Believe it or not, Yune has the potential to be a cat-lady of epic proportions when she grows up.
Episode 4 begins as Yune and Claude attempt to consolidate the differences between French and Japanese cuisine. That night, the Blanche butler comes with an invitation to tea for Yune from Alice. Claude tells her to reject the offer with upsets Alice, of course. That night, Yune attempts to take a bath but is caught by Claude which leads to an awkward moment. She’d been used to taking baths all the time in Japan and had to hold back. Claude understands, albeit grudgingly, and offers to take her to the public baths. Alice then comes and Yune accompanies her much to Claude’s dismay. At her mansion, Alice attempts to impress Yune, offering Yune her kimono back in exchange for staying with her, stating that Claude wouldn’t ever be able to buy it back. However, Yune refuses. They all return to the shop and Yune makes a traditional Japanese dinner. She then reveals to Alice that she wants Claude to fulfill his promise.
We start of the next episode as Yune watches Claude as he works. Unfortunately, he isn’t one to enjoy being watched and tries to make her do something else. However, all she wants to do is help out so he tells her to go clean some lamps and watch the shop. She sees a woman outside and tries to talk to her but apparently scares her away. According to Claude, smiling and being overly friendly is viewed as suspicious in France. Just as he finishes his lecture, she sees the little homeless boy outside and smiles and waves again. Claude tells her that she shouldn’t do that, especially to somebody dressed so poorly. This mindset is shocking to Yune who has been taught to treat and value all customers. Later on, Yune lets the boy in but he ends up stealing a candle and running off. She tries to chase him but to avail while Claude tries to find her as well. She gets lost in the Galerie and is suspicious of everyone around her because of what Claude mentioned earlier. When Claude finally finds her, he explains that not all Parisians are scary.
Yune is cleaning one morning when Alice comes, wanting to take a photograph with her. After she finishes her work, Yune accompanies the other girl and they go try on clothes. Yune fits Alice in a kimono and she gets to try on one of Alice’s dresses. Yune gets to meet Camille and is seemingly awed by Alice’s older sister. Yune is surprised by the differences in clothing, noting that the crinoline is like a birdcage, a statement that Camille agrees to. They manage to finally take the picture together, after a bunch of bad takes, but it’s still slightly ruined by a cat. xD
Yune seems not to be feeling well one morning. The little boy stops by and she gives him bread, telling him that he shouldn’t steal anymore. Claude catches her doing so and yells at her, Alice barging in soon after to scold him. Unfortunately, Yune is not feeling well enough to go with Alice, so Alice just gives her a kiss, a sign of closeness in France. The little boy comes by again but Yune is unable to give him any bread. She kisses him goodbye and Claude sees her, yelling at her about it. Later on, she passes out from being ill and Claude freaks out, feeling as though it was his fault that she’s not feeling well. He sees the boy outside and yells at him, blaming the kid for Yune getting sick. He ends up going to Alice to ask for a doctor and, finally, Yune feels better. Claude feeds her rice porridge that he made for her and gives her flowers that the boy picked for her. She’s really touched at how much she is cared for as he gives her a kiss on her cheek. (SQUUEEEE!!!)
“Oh jeeze! That’s a fat pimple!”
As thanks for sending a doctor for Yune, Claude accompanies Yune to Alice’s house. While Yune and Alice have a tea party in the garden, Camille comes and talks to him. It appears that, when they were younger, Claude and Camille used to play together. Things have changed though and it’s apparent that Claude is not comfortable in her presence. Meanwhile, in the garden, Alice and Yune are exchanging their respective fairy tales. Alice notes that in Japanese fables, women are headstrong and can whatever they wish; something that is clearly lacking in French stories. Alice then takes Yune to her playroom leaving her there to go prepare a surprise. Camille comes in and is slightly aggressive towards Yune when the subject of Claude comes up. However she allows Yune to wear one of her dresses that she wore as a child.
The surprise that Alice had prepared for Yune was a Japanese tea party! Meanwhile, Claude has flashbacks to when he and Camille were young. They apparently played together a lot though Camille always had to stay inside the grounds of her house. Claude kept wanting her to come outside and see things in the Galerie with him but she would always refuse, citing her supposed lack of interest. Camille also thinks back to those times and it is revealed that she was only allowed to play with Claude on the condition that she never ventured outside. When Yune and Claude return home that night, Yune suggests that perhaps Camille is bearing the burden of her corset not for herself, but for others, such as Alice.
Chibi Claude. I am ok with this.
Episode 10 starts off as Claude goes through some of his father’s old designs. He has a request from an old client for a signboard. When he leaves, Oscar tells Yune that she can take it easy because he’s gone, but she still wishes to help out. He then has her clean out the storeroom where she finds a projector. Alice comes over and Oscar plays the projector for them. Alan arrives and decides to take advantage of the projector. They set up a mini-theatre for the entire Galerie and everybody enjoys the picture show, Alice included. Alan notes that, for somebody who should be the enemy of the Galerie, Alice fits in quite well. Meanwhile, Claude is on his way back from the client who had wanted a signboard just as his father used to make. He seems to resent this.
Alice comes over and wishes to invite Yune with her to the Grand Magasin. When she asks Claude for permission, he refuses. It’s clear that he has more against the department store than simple competition. To make up for it, he decides to go on a picnic with her and Oscar. While drinking, Oscar accidentally gives Yune some alcohol. This triggers an emotional breakdown from the poor girl as she remembers her older sister who had gone blind. She blames herself for what happened as she had wished for her sister to only see her as opposed to the judgmental people around her. Oscar manages to cheer her up, however, stating that her sister was happy with her. Later on, while speaking to Claude, Oscar notes that Claude is afraid to find out more about Yune because it will make it harder to let her go when she leaves.
One morning, Claude and Yune walk through the Galerie. Everybody has grown to love Yune and they talk to her; Mr. Yannick, for example, tells her about his cat with a bell that went missing. When they get back, Claude gets straight to work and Yune comes to help. She grabs a small pair of gloves which causes Claude to freak out and yell at her to leave. According to Oscar, those gloves had belonged to Claude’s father. As she is sitting in the shop she hears a bell and, thinking that it’s the cat, goes outside to find it. Later on, Claude goes to get Yune and realizes that she’s gone. Alice flips out and this triggers a mass Galerie hide-and-seek as everybody rushes to find Yune. Claude finds her on the roof of the Galerie and manages to keep her safe when she almost falls. He then tells her how his father died – he fell while on the job at the Grand Magasin, thus explaining Claude’s hatred for the place. He tells Yune not to worry about not doing enough for the Galerie. All he wants is for her to live in peace in Paris. Afterwards he carries her back to the Galerie as she’s lost her shoes. Everybody is waiting for her and when she apologizes for the trouble that she caused, they all tell her that they’re just happy that she’s here and safe. It’s clear that Yune has finally found her place in Paris.
*sniffles* It’s over. It’s always so sad when the good shows ends. Even so, I actually rather satisfied with the ending that we got here. Through all of her misunderstandings and all the trouble she found herself in, Yune finally found her niche in Paris, a place where she was needed and belonged. Not only so, but also she managed to touch so many people in the process of doing so. Through her kindness and caring everybody grew to love her with Zabo leading the pack of course. It all culminated perfectly in the final scene where everybody, from Alice to the little ex-thief, was searching so frantically her. They were all so relieved when she was found and it was so ridiculously heartwarming that I was grinning like an idiot by the end of it all.
Though I would have liked to find out more about Oscar and the adorable little boy, all other main characters and their backgrounds were explored, adding sufficient depth to the storyline. In particular, I appreciated how much we got to learn about Claude and Yune. Yune’s sister was clearly one of the more important people in her life and, when Yune broke down, despite it being a tearjerker of a moment, it was a relief. I was beginning to think that she was way too optimistic and perfect to be true. She’s not just some cute loli. She has her worries and selfish moments as well. Seeing her break down and admit to it made her seem so much more real. In contrast, with Claude, his family issue didn’t so much make him seem real as excuse some of his previous behavior. His distaste for the Grand Magasin makes much more sense now, seeing as his father died while working there. Hell, I don’t think I’d be able to even look at the building if my father died there. I still think that he was unnecessarily harsh with Yune at times but he meant well and definitely shaped up in the end.
In terms of relationships, I found the one between Claude and Camille to be rather interesting (despite my staunch support of Yune and Claude). It wasn’t so much romantic as platonic attachment. I know some people found Camille to be slightly possessive but I feel as though that is only because he was the only person her age that she got to play with. She was trapped in her own home, forced to abide by rules that she had no say in and he was her only glimpse of freedom and the life that she was being denied. As such, it’s only natural that she grew to like him so much. Actually, I thought it to be rather refreshing when she let loose a little about Claude towards Yune. Sure she was slightly aggressive, but it’s better than keeping emotions pent up. She seemed so doll-like and fake before and she showed that she wasn’t so perfect after all. Ara!
Despite my initial dislike of her, Alice definitely grew on me as this show progressed. She’s bold and says whatever’s in her mind and, in her complaints about corsets and damsel-in-distress fairytales, she speaks volumes as to the lesser role of women in French society at the time. I respect the fact that she was willing to just do whatever she wants, societal norms be damned. She may be a spoiled brat but that’s just how she was raised. Most importantly, she’s a caring individual. The best example of this was her treatment of Yune. In the beginning she viewed Yune as more of an object of interest because of her Japanese origins. As time went on, however, she came to truly care about Yune as a close friend. My favorite Alice moment was during the picture show when she gave up her seat for the old lady. She then sat on the ground and you could tell that it went against everything that she was raised to do but she did it anyways. Because she’s actually a really sweet girl you know? My final consensus on Alice is that I love her and she’s hilarious.
Though I believe that this may have been slightly overshadowed by how cute the story was, the cultural differences that were stressed in Ikoku Meiro no Croisée were some of my favorite parts. One point that stood out to me was how customers were viewed in Japan versus France. In Japan the customer comes first (Hanasaku Iroha immediately comes to mind) whereas in France it seems to be the seller who comes first. This was especially evident in how Claude refused to make a sign the way his father did even though his customer requested it. Hygiene is also different in the two countries. In France, because of the lack of resources, bathing wasn’t a very common occurrence. For somebody so used to, not just bathing, but soaking it’s surprising that Yune made it so far without keeling over. What all these cultural differences did, though, was drive the plot along. It was through consolidating all their cultural differences that Yune and Claude were able to understand one another.
You know that little smile you get on your face when you see a puppy or those cute baby videos on YouTube? Yah. 90% of the time that’s the kind of smile I had on my face while watching this show. Ikoku Meiro no Croisée induces those kinds of warm fuzzies inside. The art was beautiful, character designs gorgeous and I never had issues with any of the animation as it was always smooth. Even the music was beautiful. This show was sweet and simple. It didn’t try to be anything more than it actually was. As such, it’s definitely on my favorites list. I LOVE YOU YUNE! I miss you already! *sobs*
I leave you with Yune. She loves you. And cats.