Boys Over Flowers #36

At 37 volumes, Boys Over Flowers is the longest manga series that I’ve collected. The upcoming 37th volume is side stories, but the main storyline wraps up in volume 36. While some manga series tend to end abruptly or take a sharp detour into WTF-land (I’m looking at you, Kare Kano), Boys Over Flowers 36 gives the reader an emotionally satisfying conclusion as Tsukushi prepares for her senior year while the F4 graduate. All of the main characters get a moment of farewell, and there are brief cameos from some of the supporting cast as well.

Of course, a graduation without drama just wouldn’t fit this series. Tsukasa and Tsukushi are finally alone, but instead of consummating their relationship, Tsukushi falls into a pool and catches a horrible cold. Tsukasa is about to go to New York to work for his family’s company for 4 years. Tsukushi’s family runs into financial problems yet again, which means that she might not be able to afford to to to Eitoku Academy for her senior year. Rui Hanazawa gets his driver’s license and terrifies everyone with his driving abilities.

Tsukushi has a moment of farewell with each member of F4. She talks with Sojiro about how she, Tsukasa, and Rui have all changed since they met each other. They talk about Yuki, Tsukushi’s friend who fell in love with Sojiro and Tsukushi concludes that there are different types of happy endings and “if two people can, for an instant, be precious to each other then that’s one form.” Rui cuts Tsukushi’s hair, and they talk about their shared moments of escape on the school emergency exit. Tsukushi thinks that Rui will always be a part of her. Tsukasa sends Tsukushi a dress for prom, and Tsukushi thinks back to her first year at Eitoku – the weight of her school uniform, the shallowness of her classmates, and how terrified she was when she first saw Tsukasa bullying another student.

As Tsukushi prepares for prom she meets her friends for cake. Tsukushi isn’t sure if she can join Tsukasa in New York. Her family is behind on the rent, and Tsukushi has to spend the day helping them move. Disaster happens, as Tsukushi’s dress is ripped. She ends up dancing at prom with the F4 while wearing her moving clothes. While the image of the boys looking elegant in their tuxedos and Tsukushi in clothes that proclaim her to be the weed she proudly named herself brings back memories of the gulf between them in the earliest volumes of the series, everyone has been changed profoundly by their friendships. Everyone has grown more mature and caring, and Tsukushi and Tsukasa are finally secure in their relationship and feelings for each other.

Most of the time I’m a little hesitant about tackling a series as long as Boys Over Flowers. But there’s a reason why this is one of the top selling shoujo series of all time in Japan. The Tsukushi’s Cinderella story combined with the gradual taming of the initially beastly Tsukasa produced compelling soap opera. Even when some of the story elements got a little ridiculous with the amnesia and the kidnappings, and the continued machinations of Tsukasa’s evil mother, Kamino ends up making the reader root for Tsukushi and Tsukasa. It was worth reading 36 volumes to see their happy ending.