Maison Ikkoku vol 2 (of 15)

UK Distributor:  Gollancz Manga

Author:  Rumiko Takahashi

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £4.99

Number of Pages:  224

ISBN:  0-5750-7837-5

Reviewed:  23th February 2006

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)


Gollancz have always released the first two volumes of all their manga series at the same time, and in the case of Maison Ikkoku it was a move that really pays off.  The first volume of Rumiko Takahashi’s romantic comedy was good, but only began to show signs of greatness towards the end, and Maison Ikkoku vol 2 picks up the baton and runs with it.

Things seemed to be going swimmingly for Yusaku Godai last time round, he passed his college entrance exams and was rapidly growing closer to widowed apartment manager Kyoko Otonashi, but the arrival of the dashing tennis coach Shun Mitaka really put a spanner in the works.  Now Godai has a rival who outdoes him in nearly every area but Godai finds out a secret – Mitaka is afraid of dogs, something he really wants to keep from the dog owning Kyoko.  Meanwhile Godai continues to tutor Kyoko’s niece and also becomes involved in a puppet theatre group at college, he seems to have a knack for working with children and this impresses Kyoko, but there is a big problem coming up.  Somehow a series of events ends up with him going out with Kozue Nanao, a girl he worked with in one of his part-time jobs.  His heart is with Kyoko but he doesn’t want to hurt the sweet Kozue and is secretly scared he may lose both, however, are his actions just going to send Kyoko into Mitaka’s arms?

As mentioned the story really began to pick up at the end of vol 1 when tennis coach Mitaka was introduced.  This new character added a whole new dimension to the story, and as his character is explored things get even better.  The rivalry between him and Godai as they vie for Kyoko’s attention is what drives the story and Mitaka, who at first seemed perfect, is given a human side through his fear of dogs. Mrs Ichinose, Akemi and Yotsuya once again provide most of the comedy but this time the other characters are explored in far more depth.  We get flashes of Kyoko and Godai’s past as well as plenty of examples of their human sides, whether Godai’s drunken confession of love or Kyoko’s road rage.  These things are not only funny but make the characters feel more real, and even though you are pretty sure you know how the story will end (as usual for romantic manga), you are really interested to see how it’s going to get there.

This volume is a lot funnier than the first - particularly during the chapters in which the gang goes to the beach and Kyoko performs in Godai’s puppet play - and the antics of the neighbours are still amusing.  This comedy makes Maison Ikkoku vol 2 a very entertaining read, and the drama and usual misunderstandings are handled in a skilful and non-patronising manner.  Takahashi’s excellent writing is really starting to give the characters depth, and she backs this up with superb, clear artwork that is very easy on the eye.  The story is picking up and she throws in another curve ball with the arrival of Kozue Nanao, who adds another interesting element to the plot without overcomplicating it.  Again the problems come in the sheer 1980’s-ness of it, which may make it harder to identify with for younger readers, and despite a degree of originality there are still plenty of familiar romantic comedy clichés.

This said, Maison Ikkoku vol 2 is a real improvement on volume 1, with both the cast and story really fleshed out by some excellent writing from Rumiko Takahashi.  The artwork is simple but effective, being clear and uncluttered but still retaining a high level of detail, and all the characters are instantly recognisable.  There is plenty of comedy and drama on offer but I get the impression that Godai’s neighbours may start to get a bit annoying after a while, and there is also the danger that if the clichés increase then it may become a bit predictable.  At the moment though Maison Ikkoku remains a highly enjoyable read, with plenty of comedy and likeable characters who become more interesting as the story progresses, and is definitely worth a look.


 Even less than last time, a biography of Rumiko Takahashi and that's it.


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