also known as Hua Yang Xiao Nian Xiao Nu
Ella Chen as Lu Rui Xi (Ashiya Mizuki)
Wu Chun as Zuo Yi Quan (Sano Izumi)
Jiro Wang as Jin Xiu Yi (Nakatsu Shuichi)
While the Japanese version of Hana Kimi, broadcasted nearly a year after this Taiwanese version, managed to depict the wonderful story base with it's own charm and separate story line, the one thing that the Taiwanese version does is depict the story true to it's original manga story line, with few changes.
Hana Kimi is a love story, first and foremost, depicting the tale of Ashiya Mizuki and her life of living in an all boys school, disguised as a boy, as she meets and befriends her idol, the high jumper Sano Izumi, as well as learns of a whole new life outside of her own dreary one with everyone she comes in contact with.
Lu Rui Xi is a Taiwanese-American girl living in America who idolizes the high jumper Zuo Yi Quan and grows to fall for a young man she has never even met before. After seeing his elegant jump and hearing his words of encouragement for young people everywhere, Rui Xi is determined to get her act together, lose weight and become a person with more ambitions -- this is the reason that is given for Rui Xi's admirationg for Zuo Yi Quan in this Taiwanese version of Hana Kimi. Because rather than being a confused and lost child in the manga, in this series, Rui Xi had started off as a terribly obese and lazy, unambitious young girl.
The rest of the story for Taiwan's Hana Kimi pretty much follows the original manga version fairly closely with few changes here and there. Rui Xi appears at Ying Kai University as an transfer student where she meets her class of boys who would later become some of her closest friends, her idolized high jumper Zuo Yi Quan, as well as the wonderfully strange and wicked Mei Tian, the gay school doctor who helps her through her cause.
As far as story goes, if you already know the story of Hana Kimi, then there is no need to further introduce the series. Where romance is concerned, the Taiwanese version does what the Japanese version did not do: it focuses on the love story between Rui Xi and Quan, showcasing all the sweetness and care that the two present to each other as they continue on their life at Ying Kai University. Quan has more of a presence and less of an attitude as compared to the Japanese version, and his love for Rui Xi shows through that extra care he puts into protecting her and keeping her by his side.
I can't really say much about the cast of this series; Ella Chen was wonderfully exhuberant as the easily excited cross dressing girl, but she turns into a boy almost too easily. Ashiya Mizuki, after all, is described as a boy who is almost too pretty and looks more like a girl. Because Ella instantly becomes a boy, it is hard to see that cuteness that Mizuki projects all the time. It is quite unfortunate that costuming and make up didn't quite get the character design correct; Ella Chen can be a very pretty girl, but in this series, she just doesn't stand out at all aside from her personality and her chemistry with Wu Chun.
This series is carried by the love story and pretty much survives on it. Wu Chun is not a very well-rounded actor and often times comes across as monotonous or over exaggerated with no middle ground. Put into a character role who is already a monotonous guy, it does him absolutely no favors. As for Jiro Wang, while he does an excellent job of portraying the character of Jin Xiu Yi, he sadly does not bring the character to life; he is merely a vessel who becomes the character and nothing more.
The rest of the cast is rather insignificant to mention aside from Mei Tian who is actually rather ideal, played by Tang Zhi Ping. But much like the Japanese version of the gay school doctor, I feel like his flambuoyance and his unpredictability was lacking; of course, his wickedness was very much present, so it still works out rather well. Danson Tang's Liang Si Nan (Nanba Minami) seemed to have been downsized from his manga counterpart's significance. He's flirtatious and the dorm two head; but that's pretty much about it for this guy.
The series itself was a fun experience to follow through as it DID gain a rather large cult following among young girls all over Asian countries. After all, it presented two of the members from the then rising in fame boy band Fahrenheit as well as already popular member Ella Chen from girl group S.H.E.
I would watch this series again when I'm in the mood. I certainly love the story that goes with it, and it's pretty much just seeing one of my favorite manga series being brought to life by real people. But otherwise, I'm not quite sure how I'd feel about the Taiwanes Hana Kimi. It certainly isn't for everyone despite it's popularity.
Boasting all these young new talents, a subtle form of humor as well as a score of great music for the soundtrack, this series is definitely one to consider for good entertainment.
thoughts: Hanazakarino Kimitachie (Taiwanese) - a more in depth look at the series in discussion