Boys Over Flowers Vol. #06 (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2004
What They Say
Contains episodes 21-24
Although she tries not to hurt Tsukasa, Tsukushi can't stop thinking about Rui. Feeling betrayed, Tsukasa takes his anger out on her and his old friend by breaking up the F4 and threatening them with expulsion from school!
Tsukushi's chaotic ups and downs continue as the relationships get shuffled once more.
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.
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. With this volume, the amount of grain seems to have increased a bit and made the print a bit more problematic. 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.
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. While their roles are pretty secondary throughout the show, they're a bit more in the light in this volume so it's only natural to let Sojiro and Akira get some cover time as well with a close-up on their face. 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 Sojiro and Akira with an appropriate quote for them while the reverse side has chapter listings for each episode.
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.
The extras continue as they have for past volumes, this time with Akira and Sojiro getting their miniature bio pages and several pages worth of character design sketches.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Boys Over Flowers continues to be a highly frustrating series in a number of good ways. Now that the show has hit just about the middle of the series release, things are all up in the air again and the characters relationships have changed once more. The way everything changes it's amazing that a character you can start with and almost hate right from the beginning you now feel sorry for, even after some of the despicable acts he's pulled.
The last volume gave us a glimpse of the changes and it's embraced right from the start here. The scene, painted to beautifully on the beach at night with the palm trees and the stars, is a very evocative background for the first true and meaningful kiss between Tsukushi and Rui. The way the two move into each others arms is beautiful, her bit of tension about it and then the simple willingness to almost be held aloft by him. Of course, it goes on for quite awhile as you'd expect in a series like this, but it's all just so well executed and is a huge payoff to a lot of the earlier episodes that it deserves the time. The fallout from it isn't unexpected either with Tsukasa making his feelings more than evident to the both of them.
The split causes some sizeable ripples, including tears within the F4 itself now that Tsukasa wants nothing to do with his childhood friend any more. The entire school is in a tizzy over the events and the usual array of gossipy stupid girls make wild accusations once more about everything. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew people like that in school myself? Rui manages to convince Tsukushi to ignore it and ends up taking her out on something of a date. This ends up being quite revelatory about his nature since we learn that it's the first time he's gone on a date with a girl, presumably other than Shizuka whom he didn't really date, but also one of the few times he's not been out with the rest of the F4. This is probably the way he rationalizes his rather dull and awkward behavior and the way he treats Tsukushi though.
What proves to be the most illuminating part to this release though is the introduction of Tsubaki, Tsukasa's older sister who had left years earlier to marry the heir of a hotel chain and live in America. Her husband is off in Europe for awhile so she's decided to return to home for the first time in about three years. Her arrival ends up causing all sorts of complications since she meets Tsukushi on the street and ends up bringing her home before she can find out who she really is. Tsubaki's an interesting character to be sure and her personality, and the fact that she helped raise Tsukasa for so long, goes a long way in explaining a lot about his own personality and the way his mind works. It's like she's the missing link to a lot of it.
One feature that continues to be highly enjoyable about this show is that it seems like in every episode they do something shows rarely do and that's change clothes. The number of designs and outfits worn by the leads is pretty high now and it's something that really makes this show work even just a touch better than everything else. A lot of shows get away with it these days by doing school based dramas so they're almost always wearing their outfits, but Boys Over Flowers gets out of the school quite often and we get a really diverse range of clothing styles for both the men and women. It's a small thing but it's one that makes a big impact.
With this volume featuring a lot of key scenes and important events the animation quality has gone from heavy stills to some good looking active animation. Either the budget went up or they were saving it so they could do certain areas here properly but the end result is some good looking episodes that move away from the style that so heavily defined the early episodes. It's getting a bit more colorful and active just as the story is getting more colorful thanks to Tsubaki's appearance in the show. Boys Over Flowers continues to be one hell of a guilty pleasure but one that reaches an epic like level with the way it depicts and exaggerates high school romances.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Sojiro's Profile and Sketches, Akira's Profile and Sketches
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Boys Over Flowers