SSBS – Boys Over Flowers | Episode 2: No Brand Girl!

SSBS - Boys Over Flowers 2

Plot: When Tsukushi arrives at school, she finds that things are still the same, but slightly better. Her resolve is still strong, Makiko continues to send messages back and forth to her through the little electronic frog, and she overhears some kids actually admiring her for standing up for herself to the F4, even if they’re still having fun with her situation at her expense.

She tries to find Rui to thank him once again for saving her the other day and finds him on a bench in the garden playing a beautiful song on the violin. He stops and asks what she’s doing there. She thanks him for saving her, but he says he shouldn’t have done so if he knew she’d become a pest about it. She tells him she’ll maybe catch him again hanging out in the emergency stairwell, and he replies that he’ll stop going there.

After he leaves, Tsukushi muses, not bothered by his words. She believes he was being more honest in his violin playing than what he was saying and happily goes about her day.

At the end of school, she’s suddenly kidnapped and taken to a car by Tsukasa’s goons. She struggles and fights, but it’s no use. In the car, they knock her out with chloroform as Tsukasa looks on with a smirk telling her that she’ll pay.

When she awakens, she finds herself at the mercy of three people who strip her naked before giving her a deep-tissue massage. She then gets a makeover including a new hairstyle and set of clothes.

She’s brought to the dining room where she meets Tsukasa. He reveals that she’s actually in his house. He asks her if she’s in love with Rui, but doesn’t wait for an answer before he tells her Rui’s not single. He then…gives a really confusing explanation as to what’s going on. He directs her to a portrait of his sister and tells her they’re as different as night and day, but this makeover proves that even someone as average as her can shine with polish.

He’s willing to let her hang around him when no one’s around, but she’ll never be a replacement for his sister….I guess.

She’s deeply insulted that he thinks he can buy her with money and demands her uniform back so she can head home. He’s equally insulted at her refusal, claiming she’s a pauper while he’s name brand from head to toe. She proudly proclaims she’s no-brand and tells him to not lump her together with the other girls who fawn over him for his money.

After she leaves, she runs into Rui on his way home from school. She asks him if there’s anything money can’t buy. He replies ‘Air.’ Rui actually manages to legitimately smile at her, calling her a weird girl.

The next day, someone has written ‘Tsukushi Makino ran a mob outfit in jr. high! She sleeps around and has a bastard child!’ on the chalkboard.

Tsukushi rushes out to confront the F4, blaming them for the writing, proclaiming she cannot possibly have a bastard child, because she’s a virgin. She then runs off, leaving the boys flustered and confused. Tsukasa claims her telling them she’s a virgin is her way of telling them she’s single and believes she likes him.

She rushes back to class to find three girls she’s never really spoken with erasing the writing and badmouthing the F4 for what they’ve done. They call Tsukushi a very strong girl for taking all of this without standing down and invite her to a party they’re having. They tell her they’ll pay for the ticket and to not worry about the clothes because it’s a jeans party. Tsukushi is a little confused considering she doesn’t know these girls, but she accepts.

Later, at the bakery in which Tsukushi works, she’s surprised to find Rui and Sojiro visiting. Rui buys a cupcake because it’s cute.

That night, Tsukushi arrives at the party only to find out that the girls were lying about it being a jeans party. It’s actually a very fancy party, and they tricked her just to laugh at her when she arrived in such casual clothing.

Breakdown: This episode is pretty bad. I like that Tsukushi continues to keep her resolve strong, but the fact that she keeps her heart soft for Rui just because he plays violin and likes cute things, no matter the mean things he says to her, is a bit frustrating.

And, dear god, what the hell is up with Tsukasa? This creepy bastard legitimately kidnapped her and essentially had her sexually assaulted (Drugging her and having people strip her completely naked and massage her against her will) just so he could dress her up in a similar manner to his sister and offer to have her hang around him (as long as no one’s around) to replace his sister? Someone call the cops!

Actually, I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising given that he tried to have her gang raped in the previous episode. What is wrong with this guy?

Then believing her telling them she’s a virgin is her way of telling him that she’s available and likes him? I just got done reading Boku wa Imouto ni Koi Wo Suru. I don’t need to go through another lengthy series where one of the main love interests is a rapey creeper.

It’s also a bit awkward that the ending ‘cliffhanger,’ if you will, is Tsukushi learning the girls tricked her to mock her. I saw that coming from a mile away, and the fact that Tsukushi is even surprised at this by this point is a little silly.

Small note, but the music is really starting to grate on me. Half of it is repetitive and the other half sounds like it belongs in a 1950s short film.

Next episode, Tsukushi deals with stuck up bitches, and Rui actually does have a girlfriend. How will this mesh with Tsukushi’s budding feelings for him?

….Previous Episode


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SSBS – Boys Over Flowers | Episode 1: Declaration of War!

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Plot: Makino Tsukushi has enrolled in the very prestigious Eitoku Academy, and she has done everything in her power to stay to the background. She wants nothing more than to make her final years at the school to be peaceful and uneventful. However, when she butts heads with the biggest bullies in school, a four man group called the F4, they declare war on her, making her a target of vicious attacks from not only them but everyone in school.

Breakdown: I have no super-interesting backstory with this one. In fact, I’m pretty unfamiliar with this series. Though, still, I adore these older titles.

The OP has a very 60s/Detective Conan music feel to it, if that makes any sense. It’s pretty catchy, though I will admit that the sudden heel drop sound in the middle kind breaks the rhythm.

Our main character is a fairly poor girl named Makino Tsukushi who is currently enrolled in a prestigious high school, Eitoku Academy, with a lot of rich kids. She has two more years at the school before she graduates and only wants to make those final two years be peaceful and quiet.

One day, she sees a boy being bullied by a gang of four guys, all of which are sons of the richest families in the school, for getting dust on one of their pants while cleaning. They are known as F4.

While many students, especially female ones, find them attractive and cool, they are feared by just as many students. What’s worse? When the F4 is against someone personally, the whole school turns on them, making them a target for schoolwide bullying.

They start kicking around a garbage can, and Tsukushi wonders why the boys are the way that they are, especially considering they’re getting so bent over something as minor as dust. One of the boys, Rui Hanazawa, picks up the garbage can and returns it to its proper position to the chagrin of his friends who want to leave the mess behind. Tsukushi gets flustered when Rui gives her a glance before leaving with his friends.

After standing up for her friend, Makiko, when she accidentally falls on the leader of the F4, Tsukasa, Tsukushi ends up as the next target of the F4’s bullying. They officially declare war on Tsukushi and, as a result, the entire school starts bullying her as well.

What’s even worse than their terrible bullying is the fact that Makiko keeps avoiding her and refusing to talk to her in order to avoid getting bullied herself, something that she expressed concern for earlier. Makiko wanted to solidify her friendship with Tsukushi to ensure that she would never abandon her if she was bullied like a lot of other people would, yet she has become the very type of person she had worried about.

Tsukushi refuses to cry in front of her classmates and has an outburst outside of the school when she again meets up with Rui who just laughs at her anger towards him. Despite her attempts to actually speak with him civilly, he just suggests that she leave the school.

Tsukushi goes on the offensive stating that the F4 has bullied several people out of school in the same manner, but she didn’t even want to go to the school to begin with. She only went because her family wanted her to. Before she can even finish speaking, Rui leaves stating that he doesn’t care as he has no interest in other people.

Makiko meets with her in the bathroom. She sneaked out of class to find Tsukushi’s desk that went missing from the classroom earlier. While she is visibly remorseful, Makiko can’t bring herself to stick with her in public. Tsukushi understands and tells her that she should leave before she ends up getting in trouble. Before she rushes out the door, she hands Tsukushi a voice recorder in the shape of a frog that bears a recording of Makiko apologizing to Tsukushi.

Despite gaining a newfound resolve and a better respect for herself, she is still the victim of harsh and even violent bullying. As she’s being assaulted (and nearly raped?) by a group of boys from the school, Rui appears again telling them to let her go, even though the boys are directly under Tsukasa’s orders.

Tsukushi is very grateful to Rui for what he did, but he merely says he doesn’t like stuff like that (violence, sexual assault or possibly both? I mean, I have to assume it’s sexual assault because the F4 has to have been violent with plenty of people) before leaving. Again, Tsukushi gains a second wind and becomes determined to carry on through this.

The next day at school, Tsukushi comes prepared to battle against the bullying. When the F4 shows up, she kicks Tsukasa in the face, plasters a red slip on his face and responds to his war declaration with one of her own. Now excited to face the school year, Tsukushi prepares for war.

—————————————

There are a bunch of things that I liked about this first episode. For starters, Tsukushi is a great character. While the bullying does affect her, she also comes back with a vengeance. She won’t stand for this behavior whether it’s to her or others, and I really respect that. She’s also notably hurt by Makiko’s somewhat betrayal, but she has enough maturity and understanding to forgive her for it.

While I am a bit miffed at Makiko for not standing up with Tsukushi when the only reason Tsukushi’s even in this mess is because of Makiko, I also understand her position. It takes a lot to stand up to others and stand with your friends, especially when the bullying is this bad. Does this make her a coward? Maybe, but then again we all have to look within ourselves and ask if we’d honestly do the same thing.

Plus, she kinda made up to her a little, and she’s clearly beating herself up over her decision.

The F4 (which stands for Flower Four, by the way. It’s supposed to highlight how pretty the guys are, but what a dumb nickname to allow to stick when you’re trying to be intimidating) are realistic bullies. They’re entitled little shits who act like they run the school because their daddies are the richest in the land and most people follow them either to be cool/popular or because they’re afraid of them. They are a bit over the top, but it’s not anything terrible. They’re not like supervillains or anything, they’re just assholes.

Rui…..*sigh* I don’t know what to do here. The worst part of this episode, in my opinion, was Rui. Tsukushi is obviously falling for him even now yet, despite the fact that he saved her once, there’s no denying that he’s partaking in the bullying merely for staying loyal to the F4, and he even seems like he mocks Tsukushi about the egg in her hair from the bullying. He states that he doesn’t care about her story or problems, he has no interest in other people at all, is never going to give any secrets or info on the F4 and wants her to leave the school.

The three main points of Tsukushi’s interest in him are the fact that he’s cute, he picked up a garbage can and he saved her from those boys. That’s it. That’s what separates him from the other jackasses and makes him so cool.

And really, when you think about, Rui had to have known that Tsukasa called for that attack. They stick together so much that he was probably even there when he did it. If he really was a good guy who secretly cared about her, he’d stop the attack before it started not after it was already happening. For all we know, it was a fluke he arrived at the right place at the right time considering how far she ran away. If he were just a few minutes later, she could’ve been raped or at least seriously injured.

He’s not as much of a douchenozzle as his friends. That’s it. Yet Tsukushi is putting him on a pedestal. Until he actually steps up a bit and shows that he has a true caring bone in his body and not just a ‘I don’t like sexual assault’ attitude, I can’t see much that isn’t dumb about this crush.

Then again, I also developed a crush on someone who bullied me simply because they opened my stuck locker to help me get my lunch money out when I was really hungry one day……Hey, cut me some slack. I was 11. She’s like 15. And the situation is different. And shut up.

The art is actually pretty bad for early/mid ’90s. I would’ve guessed it was mid ’80s. The animation is also just okay.

The music also seems stuck in the ’80s, most notably the OP. The BG music is fine, but spots of silence seem awkward. The ED is decent, but not very catchy or memorable.

The sound effects, though, ech. I don’t know what went on in the sound booth, but there are scenes where a lot of action is going on yet there are so few sound effects and those that are there seem weird or aren’t making enough noise. This is especially prominent in the attack sequence that starts with no music. The silence mixed with the weird sound effects makes for a very odd sounding scene.

All in all, I expect this series to become something pretty good and I did enjoy this first episode just fine, but the Rui thing will definitely keep bothering me until he gets some development in him.

Next Episode….


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