one of the richest people in Japan. From there on we get onto the second part of the show: love-triangles. This part feels very much like a soap opera for a while. It’s very clichÃ© at times and could’ve been any live-action romance soap opera. Basically, Tsukushi develops feelings for one of the F4 guys because one or many reasons, while another one develops feelings for her â€“ and then we have the rivals, friendship, backstabbers...and everything becomes messy for a while. The show picks itself up quite fast though and the excessive soapyness disappears. Now we hit the third theme which deals with the lower class and upper-class differences as well as the prejudices, why does some rich people act like they do? This is handled exceptionally well and the theme is given reasonable time unfold. It also deals with the issue of politically arranged marriages and the standpoints of the various parties involved. All in all this is a watch worthy show. It gets very emotional and feels very real at times which is what makes this show very good. The love-triangle soap opera was a little much for my taste, but considering all of the good points with this show it’s just a small bump on the road. The 51 episode long show is concluded in a most acceptable way and left me with nothing but satisfaction. AnimationI don’t quite know what to make of this part. First I thought the production was wrong. It says 1996 â€“ 1997, but watching it I began to wonder if it wasn’t 86 â€“ 87 instead. Almost everything about this show breathes 86 â€“ 87. The image transfer, the opening theme, the way the backgrounds were done, colors everything. It felt very much like Maison Ikkoku but with more modern character designs and cars. The backgrounds are almost solely watercolor which gives the show a more softer feel. The character designs are well done and when it comes to facial close-ups it seems like these are the predecessors to the designs the guys who made Sol Bianca and Armitage III â€“ Dual matrix uses. Which brings me to the good points. I really liked how they drew the lips and noses in the close up shots. The lips are clearly accentuated, as is the nose. It’s not like some of today’s designs where you can barely see the nose or the lips. The lines uses for the characters are black and solid ink. Overall the animation has a very soft feel that definitely fits the show. That isn't to say the story is soft, because it’s anything but soft... it just feels very fitting. If I am to compare this show against another 96 â€“ 97 anime the score will be rather low (somewhere around the 6 region), but if I were to include how well it fits the show into the equation I'd rate the animation closer to a 7. SoundSame as with the visuals. It feels very mid 80’s. The audio is a bit muddy, just like my cassette tapes from late 80’s that I still have lying around. I didn’t recognize any particular VA in this show either. They all perform alright and I don’t have anything particularly bad to say. The opening piece sounds very late 60’s early 70’s. It could’ve been a Gilbert O’Sullivan tune that they played. The opening animation is nice with the whole crew performing a dance show in rhythm to the theme. The background music consists of classical pieces only, except for one that is of a more boogie style with a very nice saxophone solo. These pieces are so good that they definitely didn't sound like they came from a soundtrack. Instead, they were the same caliber as any other normal classical tune out there! This gets a big plus from me. I’m a bit tired of the cold-lifeless synthetic synthesizer strings and one-man-band keyboard soundtrack compositions which is used every here and there. The music fits the scene and sets the mood exactly and precisely. CharactersThe important part of the show is undoubtedly the characters, their interactions and their personalities. The show shines in this department. You can’t make a show about relations if you don’t make the characters come alive, after all. Tsukushi is the main character in this show and we follow her life. This whole process is shown exceptionally well. The hell at her school, how she tackles her problems, the problems at home with her family where her mom is a part-timer and her dad has an unsure future regarding his employment. We have some friendships developing throughout this show. We also have those who exploit Tsukushi's good faith and belief in people, and her contacts with F4. All in all I don’t have anything bad to say in this section. The characters feel and act real considering their backgrounds, upbringing and so on. The show does exceptionally well in showing the bad eggs of the show. The real ..."jerks" (I’m sure you get my drift). I’m usually a calm and composed person, but at times I found myself staring at my corpse-white knuckles. If that isn’t empathy then I don’t know what is. OverallA great show for those who enjoy drama and romance. This is nothing for those who are interested in lots of actions and violence and uninterested in relationships and emotional situations. If you like soap opera type stuff then you’ll like it even more. It went overboard at one part of the show but other than that I only have good things to say. This show does very well in this genre and there aren’t many shows as describing as this one. It also sends out an important message â€“ that it’s important to have dreams and goals to pursue â€“ that quitting, giving up and sulking over ones own fate won’t do much good. It isn’t all about backstabbing, misfortune and darkness in this show though. It does have a lighter side that shines through every now and then. Times aren’t always bad, or as bad as they seem.
This is a personal favorite, as I love romances. This is a soap opera. It's full of romance and love triangles. If you're not into that kind of stuff, I would avoid this one. For me, this was a guilty pleasure and I finished the whole thing in a week. It started to get repetitive towards the end, though. How many misunderstandings and backstabbing can there be? Well, if it's a hit show, apparently a lot. I watched this because this website said it's supposed to be like Ouran high School. There's only the vaguest similarity. This is pure drama, with no comedy. Also the guys in Ouran are more likeable. They aren't bullies. I hated the track. They never changed it til the end. I wasn't too impressed with the animation either, but I learned to love it. Nevertheless, I love the heroine. The character development is excellent and you can see how several people evolve over time.
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