Yusaku Godai is a lovable, somewhat serious, but hopelessly inept ronin who is trying to study to pass college entrance exams while living at Maison Ikkoku, a somewhat run-down boarding house. His own disorganized, gormless lifestyle does not make this an easy task. Neither do the antics of his neighbours, including a party girl, an older mom fond of the bottle, and a surreal mooch, all of whom use his room for their frequent booze-ups. The manager has not been seen in some time. Godai finally has enough and is walking out the door, bags in hand....... and in walks Kyoko Otonashi, a beautiful, sweet-tempered woman who announces herself as the new manager.In order, Godai's suitcase, jaw, and heart hit the floor, and from then on, it's a roller coaster ride of strangeness, complications, botched courting, miscommunicated feelings, and every so often, achingly sweet, poignant moments.Maison Ikkoku (pronounced "Mezon Ikkoku," for those of you used to thinking in Japanese phonemes) is a lengthy series, clocking in at 96 episodes. It is very true to life, at least the life of the time period in which it was set, and rarely departs heavily from real life scenarios, without the Love Dodecahedron, supernatural hijinks, convoluted logic or any of the trappings of Rumiko Takahashi's otherseries.It has inspired many similar series, among them Love Hina and Mahoraba.
Can Not Spit It Out: Which makes it a Crowning Moment of Awesome when Godai finally learns to spit it out in the final chapters, dumping Kozue and proposing to Kyoko. Kyoko as well, when she finally tells Godai not only that she loves him but that she has for a very long time.
Chekhov's Gun: Godai buys a brooch for Kyoko as a Christmas present in Episode 2; but, through a series of pratfalls, never manages to give to her. Sixteen episodes later, a year has gone by in canon and Godai, broke and desperate to get Kyoko a gift, manages to find the brooch behind his desk and give it to Kyoko.
Cock Fight: Mitaka and Godai often engage in this when Kyoko is around.
Comedic Sociopathy: If watching the entire cast make one man's life a living hell for 96 episodes is your idea of fun, this is the show for you. It doesn't help that Godai has no backbone. The tenants are so terrible that when Godai and Kyoko finally get together, and the tenants congratulate them, this simple act of kindness shocks Godai and Kyoko speechless.
Coming-of-Age Story: Godai is very clearly a boy at the beginning of the series. As time goes on, he — slowly but surely — grows into a (somewhat) mature, responsible man.
Corner of Woe: The puppeteer club's president does this after scaring a child he was trying to offer candy.
The Ditz: Nozomu, when it comes social situations. The other characters take pity on him and give him hints. He finally figures out that Godai and Otonashi have feelings for each other... after one hundred and twenty six hints from the other tenants. Godai and Otonashi then deny it, and he believes them.
Demoted to Extra: Kozue. By the middle of the series when Ibuki came in, Kozue pretty much disappeared for the most part only making occasional appearances with Baseball Episode being a remote exception. Kozue did start to have a bit more of a presence late in the series in which it even got Lampshadeduntil she and Godai actually break up.
Drives Like Crazy: Kyoko, mostly because she only gets behind the wheel once every few years.
Shun: Nothing would make me happier than to die at your hands.
Drama Bomb: Chapter 7 of the manga/episode 6 of the anime, where it's revealed that Kyoko is a widow.
For the Evulz: In the beginning, this is pretty much the reason why Akemi, Hanae and Yotsuya torment Godai on a regular basis through their frequent binge drinking. Though, later on their motives seem to be more about "If you want us to stop then man up and talk to the Manager!" (not that this justifies it)
Hands-On Approach: In a scene Mitaka is teaching Kyoko to improve her swing using this approach. When he notes Kyoko is reluctant to stay so close to him, he assures her that his behaviour in the court is downright professional and he would never try to hit on a woman while pretending training her. Kyoko is reassured by this, but Mrs. Ichinose exceptically notes that he still is keeping his hand on Kyoko's waist.
Honorifics: A strong element in setting the tone of relationships in the series. For example, in most of the series, Godai does not refer to Kyoko as anything but Kanrinin-san, and she does not use his first name, thus keeping a certain distance between the two characters despite their closeness.
Jerkass: Many characters. A huge portion of the supporting cast acts this way, including Yotsuya, Mrs. Ichinose and Akemi — the three others at Ikkoku, with Kyoko and Godai being among the rare exceptions. Yotsuya tops the list, though, almost treading over the line sometimes with his callousness. Most of the Jerkasses have a few kind moments, however, and some of them (like Mitaka's Uncle) are genuinely cheerful.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hanae Ichinose, out of the drunkard trio she is most likely to do a Pet the Dog scene. Hanae's son Kentaro is like this. Mitaka can be like this as well since, despite on how he may seem like a smug, rich pretty boy, he does genuinely care for Kyoko.
Keigo: Mildly subverted. Yotsuya speaks in a very polite, formal, and proper manner at all times, in addition to always dressing in either business or traditional clothes. This is in contrast to being possibly the most impolite, informal, and improper character in the series.
Licensed Game: Two visual novels / adventure games were created in the eighties for Japanese computers and consoles. The PC Engine version of Micro Cabin's game Omoide no Photograph was translated by fans in 2008. Kanketsu Hen ~Sayonara, Soshite...~ remains untranslated.
Look Behind You: Godai pulls this on Kozue in episode 24, when she tried to kiss him.
Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: The residents of Maison Ikkoku spend most of their time driving Yusaku Godai insane with their alcohol-induced insanity, but also end up somehow making him the man he needs to be for Kyoko, as well as get Kyoko to reflect on her feelings for him.
Lost in Translation: In the final manga chapter, during Godai and Kyoko's wedding reception, Godai is presenting a speech. He is about to say "Kyoko-san" but stops mid-name. He turns to his wife and says "Kyoko," dropping the honourific. This is omitted from the English translation.
Meaningful Name: Not obvious in English, but the last name of every character who lives in the complex starts with the number of their apartment. Kyoko, who is the manager and thus has no number on her door, has the last name essentially meaning "No number".
It also covers some characters who don't live there, such as Mitaka, Kozue, Ibuki and Asuna. And Mitaka's name is arguably a bit of foreshadowing for the ultimate fate of his relationship with Kyoko: Mitaka's name corresponds to the number 3. Guess which room in Maison Ikkoku remains unoccupied for the entire series.
Nice Guy: Godai, where the entire concept is played with in great detail, and with great skill. The story does not shy away from the common (and often Real Life) faults of this character type, such as indecisiveness, spinelessness, and mediocrity, but it also suggests that Godai's innate kindness and decency, combined with his willingness to grow, more than compensates in the long run.
Pet the Dog: Many of the characters such as Yotsuya, Mrs. Ichinose and Ibuki do this every now & then some more than others though.
Poor Communication Kills: The source of many misunderstanding of the series. While not as bad as Three's Company or anything, horrible misunderstandings are common. Though at least it's played realistically enough that sometimes things are explained — it's just that the situations Godai ends up in are so bizarre that Kyoko disbelieves it anyways.
Mitaka runs into a bit of this which spearheads his relationship with Azuna upon realizing he had no chance with Kyoko, Mitaka utterly drowns his sorrows and winds up at Azuna's apartment. He wakes up the following morning not remembering a thing, but assuming the worst because he's sleeping in Azuna's bed and she's incredibly embarrassed. While he tries to mentally sort this all out, Azuna shows up at the tennis court with her beloved dog Salad with the revelation, "We're having a baby!!". Believing their apparent one-night stand produced a child and wanting to man-up, Mitaka immediately proposes to Azuna. However, it's at their engagement—after their engagement was completely officialized in front of their families—that Azuna clarifies the "pregnancy" by revealing that it's Salad who's pregnant! And by the dog that Mitaka had adopted to help him get use to dogs!!
Plot Armor: Which is frankly the only reason Godai ends up with Kyoko with the amount of dumb shit and all round spinelessness he displays.
Akemi: I can't believe you. Crying and carrying on over a guy you won't even let hold your hand. What's wrong with you? You think I'm so desperate I'd bother to steal a man from a neurotic twit like you? Grow up!
Rescue Hug: At one time, Kyoko is trying to fix the porch globe light when Yusaku arrives, startling her. Kyoko falls off the ladder and not only do they end up hugging as he catches her, but their lips touch as well. Since no one else saw it happen, and they're both supposed to be dating other people, they decide to pretend all that happened was that Kyoko slipped and dropped the globe.
Mitaka has enough to go to an expensive resort for the weekend on a whim, whereas Godai barely manages to keep himself stocked with ramen, let alone buy gifts for Kyoko. By the time Godai and Kyoko actually get together, though, he has a steady job as a preschool teacher.
Grandma Godai had two of these many years ago and chose the poor one. Which is why she tells Kyoko to take the rich guy.
Romantic False Lead: Mitaka for Kyoko and Kozue for Godai, both designed as appealing alternatives to the Official Couple (and for some, the attempt to make them appealing worked a littletoo well). Ibuki is a less-appealing one, both to the audience and to Godai himself.
Sick Episode: Episode 16 has Kyoko spraining her ankle. Godai is terribly worried, but, as happens so often in this series, constantly gets blocked by circumstances, neighbours and Mitaka when he tries to take care of her.
Episode 42 has Godai breaking his leg, and Kyoko taking care of him in the hospital. At the end of the episode, Mitaka managed to break his leg as well, and would share a room with Godai.
Silk Hiding Steel: Though she's not as traditionally Japanese about it, Kyoko is much more independent-minded and tempermental than her sweet, proper demeanor suggests, as Godai soon discovers. Her resolve is probably the only thing that keeps Maison Ikkoku from descending into complete chaos.
Single Mom Stripper: This trope is the reason that Godai's job at the strip joint ended up not being so bad after all. He ended up as the babysitter for the strippers' young children, gaining tons of job experience for his intended field of early childhood education.
Trickster Mentor: While Yotsuya, Akemi and Mrs. Ichinose all indulge in borderline (and in some cases way beyond borderline) cruelty mostly For the Evulz, some of their antics are meant to make Godai stronger or more honest about his feelings toward Kyoko.
Tsundere: Tybe B: Kyoko appears nice has a much quicker temper than you'd imagine.
Twinkle Smile: Mitaka has it and it's seemingly hereditary, as his parents, his uncle, and even his dog share the same trait. Godai's grandmother can pull this off as well.
Uncatty Resemblance: Shun gets a small dog to overcome his dog-phobia. While it doesn't look like him physically, it turns out to have quite the way with the (canine) ladies, including a duplicate of Shun's Twinkle Smile.
The Unfair Sex: While not as blatant as how other Rumiko Takahashi shows can be, this show does show some of it. Both Kyoko and Godai have been rather indecisive about which love interest they want to go with — the former is of course more sympathetically treated than the latter. (Granted the latter has some sympathy, but still)
Becomes more apparent in episode 12 where Godai and Kozue go on their first date, when Kyoko learns of this as she runs into Godai and Kozue in the middle of their date she gradually fumes in jealously at Godai for dating a cute girl that is younger than her. Keep in mind that is occurring while Kyoko was already having a date with Mitaka before she saw Godai with Kozue (and Kyoko's date with Mitaka is largely the reason why Godai was dating Kozue at the time.)
Pretty much spelled out in story the first time Mitaka and Godai get drunk together (things repeat in the this story, a LOT). They lay into Kyoko for her jealousy and stringing along and much else, in total agreement with each other. Then she comes to pick them up, and they shut up and take it (and give each other dirty looks for being spineless).
Unfortunate Item Swap: When a little girl from the preschool says she wants to marry Godai, he records a cheerful audio message for her, saying that he can't marry her because she's far too young. In the same episode, he records a message for Kyoko, in which he declares his love and swears he will do his best to become worthy of her hand. It's blatantly obvious he's going to get the tapes mixed up (especially since the child's name is also Kyoko), and sure enough, he does.
What the Hell, Hero?: Godai very often has fantasies of giving Kyoko a verbal beatdown for her blatant hypocrisy in condemning his relationship with Kozue while she dates Mitaka, but he never gathers the courage to do it. The closest thing is a very subtle reaction to Kyoko's violent verbal outburst after she hears about Godai and Akemi leaving a Love Hotel together. This, being after several weeks that Godai goes to her parents apartment pleading to see her and speak with her and getting rebuffed each time. Not to mention Godai takes up her responsibilities as the manager of Maison Ikkoku in her absence. After all this, despite returning to finally listen to Godai's side of the story, Kyoko again assumes the worst of him. She violently insults both Godai and Akemi to the point that Godai temporarily loses his anger and raises a hand to slap her. He stops himself before swinging, but Kyoko continues to verbally abuse him and goads him to smack her. His final response to her insults? He lightly taps her on the cheek, and says in a calm voice, "Please just listen to me."
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Shun Mitaka is deathly afraid of dogs, making it harder than it should be for him to make passes at dog owner Kyoko. It also makes things awkward when it turns out his fiancee Asuna also has loads and loads of them. Later, when he undergoes "training" to overcome his fear, it results in some misunderstandings, and even results in him marrying Asuna, in a very roundabout sort of way.
Wise Beyond Their Years: Downplayed. Kentaro Ichinose is a normal kid who nevertheless feels like he has to play parent to his strange, heavy-drinking mother and father.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Any time Godai seems to come out ahead, he's practically guaranteed to lose it all within the next five minutes. One of the most prominent examples of this would be when Yagami's father writes Godai a recommendation for a job, only for the company to go bankrupt the day after he's hired.