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.|