Grab your parasol or cane and lets take one last time traveling hop back to late 19th-century France. This will be our last glimpse of the young Japanese girl and her charming french cohorts. At least until the bonus episode comes out late in October.
The finale served as a nice book end to this fish out of water, slice of life series. At the start of the final episode, Yune and Claude stroll through the Galerie du Roy. Yune is now greeted eagerly by the small community of shop owners and other inhabitants of the small marketplace. Once again displaying her affection towards cats, she hears the tale of Yannick’s (the dairy shop keeper) cat, who after having a bell tied on him, ran away. He also tells Yune, that if she ever runs into the cat, to tell him to come home. Bad move Monsieur Yannick.
After returning to their shop, Claude goes back to work. Ever vigilant in her cleaning duties, Yune triggers a nasty scene by grabbing Jean’s (Claude’s deceased father) gloves. Jean, seen in flashback a few times lately, is shown once again and several times throughout the finale as Claude deals with his daddy-demons. After the tense moment in the shop, Yune hears a strange bell-like sound. Convinced it’s Yannick’s long-lost cat she runs through the Galerie looking for it.
Shortly after, hot-headed Claude realizes that Yune is missing and runs around looking for her. He asks the other shop keepers if they’ve seen her, before running into Alice back at the shop. They all begin searching for Yune, who herself is on the trail of the would be lost cat. Alice also stops home and lets Camille know the situation as well. They all search and search. We see the little street scamp–whose appearance, rounds out the entire cast. Claude, with his blue-eagle eyes, spots Yune on the roof of the Galerie and pushes her off. It’s a stunning and tragic end for the little Japanese girl and wins, hands down, “The Most Unexpected Moment in Anime History Award.”
That would have been interesting. It’s pretty obvious what happens after he spots her bad altitude. He saves the young girl and in the emotional moment, he opens up a bit about his past. A bit for Claude is a mile for most. He also finally explains that his father met with a tragic end in the Blanche’s Magasin, not directly saying, but inferring it’s the catalyst for his distaste for the large mall.
The two leading characters head back to the sign shop, where they’re greeted by all the Galerie people. Yune has her apologetic tone turned sparkly and appreciative as she comes to realize she’s become part of the Galerie itself.
I saw the end coming and was slightly touched. From seeing the last few shows, it was obviously going to deal with Claude and him getting over, at least in part, his problems with his father. I thought the Yune/Yannick’s cat was nice way to end her arc overall. In a show where the conflict is Outsider vs. Strange surroundings, Yune’s acceptance at the end was, if not terribly exciting, somewhat satisfying.
There were no sudden plot developments or real changes to the show’s slow and steady stroll through the Galerie. For any anime fans who gave this a look-see at the start of the Summer 2011, their first impressions were most likely correct. Yune is a young Japanese girl brought back to late 19th-century Paris by an older French gentleman. There she works as a live-in maid at the metal shop, Enseignes du Roy, run by the gentleman’s grandson. The story features these three and a small handful of supporting characters, and is made up of slice of life moments between those characters, particularly Yune and Claude.
If that simple set-up sounded good to you at the start of the series and you enjoyed the characters and the leisurely pacing of the show, you’ve probably watched the whole thing with no regrets. If your first instinct upon watching 1 or 2 episodes, was that the pacing was too slow, the characters too simple and/or poorly designed, nothing happened over the course of the series that would have changed your mind.
There’s not much to the actual story. Over the 12 episodes there are some minor happenings, the most blaring being the arrival of Alice and later her older sister Camille, both being the center of some additional plot development. Again, it never really changes its main story for better or worse. The character’s themselves aren’t too deep emotionally or designed for great moments of serious drama. Almost without exception, the characters don’t change or grow much. Yune is straightforward in her ideas of honor and duty. It’s nothing an anime fan hasn’t seen before. The hot-headed Claude, cold on the outside, not wanting to get attached and battling his past, is a another combination of common tropes.
Surprisingly, my favorite characters ended up being Oscar, the elderly traveler, and Alice, the young french girl. The two supply, or ignite, most of the more enjoyable moments of the series. The characters’ animated designs however, and unlike the rest of the production elements, were abhorrent. It’s true. I’ve mentioned it several times since episode one, so forgive me if you’ve read all the reviews here.
Yune is cute, right? Well.. mostly right. Sometimes she looks completely alien. With her sharpie-sized neck and wheel of cheese sized eyes, she finely ambles on that border of oh-my-god-so-cute and oh-my-god-chupacabra. Thankfully more so the former. The big problem with the character design, was that Oscar and Claude are twins. As ThatOtherGuy mentioned, while watching the first couple episodes, he was waiting for Yune to pull off Oscar’s beard to reveal he’s really Claude. It could be just me, but the European people in the show look silly. And similar. In complete contrast to the character designs, I loved the all the backgrounds and the city scenery. I loved the colors, especially all the night-time scenes lit only by street lamp or candlelight.
The music and sound were ok. I enjoyed the jazzy little opening all season, while watching the ending only once, before fast forwarding the rest of the way. The background noises never come much into play, as a bulk of the series takes place in the Galerie and in the sign shop. The background music however was wonderfully warm. They consisted of some classical-like accompaniments heard throughout the series, usually for the more dramatic or somber segments of the show. I never once noticed the voice acting, besides some annoyance at Alice.
If there was a show that could have truly benefited from some slick animation and sleek character designs, it would have been this one. Even with its shortcomings, I still enjoyed Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, and would recommend it to people interested in owning a little Japanese girl. I’d also recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical slice-of-life themed anime based in late 19th century Paris. Seriously, though, if you don’t mind the slow pace and rather bland looking characters, give this a shot. It has a perfect length at 12 episodes and is a (mostly) well-done slice of life series.