Maison Ikkoku

Kyoko OtonashiHow much of a Maison Ikkoku fan am I? Well, let’s count… I have the legit DVDs from Viz, bootleg copy DVDs from Hong Kong, two complete sets of first and second edition graphic novels from Viz (both read countless times over), several soundtracks, the same t-shirt in grey and white, and I watched the entire 96 episode TV series non-stop in 41 hours over a single Memorial Day weekend. In summary, I’m a fan. Maison Ikkoku occupies the top spot in my favorite anime list and will never be usurped.

Maison Ikkoku was first published in 1980 and began airing on television in 1986. Written by Rumiko Takahashi, one of Japan’s most successful manga writers it joins her other successes such as Urusei Yatsura, Ranma ½, and Inu-Yasha. These were huge successes in Japan. The power wielded by Takahashi is not to be taken lightly.

Maison Ikkoku is a simple romantic-comedy. It’s just your ordinary loser-college-boy-falls-in-love-with-his-new-beautiful-yet-widowed-landlady-and-the-tenants-that-share-the-apartment-house-love-to-interfere-with-their-lovelife-or-lack-there-of story. Takahashi wrote Maison Ikkoku to be a love story that could take place in the real world, and she tells it very well.

Yusaku Godai lives in a small apartment house and is a trying to get into college. Unable to hack all the distractions and annoyances that his neighbors cause, Godai decides to move. His plan doesn’t get very far and he doesn’t even get out the front door when the beautiful Kyoko Otonashi walks in and says she is the new apartment manager. Godai’s life is turned sideways. The poor, unemployed, struggling student fights against all odds to win Kyoko’s heart. Including competing against the good looking, wealthy, fun, and all around perfect: Mitaka. Misunderstandings and overreactions are a staple of this series, complete with yelling, slamming doors, and throwing whatever is within arms’ reach. The character’s are stereotypical in the beginning, but each of them grows throughout the series and surprises the audience with their depth.

The well written characters are memorable, but the best quality of Maison Ikkoku is it’s ability to wrench the reader’s emotions all over the place. The series moves from slapstick comedy to tear-jerking heartbreak to bittersweet understanding, and does so often within a page or two. Maison Ikkoku has it all and does it well. There are a couple slow areas in the middle of the series where it can seem the story or characters aren’t moving forward. However, MI starts hilariously and ends strong, and the characters grow over the course of the story. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Wikipedia entry for Maison Ikkoku
Maison Ikkoku @ Amazon