Maison Ikkoku Review Page
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Maison Ikkoku Review
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Romantic Comedy
Viz Video

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Chris Reed Subbed Version 10.0

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Maison Ikoku Review Page

How does one review one of the most wonderful and most convoluted romantic comedies ever made? I’m talking about Maison Ikkoku, a 96 episode TV series that is being released oh-so-very slowly by VIZ video (the Ranma/Pokemon people). I speak enough Japanese that I’ve bought the original versions in Japan, and I can tell you with some honesty that even if you’ve seen all the tapes available from VIZ so far, you haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. As of this writing (9/2/99) the videos from VIZ don’t even have two major characters introduced yet.

If you don’t know, this is the story of Yuusaku Godai, a young man trying (and so far failing) to get accepted into a college. Any college. Unfortunately for him, he lives at Maison Ikkoku, a boarding house full of people who’s primary goal in life is to party and annoy Godai. Unfortunately for Godai, he’s not much better than they are, although he’s trying. He’s just getting ready to leave the boarding house when the new manager arrives, the Beautiful Kyoko Otonoshi. He falls for her instantly.

However, Kyoko is being faithful to someone Godai can never compete with (it’s not revealed who until episode 7 and if you don’t know about the series I won’t spoil it here, although most people will tell you straight out). And Godai is such a loser that he doesn’t stand a chance, even if Kyoko is being nice to him.

But there’s a rival for Kyoko’s attention, the young and handsome tennis coach Shun Mitaka, and there’s a girl who starts following Godai around, and SIX YEARS worth of misunderstandings that follow one after another. It doesn’t help that the other residents of Maison Ikkoku are the types who enjoy confusing other people. There’s Ms. Ichinose, a rotund barrel of a woman who likes to drink, snoop into people’s private lives, and get rowdy, Akemi Roppongi, a somewhat morally loose woman and proud of it – much to the distraction of Godai, and the king of confusion, Yotsuya – a man with no seeming job, a mooch, and a man with the ability to convincingly lie about anything. (All the names of the residents are puns of their room numbers).

There are more minor characters than you can shake a stick at, from Godai’s fellow student Sakimoto, to Kyoko’s scheming parents, the owner of Maison Ikkoku (who is more involved in everything than initial impressions let on), the Master of the local bar Cha Cha Maru, where Akemi works, Godai’s grandmother, Kyoko’s dog, Souichiro-san, plus a number of other characters that complicate the romantic lives of the three protagonists. And let’s not forget the person Kyoko is being faithful to, who you never actually see (it becomes an ongoing joke throughout the series – even Godai never sees him until the last episode).

This show is a lot of fun to watch. At first you start thinking “how can they possibly sustain this for 96 episodes” and then you start to wonder how could they possibly wrap it up that fast. Watching Godai grow and evolve over the course of the series is fascinating. He fails at so many things that when he finally discovers the one profession he is good at the transformation in him is astounding, and very real.



Overall an 8 (I’m the son of an animator and very picky). Some moments are breathtaking (especially in the final four episodes) and some are typical Japanese TV. Considering the age of the show I think it’s fine; certainly better than anything you’ll find on American TV today. Lots of animation in-jokes take place. In one fairly early episode, a College fair has Lum and Ran of Urusei Yatsura in the background; the same episode also features Kei and Yuri of the original Dirty Pair.


All of the characters have multiple dimensions to them; towards the end of the series even Yotsuya has a moment of open honesty that comes as a breath of fresh air. Godai grows, Kyoko grows accustomed to her role, the various neighbors all shows unsuspected depths, and other key players roam in and out of the lives of the main characters contributing to the mayhem.


High-quality 80’s pop, with some unusual stylings thrown in all over the place. Find a CD called “Maison Ikkoku Theme Book Plus”, which has all the opening and closing themes plus a few extra songs. At the end of episode 23 an old 70’s song by Gilbert O’sullivan shows up out of nowhere; it will put a lump in your throat.


10+!!! This story comes from one of the geniuses of Manga, Takahashi Rumiko, who also created Ranma ½, Urusei Yatsura, Rumik World, and Inuyasha. Little plot details come back to haunt characters much later, and the attention to detail is astounding. Once you’ve seen the entire series, you can tell that Ms. Takahashi outlined the entire progression of every character, and checked for continuity at every step. When the story finally reaches its climax the payoff is unbelievably satisfying.

Check it out, and bug VIZ to get on the ball releasing the rest of the series! WARNING: VIZ isn’t very good with dubbed translations. Get it subtitled to actually get a feel for the acting going on.

Review By: Chris Reed

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