Boys Over Flowers: why I love Tsukushi and Tsukasa

Boys Over Flowers: why I love Tsukushi and Tsukasa

Tsukasa and Tsukushi

Alongside Sana and Akito from Kodocha, Tsukushi Makino and Tsukasa Domyoji from Boys Over Flowers a.k.a Hana Yori Dango are my favorite couple in anime and manga. When I watched the Boys Over Flowers anime in 2009, I felt like it was one of the last classic shojo anime I had left to look forward to. Even though I got interested in the series because it was a romance, whenever I heard people praise the series, it was because of how strong Tsukushi is for standing up to her bullies, so I wasn’t actually expecting much from the romance. And then I was blown away. I loved seeing Tsukushi and Tsukasa on-screen together, and couldn’t wait for another romantic moment to happen between them. Even though I generally will only watch the anime or read the manga of a particular series, I had to read the manga to see what happens between them beyond the end of the anime, which adapted about half of the manga’s run.The series also has one of the few love triangles in anime and manga that I consider to be unpredictable (even though I’d been spoiled about the outcome). There are many reasons why I love Tsukushi and Tsukasa and feel they stand above most manga couples, and here’s why:

They make each other better people: One of the greatest pleasures in reading Boys Over Flowers is seeing Tsukasa become a better person. In the beginning, he’s violent, pompous and cruel, but by the end he’s capable of kindness and willing to give up his extravagant lifestyle for Tsukushi. We see that he was drawn to her strength when she stood up to him, and becomes a better person in order to be worthy of her. The change in Tsukasa’s character feels natural, not only because it’s gradual, but also because he still has so many of his defining personality traits – like his childish stubbornness – even at the end of the series. But a lot of readers overlook the fact that Tsukasa makes Tsukushi a better person as well – because before standing up to him, Tsukushi turned a blind eye to the bullying at her school and repressed how she really felt. In volume 35, Tsukushi even says herself that she likes who she is from meeting Tsukasa because he “broke her out of her shell.” And during the Teen of Japan competition, when everybody discouraged Tsukushi from entering the contest because she had no chance of winning, Tsukasa believed in her unwaveringly. But my favorite moment between them is from volume 31 of the manga, when Tsukasa and Tsukushi are trapped on Shigeru’s island. Tsukasa and Tsukushi had decided to break their relationship off for good due to his mother’s interference, but being on the island together made them forget about all of the obstacles in their way and face their own true feelings. Tsukushi realized that she didn’t care if they never got off the island, because she never wanted to separated from him again, and the two rekindle their relationship. This was the scene that for me elevated Tsukushi and Tsukasa above most of the ‘puppy love’ couples that dominate manga, and is one of the only times I felt like I was reading what true love feels like. What’s confirmed in this scene is not just how much Tsukushi and Tsukasa love each other, but how much they need each other.

They’re realistic: I know it’s funny that I think of anything related to Boys Over Flowers as ‘realistic.’ At one point, Tsukasa gets amnesia. The main couple gets trapped on an island. He saves her from a kidnapping and being dragged by a car. And the entire premise of a poor girl being chased by a hot rich guy who loves her so much he’d give up everything for her is the ultimate female fantasy. Yet I still think the feelings portrayed in the series are realistic because of how multifaceted the characters and their relationships are. I love that Tsukushi was in love with someone else in the beginning of the series, but slowly (and against her wishes) falls for Tsukasa. Tsukushi at first dislikes Tsukasa, and even after she sees his good side, she is reluctant to get into a relationship him because of they come from such different worlds, and because she would never be able to have the ‘simple’ life she always wanted if she were to be with him. Nevertheless, over the course of the series she can’t repress her attraction to him. Even after they’ve gotten together, they don’t just jump into being a perfect happy couple because they each need to still need to work on their faults and get used to their changed relationship – they have to ‘shift gears,’ so to speak. By the end of the series, Tsukushi realizes that it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t have the quiet life she always thought she wanted because she’s happy. And that’s the true meaning of ‘Hana Yori Dango’ – what we think we need may be different from what we actually do need. And what I love about the “Tsu’s” is that they never lose their bantering dynamic. Even though they have such different backgrounds, a lot of their disagreements actually come from their similar personalities – they’re both stubborn, argumentative, and have a lot of pride. But these are also the qualities that they use to fight to protect their relationship, and why they win against all of the obstacles in their way.

A sweet Tsukushi and Tsukasa

They’re sweet together: It’s strange to label a romance with a guy as violent as Tsukasa and a girl as stubborn as Tsukushi as ‘sweet,’ but I genuinely believe it’s an appropriate way to describe them. In volume six, after Tsukasa tells him he loves her and they kiss, he comments that she’s blushing and she proceeds to tease him. Their bantering keeps them from being sappy, yet they’re still very charming and romantic. And when Tsukushi finally tells Tsukasa she loves him in volume 27, he teases her by saying that he didn’t hear her and asks her to say it again (with a very sneaky expression on his face), to which she gets mad and he hugs her. Another sweet moment between them is in volume 16, when Tsukushi gives Tsukasa some home-baked cookies in the shape of his head. Even though they’re burnt and smell like fish, he’s elated with her gift and refuses to eat them, and Tsukushi realizes how goofy he is – but she likes that side of him. What’s great is that the series explores Tsukushi and Tsukasa both before they’ve gotten together and after they develop a romantic relationship, so we get to see what they are like as a couple. When they go to a restaurant in volume 29, Tsukasa mentions he’s never had a hotpot (or most traditional Japanese food), and Tsukushi offers to make him some. He turns her down, and then says he was kidding and thanks her for the invite, to which she promptly blushes. There’s a lot of give-and-take between them, and it’s all very fun to read.

They’re sexy: Tsukushi and Tsukasa are probably the sexiest shojo manga couple who never actually have sex. I remember when I initially read the manga how much sexual tension I felt between them. From early on in the manga, Tsukasa made it clear that he was physically attracted to her because he loved her so much. Even before they had gotten together their chemistry was apparent, such as in volume 13 when he saved her life in Canada and the two spent the night together huddled for warmth. But my favorite example is a scene from volume 26, when Tsukushi and Tsukasa start going back out with each other after breaking up and discuss the fact that they need to hide their relationship in order to prevent his mother from finding out. After they work things out, Tsukasa tries to kiss Tsukushi but she tells him not to because her heart’s pounding from being with him and “she’s at her limit.” Tsukasa blushes, and yells at her not to say things like that because “it makes him want to throw her on the floor.” Tsukushi freaks out, and her narration “I can’t believe this thing called love” made me laugh at how overtly sexual it was, and also go ‘awww’ at the same time. In volume 28, things are heating up between Tsukushi and Tsukasa, and it seems as though they are about to consummate their relationship. However, Tsukushi panics and wonders “Does everyone do this?!” When tears roll down her face, Tsukasa expresses shock and asks her why she’s crying, and I love the moment between them later on when she realizes that Tsukasa is sometimes a brat, sometimes a child, and sometimes a man – and that she’ll do her best to love each and every side of him. For me, Tsukushi’s reaction was extremely realistic and was one of the few times I felt like I could relate to a manga character on this level. Scenes like these are also great because Tsukushi and Tsukasa feel like authentic teenagers. I’ve never liked that some shojo manga couples don’t ever address whether to have sex or not, and don’t even seem to have such desires because I’ve always felt that to be an unrealistic depiction of teenagers. Another great moment is when they are stranded on Shigeru’s island – Tsukushi and Tsukasa are struggling against their feelings for one another, and Tsukushi wonders why now that she’s lost him he looks so good to her. She expresses desires to touch his skin, and she asks to take his hand, which she places on her face. The scene is very sensual, and you can feel how much they care for one another. And I have to admit, I was disappointed that they didn’t consummate their relationship when they went to a resort in volume 36, although I love the panel of the two of them in bed, holding one another. I guess that’s what fan-fiction is for.


25 thoughts on “Boys Over Flowers: why I love Tsukushi and Tsukasa

  1. I haven’t collected all the volumes of Hana Yori Dango, but I definitely agree with all of your breakdowns of Tsukushi and Tsukasa as a couple. This was also well-written, and I enjoyed reading it.

    I definitely remembered the first time I picked up Hana Yori Dango. There was something very different and interesting about the dynamic Tsukushi and Tsukasa had to one another. It made you want to read on and see where it went.

    Tsukushi and Tsukasa are definitely a sexy couple. There are so many romantic scenes in this manga that made my heart melt or left me absolutely tingling. And they didn’t have to take off their clothes either!

    Have you ever watched the live action Japanese version of Hana Yori Dango? It wasn’t a bad adaptation of the manga at all. I thought the actors who were cast as Tsukushi and Tsukasa fit the roles well.

  2. I have watched the Japanese drama, as well as the Tawainese drama. There were some parts I liked more about the drama adaptations (the prom, the friendship between the F4) than in the manga, but for the most part the original manga has been my favorite piece of the Hana Yori Dango world. But the great thing about the Tsukushi and Tsukasa is that they have crazy chemistry no matter what, and a lot of the best scenes in the series are of the two of them. That’s why I never understood why some people root for Rui to end up with Tsukushi instead.

  3. I really, really liked your post… I saw the anime Hana Yori Dango months ago and then I watch the korean dorama as same. So, I’ll have to disagree with some things that you said about the couple “Tsukasa/Tsukushi”. I think that her personality is very difficult, and in some parts on anime I feel to much bad for Tsukasa, that had to endure this hard genious. She betrayed him with his best friend! And this is unforgivable! Because he had open his heart to her saying that he loves her, saved her too much times, and she does such fu***ing thing to him? She was so unfair… And gets jealousy when Shigeru appears… I think that she didn’t this right! But you’re right when you said that it has a sexual tension between them, specially in that part when he forced her to kiss him, on floor, and kiss your neck (I REALLY LOVE THIS SCENE). But I got disappointed for them do not have sex! The anime/mangá will be very interesting if they had do something in that scene on Canada, in his house, or somewhere else.
    I really liked the korean dorama because she’s more adult (but the korean dorama doesn’t have the sexual tension ¬¬), not an indecisive creature that plays with poor Tsukasa! That’s my veredict! hehehe

    1. I suggest you read the manga because it gives a better understanding as to why she is indecisive. I don’t understand why people who dislike her because they like Tsukasa (I am speaking as a Tsukasa fan myself) can’t seem to understand why she is so wishy-washy! He used to bully her, she used to be in love with his best friend, she is well-known to being dense, she thinks at first that his declaration of love is a prank and she is overwhelm when she realizes the extent of his love. For someone like Tsukushi, who tends to enjoy being independent, it might have been too much at first. As for the Korean drama, they diluted her character and made her even more wishy-washy and a freaking cry-baby! I wanted to destroy my TV when I saw Jan Di being trampled by Jun Pyo’s mother, something Tsukushi would NEVER let happened. In fact, she screams at mama Domyouji and even goes as far as slapping her. Jan Di and Jun Pyo both have no backbone and are cowards, which is not what Tsukasa and Tsukushi are!

    1. Tsukasa can occasionally be frustrating early on in the series, but as the series progresses I’d say that Tsukushi is the frustrating one, especially since she continues to deny her feelings for him for waaay too long.

      1. At first, it was understandable, but after him getting beat-up for her, I was like “gurl, open your freaking eyes and see how much that man loves you!”. She was incredibly dense, but then again, I think she is simply not used to being a relationship or dating boys, so is confused by her feelings

      2. I would say she’s not simply dense but choosing to ignore her feelings for Tsukasa/his feelings for her throughout the first half of the series. A few times over the course of the manga Tsukushi mentions that she always wanted a quiet relationship where she and her boyfriend would look very ordinary to the outside world but are very loving towards each other. But such a relationship is impossible with Tsukasa, who comes from such a different background, is rich and good-looking, and has a huge temper, and it took Tsukushi a long time to realize she could be happy even in a relationship that’s not ‘normal.’

  4. Great post! I seriously love the HYD manga and this pairing is my overall OTP! I absolutely like both of their sweet and bickering moments.

    “Tsukasa made it clear that he was physically attracted to her because he loved her so much.”

    Haha, I agree with this line so much! Even if he’s a guy, he can’t do “it” with anyone he doesn’t like. It should be Tsukushi or NEVER! .<

    //done ranting

    Btw, I won't recommend the Korean version. Jan Di is very off-character especially the last few eps. I don't think a stubborn character like Makino would do any of those sh*t this version has. That's all.

    Then again, I don't think any of the adaptations did the manga justice but Meteor Garden, I think, is the most faithful. Just don't watch Season 2. Barf.

    The Japanese live-action did a lot of changes and merged the storyline/characters. The chemistry between the main couple is awesome but I hate the way they portrayed Yuki/Soujirou's relationship as a "stalkish love" (cause I really like their story in the manga).

    Oops, this comment is too long. But anyway, thanks again for this write-up! I enjoyed reading it 😀

    1. Thank you for commenting and for the compliments! I don’t think there’s any couple I obsess over the way I do with Tsukushi and Tsukasa. 🙂

      I haven’t watched the Korean drama because of how many bad things I’ve heard about it. It changes the character’s personalities a lot, and making Jandi (a.k.a Tsukushi) weak really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Although the j-drama did some things I really liked (making Tsukasa propose at prom; the wedding), I didn’t care for the way they handled certain plotlines (like Junpei’s story) and still prefer the original manga. And I definitely agree that Meteor Garden is the most faithful adaptation.

      1. Thanks for replying! I’ve been itching to discuss HYD with someone (esp. this couple) but yeah, it was pretty hard to find fans of this manga lately… because most people are fans of the drama or find this manga outdated.

        As for me, I am very addicted to this manga that I can’t count how many times I re-read it 😉

        I would also like to say something in defense of Tsukushi (based on the comments posted here). Both characters were flawed right at the very beginning:
        1) Tsukasa is too pushy
        2) Tsukushi is too dense/oblivious

        And that’s what makes this manga drag on for so long. I don’t really mind it much though 😉 Tsukushi is a normal teenage girl who longed for a normal romance and I also like that she fell for Rui first. Most shoujo’s usually settle with the guy the heroine first sets her eyes on. This one is definitely a good twist with a very interesting character like Tsukasa. I also don’t think she meant to deny her feelings. It’s more like she’s having a hard time figuring out what her TRUE feelings are. Tsukasa is far from Rui’s gentle and princely appearance. Let’s also not forget that Tsukushi is very mature and at the beginning, she views Tsukasa more like a brat, rather than a man (although she can’t help but get attracted at him.)

        Besides, Tsukasa also sends her mixed-signals. Even after he confessed, he still teases and make fun of her and it caused more confusions between them. Both these people are VERY difficult. Although it kinda annoyed me that Tsukushi wasn’t able to confess when she got off the bus. That should be the perfect scene to do so! Don’t wait until Tsukasa gets sick of your excuses, girly! >.<

      2. Also, you mentioned one of my favorite parts: like our couple being trapped in Shigeru’s island! It was very sweet and painful to watch them trying to fight their feelings! D: Although I can’t helped but be amaze at this auto-pilot ship O.o This chapter also made me appreciate Shigeru and the rest of the F4. They’re really working hard to help them keep their relationship!

        Well, the Korean drama has a eye-candy actors and sceneries (which is pro’lly why it was so popular). But gosh, I just can’t stand and related much to Jan Di. I don’t think a very stubborn girl like Makino who has a STRONG will to live would resort to (spoilers: a. locking herself in her room refusing to eat just cause Ji Hoo saw her sitting on the toiler b) drowning herself cause her boyfriend can’t remember her) She’s a freaking suicidal freak! Like seriously, in every heartbreak in this manga, Tsukushi moves on like hardships are just yesterday’s lunch. She showed everybody how she can be so reliable and that she doesn’t need a man to protect her. Jan Di is just horrible with her whining, overreacting and bawling when she can’t get her man. I swear, the writers on this drama must have gone on crack. (Sorry but this show makes me mad so much D:)

        Yeah, the J-Drama has the sweetest ending! It’s like they brought in the live action where the manga left off 😉

      3. I’m happy to have someone to discuss Boys Over Flowers with, especially since as you pointed out most of the people who like talking about this series have only seen the dramas. 🙂 The j-drama has it’s merits, but I always felt like we missed out on seeing Tsukushi and Tsukasa really happy together for long periods of time – everytime they’d get together they’d be broken up again by the end of the episode. The manga definitely showcased them dating for awhile and that’s my favorite part of the series. Also, the manga has more sexual tension, which although I can understand why the drama left that out it still would have been nice if it had been left in.

        The island scene is one of the most underrated moments in my opinion. I think because it comes right in-between the New York and amnesia arcs (neither of which were particularly well-written) people tend to dismiss or forget how great that scene is for the couple. And I love that the F4 were always so protective of Tsukushi and Tsukasa – they really believed in and fought for them.

        One of my favorite things about Tsukushi and Tsukasa’s love story is the fact that she was in love with Rui at first. She idealized him, but I truly believe she loved him before she really knew him. I love that the author ended up changing the pairing she’d initially intended because the fans realized early on how unique of a couple Tsukushi and Tsukasa are, and that we got to see that ‘switch’ over the course of the series.

  5. Yes, I so agree. I do wish there’d be more moments where Domyouji would be so aggressive in declaring his love to Makino (Idk I just love it when he does that xD) Taiwan managed to nail that one. In the 2nd season of HYD, there’s a lot of angst and some things are so out of place. Makino has gone off-character in the movie too (yes I care about her characterization WAY too much cause she’s my favorite).

    If only there’s another anime adaptation where they base the style on the newest art + added some smut scenes too. But with all the consecutive drama adaptations, I don’t think that would be possible now.

    Woah, I’ve always find Rui creepy and weird at the beginning but it must be because he also has personality problems like Domyouji. It’s quite amazing that both guys eventually transformed because of Makino. I just wish he’ll fall in love at the end cause that special chap about him really made me cry 😥

    Also personally, I really like your blog. I can’t believe we almost have the same taste when it comes to shoujo! ^^ So yeah, expect me to be hanging out here more often… ahaha.

    1. Actually, I always wished Tsukushi would have shown her feelings a bit more. Because she spent so long denying her feelings, I always loved the scenes where it was her fighting for her relationship with Tsukasa instead of him (such as when she chases after him to New York or says she wants to be with him again on the island), so I wish there were more moments like that. And I agree with what you said about her characterization in the j-drama. She’s not quite as tough and fiesty as in the manga, and in the movie I feel like she gave up on her and Tsukasa a bit too fast for me. But I still loved that wedding.

      As for Rui, I never got his appeal. I never got why some fans found him to be so perfect when I thought he was cold, let alone why some fans preferred him to be with Tsukushi. I was also never convinced that he really loved Tsukushi – his reasons for loving her sounded like he admired her strength more than he had romantic feelings for her. By the end of the manga, though, I at least could appreciate the fact that Rui was always so protective of Tsukushi and Tsukasa, and thus I forgave him for the times he came between them.

      And thank you! You’re a welcome guest! 😀

  6. Yes, yes, yes to all of this!

    After reading all your posts on Hana Yori Dango, I watched and read it, and I’m so glad I did. It’s become one of my favorite shojo series with Tsukushi as one of my favorite female leads.

  7. I have watched both the Taiwanese and Korean adaptation. I am currently in the process of watching the Japanese one with Jun Matsumoto. Personally, I never really understood some people’s obsession of Rui/Tsukushi. I like Rui, but I am for Tsukushi/Tsukasa all the way for all the reasons you listed above, and also the fact that Tsukushi is entirely herself in front of Tsukasa. I love how their chemistry is so intense, even when they are just bickering with one another. They are just on fire whenever they are around one another. In front of Rui, she’s meek, self-conscious and subdued…a more watered down version of her feisty self, which annoys me out of my mind. I think the best kind of relationship is when you are not afraid to show every aspect of yourself to the person you love.

  8. I really like your post. I’ve seen anime month ago and I still can’t get over this. I love Tsukasa -the way he develops trough series is great. He is also so open and generous to Tsukushi. It made me hate her for being so indifferent to him. She never made an effort to think about his feelings. She is also easily coming to think that he has bad intentions although he saved her so many times riskink his own life. It was so annoying!

  9. I like your post however I think that your view uf Tsu/Tsu relationship is too romanticized. I was feeling most of time really bad for Tsukasa that loved Tsukushi so much. He was risking his life for her sake and he was clearly declaring his emotions. In opposite she was not trying to understand him at all thinking only about her emotions and suspecting him about bad intentions :(.

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