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Ikoku Meiro no Croisée The Animation – 12 (END)

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「屋根の上の猫 Chats sur un toit」 (Yane no Ue no Neko)
“The Cat on the Roof”

It became more and more apparent as the remaining minutes trickled down in this final episode — I’m going to miss watching this show on Sundays. I’m never really anticipating the next episode of Ikoku Meiro, but I’ve never been disappointed either every time it rolled around. It truly is a slice-of-life series that’s in the same vein as ARIA, much like I suspected when I skimmed through the early parts of the manga three months ago. It does however differentiate itself by painting a less than ideal picture of 19th century France, which this last episode touched upon again by finally revealing how Claude’s father died.

The emotional hardships are the extent of conflicts we’ll see in this kind of show, yet they can be portrayed so powerfully just from seeing Claude swipe his father’s gloves out of Yune’s hands. The look on Claude’s face and way he snapped at Yune was unlike anything we’ve seen at this point, so it really set the tone early on. That sentiment was compounded by the fact that Yune’s search for what she believed to be Jannick’s runaway cat made it look like a suicide attempt. I almost laughed when Yune started talking about how she wasn’t helpful to the people in the gallerie, further misleading Claude into thinking that she was going to jump off the roof, but the look of fear in his eyes when she stumbled and the flashback to how his father Jean fell from the scaffolding in the Grand Magasin made it practically impossible to. I didn’t think for one second that Yune would be seriously harmed in this last episode, but the way that scene played out in slow-motion did make my heart sink a little bit. I could really sense the panic in Claude’s voice as the glass that Yune landed on started creaking. It may have been completely inadvertent, but she practically gave him a heart attack by reminding him of an understandably traumatic experience.

The best part of the episode came as a follow-up to that scare, when Claude finally opened up to Yune and told her about his father. I like how he made it clear that he hated his father for treating him so colder, but at the same time talked about how he would’ve liked to compare hand sizes with him knowing that he’s outgrown his father, suggesting that he did still miss his father on some level. The scene of them together on the rooftop overlooking Gallerie du Roy and Claude’s embarrassment over carrying Yune were a befitting conclusion. Top that off with Yune being recognized as a member of the Gallerie family and I don’t think we could have had a sweeter ending.

 

ED4 Sequence

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ED4: 「ここから始まる物語」 (Koko kara Hajimaru Monogatari) by 東山奈央 (Tooyama Nao)
Watch the 4th ED!: Streaming ▼

Final Impressions:

I said in the very first episode that my coverage of Ikoku Meiro would simply involve talking about why I love it so much, so it only feels right to end things off doing the very same. Each week I’ve talked about how the show makes me appreciate the little things in life more and all the cuteness that Yune brings, but what really stood out was the relationship between Yune and Claude.

She’s a girl in a foreign country who needs help getting familiar with the culture and her surroundings, while he’s the kindhearted boy who needs help rediscovering that side of him. Yune teaches Claude about himself just as much as he teaches her about France, and often about things he’d rather not remember. His unfortunate past with Camille and his father Jean were the highlight of the series for me, depicting less than ideal scenarios within society and his family. It’s not something I was expecting from this kind of show, but it really helped distinguish Ikoku Meiro from others shows in the same genre and left a lasting impression on the series as a whole.

On the lighthearted side of things was Alice and her obsession with Japanese culture. Thanks to her, the story had a means of switching seamlessly between a comedic air and a more sentimental one, achieving what I perceived as a perfect balance between the two. As soon as I got swept up in cute and humorous developments, something a lot more profound always seemed to creep up unexpectedly. That unassuming progression worked really well, weaving in meaningful story in the everyday lives of a young blacksmith and his foreign helper. Satelight did a wonderful job with this adaptation, which is a true gem among anime these days. Anyone who thinks that anime is nothing but recycled tropes should give Ikoku Meiro a try. It may even make you a better person.

September 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm
28 comments »
  • September 19, 2011 at 2:41 pmBass.EXE

    Au revoir, Ikoku Meiro…À la prochaine. Tu vas me manquer.

  • September 19, 2011 at 2:48 pmMegas

    Its shows like this that makes me think that anime still have a chance (then I digress back to reality when I see the other 2/3s of the lineup as utter garbage). Anyway this was just a great series, period. Anyone who doesn’t think so must be into the other 10 or so series that I was referring to.

    OK, breathe in… I’m just sad that its over :(

    • September 19, 2011 at 5:22 pmLuxorcist

      Ahhh the pensive sadness at the end of every slice of life… most genres can’t do this. It’s simply

      MAGIC

    • September 20, 2011 at 12:50 amBijyu

      I enjoy those other 10 shows! But I enjoyed this show too. However shows with no real plot just leave me feeling empty when they end. There is no point in the show, almost any episode can be switched with any other. There is no “hardship” over the story. Just the tiny “hardship” each episode has.

      That isn’t always a bad thing. I want there to be more of this show because without any real event to have closure on the series as a whole just feels like it was canceled instead of finished. This season had a lot of shows like that. Where the final episode just doesn’t feel like a final episode. I would have loved to get to see the sub plot of claude relationship with (rich blondes name is escaping me atm) or have a season finally of yune going back to japan and claude actually having to stop her. Something that feels like a climax and resolution.

      Though with it ending like this it leaves room for season 2 and ovas.

  • September 19, 2011 at 3:08 pmricz

    Ohh I want more camille :(

    And too bad they didn’t show claude’s father past

    Can’t wait for the other chapter of Ikoku

  • September 19, 2011 at 3:45 pmKalliente

    Indeed, this show and Usagi Drop are bound to make you a better person. What a season to have two absolute gems. I cant see anything measuring up for some time to come.

  • September 19, 2011 at 4:05 pmGuardian Enzo

    Pretty much agree on all fronts, except to add this is my clear favorite series of the Summer. My own series review is posted, if anyone wants to check it out.

    I see a lot of reviews of this series where the moe and relaxing pace and general eye candy is all that gets talked about, and that makes me a little sad – because if that’s all you see here, you’re missing an awfully big part of the picture. Ikoku Meiro is one of the shrewdest and most subtle character explorations we’ve seen in ages. It’s so much more than eye candy – it’s a show that packs a tremendous emotional punch derived from seemingly very simple and humble sources – basic human interaction amongst a small cast of characters. If that weren’t enough, it’s one of the most insightful explorations of the cultural differences between East and West that you’ll ever see in anime.

  • September 19, 2011 at 4:17 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    Awwwwwwwwwww, She’s leaving already?!……well, FAREWELL my little River Goblin.

  • September 19, 2011 at 4:55 pmLitho

    The anime series exaggerates on the “drama” bits too much, imho. The manga seems to balance drama and slice-of-life better.
    Decent show overall, but the squeaky voices used for the 2 rich girls spoiled it for me a bit.

  • September 19, 2011 at 5:04 pmLuxorcist

    I don’t know… Aria never had the relationship intensive drama like Ikoku did. From what I saw (I admit, up to episode 6), Ikoku didn’t have mono no aware like most slice of life series have. Would it still be “in the same vein” then?

    • September 19, 2011 at 6:29 pmDivine

      Slice of life-wise, I think so. I did say it differentiates itself with the drama.

  • September 19, 2011 at 6:31 pmmac65

    It’s going to be a tough call deciding which has the cutest expressions
    through their respective series: Yune or Rin.

    I loved the full played ED theme. Sad to see this series end. On the bright side,
    there’s always the possibility of another season…

  • September 19, 2011 at 7:39 pmsalty

    Season 2 please. And while I’m at it, season 3 and 4 please. With some OVAs sprinkled in between.

    • September 19, 2011 at 8:23 pmBass.EXE

      I believe there’s 3 or 4 OVAs scheduled to come out this year actually. I’m not sure if they are full-length or little 5-minute eps, though

      • September 20, 2011 at 8:36 amSerapita

        I think there’s a special episode for each release of BD/DVD disc. The 2nd one is on sale at 26/10 with special episode called Ikoku Meiro no Croisee: Yune & Alice.

  • September 19, 2011 at 9:00 pmLectro Volpi

    I started watching this for Yune and ended on the other side of the Styx with Camille.

    Ikoku started good but I never craved for more, I let the last 3 episodes piling up while I was on The Idolm@aster and Usagi Drop edge every Thursday (2 totally different shows but with some sparkle, something went wrong for me with Ikoku).

    I can’t rememebr any BGM (unlike Anohana, who did great on that part) from the show and I skipped the Op and ED, I just watched it once as I always tend to do but nevermore *awk* *awk*

    Characters are just ok, I guess I just went bitter along Camille to enjoy Yune, Alice and Oscar (No, actually I never liked him! hohoho!); Claude was meh but I do liked Shione (am I into “older-sister” types!?)

    Art was ok but inconsistent in some parts; on the other hand the background was great.

    No problem with the voices.

    For me it is a Seven eleven but I can’t tell if I’m biased (in the way of hate) towards most of the cast, so I will give it an:

    8/10 just in case.

    • September 21, 2011 at 12:32 amLectro Volpi

      Ah! French people (even commoners) used honorifics such as “-sama” for Alice and “-Chan” for Yune! No!

  • September 19, 2011 at 9:51 pmBuzzsaw

    This show and YuruYuri were the most unexpected pleasures for me this summer season – for very different reasons, obviously, and I really hope that both get a second series, or at the very least some bonus OAD episodes.

  • September 20, 2011 at 2:19 amx

    This anime was exactly what I expected (having read the manga). Loved it, too bad I think we probably won’t see more of it (at least until more of the manga comes out, maybe a year or three later?). I agree with Enzo’s sentiment about it being the “shrewdest and most subtle character explorations”.

  • September 20, 2011 at 3:37 amSkins Thunderbomb

    A truly wonderful series that I can’t wait to see continued in the hopefully near future. <3 So glad I decided to watch it.

  • September 20, 2011 at 5:08 amKinny Riddle

    For slice-of-life shows, there’s still Idolm@ster on the fun side and Working season 2 on the comedic side, but for heartwarming cuteness, nothing compares to 12 weeks of this show.

    I’m so gonna miss this.

  • September 20, 2011 at 7:51 amLouis

    I don’t feel comparing Ikoku to Aria for both series have different themes though they almost have the same concept – filling an episode with slow-paced calm scenes. But if I were to choose between these two, I’d go with Aria simply because it had create a niche of its own unlike Ikoku w/c lives on Aria’s shadow of slice-of-life success.

  • September 20, 2011 at 8:37 amSerapita

    Like Divine said last time, I think we need Ikoku: the Natural and Ikoku: the Origination…

    • September 20, 2011 at 9:02 amDrunkenVeggie

      I agree with this sentiment.
      Unfortunately though, we’d have to wait till its over and done with to get a beautifully painted show like how Aria was at the end.
      Such a lovely, lovely show.
      Two beautiful shows that really lets you savor even the littlest happiness that life has to offer.

      • September 20, 2011 at 7:28 pmSerapita

        Yes, I like both shows because they portray that you can, and should, appreciate every little thing in your life. That is what happiness is all about.

  • September 21, 2011 at 10:55 amDainelle

    Characters in anime who always have an optimistic view on things (like yune) should change in personality but not to the point where they forget who they are or what made them interesting. For example the girls from clannad all changed on the inside but still kept what made them enjoyable thruoghout the whole series: their determination and cheerfulness. I know alot of fans dislike these types of characters because some of them believe their kind and cheerfullness is fake and that they are weak physically just because they don’t train or fling head-first into a dangerous situation (which I think is pretty stupid anyway i mean why would a character try to fight a monster especially if they weren’t train for it)

  • September 21, 2011 at 9:04 pmacolyte

    I’ve been avoiding Aria because I felt it was too slow. I should take time to watch it.
    I’m going to miss this show.. It gave me peace in the sad Monday when the weekend’s over.

  • September 25, 2011 at 11:50 amalabaster

    I think there was more story that needed to be covered. I’m already suspecting a link between Claude’s dad Jean and Yune’s sister Shione. My theory is that they’re both half bloods. The blue eyes of Shione would be explained by French blood in her, whilst the small Asian frame of Jean could be Japanese blood in him. How these two will tie together, I dunno, but it would be interesting to have found out that Yune and Claude were linked together by destiny like in episode 4.5.