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Maison Ikkoku Box Set, Vol. 1 (1986) – DVD Review

Maison Ikkoku Box Set, Vol. 1 DVD cover art


Based upon the manga by: Rumiko Takahashi
Directed by: Kazuo Yamazaki
English Adaptation by Trish Ledoux


  • Clean opening & closing

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Excessively annoying characters
  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Some nipplage

Released by: Viz
Region: 1
Rating: 13+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent it.

[ad#longpost]Maison Ikkoku is one of the most loved and well-known long-term anime series of all time. It’s the tale of a hapless ronin named Godai, his love for his sweet apartment manager, and the other residents of the building Maison Ikkoku, who are determined to sabotage everything Godai does.

The main problem with this show is that in the grand old tradition of romantic comedy anime shows, many of the characters are incredibly annoying. Why Godai’s fellow residents should abuse him so is beyond comprehension, and their high, screechy voices are almost too much, in both English and Japanese. Yotsuya, the would-be secret agent man, would be amusing if he weren’t so pointlessly mean and shallow, Akemi would be funny, even sweet, if she weren’t a brainless shrew, and Mrs. Ichinose needs to lay off the booze and get control of her bratty son. Seeing four people constantly mentally abuse Godai and keep him from succeeding just isn’t funny. If the focus of the show were more dramatic and less determined to be “funny,” it might be more fun to watch.

Godai’s naive stupidity is also a bit to blame; why, for example, does he not move furniture against the wall he shares with Yotsuya? That might at least slow down the burrowing. Locking his door might keep the partiers out of his room, too…but then, that would leave the show with much less of a plot.

Maison Ikkoku Box Set, Vol. 1

The video quality is very good, showcasing Takahashi’s fantastic art skill beautifully. The facial expressions for which she is rightfully known show up nicely here, giving Godai his clueless and wistful expressions, along with Kyoko’s dewy-eyed innocence. Even Soichiro the dog has expressions he uses to solid effect. If you like the look of other Takahashi properties, like Ranma 1/2 or the surreal Rumic World volumes, then you’ll appreciate the look here.

The sound is also good: the voice actors are just as annoying as the characters they are playing. This isn’t, of course, entirely a good thing, but as the show progresses, and the slapstick calms down a hair, the voice actors, both English and Japanese, tone down their over-the-top screaming to at least tolerable levels. The digital transfer nicely picks up each nuance of their performances, allowing Godai’s emotions to show forth, along with the personalities of everyone from little Ichinose to that blasted Mitaka.

Maison Ikkoku Box Set, Vol. 1

The extras for the box set are all contained on disc three–we get a clean opening and a closing for the series. Fans of the fabulous animation will be pleased, but otherwise, this is a little thin. A doyenne of animation like Takahashi deserves a bit more…perhaps a bio, an interview, or even just a discography. Her fans will want to collect everything she’s ever touched, but they have to know it’s out there to spend their cash on it, and even the otaku rumor mill fails sometimes.

In all, this is a harmless enough show. If you have a greater tolerance for inexplicably rude and goofy characters than I have, you might even love it. As it is, at least the evil trio become less obnoxious as the show progresses, so there’s some hope even we who hate this comedy trope will come to love this perennial of Takahashi’s oeuvre.

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