Vital Stats:Title: Hanasakeru Seishounen
Japanese Title: 花咲ける青少年
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Based On: Natsumi Itsuki's manga of the same name.
The StoryKajika Burnsworth is the daughter of one of the wealthiest businessmen in the world. As a child, her mother died protecting her from being kidnapped, so her dad had her raised by a bunch of locals on a small Caribbean island with only a leopard and, occasionally, Lee-Leng Huang (of the also-wealthy Huang family). She lived there happily until she was about 15, when her leopard dies. Sometime after that her dad decides to let her do what she wants and she decides to go to school in Japan.
This is where things get weird. I mean, she has the protoypical anime high school experience: her classmates are dumbfounded by her poise and guilelessness, makes a friend, has some major drama with some bitchy girls in school, and then gets in trouble with a senior who's dating a mob boss or something...all in the span of like, ten minutes.
Which...might be an okay intro, except that immediately thereafter she is whisked right back out of Japan and into New York, where her father tells her that he'd like to tell her about her "destiny" within the family, but can't do so until she selects a husband. He proposes a game in which he causes her to come upon three men of his choosing-- without telling them OR her who they are --and if she picks one of them to marry (and gets him to love her back), she "wins." It's unclear WHAT she wins, except for her dad telling her about this mysterious "destiny."
In the second episode we meet what we assume is the first of these men, who reminds Kajika of her pet leopard, and is a beautiful but damaged bishounen who doesn't care about anyone or anything, including himself on some level. You can see where this is going-- considering the comparisons Kajika makes between this young man, Eugene, and her old pal Lee-Leng, I foresee a pattern of making wealthy pretty boys happier via her perfectly pure nature.
The ReviewI've talked a few times about how sad it is that while women will happily cross over into entertainment more geared towards men, men as a whole avoid any entertainment that smacks of femininity. At the same time, I look at Hanasakeru Seishounen and think, "well, this is why." The animation is mediocre at best, and during Kajika's time at school in Japan-- or any time when the focus of the show is on women rather than men --it looks downright sub-par. No, considerably more time and expense is used on our bishies here.
The plot is at once both predictable and mystifying. It's predictable in that you can figure out exactly what has to happen for this kind of story to move forward, and mystifying because the characters' justification for doing and saying things seems often nonexistant. Considering how much she whines about her father's game in the second episode, you wonder why the heck she agreed to it in the first. Her father offered her no great prize, it's not even totally clear he'll explain this "destiny" to her.
Another problem with the series: with the exception of a 2-second reaction from Kajika's classmates in the first episode (when she talks about her true love, then confesses he's a leopard), the show is entirely humorless. Given the ridiculousness of the situation Kajika is placed in, a little humor would go a long way.
But that just isn't this show. This is classic, stereotypical romantic drama. So if that's what you like, this show will probably sit well with you. It's not without redeeming qualities even to me; against my better judgment I find myself curious about what monstrously awful platitude Kajika will use to tame Eugene. The meh look of the show may only be distracting if one isn't absorbed by the drama. Still, outside of its genre, the show doesn't have much to offer that you can't get better elsewhere.
IF, THENIf you like these shows, you may like Hanasakeru Seishounen.
- Saiunkoku Monogatari
- Marmalade Boy
- Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru
Release InfoReleased in US: Summer 2009
- Currently episodes 1-2 and 16-17 are available on Crunchyroll here. Episode 17 is, as of this posting, only available to paid members.