Hey doods and peeps, welcome to another episode of the G-Views. “Sniff”…well, the day dreaded for so long had come last Sunday, the finale I looked forward to the least of all the Summer Season. Saying goodbye to both these omega kawaii destined soul mates was so painful but it had to be done. Hopefully if the Blu Ray sales are satisfactory, I will see the power couple of Yune and Alice once again. This is Ikoku Meiro no Croisee.
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth (English Title)
La croisée dans un labyrinthe étranger
Genres: adventure, slice of life
Number of episodes: 12 + 2 Bonus episodes.
G-Rating: Over 9000/10
In the 19th century, a small Japanese girl named Yune arrives at Paris. She has traveled to France with Oscar Claudel to work at his shop, Enseignes du Roy. There she meets his grandson, Claude Claudel, a blacksmith who makes street signs for stores. Caught in a whole new cultural experience, both Yune and Claude learn a lot from each other while they try to keep the shop open despite the declining number of customers at the Galerie du Roy. Once a popular marketplace, many nearby businesses are closing as they are all engulfed by the waves of change.
The story takes place in the second half of the 19th century, as Japanese culture gains popularity in the West. A young Japanese girl, Yune, accompanies a French traveller, Oscar, on his journey back to France, and offers to help at the family’s ironwork shop in Paris. Oscar’s nephew and shopowner Claude reluctantly accepts to take care of Yune, and we learn how those two, who have so little in common, get to understand each other and live together in the Paris of the 1800s.
This is another one of those character driven stories as it is their charm that draws the viewer into watching it. Despite some characters having negative characteristics, I guarantee that viewers will like 99% of the cast at the very least. Speaking of characters, hopefully this show’s sense of fashion was more accurate to its billed timeline than GOSICK was. I’ll have to ask the #1 anime fashion critic (Listless Ink). At first I thought this show was going to have a great focus on culture shock and adaptation, referring to both the French’s interest in Japanese culture and Yune’s interest in the French’s. The truth is that it focuses more on the former than the latter, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s also a nice touch that the narrator who appears in every intro and introduces the episode title speaks in French, although I do wonder why they use English pronunciations other than French when referring to items…hmm. Anyway, besides the obvious show’s primary draw of Yune’s nearly unrivaled cuteness and Alice’s equal cute and admirable personality, this show also has other appealing aspects in its favor.
Before I get to that, there’s one last thing about the show’s premise I forgot to mention, metaphors and social status. (Thanks for reminding me Snippy dear). I’m not 100% sure but many episodes have a metaphorical message that summarizes the episode’s plot point, such as a cage and cats. These metaphors help the viewer not only think about how the status quo. was back then but also how the characters themselves felt, each different than the other. What I mean by social status is the difference between rich, middle and slum. It’s basically the same as today: The lower your social status, the less respect you get and it is also applied in reverse as well.: The higher classes are disliked by their lower counterparts. Sure it’s nothing new or uncommon these days but it’s really cool how they portray a tame, yet not far from the truth depiction of how far apart these 3 worlds are from one another. It’s subtle touches like these that make an already great show even better. Simplicity at its best. nothing too complicated.
Animation: The atmosphere. The few, yet still many sights of the galerie and the small town it’s located in are quite lovely sights to behold. It’s like looking into a cool children’s picture book. You look forward to seeing what other scenery you’ll see next.You all know that I enjoy simplicity and don’t always seek over the top action packed excitement. This show delivers enough straightforward and easy to understand scenarios that I have very little to complain about. Sure it has some unanswered questions here and there but nothing that will make fanboys, critics or the 5 people (Myself included) who watched this show whine and moan about inconsistencies or plot points since the show was so enjoyable that these minute flaws can be easily forgiven. There are also instances where the animation follows a cartoon like drawing style. this is usually when Yune and Alice are doing something kyaa worthy. Oh and this brings up a question that’s been baffling me: why do anime artists like to put emphasis on canines over all other teeth? It’s a very common occurrence in anime that at least one canine (usually the left one) is visible. I personally don’t get it but haven’t questioned its purpose until now. It doesn’t annoy me per se, I’m just curious is all.
The music is mostly all classical: Classical music + Yuri subtext + Cuteness= Happy OG-Man.
Claude Claudel (Craudo Craudero): Male protagonist of the show. I really don’t have much to say about this guy. He isn’t admirable nor is he hateful. He’s just a guy haunted by his past who inadvertently lets out his frustrations on poor Yune. that’s really the gist of his character. I’m serious. Sure he means well and isn’t really a bad guy but he has a difficult time controlling his emotions…for reasons that will eventually make more sense to the viewer, but for the most part he’s cranky at either Yune or someone else.
Yune: When this girl made her very first appearance on television, I paused the video, looked myself in the mirror and screamed kyaa! at the top of my lungs. The cuteness…the undeniable cuteness…Haaaauuuuuuuu! For those questioning my sanity, no I’m not as bad as Takanashi from working!! fame. Come now doods I’m not THAT DERANGED! Back to Yune: Innocent, kind, lovable, trustworthy, brave, courageous, naive, willing to learn and all around awesome. I cannot describe her greatness enough.
Alice Blanche: To sum up her character: Spoiled brat with a heart of gold. Alice is an optimist with a very admirable imagination, a positive outlook on life and a deep fascination with all things Japanese, especially a certain person. The reason being is that she admires the freedom and culture the Japanese have in her eyes and wishes to live a similar lifestyle since although she likes being rich and won’t stop bragging about her family’s wealth, she wants to go outside and see the world. It’s cool seeing her transformation from spoiled and bossy to spoiled, empathetic and caring. And yes, like her older sister, she’s obviously an ojou-sama and that awards her major brownie points in my book. I love ojou-sama anime girls as much as omega kawaii ones.
Camille Blanche: Alice’s respected older sister. The definition of a well endowed lady. Beautiful, elegant, well mannered, you name it. However, despite looking optimistic and cheerful to many on the outside, there is a cursed frown hidden behind that smiling facade of a wall she’s forced to build on a daily basis containing a dark secret and inevitable destiny. A most interesting character indeed.
In conclusion: A show that left me wanting more each and every week. It’s no global phenomenon or revolutionary show but it’s certainly a sweet treat like Yuruyuri. If you’re looking for something that is food for the soul and grants you peace of mind along with a great cast, this is it. For those looking for something more…The exit is that way.