Kyōko Otonashi (音無響子, Otonashi Kyōko), née Kyōko Chigusa (千草 響子 Chigusa Kyōko), is the main female protagonist of the Maison Ikkoku series. Initially presented as a 21-year-old young lady, she takes on the tough task of managing the broken-down boarding house, Maison Ikkoku. She lives in the manager's room (with no room number, a reference to the 無 in her name meaning "zero" or "null"). She is two years older than Godai and a widow, which are two of the many reasons she worries toward the end of the series about whether she will be accepted as his fiancée.
Kyōko is a fair-skinned young woman of average height (a bit shorter than Yūsaku Godai) who is considered beautiful and attractive by many people she has encountered with has big, blue eyes and purplish-blue hair (black-tinted in the manga) which stays right below her shoulders. It is sometimes tied into a loose ponytail with a ribbon but let straight most of the time. Her bangs falls lightly on her forehead, covering her eyebrows, and she has two long strands of hair that hang down from her ears. While going out on formal occasions, she normally has it down with secured by a complementary ribbon or has it braided in two and tied up. She has about three different styles of ponytails. When she was younger Kyōko's hair was much shorter, almost bob cut, but staying just above her shoulders.
Kyōko typically wears pants and full-sleeved jumper, covered by a yellow apron which has the image of a small yellow chicken with the words "Piyo" printed underneath it. She also carries a bamboo broom often, which is used to sweep the Ikkoku exteriors. After enrolling for tennis lessons with Shun Mitaka, Kyōko starts wearing sports apparel—a light pink shirt and complementing miniskirts. She also wears a cap and wears her hair with a high topknot (ponytail) secured by a white scrunchy.
Despite being sweet and polite, Kyōko also has a violent and frightening side that emerges when she is jealous or angry (such as when the Puppet Club decides to play a prank on Yūsaku Godai or dealing with her meddling parents). She soon develops affection for Yūsaku and she has a tendency to dote over him (with the other tenants teasing her for acting like a "good wife") and sometimes becomes jealous around him (though she denies it is jealousy). However, it is hard for her to forget about Sōichirō Otonashi (who died just six months after their wedding) and her memories of her husband sometimes put her in a melancholy mood. Kyōko's love for him is sometimes reflected in dialogues with her dog, who bears the same name as her late husband.
Kyōko is the only daughter of the Chigusas, a middle-class Japanese family whose father is an arrogant and domineering and her mother is stubborn and demanding woman. While doing her high schooling, Kyōko develops a crush on a young substitute teacher who teaches in her class, Sōichirō Otonashi, which develops into love over time. Sōichirō too reciprocates her feelings and despite their age difference, the two get married after Kyōko's graduation, though the Chigusas show resistance and chagrin. However, after six months of marriage, Sōichirō dies in an unknown accident, leaving Kyōko a widow. After the incident, she keeps her last name from marriage and decides never to marry again, to cherish the memory and moments of joy with her husband. She even goes so far as to rename their dog Shiro, that Sōichirō had found, Sōichirō. Shortly after the incident, Kyōko is given the position of the manager at the Otonashi-owned boarding house, Maison Ikkoku, by her father-in-law Mr. Otonashi. She moves in to Ikkoku with her belongings and starts spending time fixing and clearing things up around the building, still holding on to her thoughts about Sōichirō. The tenants are instantly attracted by her appearance and attitude, especially Godai, who instantly falls head-over-heels for her.
Ever since her shift to Maison Ikkoku, Otonashi had seen Godai as a younger brother and always tried to encourage him. However, she realizes he does not feel the same way towards her, rather considers her as his love interest when he gets drunk and proclaims he loves Kyōko one night. After she struggles with her lingering feelings for her late husband, Soichiro, she eventually admits her love for Godai and marries him.
Soichiro was a student teacher at Kyoko's high school, which is where they met. In flashbacks she is shown to have been smitten with him for a long time. Kyōko loved Sōichirō so much that she decided to keep his last name even after his passing. It is speculated that she names her dog after Soichiro, but in a flashback it shows that Soichiro actually names the dog Shiro, but it responds to Soichiro as well. Kyoko likely started referring to the dog solidly as Soichiro after her husband's death.
Mitaka is Kyoko's tennis coach. We don't really know at the beginning if Kyoko really has feelings for Mitaka, but she sort of dates him in the beginning of the series. He spends much of the series chasing after her even if it means using cheap tricks. Over time, she develops feelings for Godai and rejects Mitaka's advances especially at the end of the anime and manga.
- "I know you'll pass a mid-term someday! Just hang in there!"
- "Oh, excuse me. I'm the new building manager. Sorry to keep you waiting, I'm Kyōko Otonashi."
- The name Kyōko means "sound, echo" (響) (kyō) and "child" (子) (ko). Her surname Otonashi means "sound" (音) (oto) and "nothing" (無) (nashi), which literally means "without a sound," but is also a pun on otto-nashi (夫なし), or "without a husband," in reference to her status as a widow.
- Her maiden name Chigusa means "thousand" (千) (chi) and "grass, herb, weed" (草) (kusa/gusa).
- Her married name Godai means "five" (五) (go) and "generation" (代) (dai).
- Kyōko made numerous cameo appearance in the Urusei Yatsura series, including:
- In the last episode of the TV series episode 194, she is shown standing beside Kotatsu-neko with her broom, watching Ataru Moroboshi being electrocuted by Lum. This would make the first appearance in animated form but in the background.
- In the last official episode the 12th OVA, she is seen watching the fireworks display with Yūsaku, from behind Lum.
- In the 10th Anime Grand Prix, conducted in 1988 by Animage, Kyōko was voted the second best female character, behind Madoka Ayukawa from Kimagure Orange Road.
- Kyōko's Piyo Piyo Apron would make a cameo appearance in other anime adaptations of Rumiko Takahashi's works:
- In episodes 57 and 78 of Urusei Yatsura, the male protagonist Ataru Moroboshi's mother is shown wearing it in green.
- In episode 37 of Ranma 1/2, character Kuno Tatewaki is wearing a blue bib with the Piyo Piyo symbol.
- In Inuyasha's first movie Affections Touching Across Time, deuteragonist Kagome Higurashi is wearing it in pink.
- In episode 12 of Kyokai no Rinne, deuteragonist Sakura Mamiya is wearing it in pink in protagonist Rinne Rokudo's vision.
- Kyōko's voice actress provides the voice of: