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).
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”.
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