“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Call me cheesy, shallow and overly maudlin but I got love at first sight with Ikoku Meiro no Croisée. Detailed architecture, meticulous wardrobe designs, relaxing music, laid-back atmosphere, and affable characters—not to mention Yune’s to the umpteenth level of cuteness and eye-watering moeness—all placed me under its spell. Not that I’m undermining the plot, however the overall presentation—visual, sound and animation—made me conclude that this is one of the must see anime of this season.
The setting took place in the second half of the 19th century. It’s about a young Japanese maiko named Yune. Together with the French traveller named Oscar, she was sent to France by her parents to serve as a live-in maid. Oscar’s nephew, Claude, the owner of an ironwork shop in Paris halfheartedly accepted Yune thinking that she lacks understanding of the different environment and culture. However, eventually, he realized that he misjudged Yune.
I like how Ikoku Meiro no Croisée beautifully pictured the 19th Century Paris. The use of architecture and aesthetic exemplify the elegance and charm of this era. Every curve, line and dimension stimulates eyegasm. Sometimes I couldn’t help but to pause for a while to see clearly the intricacy of the background and design. By doing so, it’s undeniable that the buildings and paraphernalia all reflect the stylishness of the monarchic and aristocratic France.
As for the clothing and fashion, I truly enjoyed how this anime reflects rankings and social status. The sophistication of the outfits of a bystander or someone who just happened to walk around accentuates the class system of this period. It also justifies why Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world. But of course, the garment that stands out the most is Yune’s lovely Kimonos. As her function suggests—being the most popular sign in Nagasaki—she beyond doubt gracefully symbolizes her culture. Even people in the story couldn’t help but to be astonished by her gorgeous and well-designed wardrobe and doll-like cuteness.
Moreover, the ambiance and the background music are also noteworthy to be mentioned. The exquisite use of colour and tone sets the stress-free mood and is delicately undertone to effectively emphasize the classic Gothic effect and dream-like upshots. Also, the inclusion of mellow music with uncomplicated tempo does a fine finishing touch for overall surrealistic and realistic facade.
Character-wise, I love the appearance and the persona of the characters. Yune is so cute. Each time she says “hai,” her facial expression, especially her eyes, is overflowing with delightfulness and innocence—which is so adorable. As for Claude, I mostly like his aloofness, vocal-ness, sincerity, and how he’s not a clichéd effeminate type of male character. I’m positive that we’ll see lots of character development, in fact Claude’s dynamic character has been already shown in episode one.
In addition, while I’m considering the plot as secondary for now, I’m not going to deny that I’m highly anticipating an interesting plotline—although I don’t mean it to be necessarily thought provoking. I’m mainly expecting from Ikoku Meiro no Croiseé is the illustration of culture shock, misunderstanding between two cultures, coming of age, and possible dramatization of brotherly affection turning into romantic love. Surely there’s more, however these are the only apparent ones that I noticed while watching the first episode.
I believe that this light-hearted and laid-back anime is a promising series. Hopefully, the stunning art will be complemented by a well-executed and interesting plotline.