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 traveler, Oscar, on his journey back to France, and offers to help at the family's ironwork shop in Paris. Oscar's nephew and shop-owner 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.
There has long been a mutual fascination between Eastern and Western cultures, and although modern technology and tourism have made it easier to explore the mysteries of other lands, things were very different during the latter part of the 19th century. At that time, travel was still relatively dangerous, and the cost of the undertaking meant that it was generally reserved for royalty, the upper and middle classes, and well-to-do merchants or craftsmen. Journeying to a foreign land (and returning to spin tall tales of exotic things), was considered a mark of one's status, and aside from choosing life as a sailor or joining the military, the working classes had very few options when it came to visiting other countries. The generally accepted method was emigration, but even though port cities across the world became hotbeds of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism, newcomers also ran the risk of racially motivated assaults, propaganda, and worse.
Another method was for a person to be "sponsored" by a citizen of another nation, and while this allowed them to live and work in that country, they also had to abide by certain strict "rules". Like any system it was open to abuse, but many people were also granted a better start in life than they would have had in their homeland. The biggest difference between this method and emigration though, was the perception of the native populace. Many of those who were sponsored didn't live as part of an existing ethnic community, and because of this they were often tolerated as novelties rather than a threat.
Okay, that's a bit of a heavy beginning for a light-hearted slice of life anime, but a bit of context may help with certain aspects of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée.
Based on the manga by Takeda Hinata, the story follows the lives of Claude Claudel - an ironmonger living and working in Paris, and Yune - a young Japanese girl who has been sponsored by Claude's grandfather, Oscar, to come and live with them for a time. Unfortunately they have very little understanding of each other's cultures or histories, so every day is an opportunity to learn something new ...
Now many people will immediately pass this series off as nothing more than inane, lighthearted fluff with no real story, and in all honesty that's a pretty fair assessment. The episodic plot is rather straightforward and progresses in the relaxed manner that is so common in slice-of-life shows. In addition to this, there's an element of whimsy to the narrative that can make it difficult to take certain events seriously, and the whole show can often seem like it's trying very hard decide what it should be.
That said, there is a charm to proceedings that comes from a cast of surprisingly earnest characters, and there are flashes of a much deeper story hidden within the sugar-coated exterior. Unfortunately these undertones are rarely allowed to surface, but when they do, the series gains an intensity that can sometimes be at odds with the relaxed atmosphere, and it can often seem as though there is a purposeful avoidance of certain topics.
As far as appearances go, there's a nice uniformity to the predominantly European design, and everything from the buildings to the clothing are reflective of the period. Unfortunately there's also one glaring irregularity that may have been purposeful, but seems rather unnecessary, and that is Yune. The major problem is that she has been designed to be petite and tooth-achingly cute, and it's because of her looks that people automatically assume that the series is nothing more than a big ball of moe fluff. It's probable that this was an attempt to highlight just how different she looks to everyone around her, but there's an element of tastelessness to it - even though it does fit the 19th Century European vision of a typical girl/woman from the Far East.
That said, the characters are surprisingly expressive, both facially and in their behaviour, and the show makes good use of this factor. In addition to this the animation is pretty decent throughout, but it's also rather placid, which is why the art style sometimes changes for events that are meant to be charmingly amusing. In a very real sense it's a visual form of the much hated "canned laughter", and while it's supposed to "encourage" viewers to chuckle, thankfully it's not used enough for it to become anything more than a diversion.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée has a rather interesting set of characters that can sometimes play very well off each other, but because this is a slice-of-life tale the focus is less on developing them as individuals, and more on nurturing their bonds with the people around them. Now it may seem like splitting hairs, but it's actually a rather important distinction as this type of growth rarely occurs in other genres. Although the series isn't on the same level as Aria in this department, it does manage to hold its own for the majority of the show, and Yune's earnest habits and mannerisms may cause some viewers to make comparisons between her and Mizunashi Akari or Binchou-tan.
Now while there's a lack of obvious development, there are attempts to add definition to the characters and explain why they think and behave the way they do. Although the reasons are often retrospective, they're also logical and fit into the class system of the period, but viewers may sometimes find themselves frustrated by the fact that they ultimately don't lead anywhere.
Because this is a "Stranger in a Strange Land" type of story, the script takes a simpler, more explanatory approach than normal. Surprisingly, this seems to have allowed the voice actors more freedom rather than restricting them, and much of the dialogue is delivered with the kind of warmth and sensitivity one would expect from a slice-of-life show. Touyama Nao manages to capture Yune's shy earnestness rather well, and her performance is balanced by Kondo Takashi's seriousness as Claude, and Yuuki Aoi's rather madcap portrayal of the show's resident Japanophile - Alice Blanche.
The opening theme, "Sekai wa Odoru yo, Kimi to" by Youmou to Ohana, is a rather cheerful song with a continental flavour that fits very well with the accompanying animation showing Yune, Claude and Oscar on a day out in Paris. Strangely, the ending sequence features Yune waking up on a bed in the middle of a forested park (how this fits into the show is anybody's guess), while Touyama Nao sings "Koko Kara Hajimaru Monogatari", a slightly melancholy ballad that doesn't quite fit her breathy, high-pitched voice. There are also two additional closing songs, "Tooku Kimi e" by Nakajima Megumi and Touyama Nao, and "Tomorrow's Smile" by A.m.u.. Both are very similar to the main ending theme in terms of emotion, but neither has a dedicated animated sequence, instead using the episode itself to give context to the track.
The background music ranges from sombre to the more common lighthearted pieces, but there's a surprising subtlety to it that may not be obvious at first. As the series progresses, it gradually becomes apparent that different primary instruments (violins, pianos, harps, clarinets, etc), have been used throughout in order to add dimension to particular scenes, and enhance the overall tone of the anime.
Although the series does have its problems, Ikoku Meiro no Croisée also retains a fair amount of entertainment value. Much of this comes from the relationship between Yune, Claude and Oscar, but one can't deny that some of Alice's ideas about Japanese clothes and objects can be worth a chuckle. The series maintains a lighthearted atmosphere for the majority of the story, and although there is a banality about particular events, it's not really enough to discourage those who enjoy this type of anime. On the other hand, while the undercurrent of tension between certain characters can sometimes shed new light on the relationship dynamics, it can also place an unnecessary burden on the narrative as the issues beg to be explored, but very few are actually resolved.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée tries very hard to avoid being categorised as nothing more than 19th Century moe fluff, and in several small ways it manages to achieve its goal. Unfortunately the rest of the show is a bit too sugary-sweet, and while it can be charming, it studiously avoids addressing any of the real issues that someone in Yune's position would have faced.
It's idealistic escapism, which is okay up to a point, but it's also far too nice for its own good.read more
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth was mostly overlooked last season due to it's overlapping qualities with the third season of Natsume and the Book of Friends. If you were watching Natsume, then you already know that they are two very different anime despite them sharing similar pacing and atmosphere. Natsume on one hand received tons of praise, but Croisée mostly ended up getting flack. I was quite upset when I was reading through reviews that quickly disregard Croisée as "moe-trash" and simple pandering. Yes, the show does have a little girl in it, and yes she is adorable. That does not mean the show is moe, and more importantly it does not mean the show is trash. I hope this review clarifies some points on the show, and in turn convinces you to pick up this anime. It is well worth your time for many reasons.
The setting is late nineteenth century, France. If you're interested in European art, then I strongly recommend this anime, as the backgrounds and clothing are all very realistic. Many times, I was captured by the scenery and it is a very strong suit Croisée has that many anime simply leave out.
Immediately, the characters are what will jump out at you. There's an old man, a boy in his late teens, and a young girl. Now this set up could have gone horribly wrong and turned into something perverse and offensive, but it did not. The old man, Oscar, was one of my favorite characters in the show. He's an important father figure to both Claude and Yune, and he brings interesting wisdom, making the show worthwhile to think on even after finishing. Claude Claudel is the protagonist of the series alongside the small Japonaise, Yune. The show is about how Yune adapts to her new environment and how Claude adapts to a foreigner living with him in his deceased father's failing sign shop. The characters work off of each other very interestingly, and I felt it was very easy to sympathize with both of them as their problems were more mundane than extreme. This may lead some to think that the show is very melodramatic, but it is in fact the opposite. The execution here is done very well , and all problems are solved in a way that develops the characters in a believable manner.
There are two other characters that are very much the opposite of our protagonists though, Alice and Camille. They are part of one of the richest families in Paris at this time, and they both have unique relationships with Yune and Claude respectively. Alice is very obsessive with the Japanese culture, which at the time, was highly intriguing to the people of Paris. Her relationship with Yune is somewhat one-sided but very interesting and even complex as the show completely unfolds. Camille's relationship with Claude was very interesting as well, but I do not wish to spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet.
I digress but I must include this. Alice supplies an anachronism - the only one in the show - and whilst it was unnecessary, I don't think it should soil the reputation of the show. Alice says "moe" despite the show being set more than one-hundred years before the word came into history. This joke is used more as a 4th wall joke in my opinion, so it shouldn't be too heavily stressed upon.
The sound contributes greatly to the setting and I found it adding to an already wonderful experience. Even the opening is an instrumental piece. The show could have abused the setting and sound to create a very pop soundtrack to sell to the masses, but it didn't and I have great respect for that. The one thing I regret this anime did not do, was include more French words into the script. Though that is understandable, as there is a large challenge in overcoming linguistic barriers. Luckily, as a side-effect, choking strange words down the audiences throat is not what happens either.
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth is a piece resistant to much of the failings that can be found in both historical and slice-of-life anime. There's not an over-abundance of fanservice yet it is still incredibly enjoyable to watch. Yune is not sold as sexual, and unlike many shows focusing around little girls, she has great characterization, as does the rest of the cast.
The show is slow, but if you're willing to try out a new experience then this may be a good place to start. If you're hesitant to pick this anime up, then I hope this review has encouraged you to do so. I was too, hesitant to continue this show beyond it's first episode, but I am glad that I did, as it became a very memorable anime. It is certainly worth watching, especially since it is very short.
If you enjoyed any of these anime, then you might also enjoy Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth: Victorian Romance Emma, Usagi Drop, and Aria the Animation.read more
"There is a little Japanese girl who lives in France, yet only a few know of her presence," probably because they ignore the little squirt, I mean she's so damn tiny!
STORY: Ah France, quite the lovely country isn't it? Famous for many things, their gourmet food, the Palace of Versailles, the Mona Lisa, their classic literature, and... a little Japanese girl who lives in a sign shop... Wait that last one is pure fiction, but it does offer an interesting perspective for an anime to take, if for only the first couple of episodes unfortunately.
Yes, initially, one would have thought this anime was going to be interesting story about a foreigner learning about the different customs she's not used to, and tries to learn them... but of course this is anime, and those stories don't fly because the real money is at otaku pondering and brainless moe, and the anime industry knows that way too well and Ikoku Meiro No Croisee is disappointingly another one of those. And you know it's true when one of the characters actually speaks the word moe in a sentence... in 19th century Paris... That character is also quite the japanophile... Makes sense, it does not.
But, it isn't a terrible show, in fact, it's a pretty decent show actually, but there is so much wasted potential in this one. The story is about a little Japanese girl named Yune, who along with an older french man (Insert the a lame pedophile joke, or not, the grandchild of the man already beat you to the punch) return back the man's home in Paris, a sign shop run by his grandson and main male character, Claude. The episodes start off by having Yune being intrigued by several customs, foods, etc, and Claude being put off by the the customs Yune explains that are in Japan, rinse and repeat, but it's actually entertaining and amusing.
Of course the story evolves into a more character driven story, which also introduces one of the biggest nominees for most annoying character that otaku and moe enthusiasts love to love despite how over used the character is in anime, Alice, a little rich girl, who loves anything and everything Japanese (An animated Wapanese girl in a way).
I know I'm straining on that character quite a bit (Even before I said who it is), but as the story changes into character stories, it also takes up (wastes) your time with plenty of "Oh my god, your so damn cute it hurts blergeehhh," moments with Alice and Yune. Most of the time, it's Alice showing Yune how much she wastes her time on Japanese things with Yune showing her more Japanese ways of being Japanese, then it's dress up time as Yune wears something else besides kimonos, and Alice and every other moe fan melts at her cuteness... My god, I think I've said enough for anyone to get the point.
Yes it's quite the ponderous outing, but it doesn't shove moe in your face as much I'm trying shove it to you that's it does indeed shove moe in your face. At least in this anime, the objectified moe figurine girl, Yune, is a very likable, sweet and innocent, and very tolerate girl for her age that is open minded enough to try even the weirdest of things (Okay she's more like a curious kitten than anything else), who is just the right amount of sugary sweet cuteness that will not give you diabetes right away for one anime, but throwing in Alice, and you got type 2 diabetes baby.
Okay, to be fair, Alice's introduction in the anime was actually a part of nicely written story bit (She would've been a whole different trope, but the anime avoids that and takes a different route instead), but it's what she insists on doing with Yune after that will truly annoy you about her.
Overall the anime is nice slow paced story, that starts out as a promising cross culture story that turns into yet another otaku catering show, but it's definitely a whole lot better than the garbage dump of otaku moe-blob shows out there.
ANIMATION: The production values are quite nice, everything is detailed and clean looking, the character models are a bit bland, but that's not a big deal at all. Though, it looks like every other moe anime out there, and it definitely doesn't give a damn, no matter how tired you are of same old designs. The anime looks very good in general, and it definitely should be since it's showcasing a beautiful city in the first place.
SOUND: The background music is very nice, ranging from beautiful and calming music, though quite reused a lot though. The voice acting is adequate enough, Yune sounds as cute as she looks, and Alice sounds as annoying as her character unfortunately is. The theme music is also quite soothing. Though the most interesting audio piece is the little introduction it does in the beginning of every episode, as it is spoken in french rather than Japanese, and I'm hoping that a french dub would get made for this show specificity, so that the anime would becomes more authentic than it actually is.
+ A cute slow paced story about a Japanese girl living in Paris.
+ Nice looking animation.
+ Peaceful audio.
- Disappointingly derails from an interesting story to become more of the same over inflated moe anime out there.
- Alice, and her annoying Wapanese ways.
- Overuse of, "Holy shit you're so damn adorable!" moments.
Damn, I talked more about Alice than the actual main characters, but they are not that interesting anyway.read more
Review is up to Date Episode
At this time, not much have change in the basic impression or story.
This Anime is beautiful and adorable! The collision of 2 Cultures.
You will see an Japanese Young Girl finding the smallest things to be an adventure and exiting. Be prepared to be hooked
This is a very warm, (adorable is the perfect word) Anime. I felt so connected to the story and it's the same connection I got from watching Spirited Away.
Big ++ in this anime, while you watch this, you see traditional stuff in the anime, how France looked like, how the Japanese lived and how it does not fit in the France society, and so on. It's very entertaining to see and very nice to get to know and learn.
Yune is still struggling and the story has not changed much. Still an 8.
The story of a young Japanese girl during the 19th Century named Yune. She comes to France with a traveller named Oscar. She offers her help to the Ironwork Shop whom Claude owns, the nephew of Oscar.
While trying to help, conflicts occur due to the major difference in cultures and way of living.
The story is very interesting when you starting to watch it, and you definitely want to watch more. Yune is well behaved Japanese girl who knows the Japanese traditional manners very well. Which makes it very weird for Claude whom have lived in France his whole life and is accustomed to his culture.
The beauty of this anime, is the collision of the cultures. Yune want to learn as much as she can from the French Cultures, like the food they eat, shops, marketing, clothes. And the director makes just the smallest thing look like such a big step for this little girl and it's just heart-warming to watch.
It's beautiful. A Japanese made Anime/Manga that really have got a lot of the French 19th Century Culture in movement in this anime. It's very good detail. And Yune, this small Japanese girl in her beautiful Kimonos shines on the streets of Paris. Like how the sun shines in a cold morning. That how good the art shows the difference of France and Japan Cultures.
Absolutely outstanding. I love each time they show which episode and the episode name before starting the episode, they have a French, a Real French accent voice speaking the Title. It's perfect.
The Opening songs are beautiful and fits the theme. It's very original in my ears of hearing Openings.
Yunu, is the star in this anime. Yes a type of Loligirl, but I couldn't care less on what the characters represent in a matter of general Anime. Because this Anime is so beautiful and unique to my eyes.
A young Japanese Girl with only knowledge from Japan, in France. Try to imagine that and let your mind go wild.
She is every well-behaved, knows how the Japanese cultures works like being a housekeeper, bowing, eating food. Apologizing and so on.
Collides with Claude whom knows the French ways. Dry bread with sliced cheese. Coffee, eating soup with spoon. The Ironwork shop, and a lot of other things.
And Oscar, that acts like a very nice Uncle to Yune. Telling her about the simple things in France that seems so mysterious and big in Yunes eyes. And how hard she tries to be the French Girl and trying to fit in to the French culture.
I miss a few more characters. But it's only been 2 episodes. It surely will be more.
3 minutes played in the first episode, and I feel just so happy and warm that I haft to smile to how adorable Yune is. I'm hooked man. So hooked, I did not take my eyes of for 1 second during my watching time. It's 100/100 if I could rate that.
I think this anime is a definite 10. The Story is interesting, well thought up and can develop in many ways.
The art is fantastic.
The characters are adorable, classic in the way they should be because this is a historical Anime that occurs in the 19th Century.
My enjoyment is, I want all the episodes now, and watch it all now!
One great anime! This is a Seinen Anime, meaning this Anime is dedicated to an Audience of 18+male. It is similar to that, but I can see that anyone could like this. Because this is clearly an anime for everyone! It should be Josei aswell if anything. Josei/Seinen.
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