In 2016, Hana Yori Dango was turned into a live stage musical!
It premiered in Tokyo on January 5, 2016, and I was fortunate enough to be there for the opening night performance. (I really lucked out that the musical coincided with my previously-planned Japan trip!)
At the theater they had cardboard cutouts of the main cast, and a bunch of goods for sale. I picked up the official program book. After the show they were selling pre-orders for the DVD release in July 2016, but as I was leaving Japan, I waited until the general release of the DVD in September 2016.
Clocking in at nearly 3 hours long, the musical is split into 2 Acts and tells the story of Tsukushi and Doumyouji from the beginning of the manga, roughly through the end of the Junpei story arc. With the story condensed for time, many characters and subplots are skipped, but the musical still did a wonderful job at capturing the spirit of the HYD manga. I was really impressed! There are 23 musical numbers, some of them full cast routines featuring all of the Eitoku students, and some of them solo performances.
The casting was spot on, with everyone giving an enthusiastic and convincing performance. And such talent! They all could sing! Ririka, who plays Tsukushi, actually won a huge casting call and beat out over 2500 applicants to win her part, so don't know why I was surprised by this (it IS a musical, after all) but I suppose my exposure to too much pop idol talent made me worried about the talent for stage shows. But there was no need for concern. Everyone was so fantastic!
South KoreaOh hey, it looks like the Japanese HYD musical was popular enough, they have adapted it for South Korea! The main staff from the Japanese version is working on the Korean one. It premiered on February 24, 2017.
I haven't seen this one, but just looking at the poster, I think the look for Tsukushi is a little weird. She looks too... stylish? I don't know. I need to see the actual production. I hope it is released on DVD later like the Japanese one was.
It looks like this musical is double-cast, meaning there are at least 2 sets of performers cast in each role for different performances.
Hana Yori Dango Live Action Japanese TV Dramas and Movies!
They FINALLY made a Japanese live action drama for HYD! And they managed to get one of my very favorite people, Matsumoto Jun (from the group ARASHI, and star of another most excellent drama, Gokusen) to play Doumyouji! Yay! Another awesome guy, Oguri Shun (also from Gokusen) is playing Rui. Oh, also... They actually got the superpopular MATSUSHIMA Nanako to appear as Doumyouji Tsubaki! It is fun to watch her stomp on MatsuJun :P
There are 2 seasons of the Japanese HYD drama. The official website for the HYD jdrama Season 1 is here. Season 1 ran from October 21, 2005 to December 16, 2005 for a total of 9 episodes. (ONLY 9 EPISODES??) Yet they managed to do an admirable job at squishing the storyline! Even though the J-drama was brief, it touched upon many memorable HYD moments, including the Miss Teen of Japan competition which they didn't even cover in the anime! The opening theme song for this drama is "WISH" by ARASHI, and the insert song is "Planetarium" by Otsuka Ai.
A Region 2 DVD box set of the HYD drama was released in Japan on March 10, 2006. Because it is Region 2, it does not have English subtitles. It is a 5-disc set in a nice box. Amazon Japan sells it for 15,960 yen (ouch!). The first 4 discs contain 2 episodes each, while the last disc has the final episode plus a bunch of specials including a "making of" featurette, textless opening sequence, and interviews, and much more.
SEASON 2 -- Season 2 of the HYD drama ran in Japan from January 5th, 2007 to March 16, 2007, for a total of 11 episodes and one short special. The opening theme song is "Love So Sweet" by ARASHI, and the insert song is "Flavor of Life" by UTADA Hikaru. Season 2 reunites all the cast from season 1 plus a few new actors playing some familiar characters. Season two brings to life more of the great storylines from the manga, including the Junpei arc, the Sara storyline, Tsukushi in NY, and the Maid arc. I am still sad that poor Kazuya-kun has not appeared in the Jdrama OR the J-Movie. Yeesh, that boy gets no respect! ;_;
The Region 2 DVD box for HYD season 2 came out on July 11, 2007. It features another nice box, similar in style to the first season. Amazon Japan is currently selling it for 19,152 yen (again, OUCH!). This set has 7 discs. The extras include a directors cut where some scenes have extra minutes that were not in the original TV broadcast, tv ads, and a big pile of behind the scenes stuff. I wish I could afford this set ^^;
This 57 minute special DVD follows the adventures of Tsukushi and her family and the HYD2 cast in New York. HYD series 2 opens with several scenes filmed on location in NY, and it looks like the cast had a great time while they were there! They talk about shopping in NY, places to eat, and tour the city, giving Japanese fans an idea of what NY is like.
Hana Yori Dango Live Action Movie (1995)
In 1995 a live action movie for Hana Yori Dango was released. It stars popular actress Uchida Yuki in the role of Makino Tsukushi. The movie is pretty interesting, if a bit (well, okay, VERY) cheezy. The plot of the movie pretty much follows the storyline that runs in the anime, however events happen in a different order, or things that happen at seperate times in the anime occur at the same place/time in the movie.
The acting I found to be very overdone as well, but even though it is high cheese, it is still kinda fun to watch. Some characters from the anime, namely Kazuya, Makiko-chan, and Tsukushi's family, are not present in the movie. Sakurako is present, but her role in the movie seems a lot like Asai's role in the anime. (I was amazed when I realized that the actress Norika Fujiwara plays one of the three bully-girls in the movie. She is very popular now)
The abuse Tsukushi takes in the live action movie is very similar to what she gets in the anime, however there seems to be even more of it! Some of the more severe incidents that occur in the anime do not happen in the movie, but the opening credits of the movie alone show Tsukushi being hazed in all sorts of ways. Tsukushi comes off as more wimpy and wishy-washy in this movie, I think.
Some other details differ between the anime and live action movie. The movie has Shizuka just returning from America, not France. The actress who plays Shizuka (Marie Eguro), speaks perfect English, with no trace of an accent. It is kinda neat to see Shizuka make her long speech in English. I wonder about her Japanese though. It sounds somewhat accented, like an American speaking Japanese.
The F4 in the live action movie are very similar to what they are like in the anime, behavior wise, though I think Rui comes off as being a bit nicer in the movie. Rui is played by the now super-popular actor Naohito Fujiki. Hana Yori Dango was his debut movie. Doumyouji is appropriately arrogant. (But please, can someone buy him a shirt?? Or at least anything but those Speedos ^_^;;;) He is pretty cute though! He was played by Shosuke Tanihara. I have seen him in several TV dramas lately! I swear, he is in everything now! For example, he was in another live-action adaptation of a manga- Gokusen 2. He played Yankumi's love interest ^_^ But my favorite of his recent series is definitely Mop Girl. He was so awesome in that! He looks a lot better now, I think ^_^
The Opening Song for the movie is 'Baby's Growing Up' and is sung by Uchida Yuki, who plays Tsukushi. The Ending Theme is 'Overnight Sensation' by the Tetsuya Komuro-produced group 'trf'. They perform the song in the movie (as everyone breaks out into a choreographed dance number... >_< )
I have made a screencap gallery of images from this movie. Please excuse my comments under each image, I just couldn't resist. They are stupid, I know ^_^;; As for where to GET this movie... I am sorry, but I can't send it to you. There used to be a really poor quality version on YouTube somewhere. As far as I know, this movie has not been subbed in English, but really, if you have read the manga and watched the TV dramas, figuring out what is going on is NOT difficult :) I bought my copy from Amazon Japan where it is about $26 plus shipping. If you really want to see this movie, I suggest you get it from there.
Hana Yori Dango Live Action Movie (2008)
The "Hana Yori Dango Final" movie had a June 28, 2008 release date in Japanese theaters. HYD author Kamio Yoko helped work on the plot, and once again the main theme song, "One Love," was provided by Arashi. aiko performed the insert song. Something I am happy about is the fact that Naohito Fujiki, who played Rui in the 1995 HYD movie, has a small role in this new movie. Cool :D That is kind of a nice way to come full circle there! (And he has better hair now...) "Hana Yori Dango Final" takes place one year after the end of the 2nd TV series, and follows Doumyouji and Tsukushi as they have more crazy problems. On the Friday before the release of the movie, a TV special aired featuring the cast and Arashi, and included a mini-special which sort of acts like a prelude to the movie. It was kind of surreal to see MatsuJun interact with Arashi while in character as Doumyouji! This "Hana Yori Dango Final" movie came out on region 2 DVD on December 19, 2008. I have the standard edition pictured here, but there is also a premium edition that comes packaged in a fancy case, and contains a bunch of extras like photos, making-of footage, and more.
Boys Over Flowers (Korean Version - Kgotboda Namja)
I admit, I was happy and surprised when this version was first announced. While some people may think that we have enough live action versions of HYD, I am always happy to see more! Seriously, I think there should be a version for every country! ^_- Anyway, the Korean Hana Yori Dango TV series begins airing in Januray 2009. While there have been some tweaks to the story (I guess ya gotta shake it up somehow), the core plot remains the same. And wow, have they got Doumyouji's hair perfect or what? It's so ridiculous!
With 24 episodes to work with, this should be awesome!
The main cast is:
Kim Hyun Joo as Goo Joon Hee (Tsubaki)
The three bitchy girls... not sure which corresponds to which Japanese girl ^^;
Meteor Garden, or Liu Xing Hua Yuan, is a live action version of the Hana Yori Dango story that was made into a TV series in Taiwan. (live-action adaptations of shoujo manga are popular there. There are also live-action dramas of the manga for Mars, Peach Girl Akuma de Sourou, Itazura na Kiss, Bara no Tame ni, and Marmalade Boy) In Taiwan the HYD manga is called Meteor Garden, so the TV series took that name as well. Meteor Garden totals 2 TV series, and set of side-story specials called Meteor Rain. The show was very popular and influential all over Asia, and the guys who were cast to play the F4 have become huge idols. They even record music as a singing group, also under the name of F4. The popularity of the series has even resulted in the show being banned in China (for fear of it promoting negative feelings between the classes, if I remember correctly).
Meteor Garden follows the HYD Anime and Manga very closely for a while, and then goes off into different directions. Some changes were made (for example, all the characters attend Ying De University, not high school) but so many other things follow the original closely in the first series I was amazed! The second series strays a bit more than the first, and I have heard it is pretty awful.
The Cast: HYD Name/Meteor Garden Name : Actor Name
I am tempted to remove this cast list because a lot of people have emailed me with 'corrections' to the spelling of the names on the cast list, and everyone gives me DIFFERENT versions of the names! I am getting a little confused :) I'm not Chinese (or even Asian at all for that matter...) so I have no idea who is correct ^_^;;;; I will just stick with what I have here.
Meteor Garden has also aired in Japan, and I think its popularity there is what prompted Japanese producers to make the Japanese live action TV series.
Meteor Shower (Chinese HYD - Liu Xing Yu)
In summer 2009, we were graced with yet another live-action adaptation of Hana Yori Dango! This time it's a Chinese version called "Meteor Shower." This version is different than the original Meteor Garden drama from Taiwan. In this case, we have more episodes, and it actually aired daily. The series ran from August 8-28. That seems quite speedy! I believe this version is expected to run for about 36 episodes, with a second season already slated for production next year. In terms of faithfulness to the HYD plot, this drama strays wildly from the original. Perhaps this is because this version is actually unauthorized. The Chinese producers apparently made this series without obtaining the rights to HYD. So while they ripped off the premise, they worked to make it look different from the source. The basic concept is the same, with the poor, yet smart and tough girl vs. the wealthy, spoiled, dissatisfied boys, but the story arcs and plot twists are different. First off, the boys are called the H4. This made me laugh, considering the usual use of the letter H in Japan. However, there are some random small details that are the same. It's kind of odd! The Tsukushi character gets a scholarship to the rich school, but she lives in a dorm. When she first sees the Rui character, he also bends to pick up a knocked-over trashcan, and sets it straight again, just like Rui did in the HYD manga and anime. But Rui here, while also a bit emo, acts this way apparently, because both of his parents are doctors. He wants to become a famous pianist. The Doumyouji character's older sister is very pretty, but she is not married.The list goes on. I am still watching this drama right now, so as I get farther into it, I will post some more images and information.
The names have been changed from the Taiwan drama, and are as follows:
Boys Before FriendsAt long last, we have an English language version of Hana Yori Dango! This is an web series, released through Viki.com and through an official website, bbfseries.com.
However, like the Chinese 'Meteor Shower' version up above, this adaptation is not legit or authorized by Kamio Yoko or Shueisha. I'm really amazed they had the nerve to try and make this. When this show was initially announced, there was a lot of fuss made over how it's an English version of HYD. People asked if the writers licensed/got permission to do the story, and the creators implied that they did. However now that a couple of episodes have aired, I see that the official website has removed all mention of HYD and the show is now listed as an 'original series'. Yeah, sure.
While this is only a web series and not something that aired on TV. I must say that the production values and quality of this show are horribly low. The acting is all over the place, and the editing is totally confusing and poorly done. For most pf episode one, the volume is so low that subtitles are requred to understand anything. This feels like a school project production. As the weeks go by, this thing is like a train wreck. Awful, but I can't look away. They have gone through 3 (3!) actresses in the Tsukushi role, and are now on Doumyouji actor #2. Now THAT sounds so professional. This show is such a joke, and I am embarrassed for them.
Anyway, this version tells the story of Zoey, a middle-class dance student who manages to get accepted to a prestigous private Ellison University. Apparently they normally admit via invitation only, but once a year they allow applications from the masses. Zoey gets in on a dance scholarship for her hip-hop dance style. She doesn't know what she's in for. The university is ruled by the F4 (in this case, the Fortune 4) who are the sons of important and wealthy donors. They are notorious players and bullies. When Zoey's friend Aubrey gets in trouble with the F4, Zoey rushes to defend her. In the process, she humiliates Liam, the leader of the F4. In retaliation, they tag Zoey, and she becoes the newest target for the F4's bullying. But Zoey doesn't take this treatment meekly. With the help of her friends Chloe and Piper, she fights back, and soon the battle between Zoey and Liam begins.
So yes, the set up is similar to the basic HYD premise, and it's easy to map all the characters to their original manga counterparts. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned, the quality of this show, from the sound, to casting, to editing is SO shoestring. It's hard to follow what's going on, and good luck keeping track of the various actresses playing Zoey. One episode even had a special at the end where the staff basically sat around and bitched about the castmembers who left and tried to defend their show. This only made everything sound worse. Like I said, Train wreck! Wow. Anyway, check this show out on Viki if you want. I felt embarrassed while watching it. ^^;