The Ultimate F4 From Boys Over Flowers: Choosing the Best from Japan, Korea, and China

Boys Over Flowers or Meteor Garden is originally a Japanese drama series that later has remakes in Korea and China. I love this series, especially the original Japanese cast. But I am also a fan of the Chinese remake. While I am not the biggest fan of the Korean remake, it still has its strong points. But thoughts on the remakes are a post for another time.

Synopsis: Makino Tsukushi comes from a middle-class family who attends the prestigious Eitoku Gakuen. It isn’t long before she notices the social status gap between her and her classmates and that four wealthy seniors run the school. F4 or Flower Four are sons of Japan’s wealthiest tycoons and bullies students for fun. While Makino’s wish is to avoid F4 at all costs, she inevitably gets tangled in their lives.

Each remake has its own spin on the plot and how the female protagonist eventually meets and confronts F4. But the overall premise remains the same.

Each actor that played an F4 member in any remake did an outstanding job. But what would F4 look like if we mixed actors from different remakes together?

Mimasaka Akira

Mimasaka Akira is a “lady-killer” and prefers older women. His family has close ties to the criminal underworld. While he doesn’t have a huge role in the series compared to the other F4 members, he gets heavily involved in his friends’ relationships.

The Japanese version (first image) and the Korean version (last image), didn’t leave a powerful impression on me. I think it’s because they never had their own character arc. They felt like background characters rather than a lead.

However, in the Chinese version (second image), Akira had a whole arc of chasing and ultimately failing to get the girl he likes. Yet, I wasn’t a huge fan of that arc. The story behind Akira and the girl didn’t resonate with me. But it was still interesting to see more of his character outside of F4. And, I mean, he doesn’t get the girl. He lets her go at the end. It’s a pleasant change.

In the Korean version, Akira is more seductive towards the female lead than the other versions. While in the Japanese version, Akira felt like he’s an older-brother / best friend to the female lead. Last, in the Chinese version, Akira has a childish side to him along with this Casanova nature.

For Akira, I choose the Chinese version. He definitely had more depth to his character. And, I mean, it’s Connor Leung.

Nishikado Sojiro

Nishikado Sojiro is the playboy of the group. He’s charismatic and doesn’t enjoy dealing with stubborn people, especially women. However, he takes his family business seriously. In the Japanese and Chinese versions, Sojiro is an expert at tea culture. In the Korean remake, his family runs an art museum.

Despite his nature, Sojiro is kind and loyal to his friends. In all three versions, he helps Makino’s best friend, Yuki. However, it’s only in the Korean (2nd picture) and Chinese (3rd picture) remake that he falls for her, and they become a couple. The romance in the Japanese version wasn’t fully explored (if I remember correctly). If there were more episodes, Sojiro deserved a character arc.

In the Chinese remake, Sojiro gives off an intellectual vibe. Is it the glasses, I’m not sure. I’m not sure if this was the vibe the directors were going for, but I’m not complaining. But I imagined Sojiro to have a “boy-next-door” and a mysterious and mischievous vibe. However, Sojiro is supposed to be smart and clever.

The Korean remake and the Chinese version, however, did Sojiro’s relationship with Yuki justice. It was the classic bad-boy falling for the innocent girl. But, in this case, the bad boy is much more tolerable than those emotionally driven ones you usually come across.

On a side note, I enjoyed Yuki’s character more in the Korean version than in the Chinese. When Sojiro gets angry that his father says “likes women like Yuki”, Yuki didn’t hesitate to splash water on Sojiro when he asks her if “his father is okay for her.”

I think Sojiro’s character had more depth in the Chinese and Korean remake. We see his relationship with his strained family and his overcoming his feelings for his first love.

In the Japanese version, he was more of a supporting character in the Japanese version, and he never gets over his first love. There was a scene in the Japanese version where Yuki brings him to the rooftop and Sojiro cries while talking about his first love. He also remains a mysterious guy since he doesn’t open up to Yuki as much as he did in the other versions.

In the Chinese version, he meets with his first love on the rooftop, and she tells him she sees his love for Yuki. While in the Korean version, Sojiro goes abroad to Sweden and tells Yuki that he’ll come back for her, which he does.

This one’s hard. But I will go with the Korean remake. Kim Bum, the actor who portrays Sojiro in the Korean version, has the looks and the vibe that I imagined Sojiro to have. Not only that, but he also has a great character arc. But Caesar Wu, the actor who plays Sojiro in the Chinese version, is definitely a close second.

Hanazawa Rui

Hanazawa Rui is quiet and reserved. He doesn’t care about other people’s affairs and doesn’t take part in the bullying that happens in school. Rui has a crush on a childhood friend and follows her abroad. However, he comes back to Japan after the relationship fails. He dwells on it for a while but eventually falls for Makino, the female lead.

My favourite F4 member. No words can describe how much I love Rui’s character. The second male lead syndrome is so strong.

Rui has always been there to help Makino. Despite his indifference for her in the beginning, he genuinely cares for her as a friend and later develops feelings for her. While Tsukasa, the male lead, falls for Makino because she was the only girl to stand up to him, Rui sees how hard-working she is.

In the Chinese version (3rd picture), Rui plays the violin for Makino in the school courtyard at his graduation and hugs her at the end in front of the entire school. You could see that as a declaration of war since he made his feelings obvious.

However, he also knew that Makino had fallen for Tsukasa at that point. But Makino and Tsukasa’s relationship was still rocky. Maybe it’s because I’m biased, but I loved that scene. Rui isn’t one for dramatic declarations of love. But the way he hugged her at the end and told her not to push him away because this was his gift to her was a tactic only Rui could come up with. Gotta love a man with confidence.

In the Japanese version (1st picture), Rui gives Makino a back-hug and tells her, “maybe this will make you even more confused.” He also continues to make slight gestures that show his genuine feelings for her.

When Rui realizes he has feelings for Makino, he didn’t hesitate to challenge Tsukasa. In the Japanese version, Rui firmly declares to Tsukasa that he can make Makino happy and punches Tsukasa. In the Chinese version, Rui asks Tsukasa for his blessing when Rui says that he will pursue Makino. Finally, in the Korean version, Rui angrily tells Tsukasa that Tsukasa had his chance, and Rui won’t be patient anymore, and Tsukasa punches him.

I’m torn. All three versions did such a good job of Rui’s character. And it really shows that love is about timing. Since Makino sincerely liked Rui in the beginning, if Rui also liked her during that time, they definitely could end up together. Tsukasa wouldn’t have a chance.

Appearance-wise, I love Darren, the actor that played Rui in the Chinese version, the best. His demeanour was perfect for the role, and his performance didn’t disappoint at all.

But I also loved Rui’s heart-fluttering gestures towards Makino in the Japanese version. He’s so direct with his feelings, and those small moments and interactions between them are everything.

In the Korean version, you could feel how hard Rui worked to make Makino fall for him. And it was very genuine.

For this one, I choose Oguri Shun, the actor for the Japanese version because of all the subtle interactions between him and Makino that seriously makes your heart ache for him.

But, ugh, I love Darren so much in this.

Domyouji Tsukasa

Tsukasa is F4’s leader, who initially has an estranged relationship with his mother because of his relationship with Makino. While he appears arrogantly confident, he lacks confidence in himself, especially when compared to his best friend, Hanazawa Rui. Tsukasa doesn’t express himself well and always ends up upsetting Makino, despite that he genuinely cares for her.

I was never a fan of Tsukasa. He’s too emotionally driven and needs to focus on himself before getting involved with others. Cliché, I know. But he ends up hurting Makino so many times it was just ridiculous. It was like watching two inept humans trying to have a healthy relationship. But I will always be a fan of Makino of the Japanese version.

In the Chinese version, Tsukasa forces a kiss on Makino. He gets violent, and she looks genuinely scared.

In the Japanese version, Tsukasa throws a giant plant down towards the cafeteria (where a group of students were sitting), when Rui confronts him about his treatment toward Makino. Last, in the Korean version, he kidnaps her and detains her in his house as his maid. In the Japanese and Chinese versions, Makino becomes a maid for Tsukasa on her own accord after talking with the lead maid of the household, which Makino develops a friendship with.

There were many times throughout all the versions that showed Tsukasa’s genuine feelings toward Makino.

There was one scene in the Chinese version that was cute. Makino ends up taking part in a cooking competition against top-notch aspiring chefs from other schools. Tsukasa cheers loudly for her and even rushes backstage to give her support. In the Japanese version, he uses a loudspeaker to cheer for her in a competition. I don’t remember if this happened in the Korean version.

Performance-wise, I think every actor did an excellent job. There’s not one that I liked more than the other.

Though, Dylan, the actor who portrays Tsukasa in the Chinese version, really captures Tsukasa’s psychotic side. The look in his eyes when he watches Makino escape from him was spot-on. That one look alone is enough to send shivers down your spine.

Demeanor-wise, I think Lee Min Ho, the actor in the Korean version, is the most suitable. Lee Min Ho just screams rich. As much as I like Dylan and his adorable baby-face, it may not be the best appearance-wise for Tsukasa. But his performance definitely did not disappoint.

I think Matsumoto Jun was a good mix in between. Dylan was amazing at portraying Tsukasa’s childish side, and Lee Min Ho at portraying the “mature” side. But Matsumoto Jun portrayed Tsukasa’s growth so well. But I think this has more to do with the writing than acting ability. The ending to the first season of the Japanese series was the best.

So, I guess it’s Matsumoto Jun for this one.

Final Thoughts

This series is a classic. So many actors skyrocketed to fame after this aired. I know for Lee Min Ho that this was the first(?) time as a lead, and he achieved so much since this show. This was also the same for Oguri Shun.

Dylan was already well-known in the drama scene, but this was Darren’s breakthrough role as an actor and his popularity went through the roof in Asia.

I definitely think the remakes are worth the watch. While I was skeptical about going into the Chinese version (since I didn’t think the world needed another remake of the same story), it was a refreshing surprise because of the additional aspects and changes they brought to it.

Probably some time down the road, they’ll be another remake. But I think it will always remain refreshing of the unique twists and turns that others add to it or remove from the original.

Will there ever be a remake or parallel universe where Makino ends up with Rui? God, I hope so. If that won’t be the fresh change that everyone needs.

Also, the soundtracks for this series from all the versions are so good. It’s definitely worth a listen, especially the Chinese version.

This was a fun post to do, and the nostalgia definitely hit hard.

On a side note, the bromance between Tsukasa and Rui was the strongest in the Chinese version. I love these two together.

3 thoughts on “The Ultimate F4 From Boys Over Flowers: Choosing the Best from Japan, Korea, and China

  1. I’ve only watched the Chinese version, because I’m trying to learn Chinese for my grandparents, lol, but I really really loved it. I’m not completely done with it, I’ve only watched 13-15 episodes, but I’m adoring it.
    I really fell for Connor Leung and Dylan Wang. Aaaah the bromance was THERE! I ultimately wanted Si and Shancai to be together, and I’m excited to see how it works out.

    Liked by 1 person

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