During my last week in Japan, I finally stopped by a movie theater in order to watch the final chapter of the Hana Yori Dango TV drama—Hana Yori Dango Final the movie. While I’m not sure what movie ticket prices are like in other countries, tickets in Japan (1,800 yen) are noticeably higher than I’m what I’m used to back at home. With that said, the level of Japanese used in the dialogue was well within my abilities, so at least I got to enjoy my first Japanese movie theater experience to the fullest. I’ve included spoiler-free impressions below, plus a lengthy, fully detailed summary (written as accurately as possible from memory), for those of you who just can’t wait to find out what happened. Any additional pictures were scanned from the photobook that I bought.
(Screenshots below were taken from the Hana Yori Dango Final Public Celebration Special (花よりだ男子ファイナル公開記念SP), which aired on television the day before the movie premiered.)
First off, my overall impression of the movie is that it should definitely please fans of the television drama. At around two hours long, it concluded the series as a whole well, plus it paid homage to all the little things that we know Hana Yori Dango for. This includes Tsukushi hopping on her feet before punching someone, Tsukasa’s poor Japanese (e.g. his inability to distinguish between on and kun kanji readings), Rui’s drowsy appearance and soft-spoken nature, Akira’s connection to the underground (e.g. gangs) around the world, Soujirou still running away from Yuki all the time, and F4’s seemingly limitless amount of money to do as they please. Shigeru, Tsukasa’s fiancee from season two, was also in the movie, during the portion of the film that took place in Las Vegas. There was even a late cameo of Sanjou Sakurako near the end to make everything come full circle. So in short, the movie was a good reminder of everything fans liked about the drama, which based on what I overheard in the theater, added to the nostalgic effect. Given how the second season, Hana Yori Dango 2 (Returns), finished airing over a year ago, I can definitely see where they were coming; however, it was still pretty nostalgic for me even though I only finished the drama somewhat recently. (The only person missing that I would’ve liked to see was Tsukasa’s sister, Tsubaki.)
As for the premise of the movie, Tsukushi is in her last year of school and her parents formally meet Tsukasa’s mother, Kaede, as part of the wedding engagement. At this meeting, Tsukasa’s mother presents Tsukushi with a tiara known as “The Smile of Venus” (ビーナスの微笑み), which supposedly grants eternal love to the bearer and her partner. While Tsukushi is in awe after receiving such an important heirloom, the tiara suddenly gets stolen right in front of Tsukasa and Tsukushi, so the two of them go on a wild goose chase to retrieve it, taking them to Las Vegas and subsequently, Hong Kong.
The beginning of the movie started off with a lot of action, as Tsukasa chased after the thief who swung out of a helicopter and busted right through the window of their enormous hotel room. That particular scene and the subsequent fight scenes between the two in the hotel kitchen made everything feel like a well choreographed action movie, which was pretty damn exciting, but it was very un-Hana Yori Dango-like. I guess they decided they had to start off with a strong movie-like impression though and this served that purpose really well. The rest of the movie was more like the Hana Yori Dango that we’re used to, as there weren’t really any more action movie type scenes like that, and simply a lot of character interactions instead (in a good way). As for the plot, I wouldn’t say it was completely predictable, but I had a fairly good idea who the antagonist was well before they made the big, climactic revelation. Regardless, I wouldn’t use that as a reason to knock the movie though, as all the hints were purposely left behind to make you wonder who the perpetrator is and start drawing your own conclusions along the way. With that said, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment one bit, plus my prediction could have easily been wrong as I never felt 100% certain. While Hana Yori Dango has never really moved me sentimentally that much (something Densha Otoko seems to do quite easily), the movie did make me tear up a bit near the end, so if you are a fan of the television drama, I wholeheartedly recommend watching the movie when you get a chance.
WARNING: extremely long, contains major spoilers, but also more pictures and all the good stuff.
Note: most pictures link to larger versions, some of which are uncropped and show a lot more.