So it turns out that an American version of the beloved Asian series Hana Yori Dango is in the works. Yes, the timeless shoujo manga that has been adapted into a Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean drama is now going to be Americanized. I worry. I worry a lot on how this will turn out.
The Livejournal community Arama They Didn’t! reports that “In July of this year, an American company (Wazego Collective) attempted to kickstart an American remake of the hit Kdrama Boys Over Flowers. The Kickstarter campaign however, only raised $1,252 USD out of a goal of 100,000.” But now, it seems that despite falling short of funds initially, the demand for an American version has been picked up by some. The initial company, Wazego Collective, has been replaced by WillKinn Media, and it turns out that some American hotshots will be handling the production. They’ve stated that, “We have a total of six executive producers including a co-production company for the series and only 2 of us are fans of the series. The company has done other projects before taking on Boys Before Flowers. The people that run it are all 10-20 year industry professionals that have worked with companies such as Samsung Electronics, Dick Clark Productions, Walt Disney Corporation, etc. The company was not formed just to make this series. The team has already been working on three other projects before this one.”
Oh also, here’s the synopsis for the Westernized version:
Ellison University is a school that caters to the children from families who are rich, famous, high-society or all of the above. Every year, they hold auditions to accept students who are super talented in different areas and give them a full scholarship to attend the University.
Zoey, a dancer, gets accepted and on her first day, discovers that the school is ruled by a group known as the F4. The members of the F4 come from the most powerful families in the United States and they abuse their power through bullying. Zoey eventually confronts the group after a particularly harsh act and gets on their bad side. The leader of the F4 eventually falls in love with Zoey creating a complicated set of circumstances that creates a classic story that has captured the attention of 23 different countries.
First of all, I personally don’t care whether the people in the production team are 10 to 20-year industry professionals that have worked with Samsung, Dick Clark, or Walt Disney. The problem here is, Hana Yori Dango is an Asian drama. Throughout the storyline, whether it be in the shoujo manga or the drama adaptations, the culture of being Asian is thoroughly ingrained, and I strongly believe that this is what makes it naturally charming. I fear that the American version will try so hard that it will end up in failure.
Secondly, um, what, excuse me? College? In a university? I am not dismissing the fact that there still is bullying that happens in colleges or universities. But why change it to that? It makes it all the more unrealistic that this should still happen in a university setting. Highschool is the archetypal “era” for such circumstances. And again, I DON’T SEE THE POINT.
I just don’t see any charm in this. I foresee it evolving into the likeness of the Gossip Girl series when it shouldn’t be, not in the slightest (GG is okay because right off the bat the treatment for that show has been decided to be how it is).
Well, I could write a longer entry about this (most particularly about how, ironically, Hana Yori Dango and all its adaptations can also be seen as a product of American colonization) but then I would have to sift through my thesis readings from college. In the meantime, here’s one paper I’ve been reading about Hana Yori Dango. It’s called The Localisation of the Hana Yori Dango Text: Plural Modernities in East Asia.
For your visual pleasure, here is the American cast:
So in a nutshell: