-- Meteor Garden: "Gorgeous Guys Fuel Manga Craze" -----------------------

"Gorgeous Guys Fuel Manga Craze" Article
By Chang May Choon, The New Paper - July 27, 2001

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The Japanese manga, Hana Yori Dango, has stirred up a storm here - as comic book, cartoon series and drama serial. From teenaged schoolgirls to career women in their 30s, they are all swooning over the pretty-boy characters in the romantic comedy. CHANG MAY CHOON gets starry-eyed as well.

IT'S a simple love story.

A plain girl from a middle-class family enters an elite school of filthy-rich snobs and clashes with four gorgeous bullies.

She stands up to them and wins the hearts of the hunkiest two.

That's what happens in Hana Yori Dango (Japanese for Boys Prettier Than Flowers), a manga-turned-cartoon series which has spun off a craze unseen in Singaporesince Titanic mania!

In just two months, hordes of Singaporeans have turned into fanatic addicts.

[Picture Caption] METEOR POWER: (Clockwise from top left) Jerry Yan, Barbie Hsu, Vic Zhou, Vanness Wu and Ken Zhu star in Meteor Garden.

[Picture Caption] PRETTY BOYS: (From left) Jerry, Ken, Vanness and Vic.

Female fans rushed home every evening to catch the cartoon on City TV.

What's more, a Taiwanese drama serial, titled Meteor Garden and based on the manga, is being shown on cable TV here.


It has turned the cast into instant pin-up idols, and the soundtrack CD is selling like hotcakes.

Miss Kim Hong, an engineer, sat up to watch all 52 episodes of the cartoon series over four nights last week.

"I was really tired but I was very happy because I watched a very good cartoon. It brought back childhood memories," said the 25-year-old.

Said undergraduate Quek Liming, 20: "The story revolves around school life, so I can relate to it. And the characters come across as being very real."

A City TV spokesman said the station has received "lots of positive feedback" and even requests for a repeat telecast for the recently ended cartoon series.

It has also acquired Meteor Garden from Taiwan, and will be airing it soon.

Meanwhile, cable TV viewers are already enjoying the drama on Sunday nights.

A 21-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Ino, tapes every episode and watches it many times over. She even got tapes of advance episodes from friends, and watched them with eight equally fanatical colleagues during their lunch break.

"I like to watch love stories in which the guy and girl have to overcome lots of barriers. And the show's really funny!" she gushed.

Of course, it helps that the characters in the story are all gorgeous.

Dao-Ming Si (played by hunky Jerry Yan) is a short-tempered bully who's really sweet on the inside.

Hua-Ze Lei (Vic Zhou) is a dreamer whose aura of mystery captures the heart of the heroine, Shan Cai (Barbie Hsu).

Xi Men (Ken Zhu) and Mei Zuo (Vanness Wu) are the handsome sidekicks.

Ino is so taken with Jerry and Vic that she's building a website to worship her new idols.

"Dao-Ming Si is fabulous. Jerry portrays him very well. He's like a spoilt brat, but Shan Cai changes him," she said.

Fans also rave about the duo on the Internet.

One of them, Maho-chan, confesses: "I'm so obsessed with Dao-Ming Si. Once, my boyfriend caught me thinking about him!"


Fans have been snapping up the manga series drawn by Yoko Kamio. It's a big hit in Japan, where it sold a whopping 24 million copies from 1992 to 1998.

Here, fans reportedly swept Kinokuniya's shelves clean early this month. The bookstore is unable to provide sales figures, but a spokeman confirmed that demand for the manga series has surged since the cartoon was shown on TV.

A primary school teacher in her late 20s, who only wanted to be known as Miss Tan, is hooked on it. So are four of her colleagues.

"The story is really funny. We talk about it all the time," she said.

[END NOTE] * Meteor Garden is showing on SCV Channel 56 at 8pm every Sunday.

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METEOR Garden, which attracts about 1.4 million viewers in Taiwan every week, has catapulted its hunks - Jerry, Vic, Ken and Vanness - to superstardom.

More than 10,000 fans turned up in Taipei to attend their first autograph session earlier their month.

Some 20 fans even fainted - because of the sweltering summer heat.

The event was called off at the 11th hour as the situation grew chaotic.

The guys have also topped Internet poll for Ideal One Night Stand Partner.

One fan wrote: "One night is not enough. I want to hog them for a few more nights!"

To think that they were just boys next door before being talent-scouted to appear in the drama series!

So how has fame affected their personal lives?

Vic grumbled about the loss of privacy.

"People recognize me on the streets, so I have to dress nicely every time I go out. I'd rather hide at home and play video games!" he told The New Paper, chuckling merrily.

It also doesn't help that the paparazzi are hot on the guys' heels and fanning speculation about relationships!

Jerry has been linked to older host Matilda Tao.

Vic is said to be in a love tussle with co-star Barbie and her sister.

ken is reportedly interested in Singaporean singer Stefanie Sun.

And Vanness is apparently seeing pop princess Elva Hsiao.

But don't worry, girls, they're probably too busy for love anyway!

[Picture Caption] HEROES: The guys as portrayed in the Hana Yori Dango cartoon series (above) and the comic book (below).


THE New Paper and EMI Singapore are giving away 10 Meteor Garden soundtrack CDs (left) and autographed posters.

The CD features hit songs by Harlem Yu and Penny Tai and, comes with a pictorial booklet.

Just call 1900-914-0801 before midnight tomorrow and answer the following question.

How many hunks are there in Meteor Garden: a) seven b) four c) one?

Each call costs 20 cents.

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