|Hana Yori Dango [花より男子]|
Very enjoyable, recommended [Rating: 10/10]
Much better than I expected. I thought it was going to be horrid and only started watching to keep my mother company. In the end I was hooked and am quite impressed with the high production values and both Mao Inoue and Matsumoto Jun, as well as how well paced and scripted this series is. This is infinitely better than the mess that was the Taiwanese Meteor Garden which had terrible pacing, horrible production values and actors who really couldn't act to save their lives.
|Hana Yori Dango Season 2 [花より男子]|
Different but still very enjoyable [Rating: 10/10]
This isn't quite as pacey as Hana Yori Dango Season 1 but still makes for very enjoyable viewing especially if you liked the first one.
Characterization and character development is given more focus in this series compared to Season 1 and I feel it's a good move as it distinguishes season 2 from season 1 and does not make this season feel like a rehash of old ideas form the first season.
It's amazing what good actors with a good script and a good production team can do. As was the case with the first season, nothing in the second can really be said to be that ground-breaking in the sense that they are both really pretty much genre products.
Still, even though Hana Yori Dango season 1 & 2 are very much standard romantic comedy fare, the characters are so well written and wonderfully performed, the script so logical and tight, the direction so firm and confident that you can't help but be drawn into the story.
So much credit must go to the two leads Mao Inoue and Matsumoto Jun because they really give so many layers to what could have be one-note characters. Both these young actors managed to convey the pain and the struggle of young people just trying their best to do what's right and yet at the same time preserve a modicum of dignity and pride so important to teenagers. Kudos too to Kaga Mariko for her perfect performance of Domyuji Kaede. Not only was Kaga Mariko able to bring across the ruthlessness and authority that Domyuji Kaede possessed in spades, she was also able to vary the look in her eyes so well that the viewer is always left feeling that there is more to her and in this way, Kaga Mariko was able to give her character depth.