Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
For You in Full Blossoms
The live action version, 花樣少年少女
weekdays 7pm Channel U
or get it off Youtube, just search for "Hana Kimi"
Let's just say that, had I not have read the manga version, I would not watch the live action, and as all dramatised versions of print material goes, there will always be disappointments. Face it, there will never be a live action which surpasses the quality of an original print version, unless in a minority case that the original is based on a short story.
I read the manga some time back, and when I heard about this Taiwanse adaptation, I was a bit excited, until I heard of the cast, I was sorely disappointed. At first glance, I don't know any of the cast other than Ella, at that time I had no idea who Fahrenheit was. I think Fahrenheit came out during the time when I was in Germany so I haven't heard of them. Based on how those people looked and what I know of them from the manga pictures, there are loads of disappointment.
The first big upset was Ella. She looks nothing like Mizuki (Ruixi). Mizuki, in the manga, was a small androgenous looking girl with long (for a guy) light coloured hair. Ella's hair was in a men's style and jet black. Also, Ella is bigger boned than Mizuki should have been.
Wu Chun as Izumi (Quan) was also a big upset. Izumi is tall, strong, and has this wavy locks of jet black hair, but Wu Chun wasn't as big and strong as my interpretation of Izumi, and his hair was too little and too light for my liking. And I didn't think that he looked as good as I thought Izumi would have looked.
The only person I was somewhat confortable with was Jiro Wang's Shuichi (Xiuyi). THey both look equally stupid and funny, just that I was a bit upset that Jiro Wang's hair was not as light as Shuichi's. The whole point of Shuichi's hair was that it was yellow, bright yellow, and it would be a focal point to talk about as Kagurazaka (Shenle) and Julia would make fun about him based on his hair.
Surprisingly, after I got down to watching the live action on youtube, I fell in love with Wu Chun. Not surprisingly, the more I watched, the more I detested Ella's interpretation of Ruixi. I can't stand the way Ella exaggerates the expressions and acts dumb/cute, it's not Mizuki at all. Mizuki is a soft, gentle, yet strong willpowered character, sometimes she might be a bit careless and mindless, but she's not dumb, and she doesn't exaggerate. Watching Ella, I was wondering how could Quan actually fall in love with such a detestable character. On the other hand, Wu Chun is damn hot. The way he stares into the eyes of the camera, oh man, it's so swoonful. And he also has this hot bod, just that his tattoo is a bit distracting everytime he goes topless. And another bit I don't quite like of Wu Chun is his speech, it reminds me of how Shu Qi talks, they can't pronounce the z and zh, c and ch well.
A little note here, to distinguish between the manga and the live action, I'll use their different names. When I use the Japanese names, I'm talking about the manga, and the Chinese names for the live action.
The live action generally follows the plot and the happenings of the manga quite closely, but with two very major alterations, both of which I dislike. The first major alteration is Mizuki/Ruixi's background. Mizuki was never fat before, so Ruixi's story of losing 30kg just because of Quan is all fluff. Nonetheless, Mizuki did go through a period of being discriminated against back in California, but that was because she was Asian, not because she was fat. And also, instead of Izumi being her driving force to get out of her depression, it was Julia who made friends with her and encouraged her to get back onto her feet. Mizuki's affections for Izumi was only based on the reports she watched and read, prior to meeting Izumi, there wasn't actually much role of him in her life.
The second major alteration is Izumi's background and the arc about his family. Izumi's father never hit his mother, in fact, the whole accident was rewritten in the live action version. The live action's arc was that Quan's father was injured, and was in depression, and vented it out on his mother and him and his brother, then his mother met with an accident and died, and he left home. The manga's arc was not his father's fault at all, it was more sympathetic to the father, in it the accident that his parents met with killed the mother and injured the father, the father blamed himself for his wife's death and fell into depression. The misunderstanding between Izumi and his father has nothing to do with beatings and severe trainings, it was more to do about training methods. The method Izumi's father used to trained him was one which though could have promising results was also dangerous in that it could physically injure him if not executed well. Izumi was more cautious than his father and did not want to undergo that training method.
Other than the alterations in these two arcs, there's still a lot more to pick on the live action.
I mean, just look at Mizuki and Izumi, how can they be compared with Ruixi and Quan? Seriously, Mizuki is supposed to look small beside Izumi, but Ruixi looks fat beside Quan. I really do not like the choice of Ella as Ruixi, i know I'm in no position to say that Ella is fat because I'm fatter, but as a viewer, I'd like the female lead to be better looking. Heck, Mizuki is not even supposed to look androgenous, she's a girl, she's just supposed to have her hair shorter and her chest flat and her male character is supposed to look androgenous and even feminine.
When I first saw Dashu in the live action, I was sorely sorely disappointed. Taiki is so much more shuai than Dashu. Not just the looks factor, but the whole charm of Taiki is so much different from Dashu. Dashu is just some weirdo with a third eye that can see ghosts and stuff, but Taiki isa really cool guy who has more than just an eye for ghosts but also ESP sensory and he's an expert in Yoga and he makes it cool. He's more sensitive also, always there to give a listening ear to Shuichi and to advise him. Another alteration in the live action is that Dashu thinks that Ruixi is a male. In the manga, Taiki never mentions that Mizuki is a male because he knows that Mizuki is a female, right from the start he could sense that, but he never said anything about it because he knew that she had a reason for concealing her identity and Taiki was sensitive to that. Taiki had so much charm that in a favourites poll, Taiki topped other characters such as Minami, he came up I think either third or fourth.
The three RAs was also a bit of a disappointment. I think it's more to do with height. In the manga, the three of them are supposed to be very tall, and hence very awesome, but in the live action, the height difference wasn't that big. In fact, I think Nan looks shorter than Quan when Minami is supposed to be like 4cm taller than Izumi. I'm a bit disappointed with Oskar also, he was so funny in the manga but his part in the live action was so patchy and almost nothing came out of it. Tennouji was also misinterpretated, he's a tough on the outside but a big softie inside, same with Kujou, but Wang Tiansi and Jiu Duan were like only one dimensional characters. And the whole issue about Tennouji's name being Megumi was made into a joke was irrelevant in the live action. Tennouji's a very masculine name and fitted the image he had, but Megumi being a unisexual name was a bit out of the place and when Kujou called Tennouji Megumi, everyone didn't know who he was referring to.
The arc about Minami's first love was also not delved deeper in the live action. In the live action, Nan's first love just came, and Nan just explained briefly about things to Ruixi which didn't explain much either, nor did it explain about the personality of him after his heart was broken. After that love story, I really felt for Minami, but after Nan's story, I didn't feel anything for him.
Meitian is damn cute, as cute as I thought Umeda would be. hehehe... Just that I thought he'd be just a bit more loud and showy. Although the image of Meitian is a bit different from Umeda, the hair and the glasses, Umeda has short blonde hair and glasses while Meitian had long locks without glasses, I thought that Meitian had already channelled in the spirits of Umeda. He's so hilarious, yet also I saw the other dimensions of his softer side. But a little pity that Meitian did not incorporate Umeda's signature action, the kicking action. If not it would be more hilarious. haha~
A disappointment was Hara's Yuan Qiuye. Hara is supposedly the tallest person in the whole manga at 191cm, but in the live action, Yuan Qiuye was quite short. It's a different kind of feel I think, the live action probably doesn't want to have two similar characters together, but in the manga, it was all right for Hara and Umeda to be of the same character mould. I thought because of this a lot of fun disappeared from Yuan Quiye's character.
I think it's because of the lack of actors that fit the racial make up of characters, there was a bit of racial differences of Julia and Shizuki in the live action. Julia was supposed to be a pure bred Caucasian rather than a mixed race as shown in the live action. Shizuki was supposed to be a half-Caucasian in the manga, his mother was an American, but Jingxi in the live action was thoroughly Asian even though the arc that he and Ruixi have different mothers still hold. Shizuki was supposed to be damn tall and damn good looking, but Jingxi was quite a bit disappointing. Wayne is damn short la, don't understand why he was chosen to act Jingxi. And his acting isn't that good also. Oh, and speaking of Wayne, the other day I was watching this other Taiwanese variety programme, I thought Evonne Hsu looks a bit like Wayne, now to think about it, I think if Evonne Hsu cuts her hair and binds her chest, I think she'd make a better Mizuki than Ella.
If to say that Hana Kimi the live action made me fall in love with something, I'd say that it succeeded in persuading me to buy the entire set of Hana Kimi the manga. The more I watch the live action, the more I like the manga story, and the more I want to own it. So how leh? Should I buy the set? If I buy it, I need to buy it like soon, because in conjunction with the live action, Kinokuniya brought in a whole lot of stock. Any later, I might not be able to get it.
UPDATE! I just finished with the last episode of the live action. It's sucky, crappy and full of bullshit. Shuichi never had anything to do with Julia after she left, he loved Mizuki with all his heart until the very end. Totally disappointed. And worse was Taiki's revelation of Mizuki, it isn't supposed to be like that. But then hor, the "chi chap kor chi chap kor" was damn funny, ya, it was so lame that it was so funny. I went on laughing for the whole video. hahahaha~ "chi chap kor". For those who didn't get the joke, in Hokkien, seven is a homophone for clean, so when he cleaned the ten dollars, it meant that he has made a seventy dollar out of the ten dollars.