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Maison Ikkoku Episode 1
Omataseshimashita! Watashi Wa Otonashi Kyoko Desu
(Sorry to Keep You Waiting! I'm Kyoko Otonashi)

Distributed by: Shogakukan Video (Japan), Viz Video (North America)
Length: 26 minutes
Rating: NR, parental guidance suggested
Format: Original Japanese dialog (LD), subtitled (VHS) and dubbed (VHS)

Based on the comic series by Takahashi Rumiko. Produced by Kitty Film and Fuji TV. English version by Yoshida Toshifumi and Trish LeDoux, Viz Video.

[ plot summary ]

volume 1

Godai Yusaku is a ronin -- a student who hasn't passed his college entrance exams. Studying for the exams is hard enough, but it's even worse if you live at Ikkoku-kan, with its motley assortment of tenants, sometimes known as "The Loon Squad." In this episode, we get introduced to most of the residents of Maison Ikkoku -- Ichinose and her son Kentaro in room 1, Yotsuya in room 4, Godai Yusaku in room 5, Roppongi Akemi in room 6, and the beautiful new kanrinin-san (manager) of Maison Ikkoku, Otonashi Kyoko and her white dog.

We discover some quirks to the residents of Ikkoku-kan. The mysterious and voyeuristic Yotsuya (just what does he do for a living?) gains access to Godai's room by making a large hole in the adjoining wall. Akemi likes to wander around in her sheer nightie. Both leech instant ramen from Godai, who barely has enough money to buy them in the first place. Ichinose likes to perform a rather boisterous version of the o-bon dance. On top of all this, the tenants like to use Godai's room for partying. Just how is a guy supposed to get any studying done in a place like this?

[ capsule review ]

The subtitled and dubbed versions of Maison Ikkoku are so vastly different, it's impossible to cover them under the same review.

Subtitled Version:

Viz is to be commended for keeping the subtitled version true to the original version which aired in Japan. By doing so, we don't miss out on the script's intent -- that is, if you ignore the subtitles and listen to the Japanese dialogue. One of the core elements in MI is the wordplay. Specifically, the many puns and jokes made using the language itself. Translating these jokes are a near impossibility, since in order to understand them, not only would you have to understand the language, but you would also have to understand the culture. That's a tall order for any translator, and Viz seems to have know this. Instead, they chose to do a fairly straight-forward translation, not trying to explain every little nuance that occurs.

Translation problems aside, the story is pretty typical Takahashi -- Put two characters into a situation where they have feelings for each other, but circumstances of all sorts find a way to get in the way of their realisation. The series starts slowly at first, but this is primarily a soap opera / sitcom, not a mecha-fest. Voice actors for the characters were well chosen for the roles -- no weak points here. - AN

The subtitled version of Maison Ikkoku is thankfully fairly intact with a straight-forward translation of the dialogue in each episode. The translations are pretty basic with no attempt to explain any of the finer points of the script. Interestingly enough, some of the translations between the sub and dub do not match in a direct word for word translation. Either the sub or dub is missing out on information that the other provided. However, there are no glaring omissions or errors in the subbed version. -JYN

Dubbed Version:

As I indicated earlier, it's basically impossible to translate this series faithfully. So, in the dubbed version, Viz didn't even try. Instead, in Carl Macek-like fashion, the dialogue was re-written to allow the dialogue to flow with the actions. Did I use the words "dialogue" and "flow" in the same sentence? My mistake. The voice "acting" is nothing less than horrendous. I expect a dubbed version of a show to be better than the original, since the director would have a feel for the characters, and if the original interpretations suited the roles. Why is this so rarely the case? Viz's recycled pot of voices is so terriblly untalented and mis-cast, it's embarrasing. The only saving grace is Yotsuya -- he is played with a rather dapper English accent, a very interesting, perhaps somewhat inspired piece of casting. BUT, if you're going to play the part, you'd better live the part. A proper English gentleman would know how to pronounce, "pièce de résistance!" While we're on the subject of pronunciations, just how many different ways are there to say Japanese words? Shame on you, Viz! -AN

Pathetic. That just about sums up what the dubbed version of Maison Ikkoku. The choice of voice actors for the roles is lousy (although Yotsuya isn't all bad), and the voice acting is down-right horrendous. The voices that were used will sound very familiar to anyone who's watched the dubbed version of Ranma, with girl-type Ranma playing Kyoko Otonashi. Unfortunately, the actress' voice type is not suited for the roll of Kyoko and it's rather difficult to reconcile the differences between the character's personality and her voice.

Worse still, the translation of the original script does not help matters any. Since so much of MI's jokes deal with word play it's very difficult to directly translate things although they did manage one good joke. So, rather than do a faithful translation, Viz has instead tried to translate the feel of the dialogue in order to keep things moving. (There's nothing wrong with this). Unfortunately, when doing so, someone was not paying particular attention to the different characters' "personality" nor for any continuity in the actual script.

Technically the shows are of standard TV quality animation. Nothing spectacular but nothing awful either. Otherwise, Viz seems to have kept most of the actual film footage intact. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?!) the sound quality of the voice track is not the best on the dubbed version so it can sometimes be difficult to hear the dialogue... unless you want to have the tv scream at you later with the background music, sounds etc.

Unless you *really* hate trying to read subtitles, the dubbed version of this series really ought to be buried in soft peat. -JYN

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: 3 stars 3 stars 2 stars
Direction: 3 stars 3 stars 1 star
Acting: 4 stars 4 stars 1 star
Animation: 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars
Music: 4 stars 4 stars 3 stars
Translation: N/A 4 stars 2 stars
Overall Rating: 3 stars 3 stars 1 star

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