I knew there was a Honey and Clover live-action movie, although I haven’t yet seen the DVD, but I was surprised to find that there was also a live-action TV show (link to Japanese show site). It ran 11 episodes earlier this year, and so far (two in), I like it better than the manga.
Pictured, by character name, clockwise from top: Morita, Mayama, Takemoto, Hagumi, Yamada
Mainly that’s because with actors, things aren’t so exaggerated. Hagumi isn’t so young-looking or ethereal as to be creepy; she’s a real person, although a small, quiet one. Takemoto has presence, instead of being a blank reactor to the others. (Judging by pictures, Takemoto looks a lot more realistic in the show. In the movie, he’s much too pretty, with those chiseled cheekbones.)
I liked everyone much better, especially Morita. Instead of seeming obnoxious, he portrays a love of life and enjoyment, and that’s where his over-the-top schemes come from. The actor’s grin makes lots forgivable, and he seems more like a crazy genius, less like a sadist. And Yamada isn’t some high-kicking harpy but an uncertain young woman acting tough to hide her gooey center. I’ve gotten the best sense of her from the drama. It looks like they cast age-appropriately, too, which helps a lot with the realism. And seeing the artworks, the huge paintings and sculptures, is very impressive.
I don’t watch a lot of JDrama — the only thing I’ve seen before was Kimmi Wa Petto. So I don’t know how this compares in general, but so far, it’s been quite enjoyable. Download the episodes (fansubbed) here. There’s also an anime, which doesn’t seem my kind of thing — I fear the cartoon medium would also for more exaggeration, not less.