October 02, 2011
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Title: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée
Genre: Slice of Life
Rating: 6.0/10

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Summary: The story takes place in the second half of the 19th century, as Japanese culture gains popularity in the West. A young Japanese girl, Yune, accompanies a French traveler, Oscar, on his journey back to France, and offers to help at the family’s ironwork shop in Paris. Oscar’s nephew and shop owner Claude reluctantly accepts to take care of Yune, and we learn how those two, who have so little in common, get to understand each other and live together in the Paris of the 1800s.

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Review: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee is one of your standard slices of life with a slight twist. The story takes place in the 1800s when traveling between countries wasn’t very common. It was even less common to stay in another country for an extended period of time. Young Yune ventures off to France where she stays with the young blacksmith Claude and his grandfather Oscar. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise when I tell you that nothing really happens. Slice of life anime generally don’t have anything happen because they are supposed to depict reality in some way. Of course they have to have some sort of entertainment so they either go with comedy or drama. Thankfully Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was far from a dramatic anime. There wasn’t anything that could make you shed a tear or feel sad the rest of the day. However, it does have its touching moments between Yune and the people of France.

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The art for Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was probably the best thing about it. It had a great sense of color and lighting. The shine on Yune’s face really did make her seem like a small angel. Of course the innocent young girl could do no wrong so depicting her as such was appropriate. It also did a good job making some rather funny expressions for the various characters. I could easily see a couple of the scenes being great avatars or gifs on the internet. Sadly the anime didn’t do much in terms of exploration. Most of the scenes were similar to each other because it took place mostly in the gallery. You would occasionally see backdrops of France or the rich Elizabeth’s house, but for the most part the anime stuck within the shop. It is to be expected though since Yune can’t exactly go out and wander on her own. Though that is something I wouldn’t mind a slice of life bending the rules about. I’m sure exploring 19th century France would be quite fascinating. Especially for those who have a historic interest. The series didn’t need to explore much though to keep the story going. Most drama was often caused by words rather than action.

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the slice of life genre is very difficult to master. You don’t want to make it boring so you try to add some elements to spice things up. However, you don’t want to make it so unrealistic either that it is considered a sci-fi or fantasy. the balance between the two can’t be an easy task considering I’ve never seen a really good slice of life. I’ve seen good, but not VERY good. It is hard to say what would improve the slice of lives I’ve watched too because I don’t know myself. Unfortunately Ikoku Meiro no Croisee didn’t do much better than your average slice of life genre. It stuck with keeping this realistic but that hindered the anime in a lot of ways. It wasn’t very entertaining and would often be placed on the backburner of my anime watching. It is easily an anime you can have stored for a good two-three weeks before picking it up again. I know I completely forgot to even check it out for weeks, only to sit down one day and catch up again. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the episodes, they often made me smile, I just found myself spending time on bigger and better thing. The series didn’t have much going for it other a cute little girl that is trying to understand more about European culture while sticking to her roots. Although the stories weren’t predictable (episodic), the resolve was. It didn’t have anything unexpected and the episodes generally ended happily. The anime tapped into a lot of different issues like Yune’s sister, Claude’s father/love interest. And by the time the anime ended, almost none of them were fully expanded. The only one that you could argue ended was the story of Yune’s sister. A bittersweet tale that kind of took my attention. The short ten odd minutes they used to explain the situation made me like the serious a little bit more. Thankfully it was toward the end of the anime and kept me going for the final push. Just about everything else though was more or less just there on the screen. It didn’t require my full attention to know what was going on. It also seemed to have the same thing happening over and over again. Yune gets sad because Claude got frustrated and wanders off only to get lost. Of course Claude searches in desperation for his tiny little friend worrying immensely along the way only to discovery she is safe and sound. The series didn’t end all that terrifically either because nothing new really happened. I want to say that it ended as best as it could for a slice of life, but I’m not too sure that is accurate. I was hoping for a little more information or resolution than what they gave us.

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The soundtrack for Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was rather nice though. It was a nice calming melody that kind of set you up for what was to come. Since the series wasn’t all that dramatic or funny it played out nicely. The opening and ending theme are something you would probably fall asleep too or give you the urge to drink a nice cup of tea (as I did). It was one of those things that I would say, “Hey why not check it out? You got nothing to lose”. The OST I’m sure isn’t bad, but nothing fantastic. An average sound for a rather average anime.

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Final statements: The series really is something that is only meant for slice of life fans. You have to go in knowing that nothing is actually going to happen. A short, sweet tale of  a little girl just trying to explore a country she adored. Nothing more than a low priority watch.

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