A Deeply Flawed Classic,
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This review is from: Maison Ikkoku Volume 1: Vol 1 (MANGA) (Paperback)
This is a review of the series as a whole.
Maison Ikkoku is a classic but deeply flawed manga. The flaw being the lead characters are totally unlikeable, even more so than most of Rumiko Takahasi's leads. The only Rumiko Takahashi leads that are not unlikeable are those from "Mermaid Saga" Mermaid Saga 1.
Godai is either the most weak willed man on earth, or a despicably manipulative pervert, keeping 3 or 4 woman at his beck and call.
Kyokyo is little better and seems perfectly happy to have Mitaka and Godai running after her for 14 volumes. In addition she undergoes very little character development.
Mitaka is the only decent one of the lead characters. Despite a reputation as a playboy (which he never really exhibits in the manga), he is constant in his dedication to Kyokyo, even overcoming a fear of dogs for her. What does Godai do that's comparable? Not drop out of college?
Despite this it's mostly quite engaging and readable, but almost like watching a car crash.
The other inhabitants of Maison Ikkoku are a refreshing contrast to the leads. The drunken busybody, Mrs Ichinose, her brattish son, Kentaro, the apparently sluttish bargirl, Akemi and the peeping tom, Yotsuya. Despite being pretty much one note characters they are well constructed and instantly likeable despite their glaring flaws, perhaps because they are quite honest about what they are.
The main characters are kept apart by various sets of contrived circumstances throughout the manga, and then the resolution is through equally contrived circumstances. I know this is a light romantic comedy, and Japan is a different culture, but have these people never heard of talking to each other?
Still, it's the least infantile harem manga I've come across by a long margin, and there is a decent love story and brilliant secondary characters buried in the dross.
It also has the great advantage of being far shorter than Takahashi's other works apart from "Mermaid Saga". Even so you will only need the first 2 or 3 and last 3 or 4 of volumes as the middle is basically filler, like most long running manga.