The Many Faces of Hana Kimi

What can I say, it’s probably one of the longest series I’ve ever read completely through and has the most live actions I’ve ever seen for a single series. Today’s topic, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e!

Hana Kimi vol 1 cover

NAKATSU Shuuichi, ASHIYA Mizuki, and SANO Izumi

Just a little info for everyone, Hana Kimi started as a manga by NAKAJO Hisaya. The series ran for nearly eight years and finished in 2004 with a total of 23 volumes plus seven “After School” chapters that were published in one volume as a little bonus as to what happened to some of the characters after the main storyline ended. The story is about ASHIYA Mizuki, a Japanese-American girl who decides to go to Japan, disguised as a boy, to enroll in an all-boys high school to stalk to meet her high-jump idol, SANO Izumi. I won’t go too in-depth with the details of the story, just in case someone wants to read it later on, but I will talk about some of the differences and my opinions on the different dramas! There may still be some spoilers though, so keep that in mind.

To my knowledge, there are a total of four different live action versions that have been made based on the Hana Kimi manga. The first was the 2006 Tdrama, Hanazakarino Kimitachihe (or Huā Yàng Shǎo Nián Shǎo Nǚ in Chinese). Next came the two Jdramas Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (including the related special episode, “Sotsugyoshiki & 7 to 1/2 wa Special”) and Hanazakari no Kimitachi e 〜Ikemen Paradise〜 2011, which is a 2011 (no, really?) remake of the 2007 drama with a different cast and an “alternate universe” storyline. Last comes the Kdrama To the Beautiful You (or Areumda-un Geudae-ege in Korean) from 2012.

This is actually one of the few series in which I didn’t start with the manga, but I’m going to talk about the manga first anyway. It took me quite a long time to start reading this series, but once I did, I was hooked. 🙂 It took me about a week to read the entire series from the beginning. I hadn’t read a lot of manga from the 90s before, so the art was a little odd for me at first, but I quickly grew fond of it. The art also gets more polished as the story continues. Hana Kimi turned out to be one of my most favorite series ever, even if Mizuki is a stalker in the beginning. No one else may think so, but I can’t think of another word to describe a girl who would enroll in an all-boys school located across an ocean just to meet someone she idolizes. Anyway, the characters are definitely not static nor shallow, and their interactions are entertaining to observe. I really like all of the characters and they all had their own part in the story, which is always nice to see. Some of my favorite characters are the school doctor, UMEDA Hokuto, and the head of the third dormitory, HIMEJIMA Masao, aka Oscar M. Himejima. They are mostly there for comic relief, but I still think they are fun and interesting characters. I also love the trio, SEKIME Kyougo, NOE Shinji, and KAYASHIMA Taiki, that are friends with the main trio. I was a little disappointed in the vagueness of the ending, but it works well for the series as there wasn’t a lot of drama or heavy romance to begin with. The manga itself was also well-paced, though at times it did seem a little slow, almost feeling like a slice-of-life manga, but it wasn’t boring. The only thing that was a bit awkward were some of the “they do blahblah in America,” which weren’t true, but I guess it’s to be expected. All in all, I think this is a good example of shoujo manga at its best!

My introduction to Hana Kimi was actually the first Jdrama, which I watched shortly after it finished airing. I found out about it by chance and watched it on a whim after reading the synopsis. And while there are quite a few differences between this storyline and the manga (like the fact that it’s an all-boys high school just for good-looking guys (ikemen) that Mizuki enrolls in), it was still a good drama in its own right and kept the basics of the original story while adding some spunk and nonsense here and there. It also doesn’t cover the entire manga; the basic plot of the entire drama is mostly covered in the first few volumes, but it does include some other things that happen a bit later. I think the only thing I had a hard time accepting was Sano’s personality… he was a little too angry. Also, the scenario about how Sano gets injured is a little weird (he was in America because?). Though, it does make more sense in the fact that Mizuki has more of a reason for wanting Sano to high jump again. Still, I enjoyed watching it. I’ve actually re-watched it a couple of times since then! 🙂 I also enjoyed the music! It was fun and catchy. A little while later, I found out there was going to be a special episode made, and I remember being super excited. I ended up being disappointed after watching it, well even while watching it. I don’t think it did any justice to the original episodes and it seemed a bit forced. Yes, they introduced Julia and a bit more of the manga storyline, but I just didn’t enjoy it.

I tried watching the Jdrama remake after it started airing, but I barely made it through the first episode. I was already having doubts about it during the first few minutes, but I thought it might get better, so I gave it a chance. It was a struggle… and unfortunately, it didn’t get better, at least not enough to impress me and to keep me interested in it. From what I remember of it, which isn’t much really, the storyline was changed a bit in the fact that the school was really poor and the dorms were falling apart… or something to that extent. There may have been more differences than that, but I didn’t watch long enough to find out anything else. I don’t really have any plans of watching this specific drama, ever.

The second version of Hana Kimi that I watched was the Tdrama, and I think I actually prefer this version more, but only in terms of the plot being closer to that of the manga. If you are looking for a way to get the most of the original story without out reading every volume, this is the way to go. The only striking differences between this live action and the manga are the beginning and the ending. Like in the manga, Mizuki enrolls in Sano’s school because he is her idol and because he inspired her. The difference is that he inspired her… to lose weight. >_> Apparently, the Taiwanese Mizuki was quite chubby before, and after seeing Sano do a high jump, she decided to first lose a bunch of weight and then stalk him. The ending to this live action was also a bit weird. Instead of everyone finding out Mizuki is a girl, Sano tells them that “her” big secret is… (drum roll, please) that she is going back to America for double eyelid surgery. <_< Seriously? I really don’t understand why that would need to be such a huge secret, but anyway. Overall, this was a good drama and I did enjoy watching it. Sometimes the characters seemed a bit odd, but that might be due to cultural differences between the two countries.

Last, but certainly not least, the Kdrama! I will say right now though that I have not watched the entire drama yet. I don’t even think I got through the first episode entirely. However, from what I did see, it looked promising and I do have plans to watch it, just probably not right now. I may even come back to the Hana Kimi topic later and talk about this drama and how it compares with the manga and the other dramas if it inspires me to do so. Actually, I probably will write at least a little something since I did talk about everything else! One thing I will say about it though is “Ahgaddadoodis!” When Mizuki said this line, I thought it was hilarious! Then I thought it was a bit silly. As mean as it sounds, I think they should have tried to improve the English pronunciation a bit, since Mizuki does live in America, but oh well. That and the scene with the suitcase is probably what made me decide that I would watch this drama. The rest will have to wait for another day.

One last thing I would like to say is, why was there never an anime made!?!? Considering the popularity of the manga and the success of the different live action versions, you would think there would have been an anime. Well, it’s never too late to start making one, right? *Hopes uselessly*

Until next time,

ChibiChin.  (ノ◕◡◕)ノ*:・゚✧

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