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Ikoku Meiro no Croisée must be the cosiest anime of the season. The used of fine art, intricate architecture and detailed clothing add so much flavour to the show. More than anything else, I loved Alice’s yurific thoughts on Yune and the overflowing cuteness galore of the characters. Also, something that we can take away from this series is the fact that in every culture, cuteness is never for free, beauty has always a price to pay—discipline and punish.

It’s a fact recognized throughout history that what you wear determines how people perceived you. As perfectly shown by Yune, the foreignness of the Kimonoinvites exoticness to almost everyone who sees her, particularly Alice. Also as exemplified by her clothing, it’s not the body, but the codifying of the body into composition of appearance, that culturally outlines and forms what it means to be ‘feminine,’ and to embody nation and culture.

Furthermore, it takes a lot of time and discipline to master the skill of wearing a kimono and to wear it comfortably with elegance. For instance, after knowing that a maiko’s kimono weighs as much as forty pounds, I started to feel sorry seeing Yune’s petite figure bearing all of those weight. I also felt bad after learning that her tiny body was encapsulated by an obi, an unwieldy brocade corset with a pair of long wings swing from the back. That’s why poor Yune, even though she’s already cute, just for the sake of epitomizing her culture, she has to look cuter in that heavy-loaded Kimono.

As for Camille and Alice, underneath their lovely dresses were disciplinary tools such as corsets and crinolines. Symbolically, these were used to mechanize female bodies in accordance to the general norms and definition of beauty of an industrial society.  Corsets came into fashion to bring a stylized ‘S-curve.’ And while it’s sculpting an idealized female form, it’s also rendering an idle body that’s obviously unfit for work. Hence, I don’t blame Alice for cheating and loosening her corset, because women wearing it could barely sit or stoop, was incapable of moving her feet more than six inches at a time, and had trouble in maintaining herself from usual fainting fits.

Aside from corset, crinoline was another part of the woman’s clothing that was featured in this series. As Yune perfectly described, it’s a birdcage. Someone who uses this has an extremely restricting movement and difficulty in reaching out. Modern women would even deem this as enormous sheathes of textile on hooplas of swaying supports. That’s why it’s quite mindboggling how Camille would wear a corset and a crinoline as if it’s nothing—like seriously how would she even sit down in those things, for heaven’s sake?!

That’s because, Camille, being older of the two, needed to emit more ‘beauty’ than Alice. The price of getting into the high society and cementing nobility was for her to conform to the whole notion of ‘human dressage,’ wherein disciplinary practices, such as wearing these body-shaping devices, were applied to the construction of feminine ‘docile bodies’ in every area of everyday life. As Camille characterized, her ‘beauty’ was the perfect embodiment of a well-disciplined mind and well-regulated feelings.

Truly, Ikoku Meiro no Croisée is a show where all characters are so adorable and lovely. But as illustrated by this series, ‘beauty’ is a concept dictated by the ruling class and carry out task that requires bizarre methods of physical manipulation in order to gain control in investing and maintaining gender/power relations.

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