Maison Ikkoku 2007 Recap
Romanized title: Maison Ikkoku
Based on the manga Maison Ikkoku by Takahashi Rumiko
Broadcast station: TV Asahi
Broadcast date: 12 May 2007
Theme song: “Mamotte Agetai”
Starring: Nakabayashi Taiki, Misaki Ito
Synopsis: This drama follows the story of a young rounin Godai Yusaku who lives in a rundown apartment building known as Maison Ikkoku. His neighbors are all eccentric and are constantly distracting and tricking him. When the new manager arrives, Godai immediately falls in love with her and thus begins the story of their rather slow-moving romance.
This is a joint project between NeeNee and Chani-chan. NeeNee has done the entire recap [with some comments, but not many] and Chani-chan is contributing commentary, which is denoted by a different color font. Enjoy!
The year is 2007. We open the special with a man and his young daughter going to a park. He is there to tell the child the story of how he met her mother. He fears his daughter will see him in a very bad and pathetic light, but the story did have a happy ending and no matter what happens in his daughter’s life, he wants her to know she was always wanted. How sweet.
We then flash back to 1983. We meet Godai Yusaku [Nakabayashi Taiki] who is looking over his mock exam results. They are the absolute worst! His neighbor Yotsuya [Kishibe Ittoku] comments on his poor scores and Godai turns around shocked to see him there. He asks how he got in and Yotsuya points to a hole in the wall between their two rooms. Godai sighs. He’d though he had the hole fixed already. Then in barges another neighbor, Roppongi Akemi [Takahashi Yumiko], clad only in a skimpy nighty. She is hungry and looking for food. Godai replies that he doesn’t have any and then scolds her for walking around like that. Yotsuya then takes out a box of food that Godai’s family had just sent him and the two dig in while Akemi wonders what’s wrong with what she’s wearing – all the important bits are covered.
Godai doesn’t want his neighbors in his room, but is powerless in trying to get them out. In the end he has no choice but to let them do what they want when Ichinose Hanae [Kishimoto Kayoko] barges in with a big bottle of alcohol. The three pesky neighbors then set up a drinking party in Godai’s room. Godai cannot take anymore. He’s sick and tired of all the racket. Then in comes Mrs. Ichinose’s son Kentaro [Nakasone Kota] wondering why his mom isn’t home making dinner. Mrs. Ichinose tells Kentaro to scold the rounin instead of her so Kentaro tells Godai to shape up. Kawaii.
Godai has had enough. Just as a woman with a large dog arrives at Maison Ikkoku, he decides that he’s going to leave. He packs his things and tells the others not to try to stop him. They don’t. They have no interest in what he’s doing. Why? Godai has been threatening to leave for a long time now. He just can never manage to do it. This time as he is on his way out, he bumps into the pretty Otonashi Kyoko [Ito Misaki] and her dog Souichiro-san. Godai is immediately taken with this woman who turns out to the be new manager of the apartment building. The three pesky neighbors say that he is leaving, but Godai has already changed his mind. He won’t be leaving his apartment now that such a pretty manager has shown up.
As Kyoko begins settling into her new home, she comes across a book that has information left by the previous manager [who retired because he was “tired”]. The book contains profiles of the current residents. From their names and ages and occupations, to even their drinking habits. Mrs. Ichinose dances when drunk and Akemi strips when drunk. There isn’t a whole lot of information on Yotsuya and we learn that Godai is very indecisive. Reading this makes Kyoko worry a bit as she finds all of the tenants to be strange. Yep. They definitely are.
Godai watches from above as the movers start moving Kyoko in. He asks if he can help, but she tells him that everything is okay and wishes him luck “this year.” This depresses Godai as he realizes that Kyoko must know of his previous two failures to get into college. He goes back to studying and asks the partying trio behind him if they are aware that he is purposefully ignoring them. They know and just don’t care. It’s their hobby to gather in Godai’s room, eat his food, drink alcohol and disturb him in any way possible. Godai complains about wanting to study and the three tell him it’s too bad since Kyoko was looking forward to Godai being at her welcome party. Hearing this, Godai cannot refuse to join in. He’ll make a brief appearance then go back to hitting the books.
The party is underway. Mrs. Ichinose and Akemi get drunk and one starts dancing and the other starts stripping. Poor Kyoko just doesn’t know what to think. She recalls all the data from the previous manager’s notebook. Looks like it was all true. When Kyoko asks after Godai’s studies, the three neighbors immediately begin talking about how useless Godai’s studying is and how he will just fail again. This upsets Godai and he crawls inside his futon cupboard [since the party ended up being in his room, too]. Kyoko scolds them for hurting his feelings. The neighbors then decide to trick Godai by saying that Kyoko was stripping. Godai tries to peek through the handle, but can’t see anything, so he cracks open the door only to find it was a trick. Baka.
When Godai leaves the next day, he pets Kyoko’s dog and asks after his name. Kyoko replies that it is Souichiro-san. When Godai calls him “Souichiro”, leaving off the “san”, Kyoko corrects him saying the dog’s full name is Souichiro-san. Godai then gets up the courage to ask if Kyoko believes in love at first sight. She does. This makes him happy. The three neighbors watch from above and Mrs. Ichinose spots a problem. Godai was obviously referring to Kyoko with that question, but Kyoko is obviously thinking about another guy whom she fell in love with at first sight. There is going to be trouble and the neighbors will have fun watching and playing with the two.
Godai happily goes to prep school where he doesn’t pay any attention in class. He then goes out to lunch with his friend and fellow rounin Sakamoto where he gushes about the angelic Kyoko. Sakamoto wonders why such a woman would be working at such a rundown apartment. Good question. In fact, at that very moment, Mrs. Ichinose asks Kyoko the same thing. Godai and Sakamoto go back to class [and Godai says he’s heading straight home when it finishes]. Kyoko explains that her husband has passed on and that is why she’s managing the apartment now. Mrs. Ichinose then asks if Kyoko is done with love. Surely not since she is so young? Kyoko doesn’t really say yes or no and totally doesn’t understand when Mrs. Ichinose asks if the “rounin” stands a chance or not.
Mrs. Ichinose runs into the returning Godai, but decides not to tell him what she learned. At Maison, Kyoko finishes fixing the leak over Akemi’s room and stretches out for a nap. When Godai gets home, he sees the ladder and wonders what’s going on. When he climbs up, he is shocked to find Kyoko asleep on the roof. He battles with himself and then decides to kiss her. Kyoko then smiles and says “I love you.” She then murmurs “Souichiro-san” so Godai thinks she’s dreaming of her dog. When he goes to kiss her, she then starts crying. The rain then starts pouring and Kyoko wakes up and ends up giving Godai quite the smack. Poor guy. Meanwhile, Mrs. Ichinose has told the others the story at Akemi’s workplace [Cha Cha Maru]. The other two also agree to keep the secret and enjoy the show.
Later, Godai is studying. Or trying to. His room has leaks all over. Kyoko brings in more bowls and apologizes when a big gush of water dumps on his head. Godai says it is okay and Kyoko gives him a bowl to cover his head, but in pops Yotsuya from his hole. This surprises Kyoko and Godai tosses the bowl at the hole, but Yotsuya is too quick and quickly goes back to his own room.
The apartment owner Otonashi Rojin [Hosokawa Toshiyuki] comes to see Kyoko. Godai is surprised to learn that he is Kyoko’s father, but everyone else already knew. Mr. Otonashi is there to pick her up for a death anniversary. Since he cannot move well, Godai ends up going with them. He learns that Kyoko is not really Mr. Otonashi’s daughter, but his daughter-in-law. She was married to his dead son “Souichiro.” This explains what happened on the roof. This shocks and depresses Godai. Mr. Otonashi encourages Kyoko to leave his family as she is young and still has a long life ahead of her. She should go out and marry again. Kyoko can’t bear to do that just yet and pleads with her father-in-law to let her do what she wants for a little while longer until she finds what she wants to do.
Kyoko and Godai head home and she tells him that she fell in love with Souichiro at first sight so that is why she believes in love at first sight. This shocks Godai. Godai asks if she will ever fall in love again and Kyoko replies that she doesn’t think so since she had already experienced a lifetime of love. She goes upstairs and cries herself to sleep while Godai asks the dog Souichiro-san about the human Souichiro. He must have known him, right? He must have been a great man, right?
Godai leaves for school the next day depressed. Mrs. Ichinose sees this and comments on it to Kyoko who just doesn’t get why. She’s so clueless. Godai, again, doesn’t pay attention in class and goes out drinking with Sakamoto that night. Poor Sakamoto gets mistreated by Godai and yelled at for no reason. Godai then grabs him and heads home. Kyoko, meanwhile, is worried about why Godai isn’t back since it has gotten to be quite late. When Godai arrives home he immediately yells out his love to Kyoko, waking up the entire neighborhood. He then picks her up and carries her to his room where he promptly falls asleep on her stomach. Nice.
The next morning Godai has no idea what occurred the night before and Kyoko is mad at him. When he asks the neighbors why, they tell him he danced naked and forced Kyoko to watch. He goes and apologizes for this and says he wasn’t serious, not knowing he had confessed his love. He understands he was tricked when Kyoko gets really angry for him not being serious about love and storms off. While she has a right to be angry, isn’t she a little too angry and disappointed? Kyoko sits in her room wondering why she is so upset. She then says that it seemed like he was serious the night before. So just what is going on?
Godai leaves for school depressed once more. Mrs. Ichinose wonders what Kyoko will do if Godai fails. What does she mean? If Godai fails this time, won’t it be all Kyoko’s fault? Kyoko then envisions Godai failing the entrance exam again and attempting suicide. She is quite like Godai who constantly fantasizes, too. Mrs. Ichinose comments on this, too, not that Kyoko understands what she means. Meanwhile, at the prep school, Godai becomes happy when he realizes it is Christmas. He goes to a store and picks out a pretty pin for Kyoko. He then fantasizes about giving it to her and confessing. In his fantasy, she also confesses that he likes him as well. Will that dream ever be realized between the two?
When Godai gets home, he is unable to give Kyoko the gift because Mrs. Ichinose and Kentaro show up. Kentaro happily gives Kyoko his gift and confesses that he loves her as well. Kyoko says she loves the little boy, too and Godai just can’t believe what happened. He lost his chance to a kid. Kentaro’s gift is the game Othello and Kyoko promises to play it with him. Godai goes back to his room with his present, depressed. Meanwhile, everyone else goes out to celebrate Christmas. After getting scolded by the other tenants, Kyoko takes some of the treats and goes back to Maison to celebrate with Godai, who is happy she came. The two sit and eat outside when it starts snowing. Godai misses his chance again, but he does comment on the romanticness of the moment. The two go back inside and play a game of Othello. Kyoko kicks Godai’s butt and wishes him well with his studies.
Days pass with Godai studying hard and all of his neighbors encouraging him. Godai finds this weird, but he is happy with Kyoko’s encouragement. Then comes New Years. All the others leave to spend time with family and significant others [no one knows what Yotsuya is doing]. This leaves Kyoko and Godai all alone. She invites him to have soba and watch a TV show. Godai happily agrees to this. They have fun watching TV. When Kyoko learns that he doesn’t have one, she invites Godai to come and watch TV whenever he would like. The two then go to visit a shrine and Godai is happy to learn that Kyoko prayed for him and wished him success. He even got a good luck charm for exams. Godai wishes that if he passes his exam, then Kyoko won’t give up on love. It doesn’t have to be with him, but he would like her to fall in love again. When he tells her this, Kyoko smiles and nods in response, and he takes this as her promise.
Later, Kyoko says that Godai was really cool when he said that. But right at that moment, he was far from being cool. He is giving up on his first choice and desperately trying to get into whatever college he possibly can. I guess you can really tell that he has no idea what he wants for his future. This earns him a lot of chiding by his neighbors. Mrs. Ichinose then tells him of a new college that just opened up nearby that will take anyone. However, when Godai gets there, it is really just a pachinko parlor with the name “Pachinko College.” This makes him come home even more depressed. He then fantasizes about Kyoko wondering when she can ever fall in love since he has failed 12 times all ready. Poor Godai doesn’t want such a bad fantasy to come true.
The boy starts studying again even harder, but he doesn’t know a lot. He has a schedule of exams for several universities and various departments. One by one, the exams come and he fails. Finally he is left with only one. Everyone is betting on whether he will pass or fail this time. The majority believe he will fail, but a few believe that the power of love will see him through this time. Yotsuya even steps in to help Godai study! He is a strict taskmaster, but does his best to help Godai get everything down pat in time for the final exam. Kyoko, meanwhile, does her best to keep showing him support as well.
The day of the exam arrives and everyone gathers to actually encourage Godai instead of putting him down. Kyoko has even made him a special bento. This gives Godai some hope and he goes off to take the exam. Afterward, however, he does not return home. Instead, he goes to stay with Sakamoto until the results are revealed. This angers Kyoko. She starts scolding him as if he was her worthless boyfriend. The other neighbors comment on this, but Kyoko is in denial. Looks like she might be falling for Godai after all.
Then Godai’s grandmother [Sugai Kin as Godai Yukari] enters the picture. She calls Maison and Kyoko grabs the phone when she hears “Godai” and immediately starts scolding him for running away. She then learns it is his grandmother calling and she rushes off to collect her after warning the neighbors that they cannot tells Mrs. Godai that her grandson ran away. Of course the neighbors can’t keep their lips zipped. Mrs. Godai also reveals that she will be taking her grandson home with her if he doesn’t pass this time. This really doesn’t make Kyoko happy at all. Yep. She definitely is starting to like Godai.
Everyone from Maison then goes with Granny Godai to Tokyo Gakuin to see if they can find Godai. The gang looks at the pass list and they ask Granny Godai if her grandson passed. She has no clue as she doesn’t know his number. Godai is then spotted on the ground. When he sees the Maison gang with his grandmother he immediately runs. Oh seriously. The others chase after him and granny manages to stop his flight with her shoe. They scold him for keeping away for so long and then ask if he passed or not. He doesn’t know as he hasn’t gotten a chance to look yet. They all go back to the pass list and Godai anxiously looks for his number. He finally spots it. At long last he has gotten into college!!! Everyone is shocked that he finally managed to pass.
We then cut back to 2007 where the little girl Haruka wonders what happened next. Did the two fall in love and live happily ever after? Not yet. There was still a long road ahead of the couple. We then go back to 1983 where Godai and Sakamoto are happy that they have finally managed to get into college. Godai gets a part-time job and it seems as if his coworker Nanao Kozue [Eikura Nana] is interested in him. On his way to make a delivery, he passes a tennis court where he sees Kyoko learning how to play. He is horrified when the good-looking tennis instructor [Sawamura Ikki as Mitaka Shun] gets pretty close to Kyoko.
Thus it ends all in preparation for the final installment in 2008.
And now for commentary by Chani…
Hello everyone. The name’s Chani and this is my first blog commentary for an Asian drama, though I’ve done a lyric translation over at the music site. In contrast to NeeNee, my experience with Asian drama is rather limited and I am more familiar with anime and manga. Thus, this was a good start for me, because I am a big fan of the original manga and all of the author, Rumiko Takahashi’s, works, which include such popular manga as Ranma 1/2 and Inu Yasha. I have the complete set of Maison Ikkoku manga as first released by VIZ back in the ’90s, and it has always held a special place in my heart. I was still in high school when I read this for the first time around the turn of the new millenium!
Being a fan of the original manga, I found myself pretty excited at multiple points while watching this drama, as characters and situations that I love and am familiar with kept popping up. Right from the beginning, I had a great time watching. One of the first scenes, as mentioned above, consists of Yotsuya, Akemi, and Mrs. Ichinose entering Godai’s room and being introduced to the audience. Each time one of them came in I found myself squealing, “Yay, it’s Yotsuya! It’s Akemi! It’s Mrs. Ichinose!” and these were just the beginnings of my excited squeals when things I was familiar with from the manga entered scenes of this drama. Really, those three characters and their propensity to have drunken parties in Godai’s room and annoy the heck out of him are an absolutely integral part of the fun and charm of this story, and I was thrilled to see that the actors chosen perfectly embodied the characters they represented. From the ending credits, you can see images of the characters from the manga compared with those from this drama. (point out which character is which). The looks changed a bit, yes, but the personalities were perfect. Also, you can see the classic ‘Piyo Piyo’ apron Kyoko wears in both the manga and this drama. The appearance of the apron also got a few excited exclamations out of me.
Another thing I love is the dog they chose to play Souichiro-san. He… is… so… CUTE! I just want to grab and hug him. Though I love animals as a general rule I really like fluffy ones like Souichiro-san.
The personalities of Kyoko and Godai came through rather well too. She is pretty, devoted to her dead husband, cheerful, a hard worker, and just as dense about Godai’s interest in her as she is in the manga. Similarly, Godai is just as young, irresponsible, hapless, distracted, and silly, but also determined, kind, and with only the best intentions – well, mostly, he did try to peek at her while she was supposedly ‘stripping’ according to the nosy, invasive neighbors. Hee hee. I was also happy to see the appearances of some of the minor characters. Sakamoto, Kentaro, and even the bartender at Cha Cha Maru were all in both the manga and the drama, and embody their characters well. I don’t know much about Asian drama actors, but apparently the Cha Cha Maru bartender/manager is played by Yanagisawa Shingo, whom NeeNee explains is common in drama and does a lot of slapstick-type roles. His trademark gesture in this incarnation of the story is a smile and thumbs up at the characters/camera. Fun! Also, the older characters – Kyoko’s father-in-law, first, was kind and cared for her just like in the manga, though his look was quite different. The manga Mr. Otonashi was more… cartoony or caricaturey and appeared older to me, with white hair, while this actor was younger (though had mobility troubles as though he was older) and had grey hair. But he played the part well
And I was THRILLED when Godai’s grandmother made her appearance. A short, spunky little old lady, she was VERY similar to her manga counterpart in both looks and personality, and I just love her character. She’s fun, she’s funny, she’s cute, and she’s tough. Yep, LOVE Grandma Godai. As I said, although Godai and Kyoko’s romance is wonderful, it’s these secondary characters and all the interesting interactions that really make Maison Ikkoku into the amazing story that it is.
Plot-wise, the drama follows the first few volumes of the manga very closely. The only thing that strikes me as odd is that it does really only cover the first little bit of the manga. I assume a lot of the rest of the story will have to be cut out and condensed if they want to finish it in only one more installment. I’ll be interested to see how they do it. I was pleased at the end to see the bit of a cliffhanger left by introducing the future love rivals, Nanao Kozue and Mitaka Shun. I look forward to seeing more of them in the next installment. It was also nice to see that they added Mitaka’s shiny, glinting teeth with an amusing special effect. In the manga, his pure shinyness only added to poor Godai’s dismay at this attractive rival for Kyoko’s affections, and it of course enhances the comedy too. Other little details that pleased me were Yotsuya’s hat and trench-coat that he wears in his comings and goings to wherever he goes for whatever he does for a living (to this day nobody knows), and his propensity for always popping up out of nowhere. I admit, I’m quite a fan of Yotsuya and his antics.
Special effects were used sparingly but were definitely used at various points, for example the teeth glinting mentioned above, Yotsuya slipping worm-like back through the hole between his and Godai’s room, Grandma Godai hurling her shoe an inhuman distance to smack her running grandson and stop his escape, and of course Kyoko’s introduction itself. She opens the door to Maison Ikkoku complete with a blinding flash of light which stuns the about-to-move-out Godai into a stupor at her radiant beauty. And, of course, after seeing that how could he possibly leave?
The comedy scenes are my favorites, especially those that, as I’ve already said, highlight the kooky secondary characters that I love so much. But I also really loved the scene at the end where Godai passes his exam and he’s about to have a very romantic moment with Kyoko. It would have been so sweet, I’m sure. It even looked like she was going to hug him in her excited congratulations (0h yes, she’s interested in him, she just doesn’t know it yet as she’s so characteristically dense)… but of course his Grandma gets in the way. Oh well. They’ll get there. Eventually ~_^
I also liked the addition of the flashback with an older Godai and his young daughter Haruka, though 2007 seems a bit too much later (24 years) than 1983, especially if the little girl is no older than 8, which is what I’d guess based on her appearance. At least it doesn’t fit exactly into the timeline of the manga but we’ll see how it ends up. Either way, it doesn’t worry me too much. I can’t wait to watch the next installment! 🙂