Posted by psgels on 8 July 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

96 episodes. I know that it’s a huge task to watch this series, especially when it’s filled with slice of life. But heck, who cares? This series deserves every inch of its status as a classic. Heck, it’s by far the best romance I’ve ever seen.

I mean, the big danger with these incredibly long series is that they spend too much time dragging on, or repeating themselves. That’s not the point of Maison Ikkoku, though. It’s here to really deliver the every day lives of its lead characters, and we follow them through EIGHT YEARS of their lives. We start at the point at which the lead character (Godai) tries to get into college, and we get to see the progression of him and the ones around him through his college years, up to the point of him, trying to find employment. There is a HUGE amount of character-development in this series, and you know what? It’s handled even better than Touch.

Along with the every day lives, this is a series that continues to tug against the characters and their relationships with real and identifiable problems. At times it may go a bit overboard with the misunderstandings, but it always finds very down to earth methods to solve them. This series also masterfully uses the cultural norms and standards of Japan in the 1980s in its drama, like the desire for women to be ‘pure’, the focus on marriage, or the tight job market. There’s always something going on in this series and when it drags out, it really drags out to get the best out of the characters, rather than stalling for time.

Some of the characters of this series are hard to get into: they’re the types of unlikable bastards who leech off others and enjoy the misery of the easy victims. Flawed as they are though, these people also have the charms that grow with you as the series continues. They’re all portrayed real people, rather than the usual stereotypes who only can live off their gimmick. Throughout the entire series, they’re annoying, but for once they’re annoying in a lovable way.

But what really blew my mind about this series was how well it was technically executed. I mean, this series has the best animation of any Studio Deen series I’ve seen so far, and that for a series with nearly a hundred episodes! Animation is smooth and detailed, characters move as life-like as possible and there are less still frames than in most 24 episoded series nowadays. The way that the series portray all of the different feelings and emotions, from anger to love to hangover, is done very realistically. And it keeps this standard up throughout its entire run, with only a few noticeable hiccups.

Rumiko Takahashi… yeah. She really is a genius when she wants to. This series even blows series from Mitsuru Adachi out of the water with its depth and execution. I wouldn’t call it perfect, though. There are times when it uses coincidences too much in order to get two characters at the right place at the right time, and its characters can be quite dense at times. But even there: it’s a pretty realistic portrayal of denseness. It’s not like we have characters like Hanamaru Youchien here: characters here have trouble getting romantic hints, but they’re in no way stupid enough not to notice the obvious signs thrown in front of them. In fact, everyone in the series has his or her moments of stupidity and intelligence. Either way though, if you want the best romance anime out there, then I really believe that this is the series you should check out.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Makes excellent use of its 96 episodes, it’s really good at building up, really succeeded in bringing the source material to life. Sometimes it uses too many coincidences, though.
Characters: 10/10 – Absolutely fantastic. Wonderfully portrayed, fleshed out and developed.
Production-Values: 9/10 – For its time and length… very impressive. Detailed in its movements, and surprisingly few corners are cut.
Setting: 9/10 – This series has ton of slice of life, but exactly because of that it’s able to offer a very detailed portrayal of what people in their twenties, more than twenty years ago must have gone through.

Saiunkoku Monogatari
Victorian Romance Emma

16 Responses

  1. Etrangere says:

    aaah that series. I was way too young when I was watching it to properly appreciate it and I had a sort of hate/love relationship to it (especially because the French dub voices were SO annoying for the leads), I remember I mostly liked the annoying free loaders as a kid they were fun ^^; but it’s definitely one of those 80s series I’d like to re-watch some maybe and your review certainly encourage me in this direction ^^

  2. Kim says:

    I have not seen the anime (well except for a random episode when I was in Japan) but the manga is one of my absolute favorites.

  3. Schmitt says:

    Ah I love Maison Ikkoku. One of my favorite romantic comedies of all time and a definite classic in the genre. Between this and Urusei Yatsura, Rumiko Takahashi shows that she can do great work when she wants to. It’s a shame she’s producing crap like Inuyasha and Rin-ne lately.

    • Miko evie chan says:

      Well, the thi ng you have to remember some people were introduced to takahashi’s work by inuyasha , ranma and rinne. Maison is the 1980s … Some of us young ones, don’t even know of her other works if it were for series like ranma or inuyashha- :)

  4. marcosv says:

    Maison Ikkoku was one of the series I was hooked on back when I first started watching anime. It still remains my personal favorite.

    It’s animation quality would dip at times, but, when they turned on the quality, it was top notched. Of course, compared to a lot of anime of today which as you pointed out use lots of stills, it was consistently well animated.

    The music was excellent too.

    Thanks for putting together this review. I pretty much agree with you. It really is the best romance out there.

  5. keizon says:

    didnt expect to see a review of Maison Ikkoku in your blog. i have watched it and it is a real gem. Rumiko Takahashi brings life to the lead characters. through the ups and downs, one could ‘grow’ together with the characters.

    Maison Ikkoku is a classic.

  6. egress63 says:

    Now that you have seen the anime, I would recommend the final volume of the manga. The differences are few, but these few differences will make you like the series (and Kyoko) even more.

  7. blah says:

    The manga was great. Also, anyone who read this and liked it should read Ranma 1/2. The 1st season of anime for Ranma 1/2 is good (as psgels has said before), but after that it went way downhill. The manga however is consistently good, aside from the Hawaiian teacher, I skipped all the chapters with him.

  8. Theowne says:

    Finally psgels watched it. Maison Ikkoku is probably the best anime romantic comedy in existence, and wipes the floor with pretty much every series in that genre done in this decade.

    I definitely agree there are one too many misunderstandings, but it is tolerable for almost 100 episodes of great anime.

    But seriously, couldn’t you have picked better pictures? Please everyone, Kyoko does NOT look that deformed most of the time!

  9. Pachael says:

    Love this series to bits – the only thing that’s missing now is the actual time period – Rumiko’s best work.

    In addition, she wrote this for about 7-8 years, meaning that the readers grew up with the characters as they read the comic on a regular basis, bringing a new personal dimension for teens at that time as they watched Godai and Kyoko grow and develop before their very eyes. Contrast it to many other series where characters seem to be frozen in time.

  10. tk007 says:

    Definitely my favorite romance anime too. After reading your review, I dug out the OST and listened to it again. They’re memorable, beautiful and filled me with nostalgic. Now I’ll have to somehow find time to re-watch it again >.

  11. Andrea says:

    I had watched the first episodes a couple of months ago and thought it was just like Kimagure Orange Road, full of those stupid misunderstandings that I really dislike, with an idiot as male protagonist and a cock teaser as a female character. Then I read your review and you say it gets better than Touch? I will give it a try again, maybe the first episodes were misleading :D

  12. Cerrian says:

    It starts to hit its stride around ep. 8 or so. When you get to the 13th ep and start seeing Kyoko’s jealous side then the series is going at full steam ahead.

  13. Sapphire says:

    I am SO watching this!

  14. Mike says:

    I’ve only seen the live action drama, but I would easily reccommend it if you havn’t seen it.

  15. Joe says:

    The best romantic anime ever. You root for Godai through the series and can almost feel his longing through every step.

    Touch is pretty awesome too. The sudden twist in the middle of the series is one of the best I’ve seen. But it starts off as a romance and ends up being a lot more than that..sort of a coming of age story. And Tachhan is way too cool.

    I’d also suggest Kare Kano – it’s a totally different anime compared to these two. But it’s got near perfect chemistry. At least the first half of the series.

    Would also like some suggestions from you guys for romantic series like these ones. Should be fun and also tug at your heartstrings. Not an over the top comedy though.

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:59 PM)
    @Masky: no definitely not every game, but you made it sound as if the whole idea of realism in videogames is ludicrous. Now I haven’t played Undertake myself, but looking at the Steam pics in looks like a humorous retro pixelart indie project, in which case it doesn’t need to be realistic but it still should respect it’s own internal logic. Unless it’s meant to be all bonkers like an Xavier: Renegade Angel episode, but again very few things are like that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:30 PM)
    Oh lol the Symphogear guy teased the idea of a fourth season for it, you mad mad bastard.
  • Masky
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 08:03 AM)
    @Bam: Yeah, but simulating reality applies to certain types of games. Judging EVERY game by how realistic it is is silly xD
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.

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