OP: 「Love So Sweet」 by 嵐 (Arashi)
Watch the OP! Mirror 1, Mirror 2 (48.9MB, XviD)
Well this was about as good as it was in the commercials – in other words, it’s another really catchy Arashi song that quickly got stuck in my head. I think the opening sequence was also a lot flashier than the first series, which would seem to say that this series is getting a much bigger budget.
Tsukushi finds herself in New York asking for directions in English, but things don’t quite work out and she gets her bag stolen. In chasing that thief, Tsukushi gets lost and is subsequently confronted by a group of four black men. As she cries out the name Doumyouji, a special someone appears to save her. It has been a year since Tsukasa left for New York, and Tsukushi has come wanting to see him. In that time, the remaining F4 members have graduated from Eitoku, though they still stay in contact with Tsukushi. Tsukasa, however, has not. Tsukushi even tried calling him via the golden phone he gave her, but was unable to get through. During the summer of 2006, Sakurako had returned from Australia with her new boyfriend and happened to mention to Tsukushi that she ran into Tsukasa in New York. By fall, Tsukushi had decided to not think about Tsukasa and had gone to a junior high school class reunion with Yuuki. It was during this time that she met a guy named Oribe Junpei who was the cousin of one of the guys there. Although Tsukushi didn’t recognize Junpei, he happened to also attend Eitoku and knew all about her. He even admitted that he liked her and compared her to Joan of Arc. It was Junpei’s later comment that he felt she was headed towards becoming a lawyer and Yuuki’s assertion that she had a strong sense of justice that got Tsukushi thinking about her own future. She ended up telling her parents that she was aiming for law school and started doing her best on her studies.
At school, Tsukushi was getting picked on by the popular girls again, though on one occasion, Junpei came to her aid. He had admitted to wanting to be her boyfriend, but had settled for being her friend first. Despite his glasses-wearing appearance at school, Junpei was actually a model and had taken her to his photo shoot where he had convinced her to join in. The two of them appeared on the cover of TREASURES magazine, which was seen by everyone including Soujirou, Akira, Rui, and even Tsukasa in New York. However, one day, Tsukushi found the red F4 note in her locker and was once again bullied by everyone in the school on the supposed instructions of Tsukasa. Although Junpei had helped her out of that situation, even the other members of the F4 weren’t sure what to make of this. Rui had paid a visit to Tsukushi’s home and had suggested that she go to New York to see Tsukasa. He had wondered if she was scared and commented that running away wasn’t like her. As luck would have it, Tsukushi’s father got a ticket to New York at his company’s end-of-year party, so Tsukushi got her chance to go. And thus, she came to New York to see Tsukasa and got into the situation she’s in now. The person who is saving her right now is actually none other than Rui, and he manages to scare off the men with a toy gun. Rui reveals that he is going to be meeting with Tsukasa tomorrow with Soujirou and Akira, and then gives Tsukushi some money to buy hot dogs since she’s hungry.
It is at the hot dog stand that Tsukushi runs into Tsukasa. They are both surprised to see each other, but Tsukasa immediately demands to know why she was here. She tells him that it isn’t specifically to see him, and she instead uses her father’s end-of-year party bingo winnings as an excuse. Tsukasa then gets a phone call from a business associate and afterwards explains to Tsukushi that he’s leaving because he’s busy as the heir of the Doumyouji zaibatsu. Although he does tell her to be careful in getting home, he doesn’t seem to make much of this meeting and quickly departs via his limousine. Tsukushi ends up having dinner with Rui and meets up with Soujirou and Akira in Central Park the next day. They return Tsukushi’s bag back to her and then go to meet Tsukasa while she does some sightseeing around New York. By chance, she runs into Tsukasa’s sister Tsubaki who takes her out shopping. Seeing how depressed Tsukushi looks, Tsubaki tells her to call her if anything happens. She declares that she’ll always be Tsukushi’s ally and will come to help whenever Tsukushi is in trouble. Meeting up with the rest of F4 later, Tsukushi finds Soujirou with a cut on his lip after being punched by Tsukasa during their earlier meeting. Soujirou tells her that Tsukasa’s mood turned bad once they mentioned her name.
Deciding to see Tsukasa again, Tsukushi heads to his school, though along the way she sees a Japanese girl being hauled off by the police after an argument with a store owner. When she does finally find Tsukasa, she asks him why he’s angry at her and cites the red F4 note that appeared in her locker. Although he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she tells him that it would be better for him to say he hates her directly to her. Tsukasa wonders if she came to New York just to say that and calls her a fool. In response, she tries to punch him like she did so long ago, but this time he dodges it and tells her that he’s ended playing at her level – he’s not a kid anymore. With that said, the two part ways and Tsukushi returns to Japan. Tsukasa’s mother Kaede is quite pleased to hear that her son didn’t take notice of Tsukushi. That night, Tsukasa wakes up from a dream about a man who jumps off a building. After drinking some water to calm himself down, he sees the box of the cookie that Tsukushi made him when he left a year ago. Sometime later, Rui and the other F4 members come see Tsukasa again and they make up. They fill Tsukasa in about the red note that Tsukushi got since he declares that he didn’t order it. Soujirou realize that someone has set Tsukushi up, but Tsukasa had claimed that he had nothing more to do with her.
At this same time, Tsukushi is again being bullied by her peers and Junpei again comes to her rescue. In truth, he’s not as nice as he looks and has her kidnapped. She finds out that Junpei was behind everything because of a grudge against Tsukasa that he developed after Tsukasa beat up someone close to him. Tsukushi manages to free herself from being tied up, escaping captivity, and is saved when Tsubaki and her men arrive to help. When Tsubaki then takes her out to eat, Tsukushi explains that she feels she should forget about Tsukasa. He has his life and she has hers – the worlds they live in are too different. She apologizes to Tsubaki for everything, but Tsubaki says that her own true wish is for Tsukushi to be happy. Later, after Tsubaki drives off, she hears Tsukushi calling out to her and sees her chasing the car. In tears, Tsukushi confesses the truth: she really does love Tsukasa – she has for a long time. Her head has been filled with thoughts of him and she wants to be together with him. Even though she tried to give up and concentrate on other things, she kept thinking about him. Hearing all this, Tsubaki gets out of the car and comforts the crying Tsukushi. At the same time in New York, Tsukasa is remembering all the moments he had with Tsukushi. He soon gets summoned by his mother who tells him that he needs to go back home to Japan once in the beginning of the new year.
At the start of 2007, Tsukushi learns that Rui made Junpei take responsibility for everything. When she runs into Junpei, who is withdrawing from school, he wonders if Rui is in love with her because of how strong Rui was and how Rui said he wouldn’t permit Tsukushi to be harmed. He feels that if Tsukushi went out with Rui, she would definitely be happy. However, she replies back that she doesn’t want him to be talking about her happiness. Later, Soujirou and Akira tell her about Tsukasa’s upcoming birthday party, and on that same afternoon, Kaede’s private secretary Nishida finds Tsukushi and gives her an invitation from the Doumyouji matron. Tsukushi ends up going to the party and bringing homemade cookies with her to give to Tsukasa. It is during this celebration that Kaede makes a big announcement: Tsukasa is engaged. The others in the F4 think that she might be referring to Tsukushi, but the girl Kaede is actually talking about is named Ookawahara Shigeru. This is the same girl that Tsukushi saw being taken away by the police back in New York. Everyone is shocked by this announcement, including Tsukasa and Shigeru themselves.
Hana Yori Dango is back! I really enjoyed watching the two hour special, though the long length meant that I needed to cut back slightly on the detail level I usually provide in the summary so that I didn’t write a 10 page report. Anyway, the story is once again focused on Tsukasa and Tsukushi, and all signs point to them – for better or worse – spending the season getting the two back together again. The obstacles this time around seem to be Kaede and Shigeru, though there also seemed to be a particular focus on Rui’s feelings for Tsukushi, so it looks like he’ll be a big factor again too.
The one part that made me smile and cringe at the same time was all the English that got said this episode. I know I shouldn’t criticize because they were trying their best, but I couldn’t help but notice. Kaede’s French honestly sounded a lot better than everyone else’s English. Along the same lines, their portrayal of blacks in New York seemed so stereotypical. However, I don’t think four black guys would be scared off so easily like that by a skinny Japanese guy like Rui with a gun (whether they knew it was fake or not). That being said, I was surprised by how much of the episode took place in New York and how they even got the NYPD to help out.
There were even lots of insert songs this episode, including Utada Hikaru’s yet-to-be-released Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-, the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, and Maroon 5’s This Love (playing in the background during the diner scene in NY). Overall, I definitely got the feeling that show is going to be a powered up version of the first season in terms of production quality. And having seen the first episode now, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be watching and blogging HYD2 for the fifteen episode season that it is getting. Fortunately (or not), the rest of the episodes aren’t all going to be two hours long.