「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: 「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 ▼
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.