Maison Ikkoku is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It was serialized in Big Comic Spirits from November 1980 to April 1987, with the chapters collected into 15 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan. Maison Ikkoku is a bitter-sweet comedic romance involving a group of madcap people who live in a boarding house in 1980s Tokyo. The story focuses primarily on the gradually developing relationships between Yusaku Godai, a poor student down on his luck, and Kyoko Otonashi, a young, recently widowed boarding house manager.
Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, Maison Ikkoku was serialized in Big Comic Spirits as 162 chapters between 1980 and 1987. The chapters were collected and published into 15 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan from May 1, 1982 to July 1, 1987. The series has since been re-released in several different editions. A 10 volume wide-ban edition was released between September 1, 1992 and June 1, 1993, 10 bunkoban from 1996 to 1997, and 15 shinsōban throughout 2007.
North American publisher Viz Media originally released the series, adapted into English by Gerard Jones, in a monthly comic book format from June 1993. This release was collected into 14 graphic novels. The images were “flipped” to read left-to-right, causing the art to be mirrored, and some chapters were out of order or completely missing. Four of the five missing chapters were published in Animerica Extra Vol. 3 Number 1 and Vol. 3 Number 2. Viz later re-released the series in its original format and chapter order across 15 volumes. These were released between September 24, 2003 and February 14, 2006.
Maison Ikkoku has over 25 million collected volumes in circulation. Jason Thompson claimed that while Maison Ikkoku was not the first men’s love-com, it is “almost certainly the best” and definitely Rumiko Takahashi’s best work. He also stated that because the main character is a university student, Maison Ikkoku is “slightly more sophisticated” compared to Kimagure Orange Road. Anime News Network (ANN) gave the manga an “A” for its story and an “A-” for its art, stating that the series shows off Takahashi’s skill; “with a clear cut and rather simple plot, she is able to concentrate on the characters, using them to drive the story, while at the same time ensuring the proper reader reaction intended for each scene.” They remarked that the story focuses on Yusaku and Kyoko’s relationship, with the other characters used only “to create conflicts, exposition, and comedic relief.”
The story mainly takes place at Maison Ikkoku, a worn and aging boarding house in a town called Clock Hill, where 20-year-old college applicant Yusaku Godai lives. Though honest and good-natured, he is weak-willed and often taken advantage of by the offbeat and mischievous tenants who live with him: Yotsuya, Akemi Roppongi and Hanae Ichinose. As he is about to move out, he is stopped at the door by the beautiful Kyoko Otonashi, who announces she will be taking over as manager. Godai immediately falls in love with her and decides to stay. Godai and the other tenants find out that despite her young age, Kyoko is a widow who had married her high school teacher, who tragically died shortly thereafter. Godai empathizes with Kyoko and endeavors to free her from her sadness. He manages to work up enough courage to confess his love to her, and it begins to look as if a relationship between them might appear. However, Kyoko meets the rich, handsome and charming tennis coach Shun Mitaka at her tennis club. Mitaka quickly declares his intention to court Kyoko and states that he is very patient, and can wait until her heart is ready.
Godai, not willing to give up, continues to chase Kyoko. But through a series of misunderstandings, he is seen by Kyoko and Mitaka walking with the cute and innocent Kozue Nanao. For the rest of the series, Kozue is mistakenly perceived as being Godai’s girlfriend (by Kozue herself as well). Angered by this, Kyoko begins to openly date Mitaka. Despite the misunderstandings, Kyoko and Godai clearly have feelings for each other, and their relationship grows over the course of the series. Godai eventually manages to get into college and, with the help of Kyoko’s family, he begins student-teaching at Kyoko’s old high school. Almost mirroring Kyoko’s meeting of her husband, Godai catches the attention of precocious and brazen student Ibuki Yagami, who immediately begins pursuing him. Her outspoken approach stands in stark contrast to Kyoko, which helps Kyoko come face to face with her feelings for Godai.
Meanwhile, Mitaka’s endeavors have been hindered by his phobia of dogs, as Kyoko owns a large white dog named Soichiro in honor of her late husband. He eventually overcomes his phobia but, when he is about to propose to Kyoko, his family begins to goad him into a marriage with the pure and innocent Asuna Kujo. Feeling the pressure, Mitaka begins to pursue Kyoko with increased aggression. He slowly realizes that she has decided on Godai and is waiting for him to find a job and propose. Mitaka is completely pulled out of the race when he ends up thinking he slept with Asuna and her later announcing a pregnancy. Taking responsibility, he proposes to Asuna, but finds out too late that it was her dog who was pregnant, not her.
As things begin to really go well for Godai, Kozue Nanao makes a reappearance in his life. Kozue tells Godai and the other Ikkoku tenants that she is thinking of marrying another man, even though Godai had proposed to her (which is another misunderstanding). Kyoko, feeling foolish and betrayed, slaps Godai and demands that he move out. When Godai refuses, he wakes up the next morning to find her gone and her room empty. Godai tries to explain himself by visiting Kyoko every day, even though she won’t answer the door. After she calms down a bit, Kyoko checks on the house and runs into the other tenants. They try to convince her to return.
The seductive Akemi, sensing that Kyoko is still hesitant, threatens to seduce Godai if Kyoko doesn’t want him. She later tells the other tenants that she only said that to threaten Kyoko into coming back. This backfires when Godai is spotted leaving a love hotel with Akemi (he was only there to lend her money). It results in Kozue resolving to marry the other man. As Kyoko is about to return to Ikkoku, she learns that Godai has ended it with Kozue, but she thinks he slept with Akemi. She insults him, tells him that she hates him, and runs away. Godai follows her explaining that she doesn’t trust him and that, despite the other girls, she never considered one important thing: Godai’s own feelings. He passionately tells her that he loves only her: From the first moment he saw her and forevermore, she is the only woman in his eyes. The two spend the night together. Having cleared his last barrier of getting a teaching job, Godai proposes to Kyoko and, with the blessings of both families, they get married. The story ends as Godai and Kyoko arrive home with their newborn daughter, Haruka, and Kyoko tells her that Maison Ikkoku is the place where they first met.