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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/31/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga Review: Boys Over Flowers, vol 7 and 8"

Hana Yori Dango - Boys over Flowers
Story and Art by: Yoko Kamio
Published by: VIZ

Review by Kathy LaFollett

The title alone carries a story for the Shojo fan.

Some say Yoko Kamio created a pun from the Japanese proverb "Sweets over Flowers", which suggests choosing the practical (food) over the ethereal (flowers). Changing the kanji of "dango" changed the pronunciation to read boys instead of sweets.

An alternative interpretation in Japan suggests that Hana Yori Dango is used as a joke in reference to the Hana-mi festival in Japan celebrating the annual arrival of cherry-blossoms. During the festival, people gather outside, and picnic under full, blossoming, sakura trees not bothering to pay attention to the flowers themselves. Leaving the proverb that people pay more attention to everyday things (the "dango") rather than cherish the beauty of the cherry-blossoms (the "hana").

As proverb or pun, Yoko Kamio seems to suggest before even turning a page in her book, that one should never miss the forest for the trees.

Inside the pages of issues 7 and 8 of Boys over Flowers, Yoko Kamio offers the storyline of high school romance, struggles, peer pressure, and angst.

We have Tsukushi Makino, our leading young lady. Sweet, innocent, and poor. Her parents consistently hounding her to find a rich boy to date and then marry. They are so driven to this end, her parents forsake all financial good sense to send her to the elitist School, Eitoku High School.

Tsukasa Domyoji, Rui Hanazawa, Sojiro Nishikado the pinnacle boys of the infamous F4. A High School gang who, through the influence of their parent's money and their personal intimidation rule Eitoku High School.

Surrounding the lead characters are typical Manga personalities that intertwine, impact, and generally keep the dizzying pace of Shojo Manga rolling.

Melodrama at it's height is the flavor of HYD. Extreme emotions bounce off each character creating a chaotic roller coaster of feelings. A true to life expression of High School life. Everything is life or death.

In Book 7, Tsukushi defends a friend and butts heads with the F4. She becomes the target of their bullying, and head games. Throughout the ebb and flow of the F4 bullying she becomes attracted to Tsukasa, the leader of the F4, an oppressive self-centered maniacal boy who, on a good day, can act much like a loving boyfriend. This teetering emotional walk only complicates Tsukushi's mind and heart.

Rui Hanazawa, Tsukasa's best friend and member of the F4, has been absent through earlier books, but he has always been an object of Tsukushi's affections and interest. Rui returns from France in Book 7, to follow his own love, Shizuka Todo. Alas, Shizuka accepts the marriage proposal of another even more wealthy and successful boy forcing Rui to step aside.

Rui and Tsukushi find themselves alone on a beach sharing the heartache, and a kiss.

If this reads like an American Soap Opera, then you have grasped the backbone of Hana Yori Dango.

Book 8 opens with Tsukasa witnessing the kiss between Rui and Tsukushi on the beach. He declares the end of his relationship with both Tsukushi and Rui, whom he casts out of the F4. Tsukasa's sister, Tsubaki, arrives to add even more drama and stereotypical manga pace to the angst. Tsubaki, a highly successful fashion model has returned from a long stay in America. She has also returned with an American Attitude. Throughout Book 8 Tsubaki smacks Tsukasa down (literally) for every selfish moment he creates. She involves herself heavily even to the point of telling Tsukushi to give up on her brother.

Throughout the extreme emotional play Tsukushi actually waffles between Rui and Tsukasa.

Hana Yori Dango, is a huge hit on many continents and now a running theme for movies, books, and anime online. Yoko Kamio truly leaves a footprint in the genre of Manga/Anime. Her artistic abilities and writing define the art itself on many different levels. Melodrama, featured static character portraits, emoticon like graphics, suggestive topography, the works. Yoko Kamio has defined her style and raised the bar for other Shojo artists.

Replies: 2 comments

i think this manga book is awesome!!! i just love the way tsukushi makino stand up to the F4!!! GIRL PRIDE!!!!!

Posted by Ka Ying Moua @ 04/25/2005 05:14 PM PST

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Posted by Editor @ 01/12/2006 07:16 AM PST

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