Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: Episodes 10 – 12

Camille, Alice, Yune, Oscar and Claude – the main cast of Ikoku Meiro

Final 3 episodes that revolve mainly around Claude and a review – the aftertaste. 

Episode 10. Phantasmagoria

Summary : Claude goes to meet an old customer of his father, who wishes a new sign for the reastaurant he is going to open in his old wine cellar. Claude isn’t very excited to hear the customer expects from him his father’s style; he feels compared to a man he didn’t have many feelings for. We learn through his flashbacks at the train about his father’s character: non-talkative and highly critic of everything Claude tried.

Back at the shop Yune doesn’t want to slack off, so Oscar suggests she cleans the restroom. There they find an old slide projector and a kinetoscope which soon become the center of attention. Alice enters the shop and joins them. The girls are a bit scared about the pictures that ‘came alive’, but then Yune remembers the evenings with her sister, when they played with the shadow and their hands. Afterwards, Alice along with Yune have a fun time drawing dragons and cats and making them move through the kinetoscope. Later, Alan, the typographer, marches in the shop and  upon seeing the big white sheet used to show the pictures from the projector comes up with an idea. The whole gallery and passer-bys find a seat and enjoy the show.

Anime vs Manga : This episode is new material produced solely for the series.

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Episode 11. Prayer

Summary : Alice invites Yune to the Grand Magazin, but Claude doesn’t allow Yune to go, ‘because they are the enemy of the Gallery’. Yune is perceptive, she understands this has to do with Claude’s father, as well, so she doesn’t insist on going. Instead they go for a picnic, where grandpa isn’t careful enough and Yune gets drunk. In that situation she starts reminiscing about her sister. She prays to ‘the god of Paris’ for her sister’s health. Claude wants to know more, so Yune narrates how she thinks she caused her sister’s blindness. Yune out of kindness said to her sister that she could only at her in order not to get hurt by the people’s mean glares. There came a point though that Yune got better physically and her sister started getting weaker until she couldn’t see with those blue eyes of her. Oscar reassures Yune that her sister was very happy to hear those words she had said. Yune wants to learn what kind of magic Oscar uses in the end – she believed that he also made the rain to stop…

France vs Japan:

  • Kotodama:  refers to the Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names. English translations include “soul of language”, “spirit of language”, “power of language”, “power word”, “magic word”, and “sacred sound”. The notion of kotodama presupposes that sounds can magically affect objects, and that ritual word usages can influence our environment, body, mind, and soul.
  • Hanami: is the parties/pic nic under cherry blossoms around April. It’s accustomed that sake is shared and drunk while Japanese eat and talk and enjoy viewing the sakura falling. More here.
  • Each place and a god: this idea Yune expresses comes most probably from Shinto’s nature as a religion, where a great number of gods resides in nature and elsewhere. I’m not sure about France, but here in Greece each place/village/city has a saint to ‘protect’ it. In that sense this custom doesn’t differ much from polytheism.
  • Blue eyes : Shione, Yune’s sister, was born with blue eyes. Perhaps they came out of a genetic alteration, since most Japanese have black/ dark brown eyes and a possibility of a foreign ancestor isn’t mentioned. This is a case of prejudice towards people who aren’t like others. Not very uncommon for a society that till that point wasn’t influenced much from reasoning but from myths.
Anime vs Manga: Prayer corresponds to the manga chapter 7.Park. There’s more about Yune’s age in the manga (13) and the way she is invited to the Grand Magazin is changed: Alice’s brother sent a bouquet of flowers with an invitation.
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Episode 12. Cats on the roof

Summary: Yune tries to help Claude with his work and touches his late father’s gloves, thing that enrages Claude and tells Yune to go outside. Yune goes upstairs, in the shop, and there she hears a bell. She thinks it’s Mr. Yanick’s lost cat and goes searching after it. Some minutes later Claude and soon Alice and the whole Gallery searches for her. She’s found on the roof, where Claude is scared that Yune will fall and get killed. Claude explains her that the cat was lost long ago. He manages to catch her before the glass breaks and finally they discuss his past with Yune. His father died in Grand Magazin and they weren’t exactly getting along. He promises her that one day they’ll go together there. Since Yune lost her sandals on the roof, Claude carries her bride-style and when the others see them, they burst into laughs for the akwardness of the moment. Yune realizes that she has become part of the Gallery family.

Anime vs Manga: From ch.7 to ch.5- this series has done so many back and forths that weren’t really needed. Anyway, for the most part (aside the ending with Claude’s father way of death and the whole Gallery being there for Yune) the episode copied the manga.

——–
Review: It ended up a mediocre series. Sure it didn’t have serious intentions from the beginning with all this moeness hanging around. It was a light series with the simple intention of being enjoyed for its lightness. I’m sure though that no one would complain about a more in depth depictiona nd discussion of cultural differences. From episode 8 and after the series focused more on the personal stories than the cultural backgrounds. And although there was no actual plot, there were questions left unanswered like what happened to that kimono in the beginning or the wider family stories – where’s Claude’s mother and Yune’s parents? Or why Yune ended up a maid instead a poster girl, if Oscar knew that she wouldn’t work as such when he brought her in France?

In the character department there was a good job done, especially since I came to actually like Alice with that screeching annoying voice… Camille outshone everyone though. She and grandpa were the more ‘normal’ behaving people in the series. Camille was a calm river that could lash currents of water when people didn’t demonstrate tact. Her fan movements and the expressions of her eyes fleshed out her whole being and character. Grandpa Oscar was one playful (with the ladies) old man that loves journeys and is very kind and considerate of others. Claude was a very bad case of tsundere. He really needs psychotherapy. His anger control is non-existant, his insecurities about everything- the changing times, the foreign people in Paris, his abilities etc- overflow. He considers Yune a ‘cat that needs a bell’, although he knows Yanick’s story; by putting a bell on a cat, you actually lose it, it runs away. Cat may be cute and of course used metaphorically, yet cuteness isn’t the meaning attached to the metaphor. Cat is represented as a pet, something that a man possesses, as a whimsical woman that eats mouses and plays with them (remember, Camille called Claude a mouse) and as lovers, since amants went in and out of houses that weren’t their own but acted like they were. Yune herself stole my heart the first episodes and then the cuteness of moeness somehow evaporated for me.

The backgrounds were splendid but can’t redeem the series as an whole or even the case that the music wasn’t so fitting. Actually ko-ko-ya recycled some Ristorante Paradiso pieces! That was a big mistake on their part in my eyes. This shows little care about the show and implies that listeners would be dumb enough not to notice anything. I was disappointed from this part.

I’d really prefer an ending similar to chapter 8 of the manga, where they go to the Grand Magazin and Claude realizes he shouldn’t be overprotective and Yune is no cat – she can take care of herself even in difficult situations.

If someone goes crazy over moeness and needs something to cool off after a hectic day of work, without wanting unnecessary information and serious dialogues, that’s for that someone.
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