A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Maison Ikkoku is an animated romantic comedy with lots of drinking and partying scenes, though drunk characters are usually portrayed as silly or embarrassing. Expect some partial nudity as one of the supporting characters frequently appears in a sheer nightgown that show her nipples. Sexual tension and innuendo is the source of much of the series' comedy, along with some slapstick. The series is based upon a Japanese manga by Rumiko Takahashi who is the creator of a number of other well known manga/anime series such as InuYasha and Ranma 1/2 and in addition to the animated series there is also a live-action version. Unlike a lot of popular anime, Maison Ikkoku takes place in the mid-1980s Japan and is not fantasy or science fiction.
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What's the story?
Yusaku Godai (voiced by Jason Gray-Stanford) is a ronin (a post-high school student who has failed his college entrance exams) living in a run-down boarding house called MAISON IKKOKU. Godai attempts to study to retake his college entrance exams but his efforts are constantly thwarted by his eccentric neighbors who often throw parties in his room. Fed up with the lack of progress in his education and with his unhelpful neighbors, Godai attempts to move out only to change his mind once he sees his beautiful new building manager, Kyoko Otanashi (Ellen Kennedy). Godai falls instantly in love with Kyoko and stays at Maison Ikkoku where he attempts to study for his exams, deal with his neighbors, and tries to win Kyoko's heart.
Is it any good?
Maison Ikkoku is a sweet romantic comedy with some very eccentric characters. Although not rooted in fantasy or science fiction as so many imported Japanese animation series, the series has a number of characters who are completely over the top and can really only exist in sitcom such as this. Godai's neighbors constantly invade his privacy and his food stash in order to drink and party all night despite his insistence that he needs to study. In the real world, he could probably just move out or request a restraining order, but where's the fun in that? The neighbors provide an appreciated comic backdrop to a sweet love story as love triangles and complications ensue as Godai falls in love with his beautiful building manager, Kyoko, even as she learns of his not-quite-so noble tendencies. Godai doesn't really want to study and his neighbors know it. They prey on his weak will and in a strange way, help him to strengthen his college exam convictions.
A nice part about the series is that the characters do evolve and change. Godai is not the same person at the end of the series as he is at the beginning. He constantly tries to improve himself so that he can be worthy of Kyoko's love and his infatuation with her grows from lust to something much more lasting and true. This evolution and the sheer amount of effort Godai makes in order to win Kyoko is admirable and sweet. Viewers would not find it hard to root for him despite his flaws. The romance and the comedy of errors that constantly afflicts Godai's efforts at finding love and improving himself make up for the decidedly old fashioned and unimpressive animation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about animation in other cultures. Is animation a medium that is only for children? What are the benefits of telling a story with animation versus live action?
Is it possible to study for an exam with a party going on? What are some good ways to eliminate distractions when studying? How much multitasking can be done effectively?
How does the sexual innuendo in romantic comedies affect how teens view sex and relationships?
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