Maison Ikkoku, a timeless love story

01 December 2010
One of the most famous manga love story which take places into Japan Eighties.
Famous for hit series such as Inuyasha and Ranma ½, Rumiko Takahashi is considered one of the best mangaka ever. Author of a consistent number of short stories and now at work on his last series entitled Kyokai no Rinne, is remembered a little for Maison Ikkoku, who arrived in Italy with the title “Dear Sweet Kyoko”, the story I consider the best and the more successful. Aided by a series of last minute shopping I found the latest italian version of the animated series in four Yamato Video Collection DVD boxes that I’ve watch in small time. I was already in possession of the 27 volumes of manga and I had followed the tv series thanks to some old low quality DivX, so I did not miss the opportunity to complete it with a good dvd edition.
Maison Ikkoku is the main location where the events of the story take place, a small house in a suburb of Tokyo where the individual rooms are rented. Yusaku Godai is a young university student who lives in the Maison with Ichinose, Yotsuya and Akemi, three wacky characters always devoted to feasting and drinking rice wine in the room of the poor unfortunate boy. One daythe new administrator, Kyoko Otonashi, comes to the house and Godai falls in love with her at first sight. Thus begins their love story that will progress through love triangles, the edge of the absurd situations, all sorts of problems and the stubbornness of Kyoko, a young widow of twenty-two recently deceased husband, the professor at his school who fell in love and died in mysterious circumstances just 15 months after their marriage.
The story unfolds like a comedy in which the viewer follows the daily life of the Ikkoku-kan where it seems anyone cannot be bored! This last vision of the animated series has allowed me to appreciate further the work of Takahashi for several elements that at first glance does not reveal. The mangaka is indeed remarkable in being able to paint in outline of the history between the two players a glimpse of japanese life in the Eighties. The feeling you get is unique, especially if you have in mind the contemporary society accustomed to living on the internet and mobile phones, like leafing through an album of old photographs.
Who belongs to the generation of the 80 (like me) can not fail to appreciate a number of references that also in the occidental society have been part of our lives. I can remind the public phones or the old CRT televisions, now completely replaced between LED, LCD and so on. But even a pleasant memory of a society where moral values were important and well-rooted in people that our grandparents have never ceased to bring us. I see smiling Kyoko extremely embarrassed in front of the voices that accuse him of having spent a night in a room with Godai or the complicated relationship between Godai and Kozue where the first kiss is seen as an important goal with a deep meaning.
We can’t miss gags and hilarity, especially in the manga version, in the classic style of Japanese comics. But all the while surrounded by an aura of calmness and sobriety that in the modern manga is definitely lost.
So Maison Ikkoku is a wonderful romantic comedy with the classic love story that regardless of the time and place where it is located does not fail to move and excite fans of the genre. Recommended viewing at least once to return to appreciate the good old days in which the feelings and imagination were the protagonists of our day now too often limited to video games and trash TV.

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