Rumiko Takahashi is one of the most prolific mangaka ever. She has created so many series that have touched the hearts of different generations in a wide variety of ways. I mean, she has a sequel of Inuyasha showing up in the anime sphere very soon. Her work isn’t as strong of a part of my life as some other people, but I have watched some Inuyasha on tv. Even if I don’t love it like some other people, I respect it. With that said, Maison Ikkoku is Rumiko’s softer and much more grounded work. Hey, it’s from the 80’s! That might be why it hasn’t gotten as much attention as her other works. Lack of bombast can hurt when everything else one had written has said bombast. After reading this volume, I think that’s a shame.
Maison Ikkoku takes place at the broken-down apartment complex called, surprisingly, Maison Ikkoku. One young man threatens to leave the place because of his lackluster performance in his college practice exams. His name is Yuusaku Godai and the other apartment members always bug him so he can’t study. OF course, his leaving is cancelled once the new manager for the apartment arrives. A young and attractive woman named Kyoko Otonashi appears and takes the job of the mysteriously retired older manager. I guess he has found his reason to stay for a bit.
This volume is about the two getting to know each other. In the beginning, she only knows that Godai is a guy trying to get into college and he doesn’t know anything about her at all besides that she has a dog. A dog with the name of Soichiro. There is somewhat of a natural chemistry between the two of them for some reason though. Godai’s college and work life are a side thing but we know that he makes some progress considering that he does get side jobs and get into college. On Kyoko’s side, there is so much to uncover. How she is a widower and her dog is named after her late husband. Also how attentive and forward she can be. We learn more as she does things like the ability to drive because she doesn’t.
There are also some love triangles and misunderstandings in motion too. Godai starts to have a small relationship forming with a former coworker that has only started but I’m sure will cause trouble in the future. She’s a kind girl named Kozue and she’s very interested in Godai for some reason. At the same time, when Kyoko showed up at a Tennis Club, she met the tennis Coach Shun Mitaka. A play boy with money to burn and is forceful, but somehow is a kind guy who somehow respects Kyoko’s boundaries as she hasn’t gotten over her husband’s passing yet. Well, for the most part. He still keeps some hands on her during training. Godai is jealous by how successful Mitaka is.
Here is the thing about this, this relationship problem despite all the teenage nature and the two living in the same building, is realistic. Especially since we are talking about younger adults that have some attraction towards each other. It’s not like adults aren’t completely kiddish and immature too. It’s a situation made for a manga like this. It’s very well realized with decently written characters as far as I know. This is the only volume that I’ve read so I don’t know how things move further from this point forward. I kind of adore it myself because it’s got the right amount of chemistry and drama for it all to connect together.
I do have some minor complaints about the other inhabitants of Maison Ikkoku. They are a little forceful. I don’t mind horniness because that’s generally balanced out. There is a pervert in the hall because yeah and there is also a horny, exhibitionist girl who walks around with barely any clothes on. Those feel like the kind of people that would show up in an apartment complex like that. Weird people like that exist in mix gender apartments. Well, at least that’s the experience I got. At the same time, there are the older attendants who want to push Kyoko and Godai around quite a lot and cause drama when there wasn’t before for their own entertainment. I guess this is what happens when you don’t have cell phones or the internet.
The manga paneling is pretty blocky for the most part. You know, like a lot of older manga are. That isn’t a complaint because there is a wonderful flow from one panel to the next. It completely feels natural in how it goes. Same with big moments breaking up that mold and making those moments stand out way more than usual. This manga is very well constructed in that way, so good job Rumiko. Even if you’ve done this year and years ago so that is way past prime now. The art is pretty simple but well detailed and very expressive in good ways. I really like Rumiko Takashi’s character designs because they exude all sorts of personality and that’s the same here. To me, that’s the best part of her work.
Volume one is a great start to a good romance series. Possibly great because this was a good introduction volume with some powerful things and interesting directions that the manga can go. What surprises me is that this romance series actually did have Godai confessing his feelings twice. He’s just so awkward that he can’t do it correctly or did it while drunk because he’s of age. Then again, I suppose they both have their awareness. Anyway, I really enjoyed my time reading this volume and I look forward to reading more when I get the chance. So yeah, going to give this a solid here for a solid start.