La croisée dans un labyrinthe étranger (Ikoku Meiro no Croisée)

What’s it about ?

A young Japanese girl is brought to late-19th-century Paris to serve as a housemaid. Cue culture clash.

Characters

Yune, the Japanese girl, whose kimono are a complete style clash with the rest of the setting (not to mention somewhat unwieldy to walk around, as the show quickly proves). Apparently going abroad for months as a house servant is a traditional thing in her family (she’s moved to Paris entirely willingly). She’s initially presented as barely understanding any French, but we eventually learn she’s somewhat fluent in the language (which makes her presence somewhat less ludicrous).

Claude, a young blacksmith/sign-maker. He’s not hot on having Yune around, although his objections are perfectly reasonable and he’s shown to be a decent sort of guy. Very good at his job.

Oscar, Claude’s grandfather, retired founder of the sign shop (we learn in passing that Daddy is dead). He’s somehow affluent enough to go on trips to Japan and bring back Yune on a whim.

Production Values

Gorgeous backgrounds, which is actually a problem (see below). The animators also have a decent grasp of body language, which is essential in a series like this.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. This is everything I feared it would be.

When I think “late-19th-century France”, my mind immediately jumps to the works of Émile Zola, which may be somewhat accurately described as “grim and gritty”. In contrast, this series showcases an immaculate Paris, where even the (barely shown) street urchins look way too clean to be real. As a result, this version of Paris looks fake, like the theme park version of the real thing. It doesn’t help that my mind is in constant nitpicking mode while watching it (shops named after the King ? There’d have been three regime changes since France had a king ; although it’s slightly less outlandish when we later learn that the shop was founded two generations ago – when there just barely was still a King – and that its business is struggling somewhat – but then, how can Grampa afford a trip to Japan ?).

Anyway, this show looks far too artificial to my liking, much akin to the way Paris is depicted in most foreign media. More damningly, there is very little depth to it : the characters are blandly nice and no real conflict looks in the offing. I’ll give it one more episode to change my mind, but I’m not optimistic.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2011.

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Jhiday

I've been kinda blogging about anime for years... but mostly on forums (such as RPG.net's Tangency) and other sites. This site is an archive for all that stuff, just in case.

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