just sayin’ #4

This post was prompted by Charlene Chua’s article on The Rubbish New Paper (Singapore). I don’t wish to contribute to her fame notoriety as an entertainment writer because apparently, this is not the first time she has “offended” (her word, not mine) fangirls, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. But she’s not the only one with an opinion.

To summarize her article on the Asian versions of HANA YORI DANGO–unfortunately available only in the newspaper and not online (see photos courtesy of @gabriellea02)–the “most authentic” version is BOYS OVER FLOWERS (Korea), “the best show everrrrrr ever” is METEOR GARDEN (Taiwan) and the “ugliest cast” is HANA YORI DANGO (Japan).


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Let’s take a look at the cases that she makes.

BOYS OVER FLOWERS: Most Authentic (South Korea)

“No one does it like the Koreans. This TV drama may have been based on a Japanese manga, but the Koreans pulled out all the stops and created exquisite sets, costumes and looks for the cast. It made one truly believe that these guys were crazy wealthy, just like their comic characters.”

I have two words for her standard of authenticity, especially when it comes to beauty: hot rollers. Oh, and plastic surgery. I wonder what Domyoji would say. Seriously, yes, the Koreans have mastered drama-making. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about BOF because I could not go beyond episode 1, but hey, if she was able to look beyond Jun-pyo’s 18th century-inspired peruke, then good for her.

HANA YORI DANGO: Ugliest Cast (Japan)

“The title of the manga translates to boys being pretty like flowers, so did someone completely miss the plot here? The Japanese F4 is a joke, with its leader sporting orange peel skin and fresh acne in every episode. His wallflower buddies are no better, which leads one to wonder if the producers had actually read the comic.”

First, “hana yori dango” (花より男子) literally means “dumplings over flowers” or a Japanese expression that means putting practicality over beauty. It does not “translate” to “boys being pretty like flowers” and obviously, Miss Chua merely used this to peg her point that the Japanese cast is “ugliest”. Really, this Miss Chua, she better be Venus incarnate. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I wouldn’t even try to argue. It makes me wonder though, did she watch a bootleg copy of HYD?  Did she also think that mangaka Kamio Yoko would allow her beloved iconic work to be sloppily adapted on TV? By her compatriots? I’m pretty surrrreeee the producers read the manga. Oh and just in case Miss Chua is curious, Miss Kamio drew the “ugliest” Domyouji (according to her) in a 2011 manga project; doesn’t he look like Tsukasa without the curls? I can talk more about Mr Orange Peel Skin and Fresh Acne and his homies known as Arashi but that would be kind of off-topic.

METEOR GARDEN: Best Show Ever (Taiwan)

“Nothing has come close to this iconic original version, where everything fell together like magic. The chemistry between the cast, the dialogue, the music and even the way Jerry Yan and Vic Chou helmed the show with their quiet charm made it a masterpiece. You know a series works when other countries scramble for remakes of it, even 12 years later.”

Written like a true fan of MG. Don’t worry, I do understand where she’s coming from because I am one too. MG opened the floodgates of Asian pop culture to me so it occupies a special place. But to say it’s the best among the versions done so far is totally stretching it, but well, just as we have different standards on beauty, we do have different standards on what is best, right Miss Chua? To be fair, Angie Cai did the best she could and still came up with this gem despite the low budget that manifested itself in the poor production values. Just to make sure, we’re not talking here of METEOR GARDEN 2 right?

Oh wait, she does not have any opinion on China’s version, METEOR SHOWER? Or didn’t her “research” take her that far? I’m really curious what Miss Chua thinks of the Chinese take on this popular franchise.

You see, everyone has the right to express opinion, never mind if in the practice of journalism, you’re supposed to be “objective”. That’s such a journalism cliche anyway and our biases will always show. But I bristle at her choice of words especially with the HANA YORI DANGO part. It runs smack of unprofessionalism. The writing is just so mean-spirited, don’t even get me started on whether it is politically correct, it is more suited for a blog than for a fish wrapper newspaper.

I’m a journalist myself so I do understand the need to get the readers’ attention especially in this day and age of too many media competing, including social media. TNP is not exactly shabby, it claims to be the second-highest circulated newspaper in Singapore. By the way, “it targets readers with more eye-catching tabloid journalism featuring sensationalist and exaggerated headlines” (source). I rest my case.

If anything, Miss Chua had succeeded in getting the fandom’s attention. I hope though the producers and cast of the American version of HANA YORI DANGO could actually glean some “lessons” from her oh so insightful “notes”.

Just sayin’.

© Yasminka Lee (blogging since 2001). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the contents in Orange Jasmine Purple Yam without permission from the author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Yasminka Lee/Orange Jasmine Purple Yam with appropriate link to the original content.


12 thoughts on “just sayin’ #4

  1. this is just MY opinion: The korean version’s cast really looks the part, korean f4 is far by the most attractive among the f4s but the storyline is not that great, the Taiwanese version has the most handsome pair in jerry yan and barbie hsu but when they made book 2 which is Meteor Rain, it got boring, and well, the japanese version has the best storyline but the cast dont look like rich kids, and of course, audience would like to watch a good drama with handsome, princelike guys who would sweep the leading lady off her feet. So, i guess, each version is lacking in one aspect or the other.


  2. While the Korean version may be aesthetically pleasing for general audiences, the story line in the Japanese version is far superior. The hatred that was spewed by the writer is like you said ‘mean spirited’. Did she even watch the Japanese version? Sure, maybe the Japanese cast is not the best looking cast, but they are far from ugly. Also the response to Hana Yori Dango at the time was huge. It got hit ratings and was loved internationally. Why did she make the focus of the Japanese version based on looks and not on it’s ability to successfully adapt a hugely popular manga? Each person is entitled to their opinion, but when it’s done so rudely it only leaves a sour taste in your mouth.


  3. It’s a matter of personal preference, in my opinion. Here’s MINE: the Korean F4 looked the part but failed to act it. The only one in that cast who showed some legit acting chops was Kim Bum. The rest, meh. LMH’s Jun Pyo sure was eye candy (except for that horrible curly curly hair) but he didn’t have the Domyouji’s swagger, nor did he have Matsujun’s layered, complex interpretation of the role. So hell yeah, I’ll take the guy with the facial scars who can act over the boy with the pretty face who can’t. And I’ll choose the “ugly” Oguri Shun over them pretty Korean boys any day. Why? Simple: Pretty boys are better off on glossy posters that I can ogle on, while good actors are meant to be in dramas I can rave about.


    • THIS is another comment I’d love to share. I wanted to go beyond the superficial in my post but I also wanted to address the cases she made. and focusing too much on an actor’s appearance just indicates how shallow her review was. Thanks so much for commenting! will share this in a tweet.


      • You’re welcome. When I first read it, I was like, “Matsujun, ugly? Then how else am I going to describe myself?” Lol.

        Seriously though, it’s not really the writer calling the Hanadan cast the ugliest that peeved me, but the lack of professionalism on the part of the writer and the editor. How in the world did such a crappy article made it to the pages of what I assume is a credible newspaper? It read more like a fangirl raving about her favourite fandom and dissing the one she obviously hates, rather than a journalist writing a review.


      • That writer obviously has her biases, seems it’s obvious to those in Singapore judging from the comments on their Facebook. There’s really nothing wrong with being a Kpop or jpop fan as long as you keep your biases out of your writing. Or if you can’t, just focus on writing about your fandom and leave the ones you don’t like out of your business because you won’t be able to write anything sensible about them anyway. At least that’s that cardinal rule I observe for myself. Well as they say karma is now digital. Let’s wait for it to catch up with Charlene Chua and Jeanmarie Tan.


  4. omg! i didn’t know about this…

    i know its an opinion, but i still feel slighted as a jun fan.
    they accept this kind of hateful writing? their version of balance writing is praising one thing and lambasting the other?

    on what mega screen did she watch this? that Jun’s “orange peel skin and fresh acne” are so visible that it became the center of the whole drama? hell, i only watched BOF on my 14 in laptop and that horrible hair and acting made me stop watching.

    i mean if she’s into facial features, she should have written an opinion on the beauty and fitness page and reserve commentaries or comparisons on dramas to those who truly review the whole package.

    p.s. i will be commenting on your older posts hope it’s ok. looks like i’ll be stalking your blog from now on too lol.


  5. I would like to take a look at this Charlene Chua’s face so that I can tell if she indeed has the right to call MatsuJun, Oguri Shun and the other boys ugly. This is indeed rubbish journalism. Yes, she is entitled to her opinion, but something stinks here.

    His wallflower buddies are no better, which leads one to wonder if the producers had actually read the comic.”

    I lolled at this. I have read in several sources that the mangaka, Kamio Yoko, was consulted for the HYD scripts, particularly in the movie. This is indeed irresponsible journalism. A journalist should consult as many sources as possible before she could come up with a sound argument.

    So what if MatsuJun has an orange peel skin? At least it is all-natural, untouched by the wonders of science and technology.


    • apparently our beloved Charlene Chua has a natural bias against Jpop lol but she’s also notorious for her erroneous writing that has gotten the ire of other fans (not Arashi).

      her article on HYD should be used as a guide on “how not to write an entertainment article” hahahaha


  6. Guess she never watched them. MG was good to watch as it is new.
    HYD I also thought that actors are not so good looking at first, but HYD par1+2 and movie I watched about 3-4 by now because the Story line is real great.
    BOF was interesting at first because of good looking actors and real rich enviroment and clothes. But I stopped watching it half way because acting gets boring and no chemistry (especially both main actors).
    It’s true that J-stars are not so good looking thank K-stars because they don’t do much costmetic surgery. Most J-stars can compete with K-stars in looks if they should decide to do some surgery (that is my personal opinion)


    • MG was a trailblazer but of the franchises, HYD was the best production acting-wise and story-wise. I did not even bother watching BOF beyond a few minutes of the first episode coz I couldn’t stand the perm of the lead guy’s hair.

      I’m glad Japanese stars are natural compared to Korean stars who look the same. I’d rather have imperfect idols than idealize these people and get disappointed later lol


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