The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Maison Ikkoku

Title: Maison Ikkoku
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: Kitty Film
Format: 96 episodes
Dates: 26 Mar 1986 – 2 Mar 1988

Synopsis: When Otonashi Kyoko’s husband dies, she finds herself in charge of Ikkoku, a run down apartment filled with curiously strange tenants. Placed between a middle-aged mother, a secretive businessman, a revealing young woman, and a college ronin, Kyoko tries to get her life back on track in the midst of discovering new friendships and romances. The ronin Godai tries to woo her despite romance-drama troubles of his own, but soon finds a rival in the form of a wealthy, well-educated tennis coach – Mitaka. Will Kyoko choose Godai? Mitaka? Or will she stay devoted to a long lost memory?

The Highlights
Story: A well-paced, emotional, nostalgic slice-of-life.
Characters: The most unique and memorable bunch out there.
Ending: The best of its genre.

Out of personal preference, I have always been partial to Takahashi Rumiko’s work. Of course her later works have been criticized for their length and plug-and-fill genre – yet I was always that fanboy waiting impatiently every weekend, eager for her next adventure. That being said, I expected Maison Ikkoku to be another taste of the same flavor as Takahashi‘s Inuyasha(1,2) or Ranma ½, with a slightly different twist. Strangely it first gave off a Love Hina type vibe, but both preemptive judgments would prove false as the story went on.

Many anime enthusiasts are turned off by older-looking animation, tending to stick to the new television premiers. I must admit I myself had doubts, assuming again that this was just an older twist on the same story. Yet with beautiful, consistent animation and an introduction to a cast of one-of-a-kind characters it quickly became one of my all time favorites. Initially the cast of main and supporting characters are seemingly one-sided; however, as the story progresses through its 96 episodes (arguably its only flaw), each relationship and personality becomes more complex. Although the entire cast is possibly the most memorable of any other anime, the voice talents who portrayed these characters are not famous beyond this series. For most, this would be their only worth-mentioning role, but a fantastic one at that.

While this mid-80s anime is overlooked more often than not, anyone from the Takahashi-occult will tell you its ending is revered for being the most satisfying of its genre. Quite surprising for its length, but I must full-heartedly agree. Throughout my experience with this anime, not once did I lose interest. The drama and romance is well executed, and highly effective despite the heavy comic inserts. Yes, it’s the kind of anime that will have you “Ooo” and “Ah”-ing one moment, then holding your sides in tears the next.

Drawing music and melodies from the previous decade, don’t expect any rock ballads or techno jams. Yet overall Maison Ikkoku brings to life a symphony of heart-warming melodies – including a cameo opening with the musical talent of Gilbert O’Sullivan. Lengthy, but definitely well paced and touching on serious and lighter notes in just the right intervals, this series is guaranteed to keep your eyes glued. If you have the patience (and the courage) to sit through this slice-of-life anime, you will not be disappointed.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Godai

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