Dramas Based on Manga Part 1

So, my Asian entertainment obsession began with anime, first Sailor Moon, then Ronin Warriors, and finally Escaflowne and Inuyasha, then I fell in love with manga (from Hana Kimi to HanDan to Alice Nineteen, ParaKiss, Juvenile Orion and too many to name), and then I came to like Asian dramas. So I have decided to compile a few lists. This one being the first will pair up my love of manga with my love of Asian drama. And just like when my favorite novels (i.e. Dune, Queen of the Damned, The Dark is Rising) are turned in to movies, you love some, hate some, and have to completely divorce the video from the book. That said, let’s begin.

I know there is definitely more than what I have listed, so feel free to share others you know of.

  • Bloodhound by Yuki Kaori

Rion is on a mission to find her missing friend and that leads her to a host club where the hosts are vampires! However, they aren’t the vampires that kidnapped her friend, so she joins forces with host Suou to find her friend before it is too late.

  1. Vampire Host – this 2004 Japanese drama starred Matsuda Satoshi (in like his only starring role, I swear) and Komukai Minako as the leads. I think I read the first volume of the manga online, but it was so long ago I can’t remember how accurate the drama is. I can say that it is a good, cheese-filled drama
  • Gokusen by Kozueko Morimoto

This series follows the life of new high school teacher Yamaguchi Kumiko AKA Yankumi who is the only granddaughter of a yakuza family. She chooses to teach rather than to inherit the family business and ends up being put in charge of a class of delinquents. Together they learn to trust and mature (and in the manga Yankumi even finds romance with one of her students – or at least it is implied that they get together at the end)

  1. Gokusen – This drama was so popular it had 3 seasons (that basically followed the exact same plots just with different schools and students). Originally airing in 2003, it starred Nakama Yukie as Yankumi, Oguri Shun, Matsumoto Jun, and Narimiya Hiroki. I couldn’t really get into the manga, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first season and have watched all 3 (though 2 and 3 seem superfluous as the are pretty much the same as season 1, just not as great)
  • GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka by Fujisawa Tohru

The story revolves around an ex motorcycle gang member Onizuka Eikichi who becomes a teacher at a private high school in Tokyo.

  1. Great Teacher Onizuka – This 1998 Japanese drama starred Sorimachi Takashi in the title role. Loved him in the role and love the drama! As for accuracy, I have never read the manga
  • Hana Yori Dango [Boys Over Flowers] by Yoko Kamio

This series has several incarnations and none of them follow the plot to a “T”, but that’s not surprising as it is highly melodramatic with a lot of stuff going on. The plot revolves around Tsukushi Makino, a poor girl who gets into an elite high school ruled by 4 “flowery” men who are arrogant pains. She declares war on them and their fighting soon turns to love with a whole lot of drama.

  1. Meteor Garden – the first drama series was from Taiwan in 2001 and starred Barbie Xu and Jerry Yan as the main couple. This was fairly accurate with a few major discrepancies
  2. Hana Yori Dango – the Japanese version came in 2005 and starred Inoue Mao and Matsumoto Jun as the main couple. This version is by far the most accurate
  3. Boys Before Flowers – the Korean version became a smash hit in 2009 and starred Lee Min Ho and Goo Hye Son in the main roles. Loved the drama, hated the fact that it didn’t follow the actual manga plot whatsoever
  4. Liu Xing Yu/Meteor Shower – the Chinese version came in the summer of 2009 and is probably the least accurate next to the Korean version. It starred Zheng Shuang and Zhang Han (loving him in his current drama Fall in Love)
  • Hanazakari no Kimitachi e [Hana Kimi – For You in Full Blossom] by Hisaya Nakajo

One of the most popular cross-dressing series to date. The drama follows Mizuki Ashiya who transfers to a high school in Japan to be near her favorite high jumping idol Sano Izumi. The only problem is – it’s an all boys school! This series has only 2 versions to date.

  1. Hua Yang Shao Nian Shao Nu – again, the Taiwanese beat everyone else to the punch. This 2006-2007 drama stars idols Elle Chen, Wu Chun, and Jiro Wang. It does a good job of following the manga while also spinning off on different tangents.
  2. Hanazakari no Kimitachi e/Ikemen Paradise – the Japanese version came out in summer of 2007 and starred Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, and Ikuta Toma (one of the Johnny’s who can actually act well). It was fairly accurate, but did deviate as it left quite a bit out of the plot and added some stuff that wasn’t in the manga series.
  • Hotaru no Hikari by Hiura Satoru

Hotaru is a woman who is a hard and efficient worker during the day, but at night she goes home and lolls around drinking beer. Then she ends up living with her boss Takano and soon the himono onna begins to discover love.

  1. Hotaru no Hikari – This 2007 jdrama starred Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naohito and currently aired a second season in 2010. I couldn’t really get into the manga, but this live action drama was awesome! I totally loved the chemistry between the leads and watching the delightfully clueless Hotaru grow up and mature slowly
  • Itzura na Kiss by Tada Kaoru

This was an immensely popular manga series in Japan that was never completed due to the mangaka’s untimely death. The story revolves around a plain, not-so-bright girl who falls in love with the handsome, smart dream guy of the school. Due to unexpected circumstances, they end up living together and love begins to bloom between the polar opposites. This drama has has 3 incarnations to date and  the Taiwanese version has had 2 seasons so far and a 3rd has been reportedly in the works.

  1. Itzura na Kiss – a mid-90s dorama. For once, the Japanese actually made a manga into a drama first! This 1996 drama starred Sato Aika and Kashiwabara Takashi in the leading roles. It follows the manga fairly well, though the over-acting comedy really is hard to stomach at times
  2. It Started With A Kiss – this 2005-2006 Taiwanese drama still enjoys immense popularity today and catapulted Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng to stardom [haven’t watched so can’t say if it follows the plot well at all]. This drama also stars Jiro Wang as the goofy best friend who can’t get the girl he loves – a role he has been stereotyped in.
  3. Mischievous Kiss/Playful Kiss – the Korean 2010 drama did well after a bad start. It starred Kim Hyun Joong and the adorable/cute Jung So Min. My fave of the 3 since I haven’t watched ISWAK as the acting wasn’t as hokey as in the jdrama version – although this one does take a detour from the plot of the manga
  • Les Gouttes de Dieu [Kami no Shizuku/The Drops of God] by Tadashi Agi

The manga follows Kanzaki Shizuki who is charged with finding 13 wines in order to inherit his father’s legacy. It is a race against his father’s adopted son and wine critic Toomine Issei. The only problem is that Kanzaki doesn’t drink nor is he interested in wine.

  1. Kami no Shizuki – this 2009 Japanese drama starred Kamenashi Kazuya. Neither the manga nor the drama interested me and I didn’t get past the first chapter nor the first episode, but if you love Kame-kun, then watch it
  • LIAR GAME by Shinobu Kaitani

The story revolves around the innocent Kanzaki Nao who is unwittingly drafted in to the horrible Liar’s Game. Unable to manage on her own, she seeks the help of newly released conman Akayama Shin’ichi. The two then embark on the crazy, evil journey and do their best to save the players from themselves and to prove that you can win and beat the house by being honest.

  1. LIAR GAME – this 2007 Japanese drama starred Toda Erika and Matsuda Shota in the leading roles. It does not follow the manga 100%, but the gist is about the same. I totally loved this drama, it’s second season and even the movie which closed the chapter on the evil game.
  • A Man Called God by Park Bong Sung

A young boy witnesses the murder of his parents and becomes a criminal in order to bring down the men behind the conspiracy. As far as I know, this manwha only has one adaptation.

  1. A Man Called God – this 2010 drama starred Song Il Gook, Han Chae Young, and Kim Min Jong. As for accuracy, I don’t know as I haven’t read this series, but although good, the drama was not the best in terms of acting and such
  • Marmalade Boy by Wataru Yoshizumi

The manga follows high schooler Miki whose parents divorce and swap spouses with Yuu’s parents. Living together and attending school together, Miki and Yuu slowly begin to develop feelings, but with their complicated family life, will they be able to be together in the end?

  1. Marmalade Boy –  This Taiwanese drama starred pop star Stella Huan as Miki and F4 member Ken Zhu as Yuu (obviously they had Taiwanese names). I have not watched this series as I couldn’t get past the first episode. It does deviate a bit from the manga and I wasn’t a fan of the acting or some of the deviations
  • Marry Stayed Out All Night by Won Soo Yeon

Mae Ri who hasn’t dated in a long time meets and falls for a death metal group’ vocalist only to have the “perfect” man show up interfering with their relationship.

  1. Marry Me, Mary – This 4th quarter 2010 Korean drama starred Moon Geun Young, Jang Geun Suk, and Kim Jae Wook as the members of a “love” triangle – a non-existent love triangle. A horrible drama that had a lot of potential and hype that it just didn’t live up to. I haven’t read the manwha, so I don’t know how accurately it follows the original story, but the death metal vocalist turns into an indie band lead singer
  • Mars by Fuyumi Soryo

Emotionally scarred high school student Aso Kira falls in love with bad boy motorcycle racer and classmate Kashino Rei. Rei brings Kira out of her shell and the two slowly embark on a painful journey that heals their deep emotional wounds

  1. Mars – this 2004 Taiwanese drama reunited the almost couple in Meteor Garden of Barbie Xu and Vic  Zhou. Despite taking place in college versus high school, this drama was fairly true to the manga and I really did enjoy it in all it’s melodramatic glory
  • Mei-chan no Shitsuji by Miyagi Riko

The drama follows Mei who is taken to St. Lucia’s academy after her parents’ untimely death where she learns she is the heiress to a large fortune. There, Rihito becomes her butler and romance blossoms – the only problem is that it is forbidden between the girls and their butlers.

  1. Mei-chan no Shitsuji – This 2009 drama starred Eikura Nana, Mizushima Hiro, and Sato Takeru. I don’t know if it follows the manga all that accurately because I just couldn’t get into the manga, but I do love this series
  • Parfait Tic! by Nagamu Nanaji

This manga follows the life of high school student Fuuko who becomes caught between two cousins – Ichi and Daiya – who moved into the apartment above hers. A very complicated, bittersweet love triangle forms. It is highly melodramatic and just downright annoying at times because of the attitudes and actions of the characters. To date, there is only one version of this.

  1. Love Buffet/Ai Si Bai Hui – this 2010-2011 Taiwanese drama stars Fahrenheit members Aaron Yan and Calvin Chen in the roles of the two cousins with Yu Hong Yuan starring as the girl caught in between. There have been some changes from the manga (mostly having to deal with them being in college vs. high school), but this stays surprisingly accurate in the main and minor plot points.
  • Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda

This story follows high schooler Momo who is thought of as being easy for her looks. She falls for the quiet baseball player Toji, but her best friend (who is really her worst enemy and behind a lot of the rumors) Sae fall for him, too and will do anything to keep them apart. Enter in bad boy Kairi and things get even more complicated. I have heard rumors of a Japanese version, but nothing definite.

  1. Peach Girl – This 2002 Taiwanese drama starred Vanness Wu in one of his first leading roles. Thankfully by Autumn’s Concerto, his acting really improved. It also starred Annie Wu, Kenji Wu and Michelle Gu. I read the first few chapters of the manga and the two seem to correspond pretty well with one another with some exceptions. The number one being, like most manga adaptations, the characters are taken out of high school and placed in college.
  • The Wall Flower/Perfect Girl Evolution by Hayakawa Tomoko

Sunako is a girl who shuns all forms of beauty and turns to loving horror after she is rejected by the boys she likes and is called ugly. She is then taken in by her aunt to live with four bishis who are to undertake making Sunako into the perfect lady (“yamato nadeshiko”).

  1. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge – This 2010 jdrama starred Oomasa Aya, Kamenashi Kazuya, Tegoshi Yuya, Uchi Hiroki, and Miyao Shuntaro. It didn’t really follow the manga at all – as it is hard to condense a long manga series into just 10 episodes.

8 comments

  • MARS is one of my all-time favourite mangas & I think the live-action series totally served the manga justice. Vic was absolutely faultless as Rei/Chen Ling- this was the role where we were all like, “Hey boy! So you ain’t just a pretty flower boy! You can actually act, woot!!! Woot!!!!!!” xPP

    Re, Liu Xing Yu/Meteor Shower;
    As far as I’m aware, there are obvious similarities to its predecessors having the poor main girl & the rich four boys (& er, calling it Meteor Shower) but it isn’t an official adaption i.e. Kamio Yoko did not sell them the rights, which explains why the story isn’t so true to the manga. I haven’t seen anything past the first ep but I’ve heard overall it’s pretty good (???)

    Re the live-action Taiwanese Marmalade Boy & Peach Girl series;
    bwahahahaha+EPIC fail is all I can remember^^;;;

    • I know, aside from Fruits Basket and HanDan, Mars was one of my very first manga series and a favorite. After seeing the horrible first episode of Marmalade Boy, I didn’t have much hope for Mars, but was pleasantly surprised and addicted. Vic did prove his excellent acting chops and it is always nice to see a favorite HanDan couple get together even if it is outside the series 😛

      Ah, so that explains the differences. I did like Meteor Shower (well, have only seen the first few episodes, but plan on finishing it), and I am totally in love with the unofficial Chinese version of Tsukasa. I am currently watching him in the Chinese remake of the popular Korean Melodrama Autumn Tale and his acting is pretty awesome, not to mention the boy is seriously handsome.

      Yep, Peach Girl + Marmalade Boy = EPIC FAIL. Which is sad as Marmalade Boy was another favorite manga series of mine.

  • Thanks for the headsup on that Autumn In My Heart remake (is it an official one?) I looked it up, Dennis Oh is in it, how? Does he just converse in English in the series?

    • I don’t know it it is actually official or not, but the plot is going the same way as the Korean drama. Two girls switched at birth (although they don’t show how it happened in this series). The poor girl is an evil witch out to make the ex-rich girl’s life a living hell, the brother still loves his sister and a rich, arse of a friend is involved along with a fiancee that is a lot like his younger sister used to be.

      As for Dennis Oh conversing in English, I can only guess that he is as his audio is dubbed. Gotta love Mainland drama for always dubbing voices in dramas, which I hate, but oh well.

  • imfromtheinternetz

    also add hammer session 🙂

    • I know, it’s been awhile & I have tons more to add :p thanks for the suggestion! I didn’t know Hammer Session was based on a manga.

  • Nice post! I’ll definitely check out some on the list. Could you update it please, as a few other dramas have already been out — Skip Beat being one. I loved that drama. And Hana Kimi already has a Korean version (although I didn’t like their version, haha)

    • I know there’s quite a few, it’s just finding the time to do it. Things are kind of crazy right now and I keep meaning to.

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