When I first saw the PV for this show, I instantly knew I had to blog about it. The fact that the same animation house that did Gosick is in charge of this period anime thrilled me to pieces and I couldn’t pass this anime up. Ikoko Meiro no Croisee is the story of Yune, a small, young and all-together adorable Japanese girl who travels to France with the owner of a blacksmith shop in order to experience the world. With the episode starting off, we see people traveling up and down a gallery street where skilled workers and import stores sell their wares, but they’re all pausing to stare as a young girl dashes down the pathway. It turns out, that they’re all stopping to stare at a young Japanese girl in her prettiest kimono and hairpieces, who is skipping from one store window to the next, obviously in awe of what she sees. As she continues to look at things in the window, an older gentleman calls out to her and she rushes up to him and the two beam at one another. It turns out, this gentleman owns the blacksmith shop in the gallery and as the two of them enter the shop, he calls out to his grandson Claude. Claude appears out of the metal-working shop and is about to tell his grandfather off for taking so long when he’s stunned to see Yune looking gleefully at the items in the shop. He stammers out a question about who she is and why she’s there and his grandfather explains that while he was in Japan, Yune’s parents asked him to take her to France so that she could experience the world. This doesn’t seem to amuse Claude at all and he coldly asks his grandfather if that was all he managed to bring back from Japan. His grandfather laughs and points to the lanterns he brought back, but met with a cold look from Claude, he waves off his grandson’s concern and tells him that he made sure to get the metal-working supplies they needed.
He then calls Yune over and introduces her to Claude and Yune instantly falls into a formal bow and informs her new “master” that she’s delighted to meet him. Of course, Claude is flustered by this and asks his grandfather if he’s a lewd old man or if he’s finally lost his mind, but his grandfather merely laughs. He explains that in Japan, Yune is the best sign in the city since beautiful girls that stand outside and call to customers are considered signs. Claude still doesn’t seem amused and quickly goes back to his work. Meanwhile, his grandfather shows Yune to her room and she’s surprised by her bed, since I’m assuming she’s probably used to a futon. Her escort then tells her not to worry about Claude since he’s usually very caring, but is simply focused on his work. While not appearing to know much French, Yune responds in a positive way. The next day, Yune dons one of her more practical – yet still very beautiful – kimonos and starts helping around the shop by cleaning. Claude doesn’t seem to really want her help, but lets her do what she wants, so long as she doesn’t touch his equipment. As the day goes on, Claude seems to become fond of Yune and grateful that she’s helping out.
Later that day, Claude finishes repairing one of the neighboring shop’s signs and is about to take it to the shop when Yune spots it and is enamored with how pretty it is. He shouts at her not to touch it, but noticing the downtrodden look on her face, he then explains that the entirety of the gallery’s signs were created by his grandfather and father and that it’s his job to continue making and repairing the signs for the gallery. After telling Yune his story, he smiles wryly and realizes that she probably didn’t understand a word that he had just said. At this point, his grandfather arrives and tells Claude not to worry since Yune’s good at reading the atmosphere. He then nudges Yune up to the front of the store and tells Claude that she really ought to be standing up front and doing what she does best: drawing in customers. Almost as soon as that is out of his mouth, a fellow business owner pokes his head in and asks if Yune is a doll or not. His inquiries seem to annoy Claude, and he sets down the sign he just finished repairing and tells the man to leave the store if he’s not planning on buying anything. While Claude shoos the man away, Yune notices a young by standing by the window looking at their wares. She turns on her heel to go talk to him, but the sleeve of her kimono gets caught on the edge of the sign Claude had set on the table and it crashes to the floor, the stained glass in the butterfly shattering. Everyone is momentarily shocked by the crash, but Yune instantly throws herself into a deep bow and apologizes over and over to Claude. She goes to try and clean up the mess, but Claude shouts at her and tells her not to touch anything because she might cut herself. As Yune goes back into her bow, Claude bends down to clean up the mess but murmurs that her long sleeves and lack of a French vocabulary won’t fly in their shop much longer and it’d be better for everyone if she just goes back to Japan. This seems to upset both Yune and Claude’s grandfather, though Yune may just be feeling upset about breaking Claude’s sign.
Later that night, Claude manages to repair the sign once again and is going to deliver it to the shop keeper when Yune appears with one of her kimonos and is adamant that Claude take it as repayment for her breaking the sign. At first Claude doesn’t want to take it, but Yune insists that he does, so he reluctantly agrees. A little later, Claude is just finishing reattaching the sign for the business owner who came into the shop to stare at Yune earlier in the day and he commends Claude on his talents as a blacksmith, though he’s a little confused by the altered stained glass on the butterfly. However, his confusion is forgotten when he spots the kimono that Yune had given Claude and he offers to buy it from Claude. After a moment of deliberation, Claude agrees. On the way home, he stops at a small bookstore and picks up Yune a children’s alphabet book to help her learn French. When he gives it to her, she’s absolutely thrilled and is pleased that Claude thought of her at all. The next morning, as Claude’s grandpa is walking around town, he notices Yune’s kimono in a window of a store with the sign saying “sold” on it and rushes back to their home. He then chews out Claude, saying that the kimono he sold (for 500 Francs, mind you) was Yune’s most cherished possession since it was a memento from her mother. This shocks Claude and he rushes up to Yune’s room and tells her to quit apologizing and demands to know if that kimono was from her mother or not. However, Yune pleads with him to understand that in Japan, a store owner is only as good as his reputation and she didn’t want to ruin his reputation at all. And she says this in perfect French. At first, Claude is stunned by the fact that she can actually speak French, but then begs her to promise that she won’t let go of things that are precious to her anymore. He then promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to get back that kimono for her. After the credits, we see Yune reading the alphabet book Claude bought her and he asks Yune why she’s still reading it if she can speak fluent French. She simply smiles and says that he told her not to let go of things that are precious to her.
Opinions: Dear God, this is by far one of the cutest shows I’ve ever seen! Yune is just way too adorable and I want to smoosh her little cheeks before nabbing her and taking her home with me. Claude is a bit rough and brash around the edges, but you can tell that he really does have a kind heart and will always keep his promises. Claude’s grandfather seems like a doting old man who I’d imagine couldn’t say no to Yune’s face when her parents asked him to take her to France with him. I know she singled handedly broke my Cute o’ Meter, so I wouldn’t be surprised. The whole story so far is endearing and I really hope that it continues in this trend as a nice little historical anime without too much drama or angst. There’s still a lot left in the season before we can tell if it’ll actually continue on this trend or not, but either way, I’m ecstatic that I decided to blog this show. For a first episode, it was a damn fine introduction to the story and I hope that Claude is able to get Yune’s kimono back! And soon!