Maison Ikkoku (Japanese: めぞん一刻, Hepburn: Mezon Ikkoku) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It was serialized in Big Comic Spirits from November 1980 to April 1987, with the chapters collected into 15 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan. Maison Ikkoku is a bitter-sweet romantic comedy involving a group of madcap people who live in a boarding house in 1980s Tokyo. The story focuses primarily on the gradually developing relationships between Yusaku Godai, a poor student down on his luck, and Kyoko Otonashi, a young, recently widowed boarding house manager.
Cover of the first manga volume
|Written by||Rumiko Takahashi|
|Magazine||Big Comic Spirits|
|Original run||October 14, 1980 – April 6, 1987|
|Music by||Ichirou Mizuki|
|Station||NHK Radio 1|
|Released||November 20, 1982|
|Anime television series|
|Original network||FNS (Fuji TV)|
|Original run||March 26, 1986 – March 2, 1988|
|Directed by||Shinichirō Sawai|
|Released||October 10, 1986|
|Anime television film|
|The Final Chapter|
|Directed by||Tomomi Mochizuki|
|Produced by||Yōko Matsushita|
|Music by||Hideharu Mori|
|Studio||Ajia-do Animation Works|
|Original network||Fuji TV|
|Released||February 6, 1988|
|Original video animation|
|Through the Passing Seasons|
|Directed by||Naoyuki Yoshinaga|
|Released||September 25, 1988|
|Original video animation|
|Shipwrecked on Ikkoku Island|
|Directed by||Setsuko Shibuichi|
|Produced by||Yōko Matsushita|
|Written by||Hideo Takayashi|
|Released||January 31, 1991|
|Original video animation|
|Prelude: When the Cherry Blossoms Return in the Spring|
|Released||June 25, 1992|
|Live-action television film|
|Directed by||Katsuhide Motoki|
|Released||May 12, 2007|
|Live-action television film|
|Directed by||Akabane Hiroshi|
|Released||July 26, 2008|
The manga was adapted into a ninety-six-episode anime television series created by Studio Deen that ran on Fuji TV from March 1986 to March 1988. A Final Chapter movie, three OVAs, and a music special were also produced, with a live-action movie made by Toei in 1986. A live-action TV special aired in May 2007 on TV Asahi, with a finale aired in July 2008. Both the manga and anime have been released in North America by Viz Media. Maison Ikkoku has been both critically and commercially successful, with over 25 million copies in circulation.
The story mainly takes place at Maison Ikkoku (一刻館, Ikkoku-kan), a worn and aging boarding house in a town called Clock Hill (時計坂, Tokei-zaka), where 20-year-old college applicant Yusaku Godai lives. Though honest and good-natured, he is weak-willed and often taken advantage of by the offbeat and mischievous tenants who live with him: Yotsuya, Akemi Roppongi and Hanae Ichinose. As he is about to move out, he is stopped at the door by the beautiful Kyoko Otonashi, who announces she will be taking over as manager. Godai immediately falls in love with her and decides to stay. Godai and the other tenants find out that despite her young age, Kyoko is a widow who had married her high school teacher, who tragically died shortly thereafter. Godai empathizes with Kyoko and endeavors to free her from her sadness. He manages to work up enough courage to confess his love to her, and it begins to look as if a relationship between them might appear. However, Kyoko meets the rich, handsome and charming tennis coach Shun Mitaka at her tennis club. Mitaka quickly declares his intention to court Kyoko and states that he is very patient, and can wait until her heart is ready.
Godai, not willing to give up, continues to chase Kyoko. But through a series of misunderstandings, he is seen by Kyoko and Mitaka walking with the cute and innocent Kozue Nanao. For the rest of the series, Kozue is mistakenly perceived as being Godai's girlfriend (by Kozue herself as well). Angered by this, Kyoko begins to openly date Mitaka. Despite the misunderstandings, Kyoko and Godai clearly have feelings for each other, and their relationship grows over the course of the series. Godai eventually manages to get into college and, with the help of Kyoko's family, he begins student-teaching at Kyoko's old high school. Almost mirroring Kyoko's meeting of her husband, Godai catches the attention of precocious and brazen student Ibuki Yagami, who immediately begins pursuing him. Her outspoken approach stands in stark contrast to Kyoko, which helps Kyoko come face to face with her feelings for Godai.
Meanwhile, Mitaka's endeavors have been hindered by his phobia of dogs, as Kyoko owns a large white dog named Soichiro in honor of her late husband. He eventually overcomes his phobia but, when he is about to propose to Kyoko, his family begins to goad him into a marriage with the pure and innocent Asuna Kujo. Feeling the pressure, Mitaka begins to pursue Kyoko with increased aggression. He slowly realizes that she has decided on Godai and is waiting for him to find a job and propose. Mitaka is completely pulled out of the race when he ends up thinking he slept with Asuna and her later announcing a pregnancy. Taking responsibility, he proposes to Asuna, but finds out too late that it was her dog who was pregnant, not her.
As things begin to really go well for Godai, Kozue Nanao makes a reappearance in his life. Kozue tells Godai and the other Ikkoku tenants that she is thinking of marrying another man, even though Godai said he has his own proposal, which made Kozue believes he had proposed to her (which is another misunderstanding). Kyoko, feeling foolish and betrayed, slaps Godai and demands that he move out. When Godai refuses, he wakes up the next morning to find her gone and her room empty. Godai tries to explain himself by visiting Kyoko every day, even though she won't answer the door. After she calms down a bit, Kyoko checks on the house and runs into the other tenants. They try to convince her to return.
The seductive Akemi, sensing that Kyoko is still hesitant, threatens to seduce Godai if Kyoko doesn't want him. She later tells the other tenants that she only said that to threaten Kyoko into coming back. This backfires when Godai is spotted leaving a love hotel with Akemi (he was only there to lend her money). It results in Kozue resolving to marry the other man. As Kyoko is about to return to Ikkoku, she learns that Godai has ended it with Kozue, but she thinks he slept with Akemi. She insults him, tells him that she hates him, and runs away. Godai follows her explaining that she doesn't trust him and that, despite the other girls, she never considered one important thing: Godai's own feelings. He passionately tells her that he loves only her: From the first moment he saw her and forevermore, she is the only woman in his eyes. The two spend the night together. Having cleared his last barrier of getting a teaching job, Godai proposes to Kyoko and, with the blessings of both families, they get married. The story ends as Godai and Kyoko arrive home with their newborn daughter, Haruka, and Kyoko tells her that Maison Ikkoku is the place where they first met.
Takahashi created Maison Ikkoku as a love story that could occur in the real world. She originally only wanted to start the series focusing on Kyoko and Godai's relationship before moving on to include the other tenants to have a "human drama," but said the love story attracted her more and took over. She had wanted to create a story about an apartment complex for some time, as when she lived in an apartment in Nagano during college, there was another decrepit apartment behind it. The strange actions of the people living there served as inspiration.
She wrote the bimonthly Maison Ikkoku simultaneously alongside the weekly Urusei Yatsura. In an interview during its serialization, she stated she usually took two days to create the story and draw rough drafts, and then takes one night to finish them. At the time she had two female assistants, refusing to have males so that they would not be distracted. The series' title utilizes the French word maison ("house") and translates to "The House of One-Moment". The story occurs over a six-year period, approximate to the publication period of the series.
Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, Maison Ikkoku was serialized in Big Comic Spirits as 162 chapters between 1980 and 1987. The chapters were collected and published into 15 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan from May 1, 1982 to July 1, 1987. The series has since been re-released in several different editions. A 10 volume wide-ban edition was released between September 1, 1992 and June 1, 1993, 10 bunkoban from 1996 to 1997, and 15 shinsōban throughout 2007.
North American publisher Viz Media originally released the series, adapted into English by Gerard Jones, in a monthly comic book format from June 1993. This release was collected into 14 graphic novels. The images were "flipped" to read left-to-right, causing the art to be mirrored, and some chapters were out of order or completely missing. Four of the five missing chapters were published in Animerica Extra Vol. 3 Number 1 and Vol. 3 Number 2. Viz later re-released the series in its original format and chapter order across 15 volumes. These were released between September 24, 2003 and February 14, 2006. At New York Comic Con 2019, Viz announced that they will start releasing Maison Ikkoku in a collector's edition, with the first volume released in September 2020.
A radio drama was broadcast on November 20, 1982 on NHK Radio 1 as part of an episode of the "Radio Comics" program. The segment was hosted by Yū Mizushima and Keiko Yokozawa, and featured manga artist Jun Ishiko as a guest. It also included an interview with Rumiko Takahashi by Mizushima. The music for the sepisode was composed by Ichirou Mizuki. It featured Mari Okamoto as Kyoko, Kazuhiko Inoue as Godai, Midori Katō as Hanae Ichinose, Yusaku Yara as Yotsuya, Eiko Hisamura as Akemi, and was narrated by Junpei Takiguchi.
Maison Ikkoku was adapted into a ninety-six episode anime television series by Studio Deen and aired on Fuji TV from March 26, 1986 to March 2, 1988. The series was directed by Kazuo Yamazaki for the first 26 episodes, Takashi Anno from episode 27 until 52 and Naoyuki Yoshinaga for the remainder of the series. The production staff had previously worked on the anime adaption of Takahashi's previous work, Urusei Yatsura. After production of that series was completed, the team moved straight onto Maison Ikkoku and the series took over Urusei Yatsura's timeslot. A new HD remaster of the series has been created and released on two Blu-ray boxsets in Japan. The first box was released on December 25, 2013 and the second box followed on April 23, 2014.
An animated theatrical film titled The Final Chapter was released on February 6, 1988, as a double feature with Urusei Yatsura Movie 5: The Final Chapter. On September 25, 1988, an original video animation Through the Passing Seasons that summarizes the story was released. A video titled Karaoke Music Parade and collecting all the TV anime's opening and ending animations was released on November 1989. Shipwrecked on Ikkoku Island was released on January 31, 1991 and adapts a story of the manga, while Prelude Maison Ikkoku: When the Cherry Blossoms Return in the Spring utilizes all the flashbacks of Kyoko's life before she moved to Maison Ikkoku and was released on June 25, 1992.
The anime was licensed for a North American release by Viz Media in 1994, and was put on two-episode VHS dub releases, but Viz dropped the English dub after 36 episodes. The remaining subtitled-only VHS releases went on until volume 32, without finishing the series. Viz released the series as 8 DVD boxsets from June 1, 2003 until June 4, 2006, with the latter episodes newly dubbed. In the newer episodes, Godai was given a new voice actor, as Jason Gray-Stanford was replaced by Brad Swaile. Other characters such as Kozue and Ikuko were also recast.
A live-action film adaptation of Maison Ikkoku was released on October 10, 1986 by the Toei Company. Directed by Shinichirō Sawai and written by Yōzō Tanaka, the movie stars Mariko Ishihara as Kyoko Otonashi, Ken Ishiguro as Yusaku Godai and Masatō Ibu as Yotsuya
A live-action TV special premiered on TV Asahi on May 12, 2007. It stars Taiki Nakabayashi as Yusaku and Misaki Ito as Kyoko. A finale to the show was aired on July 26, 2008 under the title Maison Ikkoku Kanketsuhen and features Akina Minami as Kozue Nanao and Ikki Sawamura as Shun Mitaka.
Beginning in 1986, various collections of theme songs, incidental music, character albums, and music calendars were released on LP, cassette, CD, and VHS. Most of the albums were released through Kitty Records. A Maison Ikkoku Sound Theater series of 48 discs released the full soundtracks of all 96 episodes as audio dramas. An addition Sound Theater release contained audio from the Side Story: Ikkoku Island Flirtation Story and Prelude, When the Cherry Blossoms Return in the Spring OVAs.
A couple video games based on Maison Ikkoku have been released, the first being Maison Ikkoku: Omoide no Photograph (めぞん一刻 ～想いでのフォトグラフ～) developed by Microcabin, which was originally released in 1986 for the PC-9801 and PC Engine before being ported to the Famicom in 1988. Microcabin also created Maison Ikkoku Kanketsuhen: Sayonara, Soshite...... (めぞん一刻完結篇 ～さよなら、そして……～) in 1988 for the PC-9801 and MSX2. Three pachislot video games were also released in 2006, 2009 and 2012.
The series was featured in the music video "I'm Alive" of the American singer-songwriter Norah Jones, released in October 2020. The series was chosen due to the similarities of the female figure of the lyrics of the song to Kyoko Otonashi.
Maison Ikkoku has over 25 million collected volumes in circulation. In 2002, Christopher Macdonald, co-editor-in-chief of Anime News Network, wrote that while far from her most popular, Maison Ikkoku is considered by many to be Rumiko Takahashi's best work. Although all her titles have a romantic angle, he said that with its lack of supernatural elements or aliens, Maison Ikkoku's simple premise of a university student who falls in love with his landlady is mundane in comparison, but it is this excellently crafted romantic story that makes it her greatest work. Macdonald wrote that what it does have in common with most of Takahashi's other works is "absolute, unadulterated hilarity," but this differs still in that it features hilarious situations that actually happen in the real world. Like Macdonald, Comics Beat's Morgana Santilli noted how Maison Ikkoku is an anomaly in Takahashi's bibliography as it contains no fantasy or magical elements, but does include her signature wacky romcom hijinks of "jealous would-be lovers, plenty of pratfalls, and needlessly complicated misunderstandings," which makes it just as charming and fun as more popular works like Ranma ½.
Jason Thompson claimed that while Maison Ikkoku was not the first men's love-com, it is "almost certainly the best" and definitely Takahashi's best work. He also stated that because the main character is a university student, Maison Ikkoku is "slightly more sophisticated" compared to Kimagure Orange Road. Anime News Network (ANN) gave the manga an "A" for its story and an "A-" for its art, stating that the series shows off Takahashi's skill; "with a clear cut and rather simple plot, she is able to concentrate on the characters, using them to drive the story, while at the same time ensuring the proper reader reaction intended for each scene." They remarked that the story focuses on Yusaku and Kyoko's relationship, with the other characters used only "to create conflicts, exposition, and comedic relief."
Commenting on the 2020 English release of the manga, Daryl Surat of Otaku USA wrote "After decades of Maison Ikkoku derivatives, the original hit manga remains as delightful as it was back in the 1980s." He also noted that unlike "every other will-they-won't-they Rumiko Takahashi romantic comedy," this one actually has an ending. Caitlin Moore of ANN called Maison Ikkoku "timeless and universal" and the most grounded and straightforward romance in Takahashi's oeuvre, where, although it is clear from the start who the main couple is and that they will fall in love by the end, it is not clear how that will happen. With Kyoko a widow, she called the manga one of the best portrayals of the slow and messy nature of the grieving process. Although she noted the art as dated, Moore felt it still holds up well with its simple but expressive designs, and that the suburban Tokyo setting gives a timeless feeling. Calling Viz's older translation "punchy, but not super faithful," she called the new one a good balance between faithful to the Japanese and natural-reading English. Moore finished her review with "I have long considered Maison Ikkoku one of the greatest love stories of all time, but it's so much more than that. It's a romance, a comedy, a coming-of-age story, a story of loss and recovery." Right Stuf Inc. called Maison Ikkoku a classic rom-com that has many of the strengths of modern sitcoms and praised the back-and-forth between characters as always hilarious and the romance between Godai and Kyoko as both nuanced and sweet. They described the art as giving the characters "a comedic whimsy," and opined that "good art is never dated, because good art is timeless."
ANN's Allen Divers wrote positive reviews of the anime, saying "The beauty of Maison Ikkoku is the fact that the entire cast feels dynamic enough that each could be the center of an episode without pulling away from the main idea of the series." and called it a must-see for fans of romantic comedies. Melissa Sternenberg of THEM Anime Reviews gave the show a perfect five star rating, calling the development between the two main characters refreshing and praising the supporting cast for reacting to what happens around them. Although she did point out the music and sound effects might seem dated. She finished saying "There may never be 'the greatest anime series of all time,' but I would bet a good amount of money that this series would be on most (respected) anime viewers' top five lists." TV Asahi released two Top 100 Anime lists in 2005; Maison Ikkoku came in 80 on the nationwide survey of multiple age-groups, and 89 on the web poll.
- Moore, Caitlin (June 19, 2020). "Maison Ikkoku Collector's Edition Volume 1 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
I have long considered Maison Ikkoku one of the greatest love stories of all time, but it's so much more than that. It's a romance, a comedy, a coming-of-age story, a story of loss and recovery.
- "Viz Announces Two New Maison Ikkoku Boxed Sets". Viz Media via Anime News Network. October 25, 2004. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
MAISON IKKOKU, a romantic comedy from famed manga artist Rumiko Takahashi
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