In case you haven’t heard, the 2001 Meteor Garden adaptation is now available on Netflix. That, plus the most recent remake is proof that the obsession is far from over. We all know that in between that, the series saw several adaptations from all over Asia. It was all actually based on the Japanese manga, Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers), created by Yoko Kamio, and released in 1992. 1992! The fact that this story stood the test of time, is testament to its universality. Unfortunately, one thing that’s not universal is fashion trends. So while we see changes in the adaptations, essentially, the core of the stories are the same. But one thing you can’t miss, upon comparing them, are the characters’ styles. Read on to see just how much they changed through the years.
Though this 2001 Taiwanese TV adaptation wasn’t the first (It was actually a 1995 movie adaptation from Japan), it is credited for starting the worldwide craze, and was even dubbed in several languages. The actors who played the characters were so good, they remain household names to this day. Though the storyline didn’t entirely follow entirely manga origins, I’m sure we can all agree it was phenomenal. Fashion-wise, it had 2000’s written all over it. Dao Ming Si’s headband plus the sleeveless shirts, Hua Ze Lei’s boy-next-door polos with the cream, straight pants, Xi Men’s sporty sunglasses, Mei Zou’s vest, and San Cai’s long skirts or denim pedal pushers and tees? Ahh. Good times.
In 2005, Hana Yori Dango was rebooted in Japan, this time as a TV series. With its lead stars, Jun Matsumoto and Mao Inoue’s off the charts chemistry, it easily became one of the most popular Japanese drama series. Unlike its predecessor, it completely followed the original storyline of the manga—even the way the cast looked. When Tsukushi Makino wasn’t in her schoolgirl uniform, complete with blazer and knee-high socks, she’s in cute, youthful ensembles. Meanwhile the F4 boys are the epitome of swagger in their coats, which again, is more faithful to the original manga. We also see the rest of the F4 sporting wide collars, sleeveless tops under the blazer, and the turtleneck-and-vest combo. Oh, and those huge belts are very telling of that period.
Another adaptation which set off the obsession was Boys Over Flowers. In fact, a lot of people still argue this 2009 Korean series topped Meteor Garden’s popularity here in our country. One thing’s sure though—it skyrocketed actor Lee Min Ho, who played Gu Jun Pyo, to international stardom. Like Hana Yori Dango, the storyline also kept close to the manga it was based upon. In terms of fashion, this popular series gave Tsukushi Makino and the boys of F4 the Korean makeover, what with the printed or bold-colored suits, preppy sweaters, neckties, and bow ties with the slim pants, plus Makino’s short hair with full bangs which we usually see in K-dramas until now.
This Chinese adaptation which aired the same year as Boys Over Flowers may not be as internationally successful as the other versions, but the series still gained a large fanbase in mainland China during its run, and is considered a pioneer for Chinese dramas. The producer revealed the series was not an actual adaptation of the manga, though, but was simply inspired by it. Naturally, it was more flexible in terms of how the characters looked. They still went for something preppy, but opted for more cardigans, bows, and scarves.
This 2013 US adaptation is proof that the craze isn’t just limited to Asians. Fun fact: fans actually funded this series and released it online. This perhaps strayed farthest from the original manga among the group. It followed the characters’ journey in a performing arts graduate school. So it was only natural that their style are different too. Here, their version of F4 ditched the high school uniform for something more formal: a suit and tie. The end result is more business-y rather than preppy. We also see an edgier style from Zoey, their version of Makino.
Finally, the show came into full circle as the same producer of the 2001 Taiwanese adaptation decided to release a reboot after 16 years. This new “fuller—and flashier–adaptation of the books” features young actors Shen Yue, Dylan Wang, Darren Chen, Connor Leong, and Caesar Wu. Fashion-wise, this couldn’t have been farther from its 2001 version. For one, Dao Ming Si’s pineapple hair is far more tamed in a modern undercut in this version. And the now-cringe-worthy 2000’s fashion is replaced with today’s millennial trend. We see F4 wear edgy streetwear, injected with some high-school preppiness. On the other hand, San Cai sports a shorter ‘do, and her cute, casual style gets a modern upgrade with colorful sweaters and coats reflective of her optimistic personality.
Art by Marian Hukom
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