"Hana yori Dango" (aka. "Boys Before Blossoms") is a wonderful series by Yohko Kamio. The whirlwind-like story centers on a smart, stubborn girl, Tsukushi Makino, who attends an elite "elevator" school in Tokyo on scholarship. Because of her lack of money and prestige, she is harrassed regularly by all the students, and gains the unwanted attentions of the school's biggest bully, Tsukasa Doumyouji. Or at least, that's how it all begins. At 30-odd manga volumes, 'Hanadan' has spawned both animated and live-action movies & TV series, as well as a video game (almost unheard of among girls' series).
Since it runs as a biweekly serial (in Margaret magazine), Hana yori Dango admittedly can become somewhat repetitious in its scenarios. The 'poor girl & rich boy' premise, found in so many Disney movies and romance novels, has been used so often that the blissfully happy outcome is nearly a foregone conclusion. However, much like in the Jane Austen story from which this site derives its name, the attractiveness of the characters and their bittersweet misadventures make the journey worthwhile.
The length and convoluted nature of Hanadan can be a bit daunting to potential readers, so I've decided to compile a set of brief summaries of each story arc. The Japanese volume numbers corresponding roughly to each arc are provided, and these divisions should be consistent with whatever version of Hana yori Dango you have. Also, as new characters appear in the story, the little character gallery will grow, but the descriptions will remain brief and contain few spoilers. For more detailed character information, past and current translations, and news about the ongoing Hana yori Dango US Translation & Licensing project, check out the Hana yori Dango Mailing List (c/o YahooGroups) and their list of recommended sites.
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