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Posts Tagged ‘La Croisee dans un Labyrinthe Etranger’

Alright, time for my next official review! Whoo! Once again, I cannot guarantee that there will be no spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk!

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Brief Summary: It’s the 19th century, and Yune is a kind, industrious, and absolutely adorable thirteen-year old girl from Japan. With the help of the very generous benefactor, Oscar Claudel, Yune is able to realize one of her greatest dreams: to visit France…specifically, Paris. There, Yune balances her time between serving Oscar and his grandson, Claude, and learning how to get along in this country that is vastly different from her own. From food to social customs to world views, Yune both revels in and struggles with adapting to the very foreign French culture. And similarly, Claude and his fellow Parisians who meet Yune must learn how to accommodate this exotic cutie from Japan. From one day to the next, Yune and Claude are faced with new challenges–some simple, others more complicated and personal–that help them to grow both as individuals and as members of the human race.

A beautiful and touching series, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee stole my heart from episode one and held onto it all the way to the very end. To begin with, I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and so it would be no lie to say that the story’s setting won me over early on. Because that’s absolutely true. Ikoku Meiro does an absolutely incredible job of portraying 19th century France, giving viewers an incredibly intricate, not to mention gorgeous, depiction of Paris. In fact, the artwork throughout all of this show was simply stunning. This is not to say that the character designs were particularly original, but they didn’t need to be. This was meant to be a more realistic depiction of life, and so the more simplistic designs fit right in.

In addition to all of the eye-candy that Ikoku Meiro has to offer, this show also has a lovable cast of characters. Yune, especially, is able to capture the heart with her gentle personality and wide range of hilarious and adorable expressions:

The Many Faces of Yune

Not only Yune, but Oscar and Alice as well were characters that ended up growing near and dear to my heart. And though moody Claude never won the same affection as these other characters, he provided the show with the “something different” it needed, serving as a contrast to Yune and, subsequently, providing viewers with a much better comparison of the Japanese and French cultures.

Story-wise, Ikoku Meiro is nothing extraordinary, but it’s simplicity is also what makes this show what it is. This is not some high-drama, suspense-filled tale that is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, clawing your hair out as you wait for the next episode. This is very much a picturesque slice of life that’s purpose is to serve as light entertainment that gives a lovely glimpse into a piece of the past. Nothing more and nothing less. Ikoku Meiro is the type of show that puts viewers in the position of “spectator.” In other words, the only depths this show will reveal are those that are immediately necessary to explaining what is happening to the characters right now. As such, you get to learn bits and pieces of the characters’ pasts, but that’s about it. Mysteries are presented but left unsolved, questions provoked but left unanswered, because they are not the focus of the story. It is a show that does what it sets out to do, and it succeeds tremendously.

Just because Ikoku Meiro does an excellent job performing in the role it takes on does not mean that this show will appeal to everyone. In fact, I highly doubt that it would. It may be a period piece, but this is no Emma. And it is a slice of life, but not like what you’d expect to find in shows like Azumanga Daioh and its countless look-alikes. If this show could be compared to any, I would dare to put it on the same shelf with a series like Aria: beautiful, simplistic, and pleasant. So, if you’re the type of person who can’t watch a show like Aria because it’s too boring for you, I would hesitate to recommend Ikoku Meiro to you. If, however, you just want a stress-free and enjoyable piece of entertainment, then Ikoku Meiro is absolutely for you.

If there is anything I did not like about this show is that it seems to occasionally attempt to take a different route…which would not necessarily be a bad thing…before reverting to it’s old, usual self. As I previously stated, Ikoku Meiro presents mysteries and provokes questions and suggests that drama does in fact exist within the characters’ lives, but then it does absolutely nothing with them. We do not learn whether or not Yune gets her mother’s kimono back. We do not learn the whole story of what happened to Claude and Camille, nor do we see if any of it gets resolved. We do not get the whole picture behind what really went on between Claude and his deceased father. Only glimpses are given–just enough to get you interested–and then the show moves right along. Now…if this means that a second season is in store…one that will address some of these details that it brought up and then dropped…that would be absolutely fantastic. And I think it would do a world of good for Ikoku Meiro. However, I also do not think it is necessary. It just goes to show that this series really has a lot of potential to go in many different directions, but is, at the same time, just fine the way it is.

So…overall…this is a wonderful series with which I fell head over heels in love. Watch it on a rainy day when you need something to perk you up, but don’t really want to have to think too hard about it. It will melt your heart and leave you feeling like the world is a beautiful and amazing place to live.

Final Grade: A

As usual, feel free to disagree with me. Just please do avoid the flaming. I love a good intellectual debate, but have no desire to participate in uninformed arguments. So…comment as you please. Or not. Over and out.

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