Anime Series: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée
29 July, 2011 Leave a comment
“Paris, at the end of the 19th century. The silhouette of a small girl named Yune can be seen under the roof of the Galerie du Roy. Only a few Parisians, however, know of her arrival.”
Claude, a sign maker working in the Gallery, is surprised to find that Oscar, his grandfather, has returned from his trip to Japan with an extra guest. Yune, a young Japanese girl from a rich family, has come to Paris to work for Claude at his shop in an effort to learn about life in the city she adores.
A slow-paced slice-of-life series, La croisée dans un labyrinthe étranger (the crossroads in a foreign labyrinth) deals with Claude and Yune and their efforts to learn about each others’ vastly different cultures as they grow close.
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Satelite
- Origin: Manga
- Genres: Slice-of-Life, Historical
- Original Run: July 2011
Having taken over his father’s duty in “Enseigne du Roy”, crafting signboards and other ironworks-related items, Claude works hard but lacks good customer service skills, sometimes driving customers away, according to Oscar. While initially against the idea of taking Yune under his wing, Claude begins to warm to her, despite knowing almost nothing about Japan.
As an apprentice Geisha, Yune is very respectful when interacting with anyone, restraining her own opinions in favour of others. She pushes herself to be useful for Claude and to learn the French way of life. Despite her obedient ways, she is extremely stubborn, though her strong-will means that she always maintains her over-polite attitude.
The owner of “Enseigne du Roy” and a bit of a ladies’ man, Oscar brought Yune back with him from a trip to Japan, delivering items to a wealthy family. He has a fair knowledge of Japanese culture, unlike Claude, his grandson, and often shares a moment of recognition with Yune about aspect of Japan (mainly food!)
From a wealthy family that Claude blames for the decline of many of the smaller Galleries in Paris, Alice is pretty much a 19th century Otaku, admiring anything and everything related to the orient, which naturally makes her vastly interested in the new arrival to Paris.
For one searching for drama or action, this will most certainly disappoint; Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, personified, would be a shy, amiable girl who’ll tell you sweet stories and fairy tales to help you feel better about the world.
From what I’ve seen so far, there is a great deal of focus on the cultural differences between Yune and Claude (well Paris, but the majority of this is dealt with through the interaction between the two of them.) This provides both entertainment and some historical insight as well, though I do question if that will be something that can be sustained through 12 episodes without requiring the help of any more dramatic events.
Of the characters, Yune is probably going to be winning all the popularity contests and will, no doubt, be the main reason for continuing to watch the series for some. I like how Yune, Claude and Oscar don’t really fall into any anime stereotype as such, with Yune being timid but strong-willed, Claude having both pride and humility and Oscar being rather passive while being hilarious. Alice is a character that doesn’t seem to fit in with the setting of the series, as I question how a girl of an upper-class family would normally act, but her exaggerated personality adds some fun to the peaceful nature of Yune and Claude, so I don’t mind it.
The music follows and enhances the feeling of peaceful intrigue, with a French flair (duh!) and the sound effects I found particularly enjoyable, like the gentle pattering of Yune’s light footsteps.
So far, so good. If you want a relaxing escape to another time, this is certainly doing a fine job right now. Let us hope that I’ll still be looking forward to more of Yune’s moe moe five or six episodes down the line!