Ikoku Meiro no Croisée – 03

Ikoku Meiro is fast shaping up as my favorite series of the Summer, along with Natsume Yuujinchou San. This is clearly a labor of love for everyone involved, from the author Hinata-san to the director to the animators. And it shows.

It’s hard for me to remember a series that just simply makes me feel so good, from the first notes of the OP to the preview and every moment in between. What an amazing environment has been created here – the Paris of 1898 feels so alive, every loaf of bread and raindrop and sunset. And the people inhabiting it are people I’d love to spend some time with, and that’s a sure ticket to success for any series.

There still isn’t much of a conventional plot here, and that’s absolutely fine with me. I wouldn’t want to change a thing. The focus this week was on a sort of cultural exchange, with Yune and even Oscar teaching Claude little bits about Japan. He learns about kanji, even using the kanjo for Yune (“The Sound of Hot Water”) to make a sign for a musical instrument shop. He learns about Japanese bells, and the “Gong!” (not “Dong!”) sound they make, as lovingly demonstrated by Alice. he learns about paper walls and doors, and miniature furniture and lacquerware and even people. And though the foreign nature of all of it puzzles him (being the curmudgeon he is) Claude has a keen curiosity to learn and understand more.

If that doesn’t sound very interesting, than this probably isn’t the show for you. For me, it’s heaven watching Yune iron shirts and resist the urge to step outside the store to pet a cat, and – most especially this week – step daintily around a puddle that Claude has just jumped over. That one just about melted me, right there. Yune is a marvel of cuteness, but it’s never overbearing – she wears her moe as well as any character I can remember.

There were a few serious moments here. Another closed shop in the Galerie du Roy, amid strong inclinations that the entire place may be on the verge of going under. Oscar even suggests half-kiddingly that the three of them should go to Japan “if the shop gies under”. Claude denies the possibility vehemently, but I wonder of things could go that route eventually. It was clear from the look in Oscar’s eyes that he was entranced by Japan and would love to go back. And we finally get the long-awaited introduction of the Aoi Yuuki character, Alice. She’s a rich girl and Japanophile whose sister Camille bought her Yune’s kimono. Whether she’ll be a true villain (I hope and think not) or more of a foil remains to be seen.

Whatever happens with the plot happens, but I’d really be fine if things just stayed the way they were. What a pleasure to discover Paris through Yune’s eyes. And to be a fly on the wall, watching Claude and Yune’s relationship develop as they learn about each other and their respective cultures. I watch anime for many reasons, but one that can make me as happy as this one does is a rare thing.



  1. l

    Gaah!! Too cute, i can't believe i could just watch the whole show based on cuteness.I wonder if there will ever be romance?

    Alice will never be a villain (not even a fake one) because at the mere news of Yune existence, she insist that she want to have tea with her. It more like she will be the one to give back the kimono to Yune, a friend instead of villian.

  2. L

    i loved the silent scene when claude and yune were walking around paris in the rain. Its the little moments that I enjoy about this series in the last episode I liked the part when they passed by the guy who was playing the music box. (not sure why but its my favorite) Its really nice of claude to put his troubles behind him and spend time with yune. He clearly enjoys it too so that is a plus.
    In terms of seriousness I think that will be in the background for now lol

  3. You hear the phrase "slice of life" tossed around a lot with anime, but this is a real slice of life show. And what a life it is.

    Ikaze, Yune is cute enough that I could watch the show for that alone – but thankfully, for me there's just so much more. I love Claude and Oscar, too, and the visuals and music are fantastic.

  4. K

    When she tried to jump over the puddle and instead ran around in front of it with her little steps I almost died from Moe overload.

    I just don't see Alice as a villian. The series needs more then 3 characters over the long haul and it makes sense that Alice will be Yune's friend. If there is a villian in this series its probably going to be Alice's father.

    As I said on RC I smell a romance brewing between Claude and Yune. He is 18 and she is 13 and in those days girls got married when they were 12-16 years old so it is possible thats going to happen (romance) before this series is done.

    I even wonder if Oscar saw Yune as bride material for his grandson and thats why he brought her back.

  5. t

    I don't see Alice as a villain either but I think she might unintentionaly cause a bit of drama.

    Here's what I see happening,Alice will invite Yune over and to try to show her interest in japan she will wear Yune's Kimono.
    Of course Alice doesn't know it's Yune's and Yune will not want to tell her.
    That's what I have in mind but then again maybe they'll go a completely different route.

    Staff wise I noticed that while Sato Junichi is involved,he's only done the "composition",all the actual scrips with dialogue are being handled by Ikeda Mamiko.
    That matters to me because when I think of Sato I don't necceraly think romance,however Ikeda has written some of the most noteworthy romances of the last few years.

  6. I think the romance is inevitable. In fact, some have suggested that Oscar brought Yune back specifically as a potential wife for his shy, awkward grandson.

    Your guess on Alice is as good as any – sounds reasonable. I think Claude with his somewhat black and white world view will immediately see her and her family as evil, but the story will prove otherwise.

    In some ways, I think you can view this as a story of Claude and Yune helping each other learn a different way of looking at the world.

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