If you watch only one drama in your life, make it Hana Yori Dango. Yeah, I mean it. And Hanadan isn't even my most favorite drama (that would be Mars), it's just so...everything. More specifically, watch both seasons because it's that weird show where season 1 is awesome and season 2 is awesome, but combined, they are greater than the sum of its parts.
See this second season MV:
I spent both part of lunch and evening reading manga in the local Borders (if there is anything better than drinking strong coffee and reading shoujo when it's raining outside, I have yet to discover). This included volume 26 of Hana Yori Dango. More about that particular volume below, but it made me think about Hanadan in general. According to wikipedia, Hanadan is the most best-selling shoujo manga in Japan, and definitely it's crazily successful: there have been numerous reprints, a successful anime series, a hugely popular Taiwanese AND Japanese drama adaptations, etc etc. It really makes me think that the story is the most important thing even in such a visual medium as manga. Because while the art in later volumes is rather nice in a spare sort of way (and miles better than the somewhat horrid art in the earliest volumes), the mangaka of Hanadan is nowhere near the gorgeousness of other manga artists.
And also, if you think about it, both Tsukushi and Domyouji are rather atypical for shoujo heroine and hero. Tsukushi is far from the usual manga heroine, who is usually very pretty, loved by many, a little adorably ditsy, and interested in boys. The most you can say about Tsukushi's looks is that they are average (and once she chops off her hair, she is definitely plain), she is just as interested in studying hard and making something of herself, as she is in any romantic complications, and as to popularity? The first few volumes the girl endures some horrid hazing, to put it mildly. As to Domyouji, he is very tall and very rich, which does make him shoujo hero material. Oh, and he saved her about seven billion times. Except...he is also pig-headed, selfish, stubborn, and let's be frank, not very bright. And if you want a sweet extravagantly romantic gesture, look elsewhere. He is as likely to insult Tsukushi as anything. Of course, she will insult him right back.
Ultimately I think that is why Hanadan is so enduringly popular: it's a sort of shoujo Pride and Prejudice, isn't it? A strong-willed woman and a flawed guy who loves her for her strength. And they bicker :) Because ultimately, with all his flaws, the reason I think Domyouji is so awesome is because he is so unswerving in his love of Tsukushi. Because he loves her because she is scrappy, and strong, and heck, when roused, fearsome.
And that whole love of Hanadan got refreshed by that volume 26. Because, oh the mangaka gets it so right, they are so teenage. Great love or not, the foot-in-mouth syndrome is so present, and so is their bickering. I love it when she tells him she made lunch for him and he is so delighted. Heh. But my favorite scene is when their well-meaning friends lock them together in the summer house. Heh. I love when she says he is always 'annoying there to rescue me' (or similar) and he is all, 'you could drop 'annoyingly.'' Heeeee. Or when they kiss, and he grumbles that his neck is hurting because she is so short, and she could at least stand on tiptoes and she shoots back that it's just he is freakishly tall. Never a quiet moment. Or when (because there is so a bed there) she is trying to come up with a talking topic so as to fill the silence, she asks how come he is such a good kisser, because she is his first girlfriend and then her brain catches up with her and she is all 'OMG, what is my mouth saying?' but she perseveres and continues 'did you practice? Who on? A Stuffed animal? A human? F3?' (at that latter, the slashers go wild, heh). And he matter-of-factly tells her that when they were in middle school, Soujiro and Akira always had a swarm of girls around them and sometimes girls would want to make out with him, so he'd be kissing with them, but then when he got to high school he stopped because he thought it was childish. And (because she asks) he is all 'only kissing, it's gross to have sex with someone you don't know.' EEEEEE! That is such a Domyouji thing to say. In some ways, he is the most infantile of the F4, but in some he is the most grown-up one. And, of course, he would be the straightforward one and tell this to Tsukushi, not even thinking to lie or hide. And also, I love how to him, of course, you don't have sex unless you love the person. As Tsukushi ends up thinking, he is both pure in spirit AND annoying (and then wonders why she fells for someone unstable :D) The funny thing is, I could totally picture MatsuJun and Inoue Mao (or Jerry Yan and Barbie Xsu) do this scene. EEEE! How much do I love both the Japanese and the Taiwanese live actions.