Monday, July 25, 2011

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée - 04


One of the things I've loved about this series from the beginning - and there's an awful lot of them - is the wonderful way it gets at the cultural differences between Europeans and Japanese without demeaning either. When Claude said, "It would be so much easier if she could think of herself instead of others" that really captured the essence of the point for me.



My earlier suspicions about Claude being something of an ideologue appear to have some merit. His resentment towards Alice and her family have some very practical and understandable causes, but his dismissal of her as a "money-grubbing bourgeoisie" are classic buzzwords of the French intellectual movement of the time. I've really come to love Claude as a character - he's a bit of a tsun-dude, true, but he carries an innate decency and dignity around like a shield of honor. It's hard on him, seeing his way of life under threat by a world that refuses to play by the same rules he does. Inflexibility is not a trait to be praised, I admit, but I think he does show flexibility about the really important stuff - and always does the right thing when the chips are down. Like taking her to the public baths, though the idea of doing so unless absolutely necessary makes little sense to him.

Into the picture full-force comes Alice, and I'll confess I'm not completely sold that it's a positive development. I was thrilled with the first three eps of this show, even with no conventional plot - simply watching the three protagonists interact was a complete pleasure. Alice feels like the most cliched element of the series by far. By first impressions she's an utterly derivative character we've seen a thousand times before, and comes off as something of a one-dimensional villain. She very stereotypically plays the Ojou-sama role, treating Yune as if she owned her and Claude as if he were trash. What gives me hope is both the obvious skill the writer Takeda Hinata has shown and the fact that the talented Aoi Yuuki is voicing Alice. This is an interesting change for her, and I hope the character develops into something subtler and more effective than we saw this week. Big sister Camille (Yahagi Sayuri) looks as if she will provide a moderating influence.

Yes, I was certainly angry at the way Alice tried to bribe Yune away from Oscar and Claude, most especially when she tried to use Yune's mother's kimono as both carrot and stick. It's even more galling, given that it was Yune's courtesy that compelled her to hear Alice out at all. I wasn't really worried, though, because Yune has already proved herself both trustworthy and immensely loyal. I'm not sure of her wisdom in refusing to take the kimono no strings attached (a sign, perhaps, that Alice isn't so bad at heart), though her reasons make sense. She's dedicated to promises, Yune is - both given and received - and there was never any question of her returning home to cook her sukiyaki. When she said "Both Oscar and Claude have showed me a lot of affection. I need to return the affection to them." that was probably the most emotionally profound moment of any series so far this Summer.

There's no question, Yune is absolutely one of the cutest things ever. She's ridiculous. But it totally works, because she's actually got an iron will inside that tiny little body. It's beyond me how any human could resist loving her, so I guess I don't blame Alice for that. Even if this wasn't my favorite episode and she's the main reason why, it was still an important ep in developing Yune's relationship with Claude and Oscar, and if it's handled as well as I hope, offers a lot of very interesting possibilities for future complications (as if the ending could leave any doubt of that). Next week brings as an adorable manga story "Lost Child", where the urchin from the first episode enters into the story.

10 comments:

  1. I like Alice's addition to the cast. This has been a great show but what it lacks is a villain, probably a minor one to stir things up a little. Claude, Oscar and Yune are just too damn nice and the cynic in me finds that a bit unrealistic.
    LOL at Claude being a "tsun-dude". I'm all for a happily ever after ending with Claude x Yune (after a 10 years time skip) ;D

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  2. I'm virtually positive that Yune will fix Alice (making her a better person) the way she is slowly fixing Claude. You can't show someone making great strides to be a better person without showing them at their worst to begin. Alice isn't a bad girl just really pampered and spoiled.

    If there is a main villian in this series it will probably be her rich daddy or her brother that was given the mall.

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  3. YUNE KAWAII... is what I used to say in my previous comment for this anime. Fortunately human are being capable of evolving and adapting. Thus for this episode I CAN give a proper comment for the first time ever.

    Yune is cute(she still is) even when the drawing become pseudo-sketch especially when she is mad on Claude. The thing I notice in this episode is how Alice already knew Claude by name. Given how a brat Alice is, she knowing a commoner name already prove that there is more back story to be told here. Those that are hoping for Aoi-chan voice talent will not be disappointed.

    @ Seishun Otoko
    I think 23 year old is quite old to be marry at that age. Best age is 16, which mean just 3 year down the road (yay)

    @Karmafan
    Haha, you already said it in the last episode comment. Yea, I agree with you completely. Although I think Alice is fine enough as she is now.

    @Enzo
    Somehow I think the reply function is not as good as I hope it will be. (I mean it just add @name on the top only right)

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  4. I know the reply isn't really the way it should be, but threaded comments just don't seem possible on Blogger yet. Bear with it.

    I honestly don't need any villain - I'm very happy with all the nice - but I get that not everyone will feel that way. If anything, I think Alice will be more of a foil than a villain, and I'm sure Yune will have a positive impact. Camille also vibes that she'd b-slap (or perhaps sic her Persian on) her sister if she went too far over the line.

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  5. I like Alice although she really isn't the type of character I want to see dominating the screentime, she's great but in small doses. What I enjoy most about this show is Yune and Claude and their growing bond and understanding for each other.

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  6. Rika - thanks for posting, and I agree 100%!

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  7. It's nice that at least she offered to give back the kimono for free even if Yune had to deny it to protect Claude's promise. (though the initial bribing was a little mean) I'm glad Alice didn't turn out to be a villain!

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  8. complete villain*

    She's still sort of a villain. XD I worded that wrong.

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  9. Yeah, that was a small moment of decency from her. I think she's going to prove to be basically good, just annoying! I hope Yuuki Aoi can do something about the annoying part.

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  10. Hm, I guess I don't view Alice as a villain so much as a representation of the romanticized images that foreigners have of the East. I found her wearing of the kimono and hoping that Yune looked exactly like her portraits of Japanese women very telling of these twisted infatuations. I'm assuming that Yune will, like others have already said here, influence Alice's preconceived views--and hopefully for the better.

    Regarding Claude, I think you're spot on about him and his rigid set of ideals. I adore him for them.

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