|Episode 1||The Footprint of Meteor||| Review Score||5.0|
|Episode 2||Second Impact||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 3||The Paper Plane||| Review Score||4.0|
|Episode 4||The Broken Door||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 5||The Glass Mask||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 6||The Tulip Mania||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 7||The Four Flowers||| Review Score||5.0|
|Episode 8||The Perfect Present||| Review Score||4.0|
|Episode 9||The Incident of 1%||| Review Score||5.0|
|Episode 10||The Time Machine||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 11||The Atonement||| Review Score||5.0|
|Episode 12||The Scripted Relationship||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 13||The Rooftop of Tomorrow||| Review Score||4.0|
|Episode 14||The Chessboard||| Review Score||4.5|
|Episode 15||The Neverland||| Review Score||4.0|
|Episode 16||The Meteor Shower||| Review Score||4.5|
Based on Yoko Kamio’s manga Hana Yori Dango reignited by China’s recent Meteor Garden and South Korea’s Boys Over Flowers on Netflix, F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers, tells of a romance that’s been delighting fans since the 1990s. And GMMTV’s delivery is no different.
A timeless tale, it’s told as a compact series with a punch not only in Thai but immediately translated into English subtitles and simulcast to Viu and YouTube for fans everywhere via weekly supplements.
Director Patha Thongpan is true to his word, honouring the original but retelling with local flavour. Earning high marks on weekly episodes, it’s completely worth the watch and may have you returning to – or watching for the first time – the classics that began it all.
The story centres around a school for the elite reigned by four guys with an overabundance of privilege, money and good looks. So much so that they’re both feared and revered by those around them.
Enter: Gorya, a girl who isn’t from within. She upsets their applecart, clueless about the rules and not interested in knowing them. She’s just there to go to school – until clashes abound with the leader of F4. Thus begins a series of battles that eventually shows glimmers of romance.
Starring Vachirawit ‘Bright’ Chivaaree as lead character Thyme (Tsukasa Domyoji/Joon Pyo/Dao Ming Si) and Tontawan ‘Tu’ Tantivejakul as ordinary-but-forthright Gorya (Tsukushi Makino/Jan-di/Shancai), the inevitable love triangle is rounded out with drama newcomer Jirawat ‘Dew’ Sutivanichsak, as Ren (Rui Hanazawa/Ji-hoo/Huaze Lei). Metawin ‘Win’ Opas-iamkajorn is the playboy Kavin (Sojiro Nishikado/Yi-Jung/Ximen) and Hirunkit ‘Nani’ Changkham as MJ (Akira Mimasaka/Woo-bin/Meizuo) completes the Flower Boys.
Even though the main character is Gorya (the original is from her character’s perspective), arguably the most significant transition is not with her as protagonist but the impact she has on antagonist Thyme as he shifts from blind anger and retaliation to introspective cognizance.
In the school’s hierarchical society, he’s the high-ranking almighty, just as he was raised to be, turning classmates on each other The Lord of the Flies style. While his immediate gang of Flower Boys seem just as bad, all born leaders, they’re street-smart enough to spot someone who makes a difference.
In previous episode reviews and preview stories we discussed the gradual build and shift on the main characters, particularly interesting as it’s done in so few chapters, compared to versions such at the 49-chapter Chinese Meteor Garden (2018). However, if we check out the 2003 Japanese Hana yori Dango, the main bit of the story is told in only 9, with the resolution meted out in 11 with Hana Yori Dango Returns – this covering the move to another country, return and engagement announcement.
If you’re interested in checking out any of the previous tales, here’s a little guide. There’s an audio book plus several musicals and unofficial series as well.
|Title||Year||Format||Country||Where to View|
|Hana yori Dango||1992-2003||Manga – 37 volumes||Japan||Viz Media (Viz.com)|
|Hana yori Dango||1995||Feature film||Japan||YouTube|
|Hana yori Dango||1996-97||Anime||Japan||Viz Media, Crunchyroll, Prime|
|Hana yori Dango
|1997||Anime short movie||Japan||Prime (boxed with anime series)|
|Meteor Garden||2001||Drama – 19 episodes||Taiwan||Netflix (in some markets)|
|Meteor Garden II||2002||Drama – 31 episodes||Taiwan||Netflix (in some markets)|
|Hana yori Dango||2005||Drama – 9 episodes||Japan||Netflix (in some markets), YouTube|
|Hana yori Dango Returns (Hana yori Dango 2)||2007||Drama – 11 episodes||Japan||Prime|
|Hana yori Dango Final: The Movie||2008||Feature Film||Japan||Prime (listed as currently unavailable at time of writing)|
|Boys Over Flowers||2009||Drama – 25 episodes||Korea||Netflix, Viki, Tubi, Hulu, Prime|
|Hana Nochi Hare: HanaDan Nekusuto Shīzun
(Sunshine After Flowers: Flower Boys Next Season)
*new storyline, new characters
|2015-2019||Manga – 15 volumes||Japan||Viz Media – Shonen Jump+
|Meteor Garden (2018)||2018||Drama – 49 episodes||China||Netflix|
|F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers||2021-22||Drama – 16 episodes||Thailand||GMMTV, YouTube, Viu|
Each retelling has its own charm from the curly-haired drawings of Domyoji in the manga to the pre-programmed Star Wars ‘Imperial March’ Vader ring-tone in the ‘private’ phone Domyoji gives to Makino in the 2005 Japanese version to the ‘either side of the door’ moments in China’s 2018 drama. You’ll find little unique nods in each as they all keep to the original map.
Hana yori Dango manga cover.
‘Meteor Garden’ 2018 either-side-of-the-door moment.
If you’re already a fan of Meteor Garden 2018 (Netflix – see mini-review here), F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers has a similarly modern vibe. Yet, to be fair, seems to select ‘best of’ from many of the iterations.
Many of us (thanks to all who commented on TRG!) noted references to previous versions, some of which we liked and some we appreciated a little less. But the volume of clicks and comments proves we were all hanging on the edge of our seats each Saturday to see where they would take us next.
Mathematically, with a couple of less powerful weeks here and there, our full season review comes to a strong 9/10. However, it’s quite tempting to bump it half a star, as overall it’s been such a pleasure to watch.
To anyone looking to start this series now – head straight to YouTube, where you can search for GMMTV or F4 Thailand by ep number. Unfortunately, they’ve not yet organised the series into a playlist, so you may need to pick through and search. Each weekly is broken into 5 little chunks. But persist – the faff is worth it.
Well done to the full team at GMMTV for building and maintaining the pace and storyline, including memorable scenes and tropes in sometimes surprising ways. The crisp look and feel with added Thai-ness felt spot-on for the most part. Here and there we would have liked a little connective tissue to round out an idea. Like with Kavin and Kaning! Several of our readers craved something a bit more on that strand.
Which perhaps gives us hope for a Season 2? That plus the clear indication that Ren has more story still to be told. We’ll explore this thought further in a Renewed or Cancelled story to come.
For Season 1, telling one of the most beloved shoujo (romance manga) stories with over 61M copies sold (per most recent published stats from 2015) it’s hardly surprising that it’s remade again and again. And each time it gives us a little hope that anyone can change, given the right motivation.
Thoughts on this series you’d like to share? Any of the previous versions you’d like to see reviewed? Wish we’d stop talking about this? Add your comments below. Thanks for reading, commenting and sticking with us!
For more stories on all sorts of content from this reviewer, click here: Kristen Lazur
Verdict - 9/10