Hana Yori Dango [花より男子] Just like the Manga [Rating: 8/10] I consider myself a very big fan of the HanaDan manga. When I first heard that TBS was going to make a drama out of it, I was a bit skeptical but I changed my mind soon after watching the series.
I loved it! They were able to maintain the manga feel to it, while still making it stand on its own as a live-action drama. The production was great. I think they took pains looking for the right locations. The location/set they had for Eitoku Gakuen was fabulous!
Acting wise (I may be a little biased being a fan of Mao Inoue, Matsumoto Jun, and Oguri Shun), I felt that the actors fit their roles to a T.
Mao Inoue was a very convincing Makino Tsukushi. I knew she could pull off the fiesty schoolgirl role since I've seen her as Akane in Kids' War, but I didn't expect that she could also project the more sensitive side of her character. She made Tsukushi as how she should be- tough exterior with a soft center :)
Matsumoto Jun as Domyouji Tsukasa was a joy to watch. Not a stranger to bad-boy roles, Matsumoto Jun was heartless as the equally bad-boy Tsukasa. But what I loved about him is the heart-wrenching look he solely gives to Mao/Tsukushi . Speaking of which, he and Mao Inoue not only looked good together, they also had a strong chemistry on screen.
Oguri Shun was as mysterious and as mischievous as Hanazawa Rui could be. Perfect! I loved how Oguri Shun played his character.
The only misgiving I have of this series is that it was a little too short for my taste. The manga had 36 volumes and they were only able to squeeze half (or even less) in 9 episodes. The series left me longing for more, knowing that there should be more!
In fairness to the writer, they were able to include the more important parts and condense them solidly to a single good story.
And if you are wondering how I would rate this compared to Meteor Garden (which I admit was a good-enough attempt), I would say that I love this Japanese one better.