Review of Maison Ikkoku (1986)
A young man struggling to get into college gets a room at an old two-storey apartment complex in Tokyo, the Maison Ikkoku. Like “house A” in “A-shou satsujin jiken” (1979), the place is infested with nosy, hard-partying cynics, but it is also getting a new manager: A gentle young widow.
Romantic comedy based on one of Takahashi Rumiko’s flagship manga. More realistic than Urusei Yatsura (1981), it still clocks in at 96 episodes because Takahashi likes to stretch her hits. Cheap but solidly crafted animation. Surprisingly little pure filler, but some unlikely, slow-moving complications of the kind that weakened Urusei Yatsura more severely. These get interesting resolutions, and the central romance gathers appropriate gravitas. The war story in episode 3 has some very nice haunting nostalgia, but little relation to the plot. The female author’s “voice” is fairly strong, giving even the brief nudity a non-exploitative air that was sorely missing in the Japanese animation mainstream of 2010, when I first saw it. Recommended for couples.