(Note to self: okay, okay, you can do this, stop crying for five minutes and write the review…)
Hey minna *sniff*,
back for a review of the last episode of the Summer 2011 series, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee. A final episode that doesn’t disappoint this teary-eyed otaku, plenty of metaphor, plot development, and good story telling to satisfy anyone. I’m almost too emotionally wracked up to properly do this, but, let’s go…*sniff*…for Yune!
The finale to this great series begins unusually, as it doesn’t open with a small segment of the story then proceed into the opening theme. It opens up on Yune and Claude going out for groceries, when they pass a shop with a metal sign made by Claude’s father, featuring a cat with a bell on it. Yune, as we already should know, is quite fond of cats, so this sign and its accompanying story of a real cat with a bell on it that disappeared sticks with her throughout the episode.
[Spoiler, stop reading now if you haven't seen the final episode yet]
After returning to the shop with groceries, Claude proceeds to go to work in the forge. Ever sweet Yune offers to help Claude in his work, claiming that she is strong enough to carry tools (in it’s last episode, the comedy stays good). When this is shown to not be 100% true, Yune sees some rather small gloves hanging on the glove rack, and moves to put them on to help Claude with the forge. This sets Claude off, who snatches the gloves away from Yune and tells her leave, in not so polite language (How dare he!).
Yune feels a little jilted, but doesn’t take it too hard once Oscar explains that those were Claude’s father’s gloves, and that he never takes them off the rack. Yune understands what these must mean to Claude, so she quietly forgives him, and proceeds to watch over the shop. Until she hears the phantom chingling of the bell from the story of the cat she heard earlier. She ventures outside of the store to investigate….
A short while later, Claude can’t find Yune in the store, so he frantically runs around the gallery, searching for her. He eventually has Alice and the other shop owners turning the gallery upside down in pursuit of her, until Claude remembers Yune’s fascination with the belled cat from earlier, and asks the shop owner if he’d seen her. He traces her back to the sign and also follows the phantom chingling until he spots Yune on the roof of the gallery through the windows of the atrium.
[Extreme Spoiler, if you haven't seen the final episode yet, it is highly, highly, almost demandingly recommended that you stop reading now, and finish the episode before continuing]
Claude rushes to the roof to save Yune from the same fate that befell his father. The final piece of the puzzle that is “Claude Claudel” finally falls into place. His father, while working on the roof of the Grand Magisin, fell to his death, while young Claude could sit helplessly as his father perished. This is the reason he seems to have been overly-protective of Yune and very closed off when it came to his true feelings. The metaphor of the cat with a bell was very strong here, as it turns out, the cat left because it hated wearing the bell. While those who liked seeing the cat could now easily find it, this meant the cat couldn’t catch mice, therefore survive. This is symbolic of Claude and Yune, Yune felt she couldn’t do anything for anyone while being so protected by Claude. And, while it was good intentions of keeping Yune safe, Claude realizes how much his own selfishness has affected those around him. This is when the two make a new start, so to speak, as they look over the gallery from the rooftop, Claude and Yune reach a new understanding of one another.
Because Yune lost her shoes on the rooftop of the gallery, Claude had to carry her back in his arms (I thought it looked a lot like a big brother-little sister moment, very sweet). Then, a great pose-off started as everyone in the gallery looked, with smiles on their faces, as Yune returned unharmed. This is when Yune finally comes to understand that she too is a part of this family in the gallery, even Alice seems moved by this touching moment.
By far, my favorite episode, though very bittersweet to admit that this ending doesn’t leave the series very open for a second season, as everything seems to be generally wrapped up with no concrete inkling to a continuation of the story. It’s sad to see Yune go (but she’ll always be in my heart!). The animations, backgrounds, and characters stayed beautiful throughout the entire series. The music (sampled here) is very soothing and I enjoyed it very much, not your typically J-pop or rock themed music.
This series was very well done, one of my favorites of all time. I recommend to anyone who likes more slow-paced, character-driven stories or to someone who enjoys beautifully created artwork as this is a masterpiece if only in visuals.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisee….Yune….
Until next time,