Ikoku Meiro no Croisee Eps06-07

It turns out that my desire to watch anime is nothing in the face of my desire to watch the Dota2 tournament; that's pretty funny. Somewhere in the middle (it's not like I really want to watch the Losers Bracket matches), I managed to write about this show.

She still hasn't outgrown the "omochikaeri" phase...

This batch of episodes was not only boring but also highly annoying. While ep06 was kind of slow-paced, focusing on a photography session with Yune and Alice (and with Claude not really making any major appearances), ep07 was just one cliche on top of another, showcasing Claude's remarkable ability to be short-tempered and controlling. The only reason I'm not bashing this anime more is because I understand what "olden days" mentality was like, but that's still only barely a reason that a main character should be like this. My only hope is for some kind of redeeming quality to show up - anything - or at least an interesting character.

She actually really does.

The theme of ep06, for some reason, was a feeling of yearning and slight despair. I don't know why I got that, but it was there from the very beginning, where Yune was quietly working away at cleaning the shop. As expected, Alice showed up once more, inviting Yune to go take photographs with her. (That reminded me of my [step]mother-in-law, who also seems to really love dolling up and heading to professional studios to take pictures. I don't understand this hobby.) While Yune really wanted to go, she wanted to finish her housework first, and so Alice waited while Claude was emo-face. I hate how the two seem to have such a serious problem communicating; I hate it in every shoujo scenario, where it always seems so predominant. It would be fine if there was really nothing to say (such as with Ryuu and Chizu, who don't regularly have things to "explain" to each other, being so close), but it's quite obvious that Claude and Yune are just bad at expressing their desires. So annoying.

Pro moves to counteract Yune's inherent clumsiness.

After finally heading over to Alice's house, leaving Claude behind (although he attempted to make his peace with it), Alice proceeded to take Yune around everywhere, showing her photo albums along with the extensive wardrobe she had collected. Nothing much happened in this episode, making it feel kind of boring for me. Alice wanted to dress Yune up in a new kimono and attempted to have her maids help, but Camille (Alice's older sister) suggested that Yune dress herself so that Alice would learn. It turned out that, despite being so very into Japanese culture, Alice seemed to have no real idea how a kimono worked. I was intrigued how excited she was after seeing the finished product on Yune, commenting that it was such a large piece of cloth and Yune cinched it up into a shape without using any buttons. Has she really never seen someone wearing a kimono before? What about her dolls?

Ah, there's the Victorian metal armour...

While Alice's visions of photos had the two in their typical garb, Yune offered to help Alice with a kimono and proceeded to undress the bourgeoisie. It really was amusing to see how wrong the type of underwear used in France was in a Japanese setting; the corset that Alice wore to get an hourglass shape created a figure that was completely wrong for wearing a kimono, causing Yune to use extra cloth to "fill out" Alice's waist. I do recall having thoughts about this weeks ago, when I was wondering why Japanese women seemed to generally be flat while the women around me in Beijing aren't so extreme (although still smaller in general). In the end, I came to the conclusion that the type of historical clothing played a large part. The qi pao doesn't seem to require a super flat chest; rather, by what I see, a slight shape is heralded as attractive (a curved back, a curved front, etc). The kimono, on the other hand, prides the "straight down" look, where the obi is often used as a binding method. On the other hand, the Western world prided the hourglass figure, where the breasts were even pushed upwards to appear as large as possible (and large hips were even "practical", assumed to be good for childbearing in days when birthing could be deadly). I don't know if that's really the case or not as to the differing body shapes, but it really could be a factor.

Upcoming Camille story for sure.

Throughout the entire episode, Camille provided more actual story than Alice, by commenting here and there about her life. She agreed with Yune's innocent comparison that the crinoline seemed like a bird cage, and then commented later about how she was trapped in her life (only not in such blatant words). She seems like a disillusioned aristocrat; it seems like the anime is set in a time when such things were taking place. (Then again, France has a history of frequent social overhauls, so "time" isn't really that much of a factor...) When Claude came to pick up Yune (he really didn't play a part in this episode...), Camille watched from her window. I guess there's a chance she'll be the third point in a love triangle, since Alice currently loves Yune a lot more than Claude. I don't know if this is a harem-type or not, so I don't know the chances of Alice falling for Claude. Things like "feelings" and "love" are often quite forced and impractical in romance anime, anyway, so attempting to foresee is just moot.

Wow, that's how much bread one person eats in the morning?

Ep07 was one of the worst episodes of this anime, as the way that Claude was behaving constantly bothered me. It began with Yune wanting to treat Claude to another Japanese meal (pulling out some umeboshi, probably brought over from Japan by either Oscar or herself), but he suggested that they wait for another time. It was "foreshadowed" that there was something physically wrong with Yune, but the scene just continued on. Later that day, she saw the homeless boy outside the shop again and walked outside to talk to him. I'm glad that she reached out without putting the shop or herself in any danger; that's the way to do it, if you're going to try to be sympathetic and nice. She gave her "leftover" bread to the boy, after finding out that he had pawned the stolen goods for food, which is when Claude caught her.

I wonder if a calligraphy brush is actually any good for make-up.

Claude was very angry that Yune was reaching out to someone not worthy of her (or something like that), saying that he had no bread to give to a thief. To be fair, that bread was Yune's to give; it came out of her share of breakfast. Unfortunately, many people don't see it that way. It's like the idea of borrowing money; many lenders feel as though they have a right to dictate what the borrower does with the loan - when, in all actuality, the lender can only be concerned with repayment. If Claude is so angry with what Yune does with her share of breakfast, his only real recourse is to not allow food to leave the table. Claude's angry tirade was cut short when Alice arrived, showing Yune her many new items from Japan (and her hilarious misusing of them all). On her way out, Alice kissed Yune on the cheek, which made the young Japanese girl steam with embarrassment. I'm glad they didn't pretend that all Westerners kiss each other on the lips as greeting, as many shoujo do to explain away sexual harassment. I've always found it weird how Japanese girls are depicted in anime/manga as getting embarrassed even when touched by another girl. In general, Easterners are actually far more touchy-feely with the same-sex than Westerners.

Don't worry; it's just a normal cold.

After seeing the young boy again outside the shop slightly later in the day, Yune went out to let him know that Claude had forbidden her from interacting with him - an action that Claude caught. This time, his tirade continued in its full, with his stubborn pigheadedness baring itself in all of its glory. Yune was in tears and ran off upstairs, though agreeing with Claude's "commands". Of course, the various allusions to sickness before this point came to fruition and she collapsed on the staircase. I've never understood why colds are portrayed so seriously in anime. I've had the flu before and even that didn't take me out of commission so badly, and I'm not really a healthy specimen. Yet, even a cold seems to cause characters to be at death's door (visually).

And they later "evolve" into human beings?

Worry about Yune caused Claude to re-evaluate what he had been doing. After his stupidity earlier, I expected a lot from him. It bothered me how little he thought of people that were of a lower class than him, although I'm well aware that that was the norm in France at the time. His assertion that Yune was sick because of germs she caught from the homeless boy was paranoia stemming from discrimination due to the class system - but well-rooted in logic, considering the chances of the homeless boy having a contagious illness was actually much higher. The way he treated Yune as his to control was annoying, on top of the fact that he seemed to think that Yune knew nothing. "Goodbye [is] what you say to somebody close to you." I'm sure she knows this already; he's not much older than her and yet he feels the right to give her social lessons, not advice. Basically, Claude embodies a typical man of 19th-century Paris - except that seems like an out-of-control tyrant by 21st-century standards. Ergo, I was hoping for him to redeem himself (since he's the main character of this anime, after all). However, he seems to only be able to oscillate between close-minded anger and never-ending self-pity, all the while not thinking about what Yune wants/feels/says, since his conclusion was that surely Yune sympathized with the homeless boy because she saw herself in him (being out-of-place in Paris) and perhaps it was better to send her back to Japan, where she was more at-home. After seeing Yune clutching the alphabet-learning book, he emo-ed about how she tried so hard on his own and he wasn't doing enough, so I guess that was kind of an improvement...

Good thing the bottle isn't dry and sticking to her skin...

Even if for some shallow reasons, Claude went to ask Alice to get a doctor (as the hospital was, as expected, too busy). He also asked what Japanese people ate when sick and went home to make rice porridge (congee, or "okayu" in Japanese). Meanwhile, the homeless boy took Yune's words to heart and picked a flower for her instead of stealing it. His change interests me a lot more, given the fact that his actions were driven by circumstance and that his future isn't too bright whether or not he "changes for the better". Claude, on the other hand, has a short temper by design and does nothing to control it; instead, he still chooses to apologize after the fact. Moreover, he isn't really showing any signs of changing earnestly; he's only using sugar-coated words that he often forgets afterwards. If nothing else, at least this episode showed more signs of a possible entrance of Camille into the Yune-Claude situation, as she giggled knowingly at how hard he was trying for Yune's sake.

Wow, those maids are really, really pro to be able to lift that.

I tried to find something about this anime that was gripping, and it's just continued to disappoint me. Yune's character was not something I could really stand beyond the first episode, and now Claude has joined that level of annoyance. I'm still waiting for some redeeming moments beyond sparkly "I'll do anything for you" scenes that have no substance, but I'm pretty sure I won't find it. This is just a long and drawn-out shoujo "love story" set in 19th-century Paris.