To the Beautiful You: a drama/manga Comparison
By: Meg Humphrey
The 2012 Korean drama To the Beautiful You is based on the famous, classic manga Hanazakari no Kimitachi he (“For You in Full Blossom”) or Hanakimi for short. They tell a story of a girl (Korean and Japanese respectively) living in America who sees a high jumper compete. She’s so inspired and indebted to said high jumper, that she cuts her hair and transfers into an all boys school in order to help the now injured high jumper back into competitive spirit.
While I did enjoy the drama enough to finishing watching all sixteen episodes in only a few days, I felt like the drama was more superficial than the manga. I understand that 23 volumes of comics is hard to fit into the limited run of the show, but I felt like the growth of Jae Hee (the Mizuki Ashiya character) and Tae Joon (the Izumi Sano character) weren’t explored as well. It was turned much more into a blatant love story than a tale of people supporting each other in their difficulties in life.
The characters are naturally a little off from the manga, but I think what I miss most is that Eun Gyeol (the Shuichi Nakatsu character) isn’t friends with Tae Joon. Their dynamic really made the love triangle feel complicated, but in the drama it’s more of an extreme one-sided love on Eun Gyeol’s part. Eun Gyeol is also the most likable person on the show. He’s ultra sweet, sincere, and hard working; I ended up rooting for him the entire show even though I knew it wasn’t going to work out. Jae Hee is also more overtly obsessive with Tae Joon than Ashiya ever was while Tae Joon is a much colder person. I was also disappointed that they didn’t include or flesh out the parts of the women who help and support Ashiya out with her camouflage. Instead, the women that are left in the drama either have very few to no interactions with Jae Hee or directly antagonize her. There’s just a better sense of friendship between everyone in the dorms that is missing from the show.
It is very different watching people actually perform all of the amazing athletic feats they do. Even the spiteful character of Han Na, is a top notch gymnast who performs some amazing tricks to sneak into Tae Joon’s dorm. It’s really impressive and it makes me want to train hard, even though I don’t have a sport or goal like them.
The show is fun, although filled with ten times more embarrassing situations than the manga, and it is definitely worth the watch if you are a Hanakimi fan! It has some great romantic drama and the boys fashion is out of this world. It’s currently live streaming on Netflix, so give it a shot.