Maison Ikkoku 2007 Special (Live Action)

めぞん一刻 2007 Live Action Dorama
Maison Ikkoku 2007 Special

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialIt is 2007 and GODAI Yusaku takes his daughter Haruka to a park. While there, he tells her a story of how he met her mother and how different he was back then. Back in 1983, Yusaku is a rounin trying to get into college and living in a single-room apartment. Also in this apartment building is the middle-aged, mysterious Yotsuya-san, the slutty-acting Akemi, the mother who loves to get drunk (Ichinose-san), and her son Kentaro. The adults find excuses to come by Yusaku’s room to drink and and party. Yusaku decides he’s had enough is says he’s going to leave.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialAt this time, OTONASHI Kouko arrives to take over the job of manager (kanrinin) of Maison Ikkoku. Yusaku immediately falls in love with Kyouko and decides to stay. Kyouko, upon learning about her tenants, decides to help Yusaku to get into college by passing his entrance exams. As he works on this over time, Yusaku learns that Kyouko is the daughter-in-law of the apartment’s owner and that her husband has been dead a year (after he visits the grave with them). He also learns that Kyouko has no plans to fall in love again, so he makes her promise to give love a chance again (even if not with him) should he pass his entrance exams. Despite al the obstacles in his path, Yusaku passes his entrance exams, only to discover that Kyouko has someone else interested in her.

Thoughts/Review:

I remember renting a DVD for Maison Ikkoku after Viz started releasing them, having liked Takahashi-sensei’s other anime adaptation stuff I’d seen (Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2). Since there weren’t many DVD’s released at that time, I took a big risk and bought all the manga. I was a bit annoyed by the then flipped release of the manga, discovering that the translation for the subtitles weren’t good (changing “entrance exam” to “midterms” for some stupid reason as an example), and by learning that Viz removed a few chapters. Despite that, the story as a whole was one I found most excellent while being extremely frustrating.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialWhen I learned that there would be a live-action TV special for Maison Ikkoku to be released in 2007, I was pretty excited. I then learned that the show didn’t do so well ratings-wise (apparently) so no TV series would be forthcoming. Despite this, I picked up the title but never got around to watching it until today. So how did it do? OK for the most part but there are some problems.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialLets start with the sets. Outstanding! I actually got a chill when I saw the shot of the road that goes up the hill toward Maison Ikkoku. Then, seeing the exterior of Maison Ikkoku, I went, “Oh yeah!” After that, as the camera gave us a tour of the inside of the apartment, I nearly squealed in delight. So many little details were there. It truly was the manga/anime come to life. Even the hole in the wall of Yusaku’s room is there. Everything is pretty much as I remember it (since I sold my anime and manga way back when to pay medical bills, I can’t recall if there are little things missing or not, but from what I remember, it is pretty good). That is a big plus.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialNext are the characters. Kyouko-san is played by ANZAI Tomoko, who is cute enough to be in the role. However, I never once believed that she ever thought about Yusaku in a romantic way. Oh, she tried to pull it off, but I never believed it like I did in the manga or anime. I think of the scene where Yusaku carries Kyouko-san up to his room to apparently sleep with her. In the manga and anime, I believed that she Maison Ikkoku 2007 Specialwould willing allow Yusaku to take her. In the live-action version, I didn’t get that feeling, only a somewhat uncomfortable feeling of a rape that nearly happened.

Also, in anime or manga, it is cute when the girl holds her arms up in front of her chest to wish someone good luck. However, seeing this done in a live-action piece, it looked stupid, so Kyouko-san looked stupid. Sad, really but Tomoko-san I think did try her best.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialYusaku is played by NAKABAYASHI Taiki and he does a good job in the role. I believed he became Yusaku. His reactions to Kouko-san — believable. His annoyance with the other apartment residence — believable. His actions around his friend Sakamoto — believable. He addresses Kyouko as “Kanrinin-san” most of the time with the occasional shift to “Kyouko-san” when he felt closer and of course in his fantasies, calling her “Kyouko.” All this is in line with the manga and anime and is a plus. So I had no trouble accepting him as a character come to life.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialBoth Ichinose-san (KISHIMOTO Kayoko) and Akemi (TAKAHASHI Yumiko) are played believable to their anime counterparts. I would have imagined Ichinose-san looking just a little older (and heavier) and Akemi should have had red hair. Kayoko-san certain got down the Japanese fan stuff that Ichinose-san did when getting drunk (big plus) and I never saw Akemi working at Chachamaru’s bar (a small negative).
Maison Ikkoku 2007 Special
Yotsuya-san is played by KISHIBE Ittoku. While clearly Ittoku-san is a good actor, I still think that he’s too old to be the part of Yotsuya-san. In the manga/anime, he comes off as looking 30-ish to me, not mid-50’s. Still, because Ittoku-san is such a good actor, he is able to overcome this enough to obtain a pass.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialStory-wise, the special starts off as the manga/anime through Kyouko-san’s arrival. At that point, the writers adjust things to work within the 2-hour confines of the special. As such, Mitaka doesn’t show up until the very end (as a tease to what was thought to be start of the TV series) and Kozue (the girl who’s in love with Yusaku) doesn’t show up at all (unless it is a cameo somewhere that I didn’t notice). An actress was cast for the role since the plan was to have a TV series and we’ll see if she shows up in the 2008 special or not. Yusaku’s grandmother does show up at the end of the special. SUGAI Kin pulls off the little old Japanese lady roll quite well. ^_^

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialA lot of material is covered in two hours and the production staff make sure to hit the highlights. Unfortunately, while they do hit the highlights (and some are a delight to see or a hoot to see), often any emotional impact is lost. For example, there’s no real buildup to the element of Yusaku discovering that Kyouko had been married and her husband is now dead, so there’s no emotion in the scene. It just happens. The other residence just start confronting Kyouko about Yusaku but with no real buildup, it doesn’t mean much. The moment with Kyouko and Yusaku spending New Years Eve together doesn’t have any kind of romantic feel to it and that is a shame. Also, the first instance of Yusaku running away meant nothing.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialAnother problem with the special is that it dragged at times. I felt bored, not because I knew the story (I cite the live-action Honey and Clover as an example a series where I’d watched the anime and already knew the story, yet wasn’t bored), but because the pacing isn’t good. In the anime, I know things go slow as they do in the manga. However, this slow pace wasn’t boring to me because I saw how things were being laid for Kyouko and Yusaku’s eventually becoming a couple. Here, the slow pace doesn’t work on setup and just made me think at times that I’d rather watch something else.

Maison Ikkoku 2007 SpecialHaving now watched this special, I can see why a TV series never came about. I do give the production team kudo’s for trying to make a faithful adaptation for the otaku fans while at the same time providing inoffensive changes to story to work within the confines of a 2-hour special. The casting is mostly fine with a few problems with the chemistry between Yusaku and Kyouko. The sets are fantastic with great attention to detail. The changes in the story are non-offensive as they work for the 2-hour time restriction but the pacing of things is terrible. However, if you are a Maison Ikkoku fan, I would say to go ahead and watch this yourself. There are more than enough good things in this to justify spending a couple of hours to watch this.

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One Response to “Maison Ikkoku 2007 Special (Live Action)”

  1. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I never did watch the second one. ^_^;

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