Title: Maison Ikkoku
Japanese Title: Maison Ikkoku
Author: Rumiko Takahashi
Licensed: Yes (Viz)
Release Date: April 2001 (US)
The premise of this series is odd for a romance and it really added a nice flavor. The desired female (and apartment manager) of Maison Ikkoku is a 22 year old widow named Kyoko. She married against the wishes of her family to a man much older then she was right out of high school. Even now a few years after the death of her husband she refuses to move on and clings to the memory of her beloved. Godai (the main character) is a poor 20-year-old rōnin studying for his college entrance exams after failing in the past year. He is handsome but a bit of an pushover and lets others take advantage of him a bit too often. With this setup you can be sure that this series takes a long time before Kyoko begins to open up her heart to another man. The series takes place over a time period of about 5 years and during this time the main characters in Maison Ikkoku REALLY seemed to slowly but steadily change and mature.
I don’t know why I didn’t read this series sooner! This series has been floating in front of me since about when I first began collecting manga 10 years ago. Although I’m glad I didn’t read this series when I was 14, I’m not sure I would have liked it as much as I do now that I’m in my 20’s. Not to say people who are that age wouldn’t love this manga, I was just very immature and specialized in what I wanted from my manga series back then.
I warn you though this series is Out of Print and may prove difficult to track down in its entirety. Just a month ago I bought the entire series on a whim, I saw the set available on eBay for a price that was reasonable. I’m really glad I took the chance on that auction because it would take a lot of work for me to put together this series volume by volume, or even find an auction for the entire series for as cheap as that one was.
Godai the main character…when I think of him I can’t help but compare him to Keitaro of Love Hina. Both are rōnin that are trying to get into college and when you write down all of their characteristics on paper they pretty much match line for line, but somehow Godai feels like a more realistic portrayal of a down on his luck “loser” trying to get into school. Keitaro was kind of an over the top, and didn’t have as much character depth. Maison Ikkoku isn’t a harem like Love Hina was but I’d consider it pretty close to one (a Seinen Romance). Maison Ikkoku is what I was looking for in Love Hina when I started reading it a years ago. Now that isn’t to say Love Hina is bad, it’s just something that’s different that I don’t like as much as this series 😉
Both of Kyoko’s suitors are good guys, even though Mitaka is Godai’s competition I can’t dislike him. Both pursue Kyoko with whole hearted intentions of being with her for the rest of their lives and patiently wait for her to open her heart again. Although Mitaka has a definite advantage being older, more mature, handsomer, and financially well off. Regardless of who was going to win Kyoko in the end I was going to feel terrible for the one that lost out, just like every other worthwhile love triangle out there.
The art style of Maison Ikkoku is older but I still think it looks nice. If anything the fact that is older and so different looking from the stuff I read today made it more attractive to me. I love experiencing lots of different art styles in manga. But it’s understandable if the art style of this series would put off a lot of potential readers. Although PLEASE NOTE these scanned images I found online look a lot worse then the re-issue volumes I have of this series.
The tenants at Maison Ikkoku are adorable quirky characters, they remain constant throughout the series and never hesitate to cause confusion for our main characters for their own amusement. Yotsuya was my favorite, his humor and tricks were always the most selfish and funny of the group.
This is my favorite series by this manga-ka (Rumiko Takahashi) so far (I’ve only seen Mermaid Forest and Inuyasha so far though).