On February 8, the Kapamilya Channel started airing a Tagalog-dubbed Hana Nochi Hare every weekday at 9:00 AM. I decided to watch the Japanese drama ahead via an online streaming site to check all the commotion behind it. Now, here’s my Hana Nochi Hare Review.
Almost three years after its initial release in Japan, I have wrapped up Hana Nochi Hare’s 11 episodes. It wasn’t only until this month that I found out that it was a sequel to Hana Yori Dango. I thought it was another remake, ‘coz the Japanese entertainment has been reproducing several popular mangas, like the Hana Kimi 2011 remake, just four years after the first drama adaptation, starring Oguri Shun, Maki Horikita, and Ikuta Toma.
Hana Nochi Hare Review: Synopsis
Hana Nochi Hare transpires ten years after the distinguished F4 have graduated from Eitoku Academy. However, the school has since diminished in value and has had only a few enrollees. Hence, a new breed of leaders, the C5 (led by Haruto Kaguragi)–the top 5 most affluent and most capable students of Eitoku vowed to improve the school’s reputation. They do this via “Peasant Hunting,” asking the poor or less-privileged students to drop out from the school for the elites.
Oto Edogawa, a once rich girl but became bankrupt because of her father’s company’s downfall, hides her situation to be able to stay at Eitoku. However, she accidentally crosses paths with Haruto. To remain in Eitoku, Oto threatens him to expose his love for lucky charms, and so their love story ensues.
I enjoyed the series so much that sometimes, I would not move on to the next episode but repeat the previous ones instead. That’s because of my fear of finishing it and moving on to another drama. Every time I would watch a drama, anime, or tv series, I would get an intense attachment to it that I seriously get separation anxiety after, which I did.
Now, for the Hana Nochi Hare review, I’ll get to the characters first.
Hana Nochi Hare Review: Characters
I’ll be starting my Hana Nochi Hare review with each of the main characters and the actors who portrayed their roles. This way, it’s easier for me to talk about the drama and my experience as a whole.
Like Hana Yori Dango’s Makino, Oto is also feisty and strong, but more classy since she was born into a wealthy family, unlike Makino.
One great thing about Oto is her high adaptation skills and high adversity quotient. She was able to navigate life from being a princess to a pauper. She also makes sacrifices for the people she loves the most, especially her family and Tenma Hasen’s family.
Hana Sugisaki was perfect for the role. She’s straightforward, unpretentious, and not to mention, she was gorgeous in the drama series. I have followed Hana’s career since 2015, and she got potential. She played the character with ease. While most of the time, you would love to hate Oto, but you still get drawn to her.
There wouldn’t be any romance shoujo anime or J-drama (and even Korean and Taiwanese dramas) without a perfect male character. Tenma Hase embodies the ideal man: he’s tall, handsome, smart, talented, wealthy, responsible, generous, and kind. Is there really such a person in real life? Haha, but in the world of fiction, they are just everywhere. Hence, all these anime and drama fangirls can’t seem to get their boyfriends in real life because of characters such as Tenma Hase.
While Tenma Hase is perfect, the universe knows that there’s still a catch to perfection. You don’t get the girl. Yes, ladies and gents, Tenma is the second lead guy.
And yes, behold, my friends, this is indeed almost the first time that I wanted to root for Tenma, who is the second lead. I got the second lead syndrome because of him. I mean, I’ve seen many Asian romance dramas and shoujo romance animes, but for the first time ever, I have empathized with the second lead guy and almost wanted him to end up with the girl. The character is just loveable. You wouldn’t want to hurt him.
However, more than anything, I think the reason for this is because of actor Taishi Nakagawa’s undeniable chemistry with Hana Sugisaki. I mean, I always root for Haruto, but Tenma and Oto really impose a chemical reaction.
Until towards episode 11, audiences might be confused as to who ends up with Oto.
Never have I had any sympathy for a shoujo or j-drama leading man character other than Haruto Kaguragi. In Hana Yori Dango and other shoujo mangas, the female character is always the pitiful one, but in Hana Nochi Hare, you will always tend to support Haruto.
Haruto is physically weak, not so tall (at least based on his character played by Sho Hirano). He’s also naive, ignorant, and funny, cute, and kind. What’s even crazier is that he’s fanboying over the F4, plus the fact that he likes to buy lucky charms. He’s so far from being cool and perfect.
I believe that more than the love story itself, Hana Nochi Hare is more of Haruto’s story, as he’s always been bogged down by his own faults, weaknesses, and his “unreciprocated” love for Oto. Apart from that, since he’s totally far from perfect, he has to prove himself to his father, their company, the students of Eitoku Academy, and Tsukasa Domyouji himself, the leader of F4.
Sho Hirano’s portrayal of the character is just flawless. Well, I’ve always expected it; anyone from Johnny’s Entertainment always gives it their all. Apart from that, I’ve already seen Sho in Shark, and he did a great job there. Even Sho’s face and the way he smiles are perfect for the role. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Haruto.
All the other cast members have done their job well. When it comes to big j-drama productions such as Hana Nochi Hare, Japanese productions, especially TBS, make it a point to choose the right people for the job.
Hana Nochi Hare Review: Overall Thoughts
In Hana Yori Dango, the story emphasizes the gap between rich and poor. Hana Nochi Hare’s theme still withholds that commentary, except that the drama didn’t say more about it much. It failed to further focus on their Peasant hunting job. While it mentioned Domyouji and Makino’s story, emphasizing that Makino was a poor student in the elite Eitoku Academy never happened. Hence, the drama’s lesson on elites to stop looking down on poor people was just half-baked.
While some people compare it to Hana Yori Dango, Hana Nochi Hare has a life of its own. And so far, to be honest, it’s less embedded in cliches than Hana Yori Dango. And even if there are some similarities, the characters are unique and very different from F4 and Makino.
What’s very apparent here is the love triangle of the three leads. Of course, we’re expecting that Oto and Haruto will end up together, but the drama leads us otherwise. Taishi Nagano and Hana Sugisaki’s on-screen chemistry doesn’t help as well. So we’re dragged on until the end of the series to finally find out who Oto ends up with.
The drama, like all the others, would lead you to a rollercoaster of emotions, especially regarding Oto’s choices. She was, indeed, a playgirl. Instead of being herself and enjoying Haruto (as it’s apparent that she has feelings for him), she preferred to stay with her first love, Tenma. Whatever her choices were have definitely affected the people around her, as what her friend Arisa Konno said. That scene where Konno confronted her was a defining moment in the drama, but Oto’s “final” decision of being with Tenma just disregarded it. At some point, I was not too fond of her choices, especially since I was very much in support of both Tenma and Haruto.
Hana Nochi Hare, apart from its cast of some of the hottest stars in Japan, was indeed, an anticipated drama. Seeing its production quality, especially through the school Momonozono, one can say that they spent on it. However, it’s still not a match to how extravagant South Korea’s Boys Over Flowers’ production was.
Hana Nochi Hare Guests and Cameos
Apart from that, what excited me while watching the drama the most are the cameo and guesting of three of the F4–Tsukasa Domyouji played by Jun Matsumoto himself on Episode 1; Oguri Shun’s Rui Hanazawa suddenly appearing after falling asleep on C5’s couch and talking to Haruto, and the longest guesting, Shota Matsuda reviving his role as Shojiro Nishikido, helping Haruto’s training on Episode 10. If you have seen Hana Yori Dango, then you shouldn’t be missing out on Hana Nochi Hare.
It’s so refreshing to see the three actors reprise their original roles of F4 in Hana Yori Dango. Oguri Shun’s Rui was short but sweet, but he was really fresh and looked the same as he was way back in 2005. I missed Jun Matsumoto’s Tsukasa walk, and he did it on Episode 1. And of course, Shota Matsuda as the most supportive friend of F4 helped Haruto so much. These guests were truly a delight!
Hana Nochi Hare Original Soundtrack
Another significant part of the drama is the soundtrack. The song “Hatsukoi” from the very queen herself, Hikaru Utada, was used in the drama. And in my opinion, it’s far better than her “Flavor of Life” from Hana Yori Dango. I still can’t get over it. King & Prince’s “Cinderella Girl” also hits the spot, and I think it’s also way better than Arashi’s “Wish.” It’s just a waste that they omitted Ai Otsuka in the repertoire. Nevertheless, the OST is one of the best I’ve ever heard in an Asian drama, mostly thanks to Utada’s “Hatsukoi.”
While the ending didn’t include cliches and offered an alternative one instead, it was like a cliffhanger for me. Finally, Oto decided to be with Haruto, and they imagined being together before meeting up. It’s just sad that they didn’t show the actual meet-up. We didn’t get to see Haruto giving back Oto the golden pig charm necklace and wearing it for her, nor did they get their first kiss! I know that’s a very typical ending, but I want it! I was excited about nothing.
Nevertheless, since the manga just recently wrapped up, I’m pretty sure that there will be a Season 2 to Hana Nochi Hare. It’s been almost three years, but I hope that TBS will produce the continuation of it again, with the same cast. And I wish that the story will be unique and not dwell on the forbidden love case like that of Hana Yori Dango’s
Thank you for reading my Hana Nochi Hare Review. Make sure to watch it on weekdays at 9 AM at the Kapamilya Channel on Skycable Channel 2.