Rummanah Aasi
 Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Normally I get manga recommendations from friends or what's been popular in libraries. I stumbled upon Boys Over Flowers when I was listening to segment on NPR called "You Must Read This". This short piece caught my attention and I had to find out why it was so strongly recommended. Boys Over Flowers is one of the best selling shojo manga series of all time in Japan and it has been adapted into dramas and animes in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. Thankfully, the series is now complete so I don't have to wait to see how it ends!

Description: When her only friend, Makiko, accidentally offends F4 leader Tsukasa, Tsukushi boldly defends her. Enraged, Tsukushi puts the dreaded red tag in Tsukushi's locker -- a sign that she is now a target for the abuse of the F4 and the entire school. But when Tsukushi fights the gang with their own weapon, Tsukasa finds himself falling for her!

Review: Tsukushi Makino, our heroine and the protagonist of Boys Over Flowers, is a scholarship and transfer student in one of the most expensive and private schools. On her first day of school, her friend Makiko accidentally offends one of the F4, the clique that rules her private, super-rich high school. Shocked and furious that no one would come to her friend's aid, Tsukushi comes forward and protects her friend. Little did she know that her act of bravery has set off a taboo in her school. You see you don't mess with the F4 at any cost otherwise your life will become hell.
  The next day the F4 had Tsukushi a red flag, a symbol that she is to be bullied by everyone in the school. She is ostracized by her schoolmates and subjected to increasing abuse—her desk is stolen, an egg is thrown in her face, and someone writes that she had a pair of abortions on the school blackboard. Instead of backing down and crying, Tsukushi fights back with her fist, flyswatter and foot.
  As you can see bullying and an insight of the clash of social classes create the foundation to this series. The F4 stands for "Flowery Four," (which sounds stupid and weird but I'm sure will make sense as I continue this series). The members of the F4 are all rich and good-looking, dress like supermodels, and strut around the school like they own the place. They have an aura that is both attractive and repellent, the pull of which both Tsukushi and the reader feel. The F4's leader is the creepy Tsukasa Domyoji, who wears pseudo-dreds and is constantly mixing up his phrases. Domyoji is suppose to look like Christian Slater the mangaka's celebrity crush (I don't get it) but he reminds of me of a young Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block. Tsukushi has a strange affect on Domyoji in that she constantly challenges him regardless of how poorly he treats her. It's really no surprise when this volume ends to find out that he harbors a secret crush on her. Thankfully, Tsukushi doesn't reciprocate it and sets her sights on someone else. Part soap opera, part social commentary, and a promise of complex characters, Boys Over Flowers is a manga series that I'm curious to follow.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are scenes of bullying including a sexual assault attempt and some language. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Ouran High School Host Club by Bistco Hatori, Kodocha by Miho Obana,
Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda
3 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    The Flowery Four is a group of guys? That's an interesting choice for them:) I'm looking forward to seeing if there's an explanation for it in future volumes!

  2. The Flowery Four does sound weird, but I presume it will make sense eventually. Funny how so many manga books are set in exclusive private schools.

  3. Rubita Says:

    I'm pretty sure that in Asian cultures a flower boy is something like a pretty boy. The flower part is a literal translation and not, er, in the spirit of the language. Whatever. Never mind.

    I'm not a manga reader, but I did take a peek at this one because I like Korean dramas and I watched Boys Over Flowers, which is an adaptation of this one. What I find so fascinating is the clear and divided class divisions. It's odd to think of them surviving into the 20th Century (wasn't it written in the 90s?), but then I remember that I only live in one small part of the world and I'm sure exclusive private schools are totally that way.

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