I’ll start this by stating that I am aware that Hanasakeru Seishonen is ultimately a “romance anime”, however it doesn’t stop it from having quite a few interesting sub-genres that just don’t usually happen to turn into the focus of the story for a very long time like it did in this anime.
But oh boy, Neko actually enjoyed a show!
Most synopses for Hanasakeru Seishonen can never actually prepare you for what the story is actually about, and, sincerely, I think that it’s better without being aware. I dived in, believing that it was a “game of match-making” between rich people: one girl and 4 candidates. Who will impress her more? Sounded pretty average, a setting that I’ve already seen many times before in k-drama, but that it can always become quite enjoyable if kept to its utmost simplicity… Well, I must take that back.
Hanasakeru Seishonen does a reverse harem how a reverse harem should be, which is not limited to simply “main girl falls in love with lots of cute bishies”, but expands its world with a good share of character development and topics. By half of the show, I was questioning whether it was going to keep being a romance-focused anime…Which it partly, didn’t. And I praise that to no end.
The story is very progressive and while it did have some moments that simply apply the famous “anime reverse harem logic” to them, I never really felt like condemning it. Not always at least. One of the moments when I did feel like rolling my eyes, if I had to mention one of them, would be when the characters had an unjustified “feeling” that something is going to go in a certain way, despite them not having a reason to have those sorts of thoughts. It was also implied that a person can feel strongly for something if it’s in their blood to care for that something, which is just a romantic view and not even by far rational.
I must say that, at one point, I really felt like the story resembled a Korean drama, which for me, is not exactly the best. Don’t take me wrong, I have nothing against them, nor do I dislike them in any way; it’s just that most of my past experiences with them has scarred my expectations of the genre sometimes (If there are any Korean drama fans reading this, I am aware that not everything is bad and I’m not trying to do a hefty generalization). What do I mean by that? It tended to be overly-dramatical and overly-angsty, but sometimes it was for good reason. Some other times, mostly during the end of it, it felt like it was just there for the characters to feel miserable for a while, only to move on right after, and I couldn’t really feel anything but annoyed at them in those moments.
The ending was also kind of anticlimactic for me, seeing how I really grew tired of that particular trope (which I’ll obviously not mention) and it was a kind of innocent “Love always wins”, which I don’t dislike, but as a generally unromantic person, I hardly fall for that, at least executed the way that it was in Hanasakeru Seishonen. Maybe if it were a bit less obvious, I would have enjoyed it more. I really felt like some of the heroine’s values really contrasted with the rest of the story (which I think was sometimes on purpose) and because of that contrast, I didn’t feel that “Love always wins” would work so well in such a straightforwardly executed way.
It’s hard to not start with the heroine at this point. She’s definitely not what I’m used to when we speak of reverse harems. Kajika manages to maintain her innocence and sometimes naivety, but she doesn’t let that drag her down. Because she’s naïve, it doesn’t mean that she’s stupid and I’m very glad that the author managed to differentiate the two things. She uses her good natured personality in order to help those in need and her confidence in being able to help actually helped not only others, but even herself towards her personal growth as a person. She also has a very unique belief in life and even if it was weird for the people around her, she never gave up in believing what she wanted to believe is right. But…she starts of the story as a 14 years old.
I really can’t understand how a 14 years old girl can act like such a grown-up. Not that it’s impossible, but it’s hard for other people older than her to take her as seriously as they would take somebody their age. This included the guys, which, with the exception of Rumaty, are all over 20 years of age.
About the guys, let’s face it. They start off like the most generic archetypes: the childhood friend, the flirty guy, the rebellious shota, the gay-…Wait, what?
They definitely can’t just be defined by one word.
Fang Li Ren (or Hwang Lee-Leng?…I kept questioning the subs since that name sounds more Korean than it does Chinese so I am sticking with Fang Li Ren) the charismatic childhood friend that can in no way allow himself to be selfish.
Eugene de Volkan, a gorgeous-looking playboy that has lost trust in the people around him, yet his reasons go a bit more serious than just the “they use me because I’m handsome” trope.
Rumaty Ivan di Raginei, an open-minded prince that is forced to grow up in order to become a king.
And lastly, Carl Rosenthal, son of a revenge-driven businessman, who tries to find his own identity and place in the world.
It was a nice surprise to see such a diverse cast in this anime and I genuinely can claim that I didn’t care as much for a story and its characters like I did in this case, in a very long time (excepting Noragami, but I’m not counting it, seeing how it’s a second season and a series that already established its place in my heart a long time ago).
Overall typical, but animation doesn’t completely make the story, it just adds to it, and in this case, it did add quite well.
OST though, I must recognize that I spammed the opening and ending for this anime continuously from when i started the anime a few months ago to today. They are both sung by k-pop singer, J-Min and she really did a great job at performing.
I really recommend this to all otome game/reverse harem stories lovers. Even if the first episodes might be weird or slow for you, just give it a try and you won’t regret it.