… and apparently crashed Twitter Japan (TW said it was system error).
Like most Arashi fans, I was, as fandom says, “Jun-baited.”
The year was 2005. I was one year into being an expat in another Asian country where the language was so strange and the culture so different. Logically, I should have studied their language and culture to make myself feel more at home, but instead, I turned to a Japanese drama that many would refer to as the “remake of Meteor Garden/Boys Over Flowers” to de-stress.
To put things in proper perspective, Hana Yori Dango (literally Boys Over Flowers), written and illustrated by Kamio Yoko, started as a manga serialized in Margaret magazine from October 1992 to September 2003. In 1995, it was adapted into a live action film and the following year, 1996, into anime by TV Asahi.
Taiwan’s Angie Cai, an iconic TV producer who I had the pleasure of interviewing twice, picked up the manga and adapted it into a TV series in 2001. Thus was born Meteor Garden, which gave birth to F4 (later renamed to JVKV due to copyright claims) and four unknown actors that would become some of Asia’s most recognizable names. Angie went on to produce Meteor Garden 2, which veered away from the story (who can forget Ye Sha although that drama made me travel to Barcelona).
In 2005, Japan’s TBS picked up the franchise and produced Hana Yori Dango, which would spur the upward trajectory of a then six-year-old Jpop group known as Arashi, whose youngest member, Matsumoto Jun, was playing the iconic character Domyouji Tsukasa. Arashi sang the theme song, Wish, which would introduce them to fans watching the drama.
TBS produced the sequel Hana Yori Dango Returns two years later, in 2007, and a film version in 2008, Hana Yori Dango Final, which was a massive hit at the boxoffice.
In 2009, and I hope Kdrama fans take note of this, Korean network KBS produced its own version of the franchise with Boys Over Flowers. So, for the nth time, Hanadan is NOT a remake of BOF.
This year, Angie is producing a reboot known as Meteor Garden 2018 hoping to replicate the success of the 2001 series and give birth to a new generation of stars.
I have to admit that part of what drew me to watch Hanadan was the “Meteor Garden factor.” I was such a big fan of MG, even if I scoffed at it the first time the teaser aired in my country, but ended up buying a DVR so I can record the episodes while I wasn’t at home (ironically, I was working then in the network that was airing the series).
I wasn’t that impressed the first time I saw Matsumoto Jun as Domyouji Tsukasa with his perm. But then, what could be worse than Dao Ming Si’s fake perm (no offense because I love Ah Si). But Hanadan would be my introduction to how detailed a performer Matsumoto is, and of course, to the subarashiki sekai (incidentally, one of my all-time favorite songs) of Arashi.
After 10 years, Domyouji returned, even if briefly, to the so-called “next season” of Hanadan, Hana Nochi Hare. His one-minute-and-30-second cameo delivered a kick to Twitter, just like how Domyouji kicked the bullies in the scene he was appearing in.
Before the actual cameo, Domyouji already appeared in another scene through hologram and fans thought that was it for the much-hyped appearance.
But a few scenes later, Domyouji himself showed up and even if TBS did not shoot his full face, it was enough to put social media on fire last night.
I guess Matsumoto’s side profile was enough to satisfy those who have been missing Tsukasa; too bad he wasn’t able to show off his English skills but I guess even ore-sama has grown up.
It’s been 13 years since he first appeared on TV as Domyouji, the same amount of time since I have been an Arashi fan. While I was Jun-baited through Hanadan, I don’t really have any sentimental attachment to the drama nor is it my favorite Matsumoto work though of course, I am forever grateful to it for introducing me to Arashi.
I may already be a battle-scarred fangirl but if there’s anything I will never regret about my foray into pop culture, it’s choosing to follow Arashi that fateful day I first met Domyouji.
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