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 other series
.The series has a history of struggling in North America.
The English dub of the anime was originally canceled after episode 36 due to low VHS sales, and the official English subtitled tapes were canceled after Episode 64 for the same reason. Viz Media
later gave the series another chance after Takahashi's InuYasha
exploded in popularity. They miraculously managed to complete the series on DVD, but the sales were never strong, and it got so bad, the only reason the final volume was released at all is because RightStuf.com offered to buy the entire print run. The English dub was also completed, but many of the key cast members from the first 36 episodes didn't return. Notably Brad Swaile
replaced Jason Gray-Stanford as Godai. Nonetheless, the series received great reception among those who did see it, and it enjoys a passionate cult following in the States among anime fans, especially Rumiko Takahashi fans, who often claim it to be her masterpiece.
It has inspired many similar series
, among them Love Hina
This series provides examples of:
- Accidental Pervert: Happens to many of Kyoko's suitors.
- Aspect Montage
- Babies Ever After: Haruka, Godai and Kyouko's baby daughter.
- Don't forget Mitaka and Asuna's twins and other baby.
- Baseball Episode: In chapter 49 of the manga.
- Beach Episode: Episode 10.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Godai and Kyoko.
- Better by a Different Name: Indirect Trope Namer; "it was better when it was called Maison Ikkoku" has reached Memetic Mutation status when applied to romance anime.
- Broke Episode: Many... Godai was trying to balance study, work, and life on a regular basis.
- Buttmonkey: Godai
- 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.
- Close-Knit Community
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Yotsuya, easily one of the strangest characters created by Rumiko Takahashi despite being in a "real-world" setting.
- 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.
- Contrived Coincidence: Quite a few occasions.
- Character Development: What makes it so enjoyable
- 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 Lampshaded until 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.
- Drunken Song: PAAARTY PAAARTY PAAARTY!
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Godai definitely earned his.
- Egg Sitting: Yotsuya leaves an egg with Godai for safekeeping in a dream. Only it wasn't a dream...
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Master
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: Kyoko
- 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)
- Gossipy Hens: Mrs. Ichinose and her neighbors, big time!
- Grand Finale: Reputedly the first of the long-running animes from Rumiko Takahashi that had a definitive ending. (InuYasha being the sole other, to this point)
- 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.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Akemi and, in a way, Mrs. Ichinose.
- He Is Not My Boyfriend: Kyoko does this all the time towards Godai.
- 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.
- Hot Springs Episode: Episode 41 and 62.
- Idealism vs. Cynicism: A good old fashioned case of a story that shows plenty of Cynicism but with Idealism winning out in the end.
- Imagine Spot: Godai often imagines himself getting intimate with Kyoko.
- I Want Grandkids: Kyoko's mother.
- 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.
- The Kanrinin: 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.
- Last Minute Hook Up: Averted with Mitaka. Played straight with Kozue and Akemi though.
- 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.
- Live-Action Adaptation: The live-action film Apartment Fantasy and the television drama.
- 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.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: Grandma Godai.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Akemi invokes this as she uses this trope to get Kozue to dump Godai by tricking her into thinking that Godai and Akemi were at a Love Hotel.
- Happens earlier in this series when Kyoko once saw Mitaka with another woman, however this was just another misunderstanding.
- Mood Whiplash
- The Movie: The live-action film Apartment Fantasy and the anime film The Final Chapter.
- My Beloved Smother: Kyoko's mother Ritsuko Chigusa is a definite case of this at first but she does slightly mellow out later on in the 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.
- Not What It Looks Like: Many, many, many of these.
- Once per Episode: Godai daydreaming of Kyoko, and ending up in embarrassing and painful situations while distracted, at least the first 20 or so episodes.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In chapter 9 of the manga/episode 8 of the anime, Godai apologizes to Kyoko for what he thinks he did during his Alcohol-Induced Idiocy (resulting in a What Did I Do Last Night? sequence during which the other Ikkoku residents horrify him with made-up stories about his supposed behavior). But because he doesn't say what exactly he's apologizing for, Kyoko thinks he's apologizing for what he actually did. She slaps him.
- OVA: There are three: Through the Passing Seasons, Shipwrecked on Ikkoku Island, and Prelude: When the Cherry Blossoms Return in the Spring.
- Panty Shot: Kyoko is revealed to be wearing "pure white panties" when she's playing tennis.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Pretty much how Mikata and Godai communicate. Especially visible in episode 10.
- 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!!
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Akemi lays a brief but huge one on Kyoko after Kyoko's ultimate hissy-fit towards Godai.
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.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor:
- 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.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: McEnroe, the tiny little fluffy dog that Mitaka adopts to overcome his fear of dogs. Just try looking at it without Squeeing.
- The Rival: Many.
- Romancing the Widow: Pretty much the driving force of the whole plot.
- 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 little too well). Ibuki is a less-appealing one, both to the audience and to Godai himself.
- Romantic Runner-Up: Kozue is a definite and occasionally Lampshaded case while Mitaka can be a case of this (but not always).
- Rugby Is Slaughter: Godai plays rugby with his old high school team- he ends up with two black eyes.
- Shrinking Violet: Asuna
- 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.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man
- Sitting on the Roof
- Slow-Motion Pass-By
- Stalker with a Crush: Ibuki Yagami.
- Starving Student: Godai.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Yotsuya seems to have perfected this, especially when Godai has something to hide and is vulnerable to blackmail.
- Suggestive Collision: Yusaku accidentally kisses Kyoko when she falls from a ladder trying to replace a lightbulb.
- Surrogate Soliloquy: The graveyard version is used extensively.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Kyoko's deceased husband was a guest lecturer at her school. Later, when Godai works as a teacher, a schoolgirl named Ibuki Yagami pursues him.
- The Tell: You can tell Kyoko's angry because she becomes VERY enthusiastic while cleaning (moreso than usual). That, and her tendency to break broomhandles by squeezing them.
- Theme Naming: Most of the characters have numbers in their names; the residents have numbers corresponding to their room numbers.
- Most to all of the number names are also train stations/districts in Tokyo, which sometimes adds another meaning.
- There's also the Edible Theme Naming of Asuna Kujo's dogs: Salad, Pot-au-feu, Foie Gras, Terrine, and Stroganoff.
- There Are No Therapists: Rather, there is no Alcoholics Anonymous.
- On a more traditional note, Mitaka could probably have used some professional help in getting over his fear of dogs, although he eventually manages well enough on his own.
- There Was a Door: Yotsuya. Log.
- The Thing That Goes Doink: Asuna's family has one of these, as befits their traditional, aristocratic status.
- They Do: Not only the main couple but also many side ships end up being resolved.
- 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.
- Umbrella of Togetherness: featured prominently though episode 17.
- 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.
- Unlucky Everydude: Godai
- We Named the Monkey Jack: Mr. Soichiro, Kyoko's dog, named for the other Soichiro.
- 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."
- When She Smiles: In a scene Yusaku reflects that Kyoko is short-tempered, jealous, hard to deal with... but when she smiles, he feels that the world is his.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
- 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.
- Yandere: Ibuki.
- You Need to Get Laid: After one-hundred-forty-nine chapters -containing dozens of fights and annoying misunderstandings- Yusaku and Kyoko make love for first time. The next days the remainder residents of the boarding house notice that Kyoko is in an incredibly good mood, like if she had got something that she had spent a long time craving for. As they talk about it, they stare at Yusaku suspiciously before saying: "Nah, impossible", "He wishes".