Have you ever had an anime that you wanted to like but couldn’t? Well, I have a list of shows that tried to get into but couldn’t, for example, I couldn’t get into A Certain Magical Index series as I thought it was a pretty mediocre show where despite having some good things in it the negatives completely outweigh it. A more nicie example is Nadia The Secret of Blue Water a show have a great start but it started to fall apart half way where it ended up being a shipwreck for me. Well here’s another show that I wanted to like but couldn’t this is Maison Ikkoku.
I went with Maison Ikkoku with very high expectations since many of my friends say that it’s the best romcom series ever made however when I finished the show back in 2017 I found to be subpar at best. While I don’t think that Maison Ikkoku is a necessarily a bad series but I personally don’t think the series as a good and awesome as everyone says it is as I couldn’t enjoy the show thanks to its constant glaring problems that annoyed to no end to a point where I was ultimately disappointed with it as a whole
Before I start this review I would like to point out that if you liked Maison Ikkoku than I’m glad. Some of my friends love the series, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This review is coming from a guy who wanted to love the series but couldn’t thanks to major flaws that lead me to dislike it.
Now with that said let’s get started.
The story follows a 20-year-old college student 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 disorganised, gormless lifestyle does not make this an easy task. Neither do the antics of his neighbours. Into the mayhem comes in the new live-in widow manager named Kyoko. From there Godai is set to winning the girl of his dreams Kyoko as he must overcome many trials that stands his way from love rivals, future life as well breaking the wall that is sealing Kyoko from progressing in life as she clings to her dead husband.
Before I talk about the shows massive problems am going to talk about the things that I liked first
For starters, I really liked the set up of the series. Instead of being a typical school setting the series is mainly set in a boarding household where people in the household have to cooperate with each other if they want to live in the household.
Another thing that I liked about Maison Ikkoku is how thanks to the lack of school setting the series had the opportunity to showcase college/work life where we see the characters deal with everyday tasks in order for them to live and learn.
The final thing that I liked about Maison Ikkoku was how the series was set up as this mature and romcom series where the main characters are full adults rather than teenagers. As much I love seeing a teenager’s love story it was a refreshing site to see an adult love story.
It’s such a shame that this show never takes advantage of any of these things and this is my problems with this show begin.
Maison Ikkoku is such a contrived dragged out mess of a show that it struggles to do basic romcom storytelling right which ended up killing the show dead. What I mean by this is that the show loves to create misunderstands left and right just for the character drama effect unfortunately many of the misunderstanding that happened could have easily been stopped if the characters actually talked but no the series would just press the idiot switch on the charterers where they just play along with the misunderstanding contravenes that the series loves to ditch. This alone really hurts the characters, and pacing as many of the misunderstandings contravenes that, happens, shouldn’t even exist at all and it makes your series look lame as a result.
Another problem with Maison Ikkoku as a whole is its terrible execution. When I first saw the series, I thought it would be an adult romcom story that had a different setting that was not set in high school. However, as I watched more of Maison Ikkoku the show started to betray itself thanks to its show tone. The tone in this show is terrible because not only it was cheesy as hell but it completely screws up the setting of the series as the characters would often behave like 14 years olds in a playground rather than adults.
I understand that adults should have fun and all but the show completely abuses it to a point where they feel more like Saturday morning cartoon characters in a mature setting.
The comedy in this show is God awful as it’s not only unfunny as hell as they were poorly timed but the comedy was at various times very mean-spirited and tasteless. Every time the show tries at comedy I wanted to slam my head on the table because comedy execution as well the direction is horrible.
Don’t get me started with the pacing, my lord, the pacing. It’s was okay the beginning but as it progresses it became ridiculously slow to a point where many of the events in this show seemed to drag way longer it should. I personally don’t slow pacing as it’s done right but this show seemed to abuse it way too much to a point it becomes insufferable. The worst thing about the pacing is that the show simply flat out doesn’t want to progress as the series love to ditch out filler episodes/arcs that tried to develop it’s siding characters but fails thanks to show subpar writing which I will talk about now.
The writing in this show is such it’s everyone in the show are idiots and angsty for the sake of it. They don’t have any justifiable character flaws that made these the character that way they are now they are just doing it for the sake of it. Even the ones that had some justifiable character flaw at times they ultimately feel badly written. It doesn’t help the fact the show does the whole characters talking over each not letting the person finish they sentence that 3D Real Girl does. It’s so annoying and it’s arguably worse here because the characters in Maison Ikkoku are adults and as a result, I’m just watching grown ass adults talk over each other like kids from the playground. So much for being a mature story.
Along with the show, subpar writing comes in with messy direction as the show as various likes to press the character reset button meaning that goes back to they old selves even though set episodes ago they have progressed. The worst case of this happens in episode 63 where after having two episodes with actual character progress the show for some unknown reason thought it was a good idea to completely reset Godai’s and at times Kyoko progress where they go back of being the same characters from episode 1…
Keep in mind this was the same episode where we get re-introduced to Yagami. I will get to her in a bit because she’s awful.
On top, of this shows lacklustre execution, bad pacing and subpar writing comes in the shows repetitive formula for most of these episodes.
This is how a typical episode of Maison Ikkoku is played out.
The day starts off normally nothing has gone wrong and everyone is generally in a good mood. Suddenly something happens that can cause a misunderstanding for either Kyoko or Godai if the other found about it which will eventually happen. Once the misunderstanding was found out it’s here where shenanigans and sue causing the problem to remain unexplained. Once you get into half way in the final act and things looked like may be headed in the right direction when something comes along brings the status duo thus preventing any progress with Godai and Kyoko relationship allowing them to repeat the progress over and over until the series decides to have actual progression.
Do see the problem nowhere. Not only most of the episodes in Maison Ikkoku were terribly repetitive in structure, but it kills the pacing in the series causing the series to drag on way longer than it should.
Before I get to the worst thing about this story let’s talk about the amount of wasted potential.
Some examples include Mitaka not getting arrested due stalking behaviour, Yagami (As much I hate her) gets a boyfriend that is the same as her, Ichinose changing her ways to become a more competent mother to her son rather than being an incompetent drunk asshat, etc.
However, out of all these, there was one wasted potential subplot that actually bugged to no end that is Kyoko’s pet dog Souichirou. Kyoko named her dog Souichirou based on her late husband who died on an accident. Without the meaning and symbolism of her dog had so much potential to be great as at first he could have been very protected to Kyoko however as the series progresses Souichirou would slowly maturely back down and grow to like Godai that would have represented her husband accepting Godai allowing him to take his place in Kyoko’s life. As Kyoko starts having strong feelings towards Godai we would have seen in the apartment more and more and eventually he’s seen staying in Kyoko’s room that would have finally indicate that Kyoko has finally learned to live with her husband’s death but at the same learning to move on by marring Godai. But no he’s just a friendly dog who likes everyone. Uhhhh…
The worst thing about Maison Ikkoku story is that the show does a horrible job at making the viewer care about the characters. Thanks to the almost every single character being insufferable people on the screen from the beginning you couldn’t give a damm if the characters changed or not. I understand this was a coming of age tale and all but good god this series at times doesn’t seem to understand the sentence of coming of age story. A coming of age story is where one or several starts off as immature people who don’t know how the word really works however as the story progresses characters in set fiction would grow up and change as people so they can adapt to real adulthood.
This is not the case in Maison Ikkoku as the show loves to press the character reset button for no reason causing the series to drag on way longer as it should as well making horrible filler content that can put anyone to sleep.
If there was any silver lining into the show it how it ended as the main couple actually do get together and they ultimately get married in the end. Unfortunately, the destination alone cannot save this poorly constructed journey this is filled with misunderstanding contrivances, bad pacing, messy directing and subpar writing.
Overall I found the story to be very disappointing and lacklustre.
The characters aren’t much better either in fact lots of them are even worse than the story itself…
I have mixed feelings for Godai. On one hand, he’s a decent character who just wanted to gain a better life by improving his grades as well looking for love and a job. My problem with Godai is he more often or doesn’t behave like an immature child. Through the series we see him behave like an immature child as well failing to become a man. He does eventually become a decent man in the end but around that point, I just don’t really care because he was pretty much unlikable throughout half of the series. He did have some good moments every now and then especially at the ending but that’s sadly not enough to make him a good character.
Kyoko is the real highlight of the anime because not only she’s a nicely written character but she’s also pretty relatable to the eye. During her high school years, she developed a relationship with a temporary teacher named Soichiro. However despite getting married tragedy strikes at Kyoko where she finds out that he has died from a car accident. This really hit her as she couldn’t cope with the death of her husband. On top of that, she keeps her last name from her marriage and decides never to marry again.
Throughout the series we see her trying to cope with her husband died as she’s trying her best to move on in life by not letting her past consume her.
This was one of the few things that I liked about Maison Ikkoku as a whole.
Taking a broken character like Kyoko and trying to defeat a wall that is stopping her past. I really liked as this was a reliable thing that happens to people and the series actually pretty did a good job at showcasing that progress. While Godai and the other characters were very inconsistent in terms of character progression, she was the only character that I can say that had solid progressed and because of all these reasons she’s my favourite character of in the series. Yes, she did have some contrived and angsty moments every now especially in the first half and then but least it’s not as insufferable as the other characters.
It’s such a shame that she has to be mixed in with a bunch of mediocre to incompetent characters.
The tenants, on the other hand, are garbage. Not only they are annoying as all hell but more often or not they are the main reason for the shows plot contrivances and terrible comedy.
Now if you Godai, Kyoko and the tenants out of the way let’s finally talk theses quote “love rivals/foils” (Incoming Rant)
First, we have Mitaka. Screw this incompetent one-dimensional stalker…
This incompetent fool is so bland, so poorly written and annoying that he made me slam my head on a solid brick wall. Unlike Godai who was a man child at times, Mitaka is a womaniser who would do anything to get the woman that he wants going as far to not only stock her but aggressively assigning dates for Kyoko even though she doesn’t want to. There’s loving someone than there’s stocking someone and this incompetent fool never seemed to get the damm message that she doesn’t love you… The worst thing about him is that towards the final quarter of the series the anime itself seems to realise what an awful charterer he is where he literally devolved into some sort of a one-dimensional antagonist where he arrogantly stalks Kyoto even though Kyoko has already her strong feelings for Godai to a point where she will deny any man on her own free will. What really makes him infuriating to the eye is that he didn’t get punished for his stalking actions. Stalking is a serious crime, and I was shocked that he didn’t get arrested in the show by police which BTW they only show up when the plot needs them to be… I expected him to learn from his antagonist stalker ways where not only he got fairly punished by the law he simply changed his ways and moved on to another but we only get half of that where despite him not fully learning this lesson she makes out with Asuna, gets married and then fucks off of being important in the plot in the last couple of the series. Thank GOD!!!
Mitaka is a joke of a love rival if I ever saw one. He started off at this generic love rival but he progressively got worse and worse to a point I loathe his presence in the series. Screw Mitaka and everything that he stands for.
Along with the worst characters comes with Kouze inept unless bitch of a character who only exists to stop the plot from advancing by creating plot contrivances as well being a stupid husk on screen. She has zero chemistry for Godai as she barely has any meaningful interacts with him as well as Godai simply not being interested with her as a whole. The best thing about Kouze is that in the second half becomes very irreverent to the overall narrative in the story where she appears at this minor character rather than a love foil.
While Mitaka was the most incompetent character in the show, the worst character is without a doubt Yagami. Unlike Mitaka where I can somewhat understand his existence in the plot despite being a one-dimensional stalker, this little bitch has no reason to exist at all. All she does in the story is to be this incredibly contrived character where most of her dialogue is about Godai. There’s one about being in love with someone, and there’s where you just exist to lick dick 24/7. The worst thing about this cunt is that she’s barely a character at all as she was just a freaking plot device for Godai from start to finish. SCREW THIS!!!
The rest of the characters were just about as interesting as watching a Super Smash Bros Vanilla Brawl in a tournament setting. They are not even worth mentioning in the slightest.
Overall the characters in Maison Ikkoku minus Kyoko were awful, and it’s easily the worst thing about this show by a long shot.
For an anime that was released in 1986, I thought the visuals were just okay.
The character designs have that 80s appeal that 80s anime fans would love but compare to stuff like Dragon Ball, Zeta Gundam, Urusei Yatsura and Macross you can easily tell that the show hasn’t aged quite as well compare to the shows I just mentioned. The background scenery is fine for what it is but it doesn’t really stand out compared to the other anime from the 80s.
The animation itself is pretty mediocre. While there was a couple of decent animation every now and then especially in the second half the series seemed to rely on basic movement and various still frames for the most part.
If there one thing that I consistently praise about Maison Ikkoku it would be the soundtrack. The soundtrack is filled with classical pieces that did a wonderful job capturing the setting of the series. Even I ended up disliking the series I would always go back to the soundtrack of Maison Ikkoku it is that good.
The same thing can apply for all the opening and ending themes for the show which are all pretty good.
Now for sub vs dub.
The sub was pretty solid overall that contains a lot of good to decent performances all across the board.
The dub, on the other hand, is a complete travesty. Not only the audio quality of the dub was terrible where it felt like the dub was a record on a walking talkie but the voice acting for all the characters were just god awful. As soon as I heard, Minata awful dub voice from episode 9 I called it quits for the dub and decided to watch the rest of the show subbed.
Not gonna lie I was really excited to watch to show thanks to it being very well received on the net by fans of the series but its expectations completely disappointing me.
This was a massive disappointment.
I wanted to love this and put in my favourite anime list but couldn’t. The story is a mess that was plagued with terrible pacing, unfunny comedy, subpar writing and weak character chemistry. The characters apart from Kyoko and at times Godai ranged from annoying, poorly written or sometimes both and the show ultimately feels like a lot of wasted potential. The only things that I liked about Maison Ikkoku were the soundtrack, the ending and the main 2 couple more especially Kyoko everything else ranged from mediocre to downright incompetent.
Unless you’re into 80s anime as a whole, I honestly cannot the life of me recommend this series to anyone as there so much better romcom anime out there that have better chararters and themes and story. The series may have a destination but it ultimately doesn’t matter if you chararters and story were overall lacklustre and this show is no different.
Final Score 4/10
I hope Marmalade Boy will be better.