Maison Ikkoku Commentary by Christopher Macdonald
Apr 16th 2002
While far from her most popular series, Maison Ikkoku is considered by many to be Rumiko Takahashi's best work. Unlike her other titles, Maison Ikkoku's premise is actually very mundane; there are no supernatural demons, no boys that change into girls when wet, and no aliens. Maison Ikkoku is just a simple story about a University student who falls in love with his landlady.
A simple story really, where the reader (or the viewer) follows this young man, the woman he loves and the people around them through a period of several years during which he tries to woo her.
But, Maison Ikkoku does share one thing with the majority of Takahashi's other titles; and that is absolute, unadulterated hilarity. Maison Ikkoku is as funny as Ranma or Urusei Yatsura and far funnier than Inuyasha. Unlike her other titles, Maison Ikkoku does not draw its humor from impossible situations that could never exist in the real world, but rather from hilarious situations that actually do happen in the real world. In fact, many adult followers of this series will probably find a few of the situations familiar.
But beyond the comedy, what sets Maison Ikkoku apart from all the other comedic drivel in the world is the excellently crafted romantic story at its heart. Takahashi is known for doing this. Behind all her stories there is a deeper, romantic story, but in this respect Maison Ikkoku is her greatest work to date.
Of course, if romance isn't your thing you can still read or watch Maison Ikkoku for the laughs, and who knows, perhaps by the end you might do more than laugh. Personally I'm not much of a romantic at heart, but over the years I've been forced to watch or read hundreds of romantic stories, both Anime and not; from drivel like Titanic to pretty decent stories like Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain… At the end of Maison Ikkoku, it was one of the only two stories that have ever made me want to cry.
Viz has been releasing Maison Ikkoku at an astonishingly slow rate on VHS for a couple of years now, and lately there has been talk of a DVD release, possibly a boxed set. Despite the rumors, Viz has not yet made a final decision on this… they want to release it but they aren't sure if it will sell well enough.
In short, Maison Ikkoku is an absolutely wonderful series that has received a lot of critical acclaim, of course it isn't for everyone (nothing ever is), so take a look at our new reviews and see if you think you might like it. If you think you might like it I highly recommend you give it a try, and if you really like it, enough to buy it, please let Viz know that you'd be interested in buying it if it ever comes out on DVD.