「チーズ “Fromage”」 (Chiizu)
Alright, get ready for round two of “Why I love Ikoku Meiro so much.”
If it wasn’t evident already from my previous post, the simplicity of the series and how it makes me appreciate the little things in life more are a large part of it, much like it was in the Aria series. Yune’s innocence and naivety about France also parallels Akari’s unfamiliarity with Aqua, providing us with a window into a foreign world, whereas her respectful conduct and diligence are contagious. This second episode touches on the latter, depicting how Yune doesn’t like the taste of cheese or coffee and is unfamiliar with drinking soup using a spoon, yet is adamant about acquiring those tastes and table manners for the sake of Oscar and Claude. Showing respect and appreciation has always been an aspect of Japanese culture that I admire — even if they do get carried away with it at times — and Yune provides a small glimpse of that with her sincere desire to understand their tastes so she can prepare the food they enjoy, and not waste any of the food she’s given. It’s a very charming quality to see in a such a young girl, and makes me want to see that she’s loved in return because of it. In that sense, she’s really no different than Rin in Usagi Drop, whom one can’t help but feel compelled to extend an arm out to and want take care of.
It’s pretty undeniable that Yune’s young age and level of maturity have an added appeal, but I still feel that it’s her aforementioned innocence and naivety that really defines her character. It’s easy to misinterpret her earnest desire to be helpful as an acceptance of a life of servitude, except that would only be true if she didn’t want to come to France to learn about the world or was mistreated in any way. Clearly neither are the case, as she’s very happy to be abroad and is already dearly cared for, so much that Claude is still trying to get her mother’s kimino keepsake back. More importantly, Claude recognizes that Yune is so concerned about being helpful and not being a bother that he wants to help her enjoy her time in Paris, and decides to step away from his work to show her around the city — hardly the type of treatment anyone would expect toward a mere household maid. If anything, Yune is perceived as a younger sister to Claude and a granddaughter to Oscar, and it shows in the way they’re really patient with her as she learns about their part of the world. The trip to the marketplace was a good example of that, where Claude used the English names of all the vegetables to add to the foreign feeling.
As unusual as it may sound, what I’m really looking forward to are the moments when Yune screws up, either accidentally like in the first episode or due to her own kindness. The orphan boy who’s been seen peering into Enseignes du Roy and rummaging through the trash should provide that in the upcoming episodes, leading to some relatively minor yet rather meaningful problems for Yune to deal with. Most of all, I’m eagerly anticipating the introduction the rich daughters of the Blanche family that Claude despises, Alice (Yuuki Aoi) and her older sister Camille (Yahagi Sayuri). Alice is the other key character to the series and has an abnormal interest in Japanese culture (which could probably be said about a lot of us), and is currently in possession of Yune’s mother’s kimino. It’s not too hard to have imagine where that might take things, much like Yune teaching Claude how to write her name in Japanese. i.e. Nowhere good in either case, but interesting to watch for that very reason.
* For fang lovers out there, it looks like they gave Yune one. Cuteness meter off the scale?