One of the great Rumiko Takahashi’s earlier works, it first ran from 1980 to 1987 with an anime series adaptation running from 1986 to 1988. It’s a gentle romantic comedy with a strong slice of life vibe – even in-between the comedic shenanigans. Maison Ikkoku follows Godai, a ronin (which means person studying to take the super difficult university admissions test) who lives in a boarding house style of apartment. He’s surrounded by annoying and rambunctious neighbors. After their antics caused the previous apartment manager to quit, a new and massively attractive apartment manager shows up. Her name is Kyoko and Godai immediately falls head over heels in love with her. The other apartment residents also take a shining to her, much to Godai’s chagrin. And thus starts the long-running romantic comedy.
The collector’s addition features the first 16 chapters of a 161 chapter manga. Just so you know what you’re getting into LOL
This manga collection is pure nostalgia glasses for me. I discovered Takahashi’s work early in my anime/manga journey as I suspect many people did considering she’s known for such titles as Urusei Yatsura, Ranma ½, InuYasha, and Rin-ne. I’ve liked several of her other titles but had never actually read Maison Ikkoku (or seen the anime for that matter). This was such a blast from the past. First off, this is not Japan as we know it today. This is the Japan of forty years ago. That means that social mores are different. And things like smoking are common. Also the technology and expectations are different. It’s sort of fascinating to read, honestly.
One thing that I had to keep reminding myself is that this manga was written specifically to appeal to a male audience. It was one of the flagship manga in the still running Big Comic Spirits serial. So the jokes and gaze is meant for young men and not women, and it does show.. The comedy is very slapstick and some of the antics didn’t always land for me. It may be because I’m not Japanese, it may be because I am reading this in 2020 and not in 1980, or it may be because I’m a woman. Who knows?
One thing Takahashi is known for is creating memorable characters, and Maison Ikkoku is no exception. Godai is an interesting character, relatable to a lot of young men even today. And Kyoko is an interesting Takahashi character. She’s more reminiscent of Kasumi from Ranma ½ than any other of her heroines. And there’s an adorable dog, Soichiro. (who no lie is my favorite character LOL)
The art is a little rough, and that might be in part that this is early in Takahashi’s career or because of the technological limitations of the time. At times I had trouble telling some of the characters apart, which is part of the reason why this doesn’t get five stars from me. In a visual medium, identifiability is important. I think this would be definitely something someone who likes Takahashi’s other works would love to own. I also feel that people who like slapstick heavy romantic comedies would also really enjoy this. As for me, I give this: Four stars
If this is your jam, you can get it here.
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Thank you to VIZ MEDIA and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.