Alex Papillon June 16, 2007
Hana Kimi aka Hanazakari No Kimi Tachi E translated as “For You in Full Blossom”.
Some of you may have read the manga and I haven’t, but I was interested in the age-old theme of crossdressing for whatever purposes, nefarious or otherwise. Hey, the Ancient Greeks were pretty keen on it too in their hours long plays, hell days long. Hearing that a Taiwanese drama series had come out in 2006, I decided to give it a try. Now for anyone who’s actually interested in seeking it out, you’d pretty much have to go to Taiwan or order it off a site because I’m relatively certain the distribution is wonky in North America. You might be able to find it at some Chinese goods store in your local chinatown or somewhere like that, as I’ve seen S.H.E CDs there once or twice. If you’re lucky, there might be english subs but I wouldn’t count on it. Drama Addicts has a listing of fansubs on their site but for legal reasons I probably shouldn’t put any links =.=…and if you’re brave, it’s on YouTube but each episode is in seven or eight segments so have fun clicking every 6 or 7 minutes.
The drama casts ELLA from S.H.E (a very popular Taiwanese girls pop band) as Rui Xi (for Japanese to Taiwanese correlation of the manga characters go here), an aspiring Taiwanese girl who’s living in the USA and wants to meet the idol of her dreams, Zuo Yi Quan, the high jump champion from her growing up years. The catch is…he goes to an all boys school! So what does a girl do, dress up as a boy, of course!
Various people have commented on ELLA being “ugly” but I think that she was a good choice in the long run. It’s easier for more to people identify to her and believe the “seriousness” than to have an extremely glamorous popstar playing the part and not really looking like a guy. In fact, if you don’t think about it, ELLA does manage to pull off looking like a really young wimpy guy. Of course, her voice and still small frame betrays her but it’s better than one of her other S.H.E fellow singers playing the part. As for her acting, it is a bit exaggerated but the overall tone of the drama is extremely lighthearted, mischievous and all that jazz, so in that stream it fits in pretty well.
The male protagonist, Quan who is portrayed by Wu Chun (or Zun/Zhun depending on the various spellings) is quiet likeable. I mean, yeah…he’s a pretty attractive guy but he acts really humble in the drama and of course, he’s the extremely nice guy that helps everyone out, especially Rui Xi. But the small difference between other stories of this type is that he doesn’t act cold to her forever until the whimsical heroine melts his ice cold heart. He warms up to her right away because of Rui Xi’s brazenness, courage and outlandish characteristics. There’s plenty of spoilers that I won’t mention in here because it’s fun to discover them while watching. Of course, there’s plenty of crossdressing (besides Rui Xi’s) and plenty of bad incidents she gets herself in and needs saving. Of course, this is a very shoujo drama at heart and stays true to that theme. Several asian dramas I’ve seen get very intense at times, causing you to get addicted until the very last episode. That is downplayed in this drama, things never get too intense or suspenseful because everything always works out at the end. Yes, that IS the case for most romantic comedies but it can get a bit tiring at times when the “danger” gets half-assed and it isn’t as exciting as the beginning.
Another thing about this series is that all of the bad guys turn out to be normal people who’s just had a bad past but underneath they’re actually reasonable people. I find fault with that because regardless of what the director or writers think, there are SOME people who aren’t remorseful for being bad at times and having a bad past isn’t always an excuse. So, it’s kind of fake and annoying to constantly portray people like this. Then again, it isn’t a serious show by far so in the end, all is forgiven. Not to mention, the doctor Mei Tian is a gem of a character and extremely well acted. He’s gay and he ain’t afraid. The other characters who are friends of Rui Xi and Quan are also funny albeit in a very corny way. I find another fault with the casting of Rui Xi’s best friend, Julia - the half Taiwanese half American girl. NISSA is supposedly a model and was cast as Julia. She has such terrible acting, she poses exaggeratedly at every turn and struts around like she’s doing a model casting call. I mean, yes, the show probably wasn’t extremely sophisticated in its production and everything but at least they could have gotten a half decent Taiwanese girl who speaks decent American English who can at least act minimally without the excesses of an arrogant model! Jiro Wang who plays Quan’s love rival (in a sense) is also a very exaggerated actor, but it’s comical and only becomes slightly annoying. Another corny characteristic of the show is the music, by God, the background music is extremely corny. In a way, it’s endearing because it brings me back to the early 90s (I’m not that old…).
All in all, Hana Kimi was still highly entertaining with the exception of the extremely poorly constructed, quickly thrown together and lame ending. I won’t spoil it, but it was SO blatantly obviously constructed for a sequel. It’s good that there’s a sequel, but it’s bad that they sucked at ending it smoothly (unlike It Started with a Kiss, which is a very good series). And no, there’s no specific plastic surgery event or theme really…but watch until the end to find out what’s so bad about it. You will see that it makes absolutely no sense with the whole point of the show (you know, fight for what you believe in, never give up, etc).
Category: Live Action
A. Papillon is not amused.