Way back in 1980, manga artist Rumiko Takahashi decided to create a series based on the time she had spent living in a small student's apartment. Fifteen volumes and a 96-episode TV show later, the result would become my absolute favorite series, Maison Ikkoku. For those who have not yet seen the series to its completion, there are spoilers present below.

The story is a simple one: Yusaku Godai, a young man who has failed his college entrance exams, is living in room five of a rundown apartment building in Tokyo with crazy neighbors who love to make his life miserable. There's Hanae Ichinose in Room One, a housewife whose only pleasures in life are drinking and gossiping. Mr. Yotsuya in Room Four, a mysterious man that loves voyeurism and mooching (in addition to creating holes in the wall that link his and poor Godai's room). Finally, Akemi Roppongi in Room Six, a bar hostess who not only also loves to drink and gossip, but has no issue with showing off her assets to the rest of the residents. Finally fed up with all the distractions, young Godai decides to leave, only to be greeted at the door by the new young and beautiful (not to mention recently widowed) building manager, Kyoko Otonashi. Her lovely smile is all the motivation he needs to stay within the chaos. Godai then decides to try as hard as he can to win Kyoko's affections, but constant misunderstandings, other love interests, and the antics of the other Maison Ikkoku residents sure won't make it easy!

"Why do they always have to party in my room?!"

I was fourteen the first time I was exposed to Maison Ikkoku. A friend of mine was reading a Japanese comic called Ranma ½ that looked interesting, so I asked if I could borrow it. Ranma would be my first experience with manga. I was instantly hooked, thanks to the great artwork and interesting characters, so I then tried to track down other titles by the same author. Maison Ikkoku happened to be the first one of these and from the very first page, I knew this would be a keeper. I don't know exactly why, but there's just something about the atmosphere of this story and all of the characters contained within that gives me such a feeling of joy that no other title has duplicated. Every time I see an image of that apartment building it just gives me the feels. Do you think I need to see a psychiatrist?

The feels!

It was years later that I was finally exposed to the anime adaptation, and while I certainly love it as well, there are some issues I have with it. For one, Nikaido, the tenant who moves into Room Two in the eighth volume of the manga, was omitted from the anime adaptation. The producers felt that they didn't want to take away from the Kyoko/Godai romance storyline to focus on his introduction. He did appear in the feature film, just like he was always there, but his absence from the TV series always felt like a shame.

"Curse that Yotsuya! He stole most of my lines."

There was also the softening of Kyoko's character in certain scenes. For example, at one point in the manga, Godai had moved out, and Kyoko thought he was sleeping with another woman, which was due to a misunderstanding from Ichinose and the others. He called her and asked if he could have his room back, and Kyoko, as angry as she could be, stated that all the rooms were rented and slammed the phone down. While this scene was retained in the anime, it played out differently. Kyoko spoke in almost a sorrowful tone throughout the altercation and then gently placed the receiver down at the end. Given that her anger was always a major source of amusement, the fact that she didn't always get to showcase it was a disappointment.

"I deserve the chance to be angry, dammit!"

My favorite moment in the entire series would have to be when Godai proposes to Kyoko towards the end. She accepts, but on one condition:

I bawled my eyes out the first time I read this. Come on; it's such a powerful scene! All of the sorrow that Kyoko experienced losing her husband just oozes off the page. It was also handled quite nicely in the anime.

Both the manga and anime were released in North America by Viz Media. As for the manga, it had an initially collected release that presented certain chapters out of order, with the artwork being flipped from left to right. Years later, Viz re-released the series in its entirety as part of their Editor's Choice line, having all the chapters restored to their proper places and the artwork being presented in its proper right to left format. The anime was also released in full on DVD after a canceled VHS release years earlier, but it certainly wasn't and easy feat! It took quite a large number of fans protesting them to start the DVD releases, and due to weak sales, the very last set almost didn't even get released. The only reason it did was that Right Stuf was kind enough to agree to purchase the entire print run. Both incarnations are currently out of print.

Kyoko's sad because she is OOP.

Well, these are my ramblings on my favorite title. My apologies that this post is slightly disorganized. I was just in the mood to type up a few of my thoughts. My wish is that people who haven't yet had the opportunity to experience this series will give it a chance.

Home is where the heart is.