One anime, one K-drama, one fanfiction
So I was recently re-watching Ouran High School Host Club. It kept coming up as a recommendation on my Netflix account. I kept avoiding it because it was so pink! It looked like a romance story with flowers everywhere, also, high school was right in the name which wasn’t a big selling point, but it wouldn’t go away. I noticed it on a couple lists of best Anime to Watch. The most memorable description was from the website, The Mary Sue, which described it as disrupting the male gaze. Curiosity got the better of me, and I’m glad it did!
It’s about a student who has to work for the host club to pay off a debt at an insanely rich academy. It features familiar voice actors from Full Metal Alchemist and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, animated or not. My favorite parts were the fluidity in regards to sex and gender ideals as well as it being hilarious. I couldn’t believe how funny it was, and when it was over, I wanted more. A quick search online brought up Boys Before Flowers (BOF) as “similar”. Except it wasn’t listed as a comedy but a romantic drama. It’s not really my thing and all I could see they had in common were a poor student attends an insanely rich academy and all the misadventures. But since I was looking for something to replace Ouran, I tried it out.
At first… ugh, where do I begin?
Unlike Haruhi from Ouran, the main character of BOF, Jan Di, annoyed me so much. Her character reminded me so much of older aunties from Korean church. The faces she made, her style of talking and yelling at a moment’s notice. So although she was supposed to be a cute high schooler, I just kept imagining a sixty year old Emo (honorific for older woman who is like family) which is a weird way to start out for a female lead character.
The situations were over the top, like ridiculous. She is inconsistent in her characterization and the amount of money is highly obscene. The men were abusive and there were LITERALLY no teachers at the school AT ALL. (Except for one American guy droning on about Cocteau to high schoolers who weren’t listening). In a way, it was like Twilight in that sense. I actually liked the first film, because in it’s cheesiness, it made fun of itself just enough to elevate it to funny and kind of endearing. (the sequels that began to take themselves too seriously were my least favorites). This appealed to me on the same kind of level. Suspend belief for it’s duration and just hold on for the ride.
As the episodes went on, the situations became even more ridiculous. It’s par for any soap opera, I guess, kidnappings, drownings, high speed chases, blackmail and contracts… no evil twins I guess. It keeps from being trashy though with innocent performances from everyone involved. They hold back so much that you can’t help rooting for them all. JanDi’s acting evened out and her character seemed more at ease in scenes and the time was spent fleshing out main characters a bit more. Secondary characters disappear without a trace.
And the next thing I knew, I was utterly obsessed with the show.
As it went on, I reminded me more and more of a AU Twilight fanfiction that I had also managed to fall in love with, years ago. (picture will link to story on fanfiction.net)
Both involve incredibly rich, good looking guys, especially the two male leads, one an arrogant prick and the other one, impossibly cool.
Of course, the story has loads of sex, drinking, drugs and swearing. Trust me, it’s still worthy of your adoration. If you’re into a poor girl infiltrating a super rich academy and schooling her fellow students.
In both, the characters, no matter how much back story, are still mainly tropes. And the reason, I compared BOF to crack fic is that nothing can ever just be normal. Something is always happening, just when there is a breather. The most normal thing to happen is everyone sitting around in lavish surroundings and impossibly beautiful clothes discussing the crazy events that just happened, or were currently happening or about to happen. Then again, if you’re looking to ogle some pretty good looking people, and lots and lots of pretty pictures of food (I love how we Asians love our food!!) watch it.
I also wanted to throw out, that the one male who doesn’t lie to himself is part of the Mafia and likes to used American Gangster Speak. That alone is worth the show, I think. The equivalent in Scotch, Gin and the New Girl is a guy who says his life is like a 90’s rap song. Also worth it.
P.S. There are some American fans in the midst of creating their own version of Boys Over Flowers called Boys Before Friends. To watch their first episode click here.
Since it is fan created and funded, to helo donate, click the picture below.