Friday, July 16, 2010

Manga Review- Maison Ikkoku

Rumiko Takahashi is extremely popular in Japan and America. So, I decided to give her a try. I read Ranma 1/2. It started off well but then went to stupidity and cheesiness. I left reading after the sixteenth volume. I began to wonder why she is so popular. Ranma was nothing spectacular.
I then deicded to give her another chance and try Maison Ikkoku. The story was pretty simple.
Yusaku Godai, an indecisive, good for nothing, hopeless ronin lives in a ramshackle apartment called Maison Ikkoku. He is tormented by his mad, drunkard neighbours who want to have driking paries every night and as a result, he has never managed to clear the university entrance exams. One day however, a beautiful widow, Otonashi Kyoko arrives and explains that she is the new manager of Maison Ikkoku. Yusaku is instantly infatuated and throughout the series tries to win her affections while facing tough competition from coach Mitaka who is Kyoko's tennis coach. Frequent misunderstandings and bad luck make this journey bumpy. Still, Yusaku never gives up.

Pretty average isn't it?
Rumiko Takahashi has chosen to demonstrate her world wonderful story telling ability in this simple story. I personally consider this her masterpiece and her most mature work. There is no cheesiness or violence in this beautiful story.
The pace is rather slow and the character development is great. It follows Yusaku through college, job, marraige and children. Maison Ikkoku therefore, does not appear rushed up even though it ended in fifteen volumes.

I find the later volumes better.

Also, the main character is easy to relate to and sympathise with. The story has its share of comedy and sentimental scenes.
While the earlier volumes are more comic and less romantic, the later volumes focus greatly on Kyoko and Yusaku's relationship. The art is good and the neighbours frequently appear and lighten the mood.
The character development is one of the strongest aspects of this manga. Yusaku develops from a hopeless, good for nothing, wishy washy ronin to a responsible working man who is a little more decisive.

Art- 4.2
Story- 3.0 (nothing special)
Characters- 4.7
Overall- 4.6

Maison Ikkoku doesn't have too many weak and useless characters. All the characters are memorable. It is a simple romantic comedy but still very enjoyable. It has a wide appeal. This is Rumiko Takahashi's first seinen manga.

However, there are some cons too.
Some readers might find this story very ordinary like I did on reading the synopsis. But never judge a book by its cover. Try this manga and you won't be sorry.
Another weakness might be lack of idealism. Though realism makes this story more sentimental.There are some really heart warming, touching lines in the later volumes.
The third weakness is Yusaku's bad luck which never leaves him. It might get too boring after some time.

The anime is okay but the drama is not good. The manga is the best version.

Overall, I recommend this manga. It sold 32 million+ This is Rumiko Takahashi at her best!


Character development
Strong characters


Frequent misunderstandings which get repetitive
Story plot

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