「秘密 Jardin secret」 (Himitsu)
The flashbacks continue to reshape my image of Camille ever so slightly but this latest one has me fairly convinced that she saw Claude as much more than a plaything. The look on her face when she peered into Enseignes du Roy was clearly of a girl who had feelings for the person she set her eyes on. Granted, it was pretty apparent even before that, from the way she kept turning down all his attempts to invite her out. The sight of Claude’s failed attempts quickly reverberated the bird cage alluded to back in episode six and put a new perspective on all the things she was trying to entice Claude into coming over with. She wasn’t allowed to leave the house, so she had to make Claude want to come and see her. It even changed my view on her desire to make him her amant (i.e. lover), considering that was the best she could do knowing very well that her parents would never allow her to marry Claude.
It’s too bad Claude didn’t quite see what Camille was enduring just so that she wouldn’t be cut off from him completely. It didn’t even hit him even when she sneaked out to Gallerie du Roy to visit him, suggesting that he’s misunderstood Camille all this time. It wasn’t until Yune said she feels Camille is wearing a corset for someone else that he finally seemed to realize. Considering how young Claude was back then, it’s hard to blame for not realizing sooner though. He meant well when he invited her out and had no clue he was making it even harder for Camille since she kept it all to herself. Because of that, I just see their relationship as unfortunate. Claude was Camille’s weakness, tempting her with the freedom that any child would want, so she had to distance herself from him so that her resolve to live the life expected of her. This in turn left Claude at a loss as to why Camille brushed him off, leading to the delicate situation that we have now. Sadly, I really can’t see their love overcoming the social boundaries at this point, so I get the feeling their subplot will go down as a lost childhood love. The only truly redeeming thing to take away is that Claude now has a better understanding of what Camille meant back then.
As twisted as it sounds, what I find so captivating about their past is the fact that it didn’t have a fairy tale ending attached to it. All too often we see stories where love conquers all, so Ikoku Meiro really sets itself apart by depicting how cruel society can be. At the same time, it doesn’t portray it in an overly depressing manner and simply an unfortunate one that anyone should be able to sympathize with. To help offset all the seriousness, it was nice to see Alice demonstrate her tea ceremony skills to Yune. She actually had me going for a bit too before her true colors came out. Next time, it looks we’ll finally learn some more about Claude’s late father, who had a cameo in this episode but didn’t actually have any lines (it was another worker who called out for Claude). Hopefully this flashback will end on a somewhat uplifting note.
* I forgot to mention last episode that childhood Claude is voiced by Satou Rina.