Sometimes when you watch a really great Japanese drama (Jdrama for short) based after your favorite manga series, sometimes you don’t want to see it end.
The live action Jdrama of Hana Yori Dango succeeds in doing a pretty good adaptation of Yoko Kamio’s popular manga series. I haven’t watched the Taiwanese version of HYD, which goes by a different name known as Meteor Garden, but I highly recommend the Japanese version. I’m actually surprised Japan hasn’t made a live action Jdrama of Hana Yori Dango sooner.
The series ran on TBS for two seasons. When the studio decided to make a theatrical movie to give a more definitive conclusion to the TV series, they delivered with Hana Yori Dango Final.
Tsukushi and the F4 are leading post-high school lives. Tsukushi is finishing up her time at law school, Tsukasa is running the Domyoji empire while patiently waiting to marry Tsukushi on her graduation day, Soujiro lectures at schools and conferences about traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, Akira works for his father in their shady underground business, and Rui––doesn’t have much direction for his life.
As Tsukushi and Tsukasa are getting their lives in order and eager to marry each other, Tsukasa’s mother invites Tsukushi and her family to have a sit down meal and to discuss the upcoming wedding. It is during this family get together that Tsukasa’s mother presents Tsukushi and Tsukasa with the Domyoji family heirloom, an exquisite tiara known as the “Smile of Venus.” Tsukasa’s mother explains that the tiara has been in the family for years, and is passed on to those who marry into the family. It is said that the tiara is supposed to bring endless love to the owner and their betrothed.
Tsukushi is both touched and overwhelmed by the honor. It may even weigh too heavily on her mind as she starts to feel anxiety about her upcoming nuptials, and what it means to become Mrs. Tsukasa Domyoji.
While Tsukushi and Tsukasa are about to share a private moment in the hotel room Tsukasa’s mother generously has Tsukushi and her family stay in, a thief breaks into the room and steals the tiara right from under the couple’s noses. A frantic chase through the hotel eventually leads to the thief escaping with the priceless heirloom, and Tsukushi and Tsukasa desperate to get it back before their big day. Keeping the theft of the tiara a secret from their families and friends, the couple packs their bags and embark on a globe trotting trip to track down the thief and the tiara’s known whereabouts. Somewhere along the way, this trip, which takes them to Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and finally a deserted tropical island, forces Tsukasa and Tsukushi to confront their deep seated fears, doubts, and concerns about their love.
The film is highly entertaining and has the same charm as the TV series. The entire cast from the Jdrama are back to reprise their roles, and the movie introduces a few new faces as well. What I enjoy most about this movie is how Tsukushi and Tsukasa are faced with plenty of challenges and questions about their relationship and love for each other. I especially like how there are some obstacles, mainly emotional ones, they have to overcome to truly know their love is rock solid. There are some twists in the film, but most are not too surprising. The viewer eventually catches on to what’s really going on before Tsukushi and Tsukasa does. I think the only complaint I have with this movie is how confusing some parts of this movie can be. I don’t quite understand the bits concerning Rui, especially at the end. It seems like everyone else has an idea of where they are going with the rest of their lives, but Rui starts and ends the film in the exact same position as he finds himself in the beginning. Maybe I missed something? A second viewing of the movie might be in order for me to understand the parts concerning Rui.
And what would a finale be without a wedding? Unfortunately, I haven’t read the entire Hana Yori Dango manga series yet, but from the summaries I have read, the final volume of the series does not end with a wedding if I’m correct. This live action movie is able to fulfill every fans’ desire to see their favorite bickering couple finally tie the knot. The scene is truly romantic and gorgeous to watch. You also get a “one year later” look at what all the characters are doing. Without really spoiling anything, we get the happily ever after you expect for Tsukushi and Tsukasa. Feel reassured that this couple and the rest of the F4 gang will do just fine.
Reviewer Rating: 9/10