Maison Ikkoku is, like a fair number of Rumiko Takahashi’s manga from this period (including Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2) – very sitcom esque. It finds a status quo, will venture away from it at the start of an arc, and will generally will return to whence it came at the end, with some forward movement, but not necessarily a lot. Such is the case with the second and third volumes of the manga, where after introducing the cast in the first volume, it’s starting to find its rhythm.
The general structure of Maison Ikkoku is this – something happens with the relationship between Godai, Kyoko, and Coach Mitaka that leads to a misunderstanding. These general outside circumstances will inflame the misunderstanding. The actions of the other tenants (Ms. Ishinose, Yotsuya, and Akemi) will stoke that misunderstanding further, to the brink where a portion of the relationship will be on the brink of collapse. Finally, all will be made clear, the misunderstanding will be resolved, and the characters will return to the status quo, possibly with a better understanding of their relationship based on their reactions to the misunderstanding.
This could, in the hands of a lesser writer, get old very fast. Thankfully, Rumiko Takahashi is not a lesser writer. The structure is visible, but it feels more like variations on a theme rather than playing the same old tune over and over again. Each cycle not only serves as a way of developing the relationships of the three characters in the love triangle, but also serves to develop their individual characters as well, whether it’s through the introduction of Kyoko’s parents in volume 2, or Godai briefly moving out in volume 3, we get a really solid vibe on these character’s personalities on their own.
That said, the manga is still not without its faults. Yotsuya is a garbage person, and not in the fun Always Sunny in Philadelphia/Konosuba sense. His constantly busting holes in the walls of Godai’s room so he can peep on Akemi is manages to be both crappy and creepy, in ways that make me wonder why he hasn’t been either evicted or imprisoned. Or both, both is good. In all seriousness – if Mineta is a character that ruins My Hero Academia for you, you’ll have the same problem with Yotsuya.
In all, I’m in with this manga for the rest of the ride, particularly since I’m about 1/3rd of the way through it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the manga finishes.
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