Ikoku Meiro no Croisee Eps02-03

Seeing as how this is by the same mangaka of Gosick, it's pretty clear that I prefer Yune to a fault...and so this post is really just an excuse to plaster images of her everywhere. On a serious level, I just didn't have enough to say to do an episodic post.

Good bread makes me sparkle, too.

I'm losing some interest in this anime, which is difficult since it's still in its initial episodes. I just don't find Yune endearing beyond her appearance, and Claude isn't a strong character either. Ep02 focused on Yune adjusting to Paris a little bit more, and then ep03 was Claude learning about Japan. With a new character set to be introduced in the upcoming episodes, I worry about the turn that this anime might take. This seems like it'll be a feel-good anime about how Yune's innocence changes the thought processes of the hard and stubborn Parisians around her; it wouldn't be so bad if I actually liked Yune's character more, I think.

Hearty breakfast covering a lot of food groups.

With ep02 beginning as Yune awaited Oscar in the kitchen to prepare breakfast, I was instantly inundated with things to look up and ponder. For example, it's quite clear from anime that the Japanese like a hot breakfast consisting of the items listed. However, I found it surprising that the French ate such simple breakfasts; I thought I knew them to be an elaborate and extravagant people. A quick search revealed that southern Europe (with which France is lumped) prefers non-lavish breakfasts, whereas it's northern Europe (and especially the UK, apparently) that loves variety and hot food.

How can anyone hate coffee?! It's the world's second largest commodity.

With breakfast underway, the bread was at first too hard for Yune (being from the previous evening), the cheese was strange (and hard to eat), and the coffee was much too bitter. I won't chastize her, since she did her best to adjust to it. After Oscar headed out for the day, Yune followed Claude around as he worked until he became so irate that he decided to just take her out for the afternoon. Seeing the department store set up some more story elements; the big-box company owned by the Blanche Family advertises cheap prices and is attempting to take the customer base from the small stores. (That's nothing new. It happens even today.) Moreover, the same family is the one that bought Yune's kimono. Such forced drama...

But you didn't pick the tomatoes up...

As Claude and Yune continued into the market to buy ingredients for dinner, Yune puttered around the stalls asking what various vegetables were. I'm led to believe that she's had a very sheltered life, seeing as how Japan, at that time, had nearly the exact same market structure. If she was interested in the intricacies of the one in Paris, that would be one thing - she was interested in the entire package, meaning she'd never really seen one before. (Plus, she was asking what tomatoes and onions were. I stand to believe Japan had those.)

I wonder if using a spoon for the first time actually is this hard.

Another questionable inconsistency was how Yune had no idea what a spoon was. Granted, the normal Japanese person wouldn't have had any interaction with it around that time, but I thought all signs pointed to Yune being pretty rich. She should have had some experience with Western cutlery. However, if her family was extremely traditional, I can see how she wouldn't - but not only was she taught French, but she was also sent to France. It seems strange that a rich Japanese family wouldn't train their child better. I'm so confused.

Bread so fresh it still lets out steam.

After dinner, Oscar planned to send Claude off to the bakery to get some bread for the next morning, and Yune tagged along. (As for the question of why one would buy fresh bread the night before to let go stale for breakfast: Rho says that there's a chance the French are lazy and the bakeries didn't open early enough in the morning. I will take that answer.) Once they got back, Oscar had prepared cafe au lait (milk coffee) for Yune, and Claude scolded her for being so try-hard. After a shoujo moment, it seems that Yune will take it slower and attempt to adjust normally instead of forcibly.

Ah, so exaggerated~

Ep03 was slightly more focused on Japan, since Claude was interested in knowing more about it. It began on a certain morning when Claude awoke to find Oscar showing Yune how to iron. She seemed to know how to do it already (using the Japanese tool "hinoshi"; I don't know of it, so I don't know whether to question the validity of Yune's expertise or not), so the conversation turned into Oscar talking about Japan and his time there. Misunderstandings were abound, since Claude had a completely different mental image than reality while Japan was being described. At the very least, this scene cemented that Yune was from a rich family (her house had large gardens and whatnot).

I agree. Sleeping on the floor is difficult.

The scene shifted to Oscar finding Claude attempting to design a new sign for a music store in the Gallery. It turned out that it was the kind of job where payment would come after the sign, and only if they liked it; those kinds of jobs sound so fishy to me... Another central theme throughout this episode was how the Gallery was in trouble (most likely being outdone by the department store), which was shown by the fact that Claude had once vehemently said he would never take this kind of job (and also the fact that, later in the episode, many shops were shown boarded up and closed). However, when in dire situations, people capable of adapting are the ones that survive, and Claude wanted to do whatever he could to keep the Gallery alive.

I wonder why "fat" wasn't a keyword.

After some introduction to new things for Yune (I have never heard of a pastry called "baba", by the way), Claude's schooling in all things Japanese continued when he caught Yune writing a letter to her older sister. She showed him some Japanese words, and showed how her name meant "sound of hot water". Claude was immediately inspired and took the paper back to his workshop, producing a sign that was just the character for sound. While he was nervous on his way to the shop, it seemed as though the sign was well-received. I don't know how I really feel about that kind of sign; it's a little bit of infusion of another culture, which is always nice. However, at the same time, shouldn't there be some kind of French wording along with it? I feel that presenting the character without a proper translation with it leads to a lot of misunderstandings and incorrect adoption. For example, Western people these days often end up with tattoos in Chinese characters that don't mean what they think, and Asian people are walking around in shirts that say ridiculously confusing things in English.

I thought the umbrella was so he wouldn't get wet!

Rant aside, Claude immediately headed to the stationary store to get Yune some proper writing paper. (I found it amusing that the clerk suggested blue paper when Claude said he wanted something a girl would use, considering some people's old-fashioned mentality in this day and age that blue is for boys.) Oscar spilled the beans upon returning home (from his afternoon tryst with a woman, I noticed), and Yune immediately darted out with an umbrella to get Claude. Despite saying that the rain in Paris doesn't last long, I feel as though it lasted pretty long. Rain in Toronto does not even last that long. Claude and Yune took a detour on their way back (I seriously question how that tiny umbrella fit both of them...) to see more of the local area, ending the episode on a note of bonding.

Oh, Alice. This anime is taking a familiar turn.

After the ED, there was more about the new character: Alice. She seems to be the daughter of the Blanche Family, with her father having gifted her older brother the department store and promising her the Gallery. She was also the recipient of Yune's heirloom kimono, being obsessed with all things Japanese. I had genuinely hoped that, if not outright evil, the purchaser of Yune's kimono would turn out to be a sweet girl, completely uncharacteristic of the way her family was portrayed. I was greatly disappointed that that didn't seem to be the case; instead, Alice is pretty spoiled and quite childish, announcing that she would make the Japanese girl in the Gallery "hers". What does that even mean? Slavery? What? I don't really look forward to ep04, which I presume will be her visit to the Gallery.

The country of Yune's.

The pacing of these episodes isn't so bad, but I'm losing interest a little bit due to the monotonous premise. Yune is a difficult character to really like; she doesn't seem to have the various intricacies of a real person, nor does she have any exaggerated qualities that intrigue me (her super-Japanese ways are not so interesting). Other than Claude's assumptions of what Japan was like, there also wasn't a lot of comic relief in the episodes. Alice is sure to add some drama and wildness into the otherwise slow-going story, but I worry that I really won't like her at all. We'll see...