Boys over Flowers (aka: Hana yori Dango) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 1-56931-996-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Boys over Flowers (aka: Hana yori Dango) Vol. #01

By Mike Dungan     December 21, 2004
Release Date: July 01, 2003

Boys over Flowers (aka: Hana yori Dango) Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yoko Kamio
Translated by:JN Productions
Adapted by:

What They Say
Tsukushi Makino is accepted into the prestigious, Eitoku Adacemy. Life changes dramatically for Tsukushi when her friend falls on Tsukasa Domyoji. Tsukasa is the expolosive leader of the "F4", a group of the most powerful, rich and handsome boys. Domyoji refuses to accept Makiko's apology and Tsukushi steps in to protect her friend. A red tag appears in the Tsukushi's locker the next morning which is a sign from the F4 that she is to be bullied by the school. Tsukushi continues to stand up to her oppressors.

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tsukushi Makino is from an average middle-class family, but she's been accepted in the prestigious Eitoku Academy. She's just trying to get through school without causing too many waves, but it all changes when a friend of hers runs afoul of the "F4". They are the four richest, most powerful boys in school, and they terrorize anyone who gets in their way. If you get a red tag in your locker, it's a sign that the students can bully or ostracize you with impunity. Anyone who associates with someone shunned by the F4 is subject to the same punishment. People who have recieved the treatment before have transferred, rather than live with the cruel bullying. When a friend of Tsukushi falls on Tsukasa Domyoji by accident, Tsukushi runs to her defense. She is now given a red card. But she decides she won't give in to them and defies them publicly.

The F4 don't take to defiance well, and in an act of supreme cruelty, Domyoji sends a group of boys to rape her. She fights back, but can't stop them. She's rescued by Rui Hanazawa. He may be one of the F4, but even he knows this is going too far. The next day, when Tsukushi sees Domyoji, she knocks him out in front of the whole school. Domyoji is stunned. He has a rather abusive older sister that he totally dotes on, and Tsukushi's payback feeds on his sick little older-sister complex.Tsukushi wants to thank Rui, but when she finds him, he's playing the violin beautifully. While he says mean things to her, she realizes there is goodness to him. Meanwhile, the entire school slowly starts to warm back up to Tsukushi. They've never seen someone stand up to the F4 and they think it's cool.
Domyoji, now smitten with Tsukushi, tries to buy her friendship, but he goes about it all wrong, and it blows up in his face. Meanwhile, a new prank is pulled on her. Someone has written that she's had two abortions on the class blackboard. Surprisinly, three girls defend her and erase the blackboard. Tsukushi really doesn't know them, but they invite her to a party and tell her to dress casually. When she arrives, it's formal and she stands out like a sore thumb. The girls are behind the blackboard rumor and have targeted her for bullying.
The last chapter of the book is a seperate story about a first-year high school girl who thinks she's psychic. She has dreams about a certain boy, and one day, she meets him. He's in his first year of college nearby and she stalks him like a madwoman, explaining to him that they are brought together by destiny.

Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango) is a popular and long-running shoujo series that began in 1992, and spawned an equally popular anime series. The story of a girl being bullied is universal, as most people have felt or experienced the pain of bullying at some time. In this first volume, we only really get to know two of the F4. Hanazawa is cold and distant, but Tsukushi finds herself drawn to him anyway. Domyoji is a hot-head with a perverse sister complex and not a lot of brains. His constant malapropisms are hilarious and embarrassing to the rest of the F4. In later volumes, Yoko Kamio's art improved considerably, but that doesn't mean the art in this book is bad. In fact, it's a lot of fun. She just needs to work on the rather prominent chins she gives all the members of the F4. What isn't nearly so fun is the attempted rape of Tsukushi. This wasn't an attempt to frighten her, but to really rape her, which is rather disturbing. The incident just seems to have been too quickly forgotten for my tastes. Tsukushi is a great lead character, with a strong sense of right and wrong, and her defiance of the F4 just feels so good.

The art reproduction is good, though screentones and blacks seem to bleed into each other. There aren't any extras except for some little sidebars written by Kamio spread throughout the book. In typical Viz fashion, all sound effects are translated and retouched into English. The cover has two of the F4 all over Tsukushi, who isn't at all happy about the attention. The background is white and there are yellow bars at the top and bottom of the cover. The English adaptation is by Gerard Jones, who together with Will Jacobs wrote the brilliantly funny "The Trouble With Girls" comic in the '80s and '90s. His adapatation is smooth and natural, with some very funny moments. There's a refreshing lack of silly pop-culture references which could easily date the book. The best adaptations are invisible, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the story, and this is one of them.
At 36 volumes, this is quite the investment for the typical manga reader. But Tsukushi is a great lead character, and watching her battle to keep her dignity and sanity in the face of such cruel treatment is worth it. I recommend it.


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