As a little girl (12?), my introduction into the world of manga was Hana Yori Dango. When I was in Secondary School, I spent precious afternoons watching my favourite manga become three-dimensional, anime-form. Doumyoji (more popularly known as Dao Ming Si) formed my teenage perception of how my dream guy would be like- tall, devastatingly handsome, sporty, very rich, haughty, spoilt, demanding, oh-so-manly, and utterly devoted to me.
And yes, I watched the first drama-remake by Taiwan with a fanatic zeal. I was so crazy, I went to an autograph-signing session (my one and only ever) held in Heeren when the Taiwanese F4s hit town. I remembered Jen and I waiting for our turns with anticipation, I remembered how I felt when I shook the palm of Jerry Yen and felt my heart nearly stop. In person, Jerry Yen is yes, devastatingly handsome and Zai Zai (Hua Ze Lei or Rui) is equally gorgeous. I can’t remember the other two, except that I thought Ken Zhu looked unpleasant.
And it was with the same zeal that I watched the Japanese remake last year, and I am currently, no prizes for guessing, following the Korean version. It scares me how i can watch the same plot four times- in animation, portrayed by Taiwanese, then Japanese, then Korean idols, and that’s after I’ve read the manga. If that doesn’t spell loser, i don’t what else does haha. But that’s what I am capable of. I cannot get enough of the plot, I will never fall out of love with Doumyoji, and I will always root for Makino (or Shan Cai). Meteor Garden is just the stuff girls and women dream of- a totally eligible man madly in love with you, and only with you even though you are just part of the hoi polloi. Throw in lots of little plot twists, interesting characters, some mama-drama and tears, plenty of romance, humor, jealousy and spunk, and you capture the hearts of suckers-for-love like me.
And my favourite version? The Koreans win, hands-down:p
Reason One: The cast’s physical attributes.
Presenting in order, the Koreans, the Taiwanese and the Japanese
There is no escaping looks when you are watching idol dramas. It is pretty clear (at least in my opinion) that the best-looking cast is Korean. I am amazed- it is difficult to beat the combined hotness of Jerry and Vic but trust me, Lee Min Ho as Doumyoji (Goo Jyun Pyo in Korean) and Kim Hyun Joong as Rui (Ji Ho in Korean) are even hotter. Wow. And whereas Mei Zuo (Vaness Wu), and Xi Men (Ken Zhu) were really nothing to shout about, the remaining members of the Korean F4 are also pretty boys! As for the female lead, Da S iwas sweet and quite pretty but so is Koo Hye Sun! In fact, Koo Hye Sun comes across cuter and livelier=). The Jap cast is not in the running- the female lead is rather plain and the male actors are really just ok.
Most importantly, the Korean cast really resembles the charcters in the manga.
Reason 2: Acting
It is a tough fight between the Koreans and the Japanese. My vote goes to the Japs- and only because they were convincing despite the lack of real good-lookers. Da S and the veterans were probably the only ones exercising their acting chops for the Taiwanese remake.
Reason 3: Plot
All three are to a large extent, faithful to the original, which makes for great watching. The Japanese however, are as usual, subtle, and subtlety is typically lost on me. The Taiwanese version is great, just a tad melodramatic, but the Koreans nailed it just right. The Taiwanese version had the best kisses though- passionate and numerous, quality and quantity:) The Korean version had a good number of kisses, but they were the lets-plaster-our-lips-together sort. Kissing scenes were neglible for the Japanese version.
So if you just have time for one version, go Korean=) And if you are wondering which version’s the worst, my answer is there is no such thing as a worst version. I mean, how bad can Meteor Garden get?! There is just this little thing bugging me- whatever took the Japanese so long to remake Hana Yori Dango?
For more pictures and more information, go to: http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-361099/korean-cast-of-hana-yori-dangoboys-over-flowers/