Boys Over Flowers Vol. #02 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, November 24, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 04, 2003



What They Say
As Tsukushi grows fonder of Rui - Shizuka, Rui’s first love, returns to Paris! Although her beauty intimidates Tsukushi, Shizuka helps her to become the prettiest girl at Tsukasa’s yacht party. But, instead of getting closer to Rui, Tsukushi gets closer to Tsukasa by mistake!

The Review!
After finding herself outcast and her plans to simple blend into the background ruined, Tsukushi now deals with having Kazuya fall to the same fate while Tsukasa seems to continually be after her.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix here is very simple with the bulk if not all of the dialogue coming from the center channel while the music made use of the stereo channels. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 1996, the look and feel of the show is a curious one. The transfer itself looks good with only a few minor nicks and dirt in a few scattered places, with the main issue being the grainy feel to the look of it. Depending on the setup and equipment being used, this could either be slightly noticeable or glaringly so. The print itself is completely as the Japanese saw with the original opening and ending credits left intact as well as the title cards. The show’s color palette is very much real world style, which lends to a slightly dull looking print.

Packaging:
Providing for fans of both names, the cover works out nicely here as the top bar of the cover features in prominent type the English translated name but also nicely places the original Hana Yori Dango in there, as many fans only know it by that name. The center bar provides a nice close-up shot of Tsukasa while the bottom has some images from the show that are softened up a bit under the volume title. The back cover provides the logo again and a short summary of what the premise is. With a few shots from the show, a listing of extras and the episode numbers and titles, the cover is good all around with the exception of no real volume numbering. The insert provided has a full length shot of Tsukasa striking a pose while the reverse side has chapter listings for each episode.

Menu:
The menu layout is nicely done but much too heavy on transitional animations. Opening with one (after front-loaded skippable trailers for other shows) where we see the legs running, it settles into a nice relaxing series of images from the show playing out underneath the logo and selections. But every time you want to go to a submenu, you get more transitions. Actual menu load times are decent outside of the transitions and the layout is nicely done.

Extras:
Similar to the previous volume, we get a character profile and then a series of conceptual character designs for them. This time around, Tsukasa gets a look and there are two pages of bio and ten pages worth of designs. Something new in this volume is a Phrases Explained section, which shows how various cultural aspects are translated and adapted to fit from Japanese to English, as well as how some of the puns don’t quite carry across (unless of course you understand some Japanese and can pick some of them out). This is an interesting and welcome addition to the extras lists, and it covers three episodes here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As we get into the second volume, I find myself with only one complaint at the end of it, and that’s the I’m really hating the fact that the songs are not subtitled. Petty? Whiny? Well, all I know is that this is one of the more fun opening sequences I’ve seen in quite some time and great to watch with all of the dance moves. But I just hate not knowing what they’re actually singing.

Once past that (though it of course comes up four times throughout the disc), I’m thrilled once again with the actual show content. Boys Over Flowers is something that’s most definitely girlish in its nature and what it’s playing out. It does this so whimsically in the style, with the violins playing in almost all of the backgrounds, the softness of some of the scenes, the sense that everything in this work is having to do with love in some way. Much of the time, I feel like I’m watching something akin to the old Hollywood golden age romances.

For Tsukushi though, she doesn’t feel like she’s in anything but a nightmare. After being red flagged for going against the F4, she’s managed to survive somehow from the attacks, the food being thrown and all the other horrible things. When Kazuya arrived on the scene, she took some solace in a friend but feared for his getting caught up in all of it. With it ever so obvious that Kazuya is just completely in love with Tsukushi, he naturally ends up crossing paths with the F4 and finds himself equally on the outside. But for him, it’s exactly where he wants to be, and that’s with Tsukushi.

She is of course quite blind to this.

While the two manage their friendship, Kazuya tries to use some of his new wealth to impress her, something that leads him to inviting her out to the family villa in Atami. Since she can’t afford to go to Hawaii like the other rich kids of the school, something that’s basically a school tradition for many of them, she gladly accepts the offer to get away from everything. With Tsukasa learning this and his still wanting to be dominant in her life, though I think he’s still quite unsure of just what he wants from her, he ends up changing the plans for everyone in his little clique and they end up going to Atami as well.

Atami isn’t really the vacationing hot spot for youths however. With the hot springs being one of its primary attractions, it tends to bring in a lot of older couples and families. It’s a good vacation spot, but not for hip rich kids by any means. Tsukushi, having already dealt with an amusing visit by Tsukasa at her home where her parents basically basked in his wealthy glory and did everything but offer up their daughter to him, is frustrated by having her parents tag along to Atami. While Kazuya may not be Domyoji wealth, he’s nothing to sneeze at for getting their daughter hitched and securing their own futures.

So it’s definitely a surprise when at the pier checking out Kazuya’s boat that Tsukasa and his large cabin cruiser swing into the bay and everyone that’s been tormenting her basically come out of their cabins and cringe at being where “the old folks are” at. The rivalries start to creep up again among the rich kids as there’s continual plays for power among the girls in trying to get any of the F4’s attentions, and seeing Tsukushi there only puts them more on the defensive. The way she’s managed to worm her way in there in their view only increases their dislike of her. To make it even worse, Shizuka takes Tsukushi under her wing when it comes to the big dance/party on board the yacht that night, getting her all dressed up in high fashion originals, near professional make-up and a complete change of hair.

With the volume titled “Cinderella for a Night”, you can easily guess how it plays out. With the varying suitors at different stages pursuing her, and Tsukushi going after her own desires, the show has a lot of fun with the entire prospect of who she’s going to end up with. With many series, you can tell from almost the first episode who will end up with whom by the series conclusion, but Boys Over Flowers has so far presented three suitable suitors and no clear indication at all as to who could actually win her hand. This air of mystery to things really helps the show rise up a bit more in giving it something that’s not common.

In Summary:
There’s just so much covered in this four episodes that it’d be like a lifetime to someone who lived through it. Tsukushi manages to keep her head above water as things around her continue to escalate and change and as she starts to get more of a sense of just who these rich kids really are. While there are games they play, such as an amusing moment when many of them disappear into their cabin rooms for more adult fun, she’s starting to realize that there are some things going on among them that’s not uncommon to “normal” people. Tsukushi’s continued rise and acceptance in their world hits a fair number of hurdles, but she and Kazuya are both making some interesting progress in it.

I love the look and feel of this show as it’s almost a fairy tale romance being told with its soft wispy colors, the internalized monologues and the ethereal violin music that plays each scene beautifully. While this show certainly isn’t for everyone, it’s something that I don’t think we’ve really had in this market before and I’m finding it quite refreshing and engaging.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Bio,Character Sketches,Phrases for the Curious

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.




Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Boys Over Flowers