If you've ever read the interviews of the author on her rare trips to the states, there are two things that stand out. One, she had trouble understanding why Americans would like something like Maison Ikkoku, based so much on the typical Japanese life style. Two, she (Rumiko Takahashi) created this to be a comedy, that about the life of a bunch of weird characters in a rooming house. Her normal actions (based on what she did with LUM: Urusei Yatsura) would be to continually introduce dozens of new characters and probably tenants to build the story around. This didn't happen, as the story developed an unexpected focal point, an unusual romance between two of the original characters.
As for the first observation, while it is true that the culture depicted here is Japanese, and some things may be confusing to an American audience, a part of that originality is what makes it interesting. Romance and comedy are universal concepts to nearly all cultures. We may eat differently, may have a different educational system, and do many other things in a different manner, but our actions and reactions are basically the same.
The second observation is what makes Takahshi such a great author. It would have been easy to ignore fan reactions, and just make another episodic, sitcom. She instead must have listened, and presented her audience with an epic romance, comedic, thriller, that encompasses possibly the most complete story ever presented in serialized manga. There are fourteen volumes of the Viz compilations of this work.
One more important point is worth considering. I'd advise buying the volumes soon as possible; Viz is going to the smaller size on almost all their series. Since these are already shrunken down art frames from the original manga. Shrinking them more is just wrong, but Viz has determined they can't sell most graphic novels at the higher price mark, and they are heavily discounted. I've gotten some of the new size, and they just are not as good.