Tsukasa was actually kidnapped by Nishida and taken to his mother’s office. At the Teen of Japan competition, the first round consists of a talent competition. While Kurimaki Ayano shows that she can play the violin, Tsukushi demonstrates a defensive maneuver used against molesters. To everyone’s surprise, she makes it into round two which judges their fashion sense. Tsukushi takes the longest to choose an outfit, but it ends up getting shredded by the three bitchy girls. But when Tsukushi goes onstage with the torn outfit on, the French judge absolutely loves it. She advances to round three, a test of their English skills. Sakurako, who got eliminated in the fashion round, decides to help Tsukushi write her speech about the importance of family, and Tsukushi delivers it without a hitch.
The judges choose Ayano as one of the finalists, and let the other four contestants rock-paper-scissors for the last spot. Tsukushi wins and advances to the final round, but the audience starts to jeer her. Tsukasa comes back – having made a deal with his mother – and silences the crowd. The last challenge involves spending time with a group of young children. Ayano gathers the kids around the piano and starts to sings songs to them. Tsukushi is left with four brats who resemble a mini-F4. She ends up winning them over by pretending to be one of them and challenging them to games. When the other children see how much fun Tsukushi and the mini-F4 are having, they leave Ayano to join Tsukushi. At the end of the round, the children can’t decide who was better, so the final decision is left with the real judges.
The judges award Ayano with the grand prize, but also decide to give Tsukushi a special prize of one million yen. By now, the entire crowd is on Tsukushi’s side after having seen how well she performed with the kids, and they start chanting her name. However, the person Tsukushi most wants to see, Tsukasa, leaves after she loses and doesn’t go to the victory party. He eventually does calls and sets up a date with her, promising the other 4 million yen she still needs. When Tsukushi goes home, she’s overjoyed to find out that her father isn’t fired after all, and is getting a special two rank promotion to section chief. Makino prepares her clothes for the date, and even decides to make a little something in the kitchen.
But the next day, Rui shows up in Tsukasa’s place and gives Tsukushi the gift that Tsukasa wanted to give her. The deal that Tsukasa had made with his mother was that if Tsukushi didn’t win, then Tsukasa would go to New York to study in business school for three years. Tsukushi tries to shrug this news off, but Rui urges her to chase after him. He sends her to the airport in one of his cars, and starts walking off alone. However, he’s astonished to see a familiar someone walking towards him – Shizuka. She tells him that she’s here to spend Christmas with the person she likes.
In the car, Tsukushi opens Tsukasa’s Christmas gift: a necklace with a Saturn pendant. Tsukushi rushes onto the runway where Tsukasa’s plane is taking off. Tsukasa and his mother eventually catch sight of her running alongside the airplane. In a moment of kindness, his mother stops the plane, saying that she forgot her sunglasses. Tsukasa tells Tsukushi how important she is to him, and how they should be together. After Tsukushi admits that she’s in love with him, the two embrace and kiss. In the conclusion, everyone seems to be having a happy Christmas. On the plane, Tsukasa opens the present that Tsukushi gave him: a cookie made in the shape of his face. Back in Japan, Tsukushi stands alone outside alone, but she’s happy to have the necklace to remind her of their love.
Everything about this episode screams cheesy! Heart-wrenching speech about family? Check. Five million in debt resolved and father gets his job back AND a promotion on top of that? Check. Every member of F4 paired up in some way, including the unlikely return of Shizuka for Rui? Check. Kiss scene during the sunset? Check. Merry Christmases all around? Check. My major pet peeves are actually bratty kids and bad engrish (not that there’s necessarily good engrish), both of which also made it into this final episode.
But you know what? Despite all of that, I still overall enjoyed the episode. I came into the final episode expecting this type of conclusion and that’s pretty much what I got. All of the major plot lines get resolved without the pacing feeling rushed, and I do give them credit for having Tsukasa continue on to New York, instead of staying in Japan for the happiest of endings. This way, the two can work towards their own futures while remembering their love. Or something like that anyway…
Final Thoughts: For me, the Hana Yori Dango drama starts with a lot of momentum, falters a bit in the middle, but comes together again at the end to deliver a happy ending. The F4 cast bothered me a little at the beginning, but I’ve grown to enjoy their roles, especially Sojiro and Akira. I admit that I never liked the Tsukasa and Tsukushi pairing from the manga, but after having watched this drama, I feel a bit more favorable towards them. All in all, it’s a great Japanese adaptation of the manga, comparable to the Taiwanese drama.