Yup, you got it right - Hana Yori Dango started off as a manga, then received treatment as an anime, then was adapted into the Taiwanese live-action drama Meteor Garden I
and Meteor Garden II
, where Barbie Xu and the Taiwanese F4 got their major acting debuts. Of the five main leads, Barbie and Vic Zhou (who played the Taiwanese Hanazawa Rui) went along to became very notable actors; Vic has starred in numerous dramas and films since then, and he's absolutely stellar. (I'm a huge fan
I highly, highly recommend MARS
if you're interested in trying out a Taiwanese drama; it's on the older side, so it isn't high-quality and glitzy like contemporary works, but it's amazing. It splits from the stereotypical Taiwanese drama (over-exaggerated acting that sometimes tries to be kinda cute and a lot of the time fails), with its darker storyline and its very real, human issues. It's adapted from the manga of the same name, by Soryo Fuyumi - it is one of the few manga titles that has touched me very deeply, for the issues it explores. It rates among other underrated titles like Deep Love
, which is equally dark, but equally touching.
I definitely understand where you're coming from about Boys Over Flowers
- I agree on a lot of points, but I think that a lot of the character development was able to happen precisely because it was a Korean drama, which typically runs twice as long as your average Japanese drama. Even though Hana Yori Dango
had its second season and a follow-up film, the "style" of Japanese dramas are pretty different, and I feel like HYD was geared more towards a romantic comedy/drama, rather than a romantic drama (which BOF followed more along). I felt that some of the glitzier aspects of BOF were a little unbelievable; they also had some strange random things (like the members of F4 playing soccer, hockey, etc. when they needed an out for their emotions; very typical of Korean dramas to do that, though it used to be squash, and not every sport under the earth). I felt that the ending was a bit anti-climactic, but both versions had their strong and weak points, and are fun to watch in their own right.
I haven't read the Coffee Prince novel, and no, I hadn't heard that a film was coming out. Interesting - I really enjoyed it, and though I'm a bit concerned about a film sequel, I think the main leads would be fun to see on the big screen.
I've watched Mei-chan no Shitsuji
. As you said, it did lack a bit of... substance. But it was definitely entertaining - and Mizushima Hiro made the hottest butler. Seriously! Have you heard about the autumn drama that he's co-starring in with Oguri Shun? It's a police drama (one of my favorite kinds - done well, they're SO good!), and while it doesn't have the most original of plots (two cops who get matched together, but are completely mismatched on work/life ethics), it sounds like it'll be interesting.
But yeah. If you enjoy drama, romance, and unpredictability, I definitely
recommend Black & White
, the Taiwanese police drama I mentioned earlier. It's definitely not what you'll expect, and it starts off with a bang. Send me a message if you want more information or more recommendations.
Always nice to see another Asian drama buff in the house.