Why This Classic Anime Needs a Reboot

Rumiko Takahashi is one of the greatest writers in the field of anime. Her series are original, witty, and usually with loads of charm. What’s more, many of them have become classics over the years and critics have deemed many of her series as “must-watch” anime. Many of her classic series are experiencing a renaissance with new material. Her classic series InuYasha has been airing a sequel series – Yashahime – for about a year now. It was announced not too long ago that Urusei Yassura would be getting a reboot in October 2022, bringing back one of the biggest hits in Japan from the eighties.


Still, as good as all these series are and as exciting as it is to see new animation from these classic franchises, there is one series she created that has largely been forgotten by a modern audience. It’s a series that was critically acclaimed at the time as one of the greatest anime ever created. With DVD’s of the original anime sometimes selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay, it may be time for animation studios to consider a reboot here as well. The series in question is called Maison Ikkokuand it is not only considered by many to be Takahashi’s masterpiece, but is also considered her most overlooked work.

What is Maison Ikkoku About?

Rumiko Takahashi is known for being a master entertainer with a great imagination. When Takahashi was growing up she was largely inspired by two types of American comics: Marvel Comics and Archie Comics. Like many kids in the west, Takahashi was won over by men and women in tights who had superhero powers. She also loved reading Archie, and loved the adventures of the redhead who was goofy and a bit of a wimp, but ultimately was someone with a good heart. He had such a good heart that two women – Veronica and Betty – fought like cats over the poor boy.

RELATED: The Classic Slice-of-Life Manga That Still Doesn’t Have an Anime Adaptation

When she started writing her own series she would combine the romantic antics of Archie and the superpowers of Marvel to create many of her series, which is why so many of her series have supernatural powers while featuring love triangles. At one point Takahashi decided to come down to Earth for a bit and write a story about a college student who would fall in love with the manager of his apartment complex. Originally intended to be a small project, the series grew as the simple love story got very complicated with past secrets, insecurities, and rivals who ended up being more likable than readers would expect. It soon became clear that Maison Ikkoku was another hit in the making, and thus an anime was commissioned.

Maison Ikkoku Revolutionizes the ‘Slice of Life Anime’

The term ‘slice of life anime’ is a genre that has changed with the passage of time. Early on ‘slice of life primarily referred to series where characters lived their everyday lives, where some of the biggest conflicts included who was going to make dinner, or how should the kids tell mom they broke her favorite vase? Early examples of this type of series include Sazae-san and Akage no Annebut shows with relatively small conflicts that were largely confined to the families the shows were about (and maybe a few of their friends).

Rumiko Takahashi decided that ‘slice of life’ meant a simple story that would grow more complex over the passage of time. Therefor, when producers approached her about adapting Maison Ikkoku for an anime, she did so under the condition that they ‘take their time’ in developing the story. This meant they wouldn’t condense the story. This was a series that would go on for dozens of episodes and take place over a number of years. It was risky, as the producers were being told to tackle a show that could take years to complete, had little merchandise potential, and would largely need to sustain itself through viewership alone if a proper ending was to be reached.

Thankfully, Takahashi was a master storyteller, and like her previous series, Maison Ikkoku would take the Japanese airwaves storm and become one of the most viewed anime in the country. It redefined what a romantic comedy could be, it gave new meaning to what ‘slice of life’ was, and the series was a bestseller on a new video format known as laserdisc. The series would end with an impressive 96 episodes, 2 OVA’s, and a theatrical animated film.

Maison Ikkoku Gets Overlooked in America

In many situations we would love to report that the series was a worldwide success, but sadly, I can’t write that because it’s not exactly true. while Maison Ikkoku is a well told story it is also very slow at times and very Japanese to boot. When Viz decided to bring the series over to America after the huge success they had with Ranma fans were confused about the show. They didn’t understand why they were watching a series without lots of action or fan service, and since a VHS tape could cost an American buyer $30 for a measly two episodes there were complaints that maybe the series moved a little too slow.

The release was canceled at episode 36, with more than half to go. Viz kept the series alive through various manga releases before the DVD boom in the late nineties presented them with another chance to release the series. So, just as Maison Ikkoku had to compete with Takahashi’s more famous Ranma in the VHS days, so too did the show have to compete with the much more lucrative InuYasha in the DVD days. The series was completed this time, but the final set was released in low quantities, and now the whole set is out-of-print and commands high prices on eBay.

Maison Ikkoku is Prime Content for a Reboot

Despite the fact that Maison Ikkoku has fallen to the side as Takahashi’s fantasy epics grow in popularity, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the time is right for a reboot. While the series has constantly gone out of print, the fact that the DVD’s command hundreds of dollars for most sets shows how much people who have seen the show love it. What’s more, Viz have re-released the manga multiple times in books that highlight how respected it is. First as an Editor’s Choice and now part of their Signature Collection. That means the manga is always being picked up by new readers and there is at least respect from the community that the title is important.

The biggest reason may be the anime market itself though, which has embraced ‘slice of life’ anime in ways that were never thought possible before. It’s now a genre with a tab on Crunchyroll and everything. In fact, the original Maison Ikkoku would probably be embraced by todays audiences if the show wasn’t so noticeably old. if the Urusei Yassura reboot comes out and is a surprise hit, then there is little reason to believe a Maison Ikkoku reboot can’t work. The new series could have an updated score and visuals. The beginning could be slightly tightened to get to major conflicts a little faster.

Very little after that would need to be changed. The best part is in an age of streaming there is virtually no barrier to entry, and if done properly word-of-mouth will absolutely make the reboot a success. In a day when magical girl anime reboots are proving to be wildly popular due to a combination of quality and nostalgia, certainly, a reboot of a series that is touted as Rumiko Takahashi’s masterpiece would be worth looking into.

MORE: The Greatest Slice Of Life Anime Of All Time (July 2022)

Leave a Comment