From the Archive: Boys Over Flowers – Yoko Kamio: Series Review

Yoko Kamio’s shojo series Hana Yori Dango, translated as Boys Over Flowers, ran in Japanese publication Margaret from October 1992 to September 2003. In 1996 it won the Shogakukan Manga Award in the shojo category. It’s still the all time best selling shojo series in Japan. Viz media published the series in the states from 2003 to 2009. At a total of 36 volumes, Boys Over Flowers bombards readers with a roller-coaster romance that sputters to an anti-climatic ending.

The Gist: The series begins with high school student Makino Tsukushi trying to blend in at the elite Eitoku Academy. Since the academy is the choice school of wealthy and high society families, Tsukushi does not relate well with many of the students being from a family that is very poor. It is her strong sense of justice that catches the attention of the F4, or Flower Four, the four wealthiest and most beautiful boys on campus. Headed up by Tsukasa Domyoji, the heir to the large and successful Domyoji Corporation, the group also includes Rui Hanazawa, Akira Mimasaka, and Sojiro Nishikado. When Tsukushi becomes the target of the F4’s harassment, she clashes wills with Tsukasa Domyoji. Tsukasa becomes infatuated with Tsukushi because she is one of the first girls who doesn’t fawn over him for his money. During the course of the series, Tsukushi develops feeling for Rui Hanazawa, Tsukasa’s best friend. However, she learns that Rui is trying to overcome his feelings for another girl and does not reciprocate Tsukushi’s feelings at the opportune time. Meanwhile Tsukasa continues to pursue Tsukushi, and as Tsukushi notices the changes in Tsukasa’s personality for her own benefit, she begins to develop feelings for him too. These two angsty teenagers from opposite backgrounds must overcome numerous obstacles to unite their ever-diverging lives.

R to L: X, Tsukasa Dyomongi, X, Tsukushi ..., Rui Hanazana

R to L: Soujiro Nishikado, Tsukasa Domyoji, Akira Mimasaka, Tsukushi Makino, Rui Hanazana

The Characters/Romance: My expectations for Boys Over Flowers were not set up to disappoint. I honestly approached it like I would any other series I start reading. I didn’t know it was the best selling shojo title in Japan until I started doing my research. I can only fathom that it earned this title because the target audience devoured it, and it ran for sooo long. Admittedly, I, too, was engrossed by the clashing characters – at first. It was not until I was asked to do a review of the epilogue volume, though, that I seriously sat down to analyze the plot. That’s because the ending of this series was such a puny finale for a decade’s worth of emotionally invested readers.

Main character Tsukushi Makino is a strong and determined girl that like her name “weed” continues to thrive despite a pitiful environment. Her character alone holds this series together as it struggles to an anti-climactic ending. Although Tsukasa does eventually become a decent guy, the amount of torture he puts Tsukushi through in this series left me dumbfounded as to how she could continue to love him. I found Rui Hanazawa to be a better match for Tsukushi, since he understands her better and supported her more throughout the story. If only Kamio had paired them together there at the beginning of the story, it would have saved me from this excruciating drama that is Boys Over Flowers.

Despite the uncertain emotions, the evolution of Tsukasa and Tsukushi’s relationship is slow enough that it is possible to believe her feelings could change towards him. Yet just when you think the two will finally be together, Kamio writes another crux that pulls the two apart. Lather, rinse, repeat. It makes me wonder if Kamio’s editors were telling her to find ways to drag out the story. Every shojo plot twist you could think up, Kamio probably tried to implement it. I’d finally had it when Tsukushi decided to be with Tsukasa after denying her feelings for so long, and Kamio writes Tsukasa to have amnesia and forget who she is. What the heck?! From there the story goes downhill.

As for a happily ever after to Tsukushi and Tsukasa’s relationship, that’s up for debate. There is a wedding in the final volume, Jewelry Box, but it’s not for the main couple. Although there is promise of a future relationship, Kamio leaves no lasting assurance that Tuskushi and Tsukasa do have a good life together, and for such a long-running and emotional series, it’s just unacceptable. I feel sorry for all the people who spent a decade reading this series.

Those of you old enough to remember - am I right?

The Art: The one redeeming quality of this series is in the artwork. Kamio has a good grasp of paneling and toning. It’s interesting to see the evolution of styles throughout the decade on her characters. I found Tsukasa Domyoji’s character design to be the most interesting because of his hair. He reminds me a famous boy band member from the late 1980s. Kamio does backgrounds and settings well, too. From seashores to cityscapes, she has a good sense of perspective.

The Audience: Steamy – There are two bedroom scenes in this series. One is between supporting cast members, and though there is little nudity it is evident what’s happening. The second scene happens between our main couple. There’s implied nudity, and just when you think the two love birds are going to get intimate, Kamio writes it out of the plot.

The Media: Boys Over Flowers is available from Viz Media in 36 volumes. The epilogue volume is translated as Boys Over Flowers: Jewelry Box. A Hana Yori Dango anime series of 51 episodes was produced by Toei Animation in 1996. The manga series also spawned five television show productions occurring in the countries of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. In 2008 Hana Yori Dango Final was released in theaters in Japan. It was the best selling DVD for 2008 in Japan.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥ Frustrating!

As for this series as a whole, unless you absolutely want to torture yourself and wind up disappointed at the end, stay away from Boys Over Flowers. It’s not worth the time or emotional investment.

Follow Me!


Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
Follow Me!

Latest posts by Laura (see all)


  • Hi, why is there no picture of black singer “Prince” ? First’s Yoko Kamio thaught ! Tsukasa looks like Prince, juste compare their faces with google’s pictures…

    • Did Kamio say that somewhere? That she based him off of Prince? I can see a resemblance.

  • Hi Laura! 🙂

    What a refreshing point of view of you have of the manga. I’ll admit I haven’t read the manga, but I agree with you on all points because my thoughts on the subject have been pretty similar. I recently finished watching the South Korean ‘Boys Over Flowers’ drama and was left absolutely heartbroken at the end when Rui and Tsukushi didn’t end up together (all because of a missed opportunity. What a completely different story it could have been!).

    Having watched the drama, I’ve been contemplating whether to read the manga. On the one hand all the opinions I’ve read so far has been how it’s the greatest shoujo manga of all time yet on the other hand I already know I will be disappointed with the manga’s ending because it not the ending I hoped for. I fell in love with Rui watching the drama and to be honest, the only reason I’ve been considering reading the manga is to gain a deeper understanding of his character. So I simply have to ask, do you think it’s worth the emotional turmoil for me to read it for this reason alone? I’m still recovering from the emotional turmoil the drama has caused me…

    • Wow, that’s the first only time someone has agreed with me about this series! It’s a roller-coaster ride of a story for sure. I liked Rui better too, as you could see from my review.

      I think you get more character insight from a manga, but I haven’t seen the Korean drama to be able to tell you how close the two stories are. I did a marathon read of the series – meaning I read it all at one time after it was all printed. I think I didn’t have the same amount of investment in the story that a lot of people may have had that read it over the years as it was printed. That said, I still feel the same way about it today that I did when I read it several years ago.

      You will end up disappointed at the end. There’s no doubt. I was highly frustrated that after all the drama, there wasn’t even a wedding for Tsukushi. Plus, in the final volume, Domyouji goes to Rui to discuss proposing to Tsukushi. Wha? It’s up to you, but I still think you’ll end up crushed at the end.

  • Domyouji was def rocking that late 80’s early 90’s Jordan Knight hair lol. This is literally in my opinion one of the all time great shojo manga though nothing tops this for me. Sorry to hear you didn’t like it ?

    • Thank you for dating yourself with the Jordan Knight reference!! No one has responded to that image in the years I have had this post up. 🙂 There were aspects of this series I really did like, but I was soured by the whole amnesia plot. It was overkill. I wish there had be another plot device that would have been more realistic. I also think I didn’t have the time investment that a lot of readers may have had, so I did not get as attached to the characters as some did who read it for many years.

  • Wow i’m really disappointed in this review.. I suppose you’re not a shoujo manga fan? I don’t know why you’d even review it if you’re not. This manga is such a relief from the common fickle shoujo heroin. And the constant write outs are because they wanted to keep it okay for a younger audience, obviously. If Tsukasa and Tsukushi just had sex it’d take away from the manga, since it’d really feel over. Wheras the vague ending including only the engagement lets the reader create their own ending. Do you really need everything spelt out for you in an ending? The whole manga was so emotional that it was so much more refreshing to just get a simple ending. I feel bad for you that you couldn’t understand it and for anyone who might not have read this amazing manga because you gave it a bad name.

    • Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Obviously our differs greatly. I’m sorry you felt like you had to bash me personally for my own opinion.

      • Ouch, sorry that the fans dislike your opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own, and just because you don’t agree with someone’s views on a series doesn’t mean you can’t say your own thoughts. I have to agree with you on this series. It frustrated me, I couldn’t get into it, and I feel as if it was over hyped. Itazura na Kiss and Marmalade Boy are much better in my opinion.

        • I definitely liked Marmalade Boy better. Thanks, Mary!

2018 Shoujo and Josei License Announcements
Contact Me
Subscribe to Heart of Manga

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts. Your info will not be used for any other purpose.

Like Us on Facebook