I give this ever-so-sweet and charming anime...a 92/100!
I first started getting into anime in 2006, when I began watching shows that began airing in Japan, like Ouran High School Host Club (before it was licensed) and Digimon Savers. I didn't really decide what genre of anime I liked and didn't really have one...until I discovered two anime that defined my love of anime: Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette and Shounen Onmyouji. Those two anime made me love one particular genre of anime: historical fiction. Or, more specifically, nice kids who experience new things or are brought down by hardships in life. Unfortunately, most historical fiction nowadays are either totally inaccurate or turned into fan-service anime for fangirls (Kuroshitsuji). HOWEVER!!! In the midst of stale excrement there is one anime that reminds us that history is precious. And it reminds me of why I love anime and historical fiction in general. The anime is none other than Ikoku Meiro no Croisee!
So, the anime's about a cute little Japanese girl named Yune who's been interested in France since she was young. She finally goes there with the assistance of Oscar Claudel, who takes her to his store, the Enseignes Du Roy, which is inside a store chain called Galerie Du Roy (apparently means King's Gallery). His grandson, Claude, isn't too happy with Yune's entrance, but Yune doesn't mind. She's just happy to be in France and seeing new things. She goes on some little adventures, does housework in the store, meets new people (namely Alice Blanche and her sister, Camille), and learns new things about not just France, but about life as well as her presence making others learn more about her.
Once this anime started, people already had a word for it: adorable. That's right. EVERYTHING about this anime is adorable, mostly Yune herself! But before I get to her character, I want to discuss something that really baffled me: the animation. It's been done by Satelight, and if you look at this anime and then watch shows they did a few years ago (like Kamichama Karin or Macross Frontier), you'll be totally surprised by how much their animation style has changed. Their anime used to be REALLY low budget. But with Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, that's not the case! Everything is animated down to even the littlest detail, like people in the background. Plus you have to give credit to them for including ACTUAL French text in even the littlest noticed of places, like on columns and signs! You don't see anime that do that so accurately nowadays, now do you? Also, believe it or not, this anime also has THREE French people who assisted with it's production: Thomas Romain, Yann Le Gall, and Stanislas Brunet. They worked on shows like Aria, Oban Star Racers, and...get this. Code Lyoko! Well, technically Thomas Romain created Code Lyoko, but he seems to be VERY interested in Japanese anime. Yay! People who actually get it!
Now that that's done and over with, I need to gush about the soundtrack! It's wonderfully French! What do I mean? Let me explain: whenever you see shows that show people in France, the background music usually changes to BGMs played on accordians or piccolos or something. That's kinda the set background music for all portrayals of France. With Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, not only does it focus on this, but it changes it up a bit, and boy did they change it up wonderfully! Soft, warm, and melodic tunes are always present, even during the rather gloomy and rainy day-esque scenes. It's the type of soundtracks that sound like a lullaby that takes you off into a warm, happy imaginary world like you're laying on clouds. The OP theme is great because it captures the whole mood of the show and basically shows you the entire plot, but I personally love both ED themes of the anime. Sooooo cute and lovely! I'd listen to them all day!
The characters...awww! In my opinion, I think Yune is one of the best female characters I've seen in anime. She's kind and modest, but sharp, observant, and sickeningly stubborn when she wants to be, and is capable of taking care of herself. She's NOT like your stereotypical shoujo lead or anything. This anime puts her character to the test by putting her in a foreign land and meeting new people. Well, this is technically what the show is about. The people she lives with, Oscar and Claude Claudel, are nice in their own way too, though I prefer Oscar over Claude because he's not your stereotypical grandfather figure. He's friendly, laid-back, and is happy to be alive. He wants to live out his retirement peacefully. Claude...personally I think he's a bit too uptight and angsty at times, but he has good reason for it, part of it being his relationship with Camille, a girl from the wealthy Blanche family. There is one character I found VERY refreshing: Alice. While she is kinda partly stereotypical, being rich and somewhat snotty, she's NOT cruel. Normally rich and snotty girls bully the main character. Alice is a Japanophile who LOVES Yune at first sight and treats her like royalty, but has enough common sense to know when she can't sway Yune off her feet and accepts the decisions she makes. She definitely has character and is a good one, but there is one question in the series that's never answered: why does she hate Claude? I need clarification please!
Basically, the story's about two worlds, Yune's world and Europe, intertwining with one another and embracing their differences. Obviously Yune comes from a country that the Europeans know nothing about, so of course they'd think she's a bit strange. But this anime is about embracing cultural differences, and about Yune learning about Paris as the people she meets learn about her, be it when it comes to food, manners, and their beliefs. This anime challenges them, but it doesn't view them as bad. But there is one suspicion I kinda have about Yune: is she potentially biracial? Because in one episode they show that her sister, Shione, has blue eyes, and the Japanese don't like people with blue eyes. Why did they discriminate against blue eyes back then? Did that even happen in the late 19th century? I always thought that kind of discrimination didn't happen until World War 2, when America dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (or at least when Japanese people began being thrown into internment camps after Pearl Harbor). What the heck? I'm confused. Well, at least the anime's not trying to display racism or anything.
In short, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee is a sweet, adorable, and charming little gem of an anime. Sentai Filmworks BETTER dub it or some butts will be kicked!