No, it’s not the final poster, but here’s the first official group still of the high school flower boys (and girl in disguise Sulli) of To the Beautiful You, the Hana Kimi remake about a girl who dresses as a boy to enter a boys’ athletic high school.
From left to right in the above poster shoot, we’ve got:
- Kang Kyung-joon (Nonstop 5), the track coach. Despite being known for being tough on the kids, I’m betting he probably does a lot to help our hero, being a former high jumper himself. (Correction: It’s not Yoo Min-kyu after all, but he’s still cast. Aw, yay for his sophomore outing after rocking—literally—in Shut Up: Flower Boy Band as bassist Casanova Ha-jin. Yoo Min-kyu plays Young-man, captain of the taekwondo team and also leader of his dorm. He’s got a rough attitude, but lots of affection for his hoobaes and his taekwondo team.)
- Min-ho of SHINee as the lead. He’s “genius high jumper” Kang Tae-joon, who suffers an injury and falls into a mental slump.
- Sulli as the heroine-masked-as-ordinary-dude Gu Jae-hee. She transfers to the high school because of Tae-joon, wanting to offer him hope in his difficult time.
- Lee Hyun-woo (Equator Man) as the second lead leg of the main love triangle, Cha Eun-gyul. He’s a soccer player with outstanding skills and a positive energy that makes him popular with the girls, though he’s really a pure-hearted boy who’s never been in love before.
- Last but not least, we’ve got sageuk regular Seo Joon-young of Tree With Deep Roots, Gumiho: Tale of the Fox’s Child, and Great King Sejong. He plays Ha Seung-ri, captain of the fencing team and head of the dorm Jae-hee gets assigned to. A strong leader with a “macho” personality.
Hm, I like that there’s a mix of acting talent with the new blood, because at least the rookies will be playing off of peers with experience. I feel a bit better about the main cast despite being leery of Sully and Min-ho, although it’s really the producing side that has me worried: I see it as something of an unholy pairing, taking the clunky editing talents and dubious taste levels of PD Jeon Ki-sang (Boys Before Flowers) alongside the more nuanced writing of the High Kick trilogy’s Lee Young-chul.
In the grand traditions of gender-bending heroines before her (see: Yoon Eun-hye, Moon Geun-young, Park Shin-hye, Go Eun-ah), Sulli has chopped off her long locks and opted for a boyish cut. Gotta fit in to infiltrate the literal boys’ club, right? (For comparison purposes, there’s also a shot at bottom of the other actresses who have played the lead role in other Hana Kimi adaptations: Ella Chen from the Taiwanese version, Horikita Maki from Japan’s 2007 series, and Maeda Atsuko from the 2011 one.)
I understand the need to tone down a starlet’s feminine features so I won’t complain about her cut (though I don’t think she looks like a boy at all), but my one great sadness is that the adorable and talented budding heartthrob Lee Hyun-woo had to go and get a mushroom-bowl cut to match. What were you smoking? Sad beans.
To the Beautiful You airs on SBS beginning August 8.