In the late 19th century the second industrial revolution started to make its way into society. Lives were starting to change and the world became more modern than it was ever before. Despite the prosperity, a mixture occurred where many benefitted and many lost. Ikoku Meiro no Croisée shows the tipping point in the changes of Europe.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée wasn’t a show about the upcoming industrial change the world was heading towards. It shared those elements to tell its story and portrayed cultural differences in which the old is being abandoned and on the other hand traditional values are being kept in honor.
Yune comes to Paris in the late 19th century where she stays at the metal workshop of Claude who is facing tough competition from a rivaling warehouse. These were signs in which mass fabricated goods started to replace hand made products. The mass produced products were much cheaper to purchase and people choose the less expense option. This is not only a trend of yesteryear, but can still be seen around us. Local shops make place for supersized malls that house all products that are normally scattered in a multitude of small shops.
Japan started to also liberalize its market around the end of the 19th century. Despite the economic prosperity in that time, maintaining traditions is still custom in Japan. The culture Yune brought to Paris was different. Not only the food, but also the mannerisms, clothing and morals differed.
The caring nature of Yune also differed from the metropolitan attitude Claude had. Those who were poor or begging should be left alone as they were potential thieves. You should not give them food or otherwise they will come back for more. These were values that were the complete opposite of the untouched, not yet industrialized morals of Yune. She tried to blend in by listening and adapting. Along the way Claude’s attitude opens up to the unknown and values start to meet, influencing each other for the better.
At the first run of Croisée, I saw this show as a slice of life series that was by coincidence set in late 19th century France. After rewatching this show, I realized there was more to this show that meets the eye.
The show portrayed so much more underneath its skin. The events weren’t only Yune and Claude being confronted with each other’s different values. Croisée showed a changing world in which the old had to make room for the new and the tolerant for the suspicious.
On the other side it showed the interest in Eastern culture. The still unknown beauty of Asian culture was something to be admired. It was exotic and far away. Alice, the counterpart of Claude, showed great interest in the orient. Looking for rare treasures from Asia and collecting them.
Alice was the embodiment of aristocratic families who indulged themselves in expensive and exotic goods from all over the world. Goods that were too expensive and unavailable to commoners. The interest of Alice matched with the Orientalism movement in the 19th century in which the world of the rising sun started to be depicted by many writers, designers and artists in the West.
The crew behind Croisée put a lot of effort into creating a detailed and realistic setting, judging from the accurateness of 19th century Paris in the show. From the wide streets to the formerly dressed citizens, it matches the vibe of romantic Paris.
I dare to say this is one of the more gorgeous shows I’ve seen. A studio that matches this high quality of environmental detail is perhaps P.A. Works, with its vibrant colors and detailed setting.
The characters may not be the most lovable, still I found the interaction between them very strong. Yune tried to adapt and Claude taught Yune about the beauty and grim sides of Paris. Through dialogue Croisée was hinting towards changing times.
Croissée is an underrated series in my opinion. There is so much more underneath its skin. It shows a changing world and clashing cultures in a beautifully detailed setting. Admittedly I started to notice these elements after I rewatched this series.
I like how anime studios dare to head back in time and portray another world. When accurately done, we get a glimpse in how people moved through their daily lives in another timeframe. In Croisée, Paris was lively shown in bright colors.
I rate this anime an 8 out of 10. This anime deserves a spot in my top-20 list and for those anime viewers who can appreciate slice of life series set in another period, they will appreciate Ikoku Meiro no Croisée.