I’m… starting to wonder if I was mistaken about this series.
My impression was that I’d be getting a slimmed-down, all killer/no filler version of the legendary romance between hapless college student Yusaku Godai and pensive widow-turned-landlord Kyoko Otonashi. Compared to the overlong 96-episode anime series that started out strong, but was waylaid by filler. Now that I’m up to vol. 4 I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a more fundamental problem to the story of “Maison Ikkoku” as a whole.
Which would be the fact that there’s very little, if any, progress to the relationship between Yusaku and Kyoko. It’s as if mangaka Rumiko Takahashi has realized that, with the will-they-or-won’t-they tension between her protagonists, and the wackiness of the various members of the supporting cast, she’s got a sitcom-ready setup that can expand to cover just about any situation. Wacky costume party when everyone catches Kyoko trying on her old school uniform? Check. Baseball battle between rival bars with the Ikkoku-kan team on one side? It’s in here. Night on the town with Godai’s grandma and her old school friends? I really wasn’t kidding when I said “any situation,” you know.
There’s no denying that some of these situations aren’t fun, especially when there’s so many of them over the course of a single volume. It’s just that none of them advance the Yusaku/Kyoko dynamic, and some of them even set it back. What with Yusaku still unable to break things off with his actual girlfriend Kozue, and having two close encounters with different girls in this volume as well. Stuff like that makes him actively dislikeable, even in the light of genuinely romantic moments near the end of the penultimate chapter. I really want to like this series since I know that it ends well. It’s just that everything leading up to it is making it that much harder.