There are 51 episodes of the anime, and until recently, they were only available in Japan on VHS, or in some other Asian countries on VCD. Finally, after many years of waiting, the HYD anime has been licensed for North American release by Viz. They are releasing it under the name 'Boys Over Flowers'. I look forward to getting this official English Language release of HYD on DVD, and I will provide some information about this release down below my episode summaries.
I wrote these episode summaries while I watched the series as it was airing on TV in 1996-1997. There were no English subtitled versions of ANY of the episodes at the time, so I was just going by my very questionable Japanese skills. Since then all the episodes have been released in English (yay!), so I can see that there are a lot of sections I don't explain correctly, or have been resolved in detail in the fansubs. I'll eventually try and go back and revise my summaries with my knew knowledge about what is going on, but for now please try to enjoy what I managed to write at the time ^_^
I did my best at listing the episode titles and translations for them. Some were translated by me, some were not, so forgive me if the translations change a bit over time as people point out to me what ones I have listed wrong (surely they aren't all correct =) I haven't changed them to match the titles Viz used for each episode. Also, these summaries contain HUGE SPOILERS so read at your own risk :)
Oh, and a little note about my summaries. I call most of the characters by the same names consistently- Rui, Tsukushi, Doumyouji, Akira, Kazuya. However I have a tendency to call Nishikado Soujirou sometimes by his first name and sometimes by his last. I don't know why I do this =) Also, the three snotty girls: Asai, Yamano, and Ayuhara are all so similar in character, that I tend to refer to them as a unit. Sometimes I may say Asai is doing something when it is really Yamano or Ayuhara. I tend to blur them all together in my head :)
Hana Yori Dango Anime Movie
In spring of 1997, a Hana Yori Dango anime movie was released to theaters in Japan. This time the movie is an anime version. Instead of following the plot of the TV series, this movie changes gears a bit and begins a story of its own. The cast of the anime are all now in New York, working on some sort of musical production. It is like an alternate HYD universe, and is not related to the TV series at all. Tsukushi is a poor girl who works in a theater building as a cleaning girl. At the theater, the rest of the HYD gang are dancers who are rehearsing for the big show. Tsukushi watches them and practices on her own at night. She dreams of becoming a dancer and is waiting to get her big chance. This movie was OK. I was a bit disappointed. the movie is only 30 minutes long, and I was hoping for more romance. The one nifty thing about it is the sequence that mirrors the TV series op song. Now you can see where that off-the-wall TV anime op animation came from.
The HYD anime Filmbook is a great HYD anime resource. It contains images from 30 or so episodes of the series, along with character profiles, manga sketches (including some of the characters that dont appear in the anime) and of course, the film comic version of the HYD anime movie. (A film comic is when they take screen shots from the movie and insert word bubbles like in a comic book). No HYD fan should be without this book! (ISBN4-8342-3006-6)
On March 21, 2006, HYD finally came to DVD in Japan. It's pretty amazing that the US got to have this series on DVD before Japan did. Toei released the series as a nice Region 2 DVD box set (I really hope VIZ does the same with the US release, but I kind of doubt they will). The box set has 10 discs (9 discs for the TV series, and a bonus disc for the 30 minute anime movie), and you can find it for sale at Amazon Japan. I finally managed to get my hands on a used copy of this set, but I have yet to compare the video quality to the release by VIZ. I love the look of the box. The F4 are printed on the case, while Tsukushi is printed on a clear sleeve that it slides into. The dvds are stored sort of like a bok, with each DVD on a plastic page. It's rather thick. The artwork on it is nice! Inside there is a booklet that has a recent (2007) interview with the voice actors who played Tsukushi, Rui, and Doumyouji. I don't have the skills to translate it, but I can tell that they are talking about their experiences working on the anime. It also has a cute picture of them! It is nice to see them again!
In 2007, Toei finally decided to release HYD on DVD in individual volumes. They are the same 9 volumes from the Box Set but now you can purchase them separately. I really like the covers on these. Very simple and cute! Much better than the US covers from VIZ (bleck). Each of these volumes contains 5 or 6 episodes (very generous for a region 2 release) and the price per volume is 3,800 yen before tax. Volumes 1-3 came out January 21, 2007. Volumes 4-6 came out February 21, 2007. Volumes 7-9 came out March 21, 2007.
This edition has a sub track and the dub spread across 7 discs. You can get it on Amazon here! Considering how you had to buy so many separate discs before to get the whole series, this is a great value!
At this time I have only watched volume 1 of Viz's release, and my impressions of it are mixed. I like how the picture looks. I am used to watching poor Nth generation copies of HYD recorded off of tv. The picture on these DVDs is much brighter than I have seen before, and I think it looks good. Sound is decent also. However there are things about these dvds that bother me. The first thing is the lack of translation for the opening and ending songs. Viz has a history of not translating songs, and I have seen them give various excuses for it. But to me it just seems very lazy and careless. If every other Anime company manages to release their series with translated songs, there is no reason Viz shouldn't be able to do it too unless there was some sort of licensing/rights issue. Fortunately I have seen the show so many times and worked on trying to translate the songs myself, that I know what the songs are about, but people new to the show are missing out.
I am also not too impressed with the English dub. Well, ok, it is not as bad as I thought it would be, but parts of it really annoy me. But I have always been a dub hater, so if you like dubs, just ignore me and watch it, I am sure you will enjoy it fine and not be as picky as I am :D That's why DVDs are so great-- they contain both sub and dub, so you can watch it however you prefer! Finally, the subtitle script/translation is also sort of incomplete at times. Some of the meaning is taken out of some things the characters say. The main example of this in volume 1 is when Tsukushi confronts Doumyouji on the staircase after the accident with Makiko. Viz's translation really missed the meaning of what Tsukushi actually says there.
But like I said, I have only seen volume 1 (I am a poor person, someday I hope to be able to afford 11 more volumes! Please release a box set, Viz!) so perhaps they corrected some of these things later on, who knows. I am just glad that HYD is reaching a wider audience now!