Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 2 (spoilers)


F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 2

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 1.

Thyme starts to realize that not everyone can be bought or placated with money in the place of an apology. It might just be one of his first encounters with real people in real life. Boy, does he live in a silver palace.

The kidnapping scene bothers me because everyone seems to think it's fine and dandy and Thyme looks so sexy when the car door opens (a lot of people's words, not mine). But from Gorya's perspective, and viewers not familiar with the story, it's terrifying. Because we don't know his intent. It could just as easily have been rape and murder. So yes, it's funny that he gives her a car, a makeover, a fancy dress, and enough diamonds to sink the Titanic as a means of NOT saying he's sorry. It's even funnier when she refuses him and kicks him where it hurts. Because he deserved that 100%. But Thyme's behavior is not okay and it bugs me that fans of this franchise just think it's adorbs.

However, Gorya getting lost in that huge house WAS funny. Tu is an amusing sort of actress, so she makes me like the character.

Are teachers this wimpy in real life? I'm guessing yes since this drama was made in 2021 so it's at least somewhat relevant to today's youth. But it's depressing watching a teacher do nothing when her students have written nasty slurs against Gorya on the chalkboard. I can't even . . . Bullying only happens when people do nothing, and that's exactly what is continuing to happen in episode 2.

A Jdrama that I LOVE that deals with a similar cyberbullying chatroom scenario that we encounter in episode 2 is Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (or From Now on We Begin Ethics). I've reviewed it HERE and it is a drama well worth your time in watching. Yamada Yuki is phenomenal as the ethics teacher. The drama does something useful and tries to give explanations and advice on how to handle these types of situations instead of just, well, using them for plain old entertainment purposes. Herd mentality is a terrifying thing.

The pressure to like Ren is increasing. The problem being, of course, that in his indifference and his attempts to maintain his own serenity, he does come across as "nice." I don't know if he really is, but the actor, Dew, has excellent chemistry with Tu who plays Gorya. So yes, I see where folks are claiming second lead syndrome. I'm feeling it a bit myself, hence the gif set below. Yes, I made them, enjoy. But I still don't think he's genuinely nice. I think he's apathetic 90% of the time and the 10% that he's not, he's only helping because Gorya is interesting, not because he's emotionally invested. Maybe I'll be proven wrong later on. But he is cute and he's not beating people up with his fists which is why I'm battling liking him.


One positive change from the Japanese series is that we FINALLY have members of the F4 wanting to cancel the red card bullying trend. I have to give MJ props for speaking up. I didn't actually think that would happen where one of them might almost admit that maybe giving red cards and letting kids get pulverized was a bad idea. But he doesn't like it and he's outspoken about it which means he is now the member of F4 with the most common sense. Not common sense with girls, but that's a whole other thing. Viewers can tell that MJ and Kavin are not into the red card thing anymore (if they ever were), and at the bullying scene near the end (it's not pretty since I hate seeing girls bullied by boys), even Thyme seems to realize he's making judgement errors that are really hurting people. Not just people, but girls, and he's beginning to understand that it's not an okay thing to do.

Ironically, Ren doesn't seem like he's actually against it. Like, it doesn't seem to turn his stomach the way it does with MJ and Kavin. So that's a little funky. If I were to sort him into a Harry Potter house, I think it might just be Slytherin. Just the vibes I'm getting right now, with his apathy, his obsession with one particular girl (meaning Mira not Gorya), and his roundabout approach to the bullying issue. Don't assume that if Ren is a Slytherin that it makes him bad. I'm a Slytherin myself, and there's just a way that Slytherins view the world that makes me feel like it might fit him. We'll see. He could also be a Ravenclaw or he might have one or the other as a secondary house.

Ironically, there's a good chance that Thyme is a Gryffindor. Probably burned or stripped. All the things. If you're curious where I'm getting these words, it's the Sorting Hat Chats personality typing.

I'm really loving Gorya's courage. She doesn't just give Thyme what he wants, meaning, she doesn't cave in and apologize to him so he can save face. The girl is willing to shave her head to save her friend rather than be pressured into an apology she doesn't feel and knows would be wrong to give. But she's not foolish either, the way the heroine was in Hana Yori Dango, rushing in where fools dare to tread. Gorya knows it's dangerous, but she can't do nothing, even if it means getting hurt.

Mira is also pretty awesome. She's promising and I can see why Ren thinks she's amazing, and clearly Gorya has every reason to admire her as well. She's a tough cookie and she won't just let bullies get away with their behavior. I think she and Thyme should have some words at some point.

Speaking of Thyme, his obsession with Gorya is getting scary. Because it's beginning to affect his friendship with Ren. I mean, have these two ever fought before? EVER?

I like episode 2 better than episode 1, or rather, I may be understanding the flow better. Thailand tends to take stories that other countries have made and give them a more serious bent. They did it with one of my favorites, Let's Fight, Ghost, and they're doing it here. There's a bit more realism of emotion than what I was expecting. The red card scene in this episode really hits home because the viewers can see (like actually tell) that 2 of the F4 guys know what's happening is wrong. BUT, the only one who puts a stop to it is Ren, and only by talking about something completely unrelated to what's happening. So they're not to the point of addressing what's going on and acknowledging it as "wrong" to the entire school, but maybe they're heading in that direction. I don't know, but I'm hopeful.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 1 (spoilers)

F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 1 

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 2.

The Boys Over Flowers franchise (or Hana Yori Dango) is my most hated franchise in Asian entertainment.

But I wanted to give F4 Thailand a chance since I've heard that it takes the story in a less toxic direction (although I didn't really see that in episode 1). From what I recall, the basics of the story remain the same, with a bit of modern updating since it's been a long time since the original manga. Like, cell phones exist now, as does social media and all that that insanity entails.

Anyway, let's get started.

Gorya is way out of her depth. Attending a prestigious high school on a scholarship, she's just trying to survive and not make any critical mistakes. Which is hard because the school is run by a group of oligarch elitist boys that everyone lovingly calls F4, because each of them reminds you of a different flower. When Gorya stands up for a friend, she suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of F4, especially the leader, Thyme, a boy with some serious anger management issues. He issues a free-for-all permission to the entire school to put Gorya in their crosshairs if they want (a red letter kind of thing), and she has to decide if fighting to stay at the school is worth the abuse she's receiving.

Bullying and cyberbullying are a main theme here. The bullying isn't sugar-coated or laughed off, so that's a plus. But it is still nasty to watch, especially since the "hero" of the story is the primary bully. There's an eat or be eaten mentality that I don't like, but is also very much a part of the reality we live in. So I'm fighting against a never ending tide.

Gorya's family is a vibrant presence in her life, and she does have a couple of important conversations with them during episode 1, including the gifting of a pair of shoes since her school shoes are so old. Her mother does need to realize that people are allowed to have crappy days and feel weak. It never helps to tell someone "you can't be like this because you've never been like this."

Attempted rape, it's a thing. If that's a trigger for you, be warned. And the F4 group don't treat it nearly seriously enough. But that's probably part of the point. They're elevated to a level where they can't always feel what other people feel anymore.

Speaking of, that's a pretty true statement, and is used as a means of urging empathy towards Thyme and his hot temper. Don't excuse Thyme's behavior, but maybe try to explain it. I'm not sure if I agree with the approach since I know it urges me to empathize with him, when I really don't want to.

Ren, the "nice" member of F4. I'm supposed to like him. Because he saves Gorya a couple of times and he has a cute smile. But I view Ren the same way that I view Lupin in Harry Potter. He's weak and a pushover and even when he does something nice, it's not going to be at the jeopardy of his status. So while I know I'm supposed to like Ren, I just don't want to. Because he's a part of the problem too.

I hate being manipulated. And that's what the creator of Boys Over Flowers wanted to do, manipulate her audience to empathize with the male lead and all of his emotional hang-ups and sorrows. But I'm not somebody to excuse bullying, especially if that bullying puts a girl in so much danger that she could be raped. I'm not cool with that.

Acquaintances have said that there some real heart changes happen to Thyme in F4 Thailand so I'm holding out hope that it's true. I'm supposed to forgive those who trespass against me because I was first forgiven. But I still can't wrap my head around ending up in a relationship with an abusive bully.

So yes, the production quality of F4 Thailand is very high. This surprises some people, but not me since I'm really getting into Thai Lakorns and so far they're brilliant. So I have no complaints about the production quality at all. I just want to see some genuine change and self-reflection happen in Thyme's life. But I suspect it gets worse before it gets better, like so many things.