Are you interested in getting to know Japanese ikemen (good-looking men)? Would you be interested in a show where a girl disguises herself as a boy? Then the Japanese drama Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (花ざかりの君たちへ～イケメンパラダイス～), also known as Hana Kimi, might be for you!
Hana Kimi is a Japanese drama produced by Fuji Television that was based on a manga with the same title by Nakajo Hisaya (中条比紗也). The first Japanese version was aired from July until September in 2007. A remake was made and aired in the summer of 2011. Other drama adaptations were also made by Taiwanese and Korean TV productions.
Hana Kimi is a fun, light comedy drama that stars popular and good-looking actors. It follows the chaos, troubles, and friendships at an all-boys boarding school.
The protagonist, Ashiya Mizuki (芦屋瑞稀), a Japanese teenage girl who lives in the United States of America, one day sees Sano Izumi’s (佐野泉) high jump competition on TV. Through this, she starts to idolize him. Unfortunately, Sano gets injured in America while trying to save Ashiya from gangsters. Sano stops high jumping because of the incident, and Ashiya blames herself. Ashiya decides to go to Japan to help Sano rediscover his love for high jumping.
Sano goes to an all-boys’ school, so Ashiya disguises herself as a boy in order to enroll in Sano’s school and encourage him to continue with the high jump. The school doctor, Umeda Hokuto (梅田北斗), immediately finds out that Ashiya is a girl, but sympathizes with her and helps her in her troubles with Sano.
One day, Sano also finds out about Ashiya’s real gender when he overhears Ashiya and her brother talking. Sano hides the fact that he knows about Ashiya’s secret to stop her from getting caught and going back to America. The two get closer, and Sano finds himself high jumping again with Ashiya’s encouragement. Ashiya soon finds herself falling for Sano. At the same time, Sano’s close friend, Nakatsu (中津), also falls for Ashiya without knowing that Ashiya is a girl. Now what will happen to their high school life?
Ashiya Mizuki, played by Maki Horikita (堀北真希), is the main protagonist of the show. She disguises herself as a boy and enrolls in Sano’s school.
Sano Izumi, portrayed by Shun Oguri (小栗旬), is the person Ashiya Mizuki looks up to the most. He stops high jumping after his encounter with gangsters.
Nakatsu Shuichi (中津秀一), played by Toma Ikuta (生田斗真), is a close friend of Sano Izumi. He ends up falling in love with Mizuki without knowing she’s a girl and, in turn, feels confused about his sexual identity.
Hiro Mizushima (水嶋ヒロ) plays Nanba Minami (難波南), who is the dorm head of the second dormitory. He helps his fellow dormmates whenever they’re in trouble. Their dormitory is known to be good in both academics and sports.
Taiki Kayashima (萱島大樹) played by Yusuke Yamamoto (山本裕典), is a member of the second dormitory and Shuichi’s best friend. He’s also known to have supernatural abilities.
Kyogo Sekime (関目京悟), portrayed by Masaki Okada (岡田将生), is a helpful friend of Ashiya Mizuki. He helps her find her way in most of the episodes.
Megumi Tennoji (天王寺恵), played by Yuma Ishigaki (石垣佑磨), is the dorm leader of the first dormitory. He’s known to be good in sports.
Nobuo Kyo (姜暢雄) plays Masao “Oscar” Himejima (姫島正夫), who is the dorm head of the third dormitory. He’s known to be artistic and intelligent.
Makoto Kagurazaka (神楽坂真言), played by Yu Shirota (城田優), is Sano Izumi’s rival. However, beneath the rivalry, Kagurazaka can be a good friend to Sano.
Hibari Hanayashiki (花屋敷ひばり), portrayed by Mayuko Iwasa (岩佐真悠子), is the leader of St. Blossom’s (聖ブロッサム) Hibari Four and has a crush on Sano Izumi. She also later finds out about Ashiya’s secret.
Principal Tsubaki (椿校長), portrayed by Seiko Matsuda (松田聖子), is a kind-hearted principal of Osaka High (桜咲学園). She is often out of town but still doesn’t fail to guide the students.
Umeda Hokuto, portrayed by Takaya Kamikawa (上川隆也), is Osaka High’s school doctor. He immediately finds out about Ashiya Mizuki’s secret and helps her with her problems with Sano Izumi.
The manga series of Hana Kimi was first serialized in “Hana to Yume” (花とゆめ), the 20th issue of Hakusensha’s (白泉社) semi-monthly shoujo manga magazine, in 1996. The full series was completed at 23 volumes with 144 chapters.
There are also an additional five chapters written during its serialization and another five special chapters after the series ended. The 23 volumes were first published as Hana to Yume Comics. It was later re-published into 12 volumes of collector’s editions, which have unique cover illustrations and colored pages. Hana Kimi was also published under Viz Media for English readers.
The 2007 drama adaptation has many differences from the manga. Firstly, Sano is injured when saving Ashiya from gangsters in the drama, whereas in the manga, Sano gets injured while saving his friend.
Secondly, in the drama, Sano finds out about Ashiya’s real gender when he overhears Ashiya and her brother talking. However, in the manga, Sano finds out about it in a different way.
Thirdly, Nakatsu finds out about Ashiya’s gender earlier. But in the manga, he finds about it when everyone else discovers it.
The 2011 drama adaptation also has some differences. For instance, the school they’re currently enrolled in is scheduled to be demolished.
Hua Yang Shao Nian Shao Nu
Hana Kimi was also adapted by Korean and Taiwanese TV productions. A Taiwanese version entitled Hua Yang Shao Nian Shao Nu was aired in 2006 in Taiwan. It stars Ella Chen of S.H.E., Wu Chun, and Jiro Wang of Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, a Korean adaptation entitled To the Beautiful You was also made. It stars Sulli Choi, Choi Minho of SHINee and Lee Hyun-Woo.
I watched both Japanese versions and the Taiwanese version of this drama. I like the 2007 Japanese version more than the other versions. However, I am yet to have seen the Korean version. I think Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun and Ikuta Toma portrayed their characters very well. I love the chemistry between the three actors.
I also like the comedic elements of the drama. It really got me laughing out loud! Fans of the 2007 version were puzzled when Fuji TV announced a brand new Hana Kimi in 2011. They completely revamped the series with a new cast and a new way of retelling the story.
So if you love J-Dramas, why not give this critically acclaimed Hana Kimi a try? You might find your next favorite ikemen!