Maison Ikkoku

Review time! For young, recent high school grad Yusaku Godai, life at the Maison Ikkoku boarding house is a pain: the place is rundown, there are holes in the walls, and the other tennants won’t stop partying, particularly in his room when he tries to study. With the likes of Yotsuya, a mysterious, proper but free loading man, who regularly intrudes into Godai’s room through said holes; Akemi Roppongi, a bar hostess who is overly flirtatious and has a habit of lounging in a sheer night gown; and Hanae Ichinose, a loudmouthed, gossiping housewife, who is never without a drink in her hand, there is never a moment’s peace for young Godai! One day, Godai decides that enough is enough, and threatens to move out. That is, until he meets the new building manager: a beautiful young woman named Kyoko Otonashi, with whom he is immediately smitten. However, it is not long until he discovers a tragic aspect to her past: she is a widow, who married her teacher right out of high school, only for him to die 6 months later. Godai makes it his mission to have Kyoko fall in love with him, instead of her holding onto her feelings for her late husband, but this is easier said than done. Kyoko soon catches the eye of Shun Mitaka, a handsome, well off tennis instructor, and Godai is roped into a kind of dating/kind of not relationship with Kozue Nanao. Will Godai ever be able to man up, and tell the Manager just how he feels about her? Or will endless setbacks, misunderstandings and frustrations ruin his chances? Well strap in, if you dare, because this is one mother of a ride! Maison Ikkoku is a charming, fun but very long RCA, one that clocks in at a whopping 96 episodes! While this number is, obviously, much smaller than other animes, particularly shonen, it still is one of the longest RCAs out there, and the longest I have watched. The comedy is good, and usually helps to break up the drama that arises, though most of it is at Godai’s expense. The anime is also unique in that it tackles the question of widowhood, and how someone moves on and finds love again, especially when you aren’t sure that you can. One line that focuses on this is “Trying to make a widow fall in love with you is next to impossible. You are up against a perfect man: the living have flaws, the dead are perfect”. This proves to be true, as Kyoko, while knowing the guys around her like her, can’t seem to let go of her feelings for Soichiro, her late husband, and this is particularly hard on Godai. The relationship that Kyoko and Godai have is very much the “Will they/won’t they” pattern and while there are hints that it is developing, sometimes I had to wonder, “What does Kyoko see in this spineless wimp?” Godai is often flaky, indecisive and chickens out on so many important moments, though he does have a good heart, and there is solid character development, but most of it happens in the back 3rd of the show. Kyoko herself is also flawed, as while she can be kind, caring and sweet, she is also jealous, jumps to conclusions and once she thinks something won’t listen to what anyone has to say, even if it would clear up everything within 5 mins. Honestly, the show would be way shorter if people would just communicate properly! There is also a strange issue with the first 20 or so episodes: many times Akemi will be wearing a see-through negligee, and it can be very distracting. But weirdly enough, she switches to a more opaque pink one, and then suddenly there is absolutely nothing objectionable at all! Kind of weird honestly. Anyways, this anime has received a lot of praise from other sources, and, while not bad, I found it to be OK. I don’t know, maybe the whole “Will they/won’t they” angle just irks me the wrong way (cause I lived through a situation for years). That, and how poor everyone’s communication skills are: don’t stop mid sentence, don’t beat around the bush, just be clear, honest and direct, and all your problems are solved!!! If you want to check it out, go right ahead. Though I personally recommend the Dub, if nothing more than to hear Yotsuya having a fun British accent! Who knows: maybe you will find that you too want to be a permanent resident at Maison Ikkoku!

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