Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 4.5 ~ what separated them wasn’t just the ocean
August 26, 2011
There were Internet rumors about a bonus episode of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée (Crossings in the foreign labyrinth). This episode, which comes between 4 and 5 has appeared, and it relates to the relationship between Claude and Camille, which has been growing in importance. As those following the series know, an important theme is the contrast and occasional misunderstandings between cultures (especially Japan and France). In some ways this theme is inverted in episode 4.5, and we see instead how, despite superficial differences, commonalities remain.
When a wandering musician arrives at the Galerie du Roy, playing arrangements of traditional Japanese songs, Yune is fascinated, but Claude forbids her from getting involved. He says that such people cannot be trusted. She agrees to “follow his instructions”, even though Oscar wisely points out that, “If you are afraid of new encounters, your life will end up being very boring”.
The Japanese songs played are not only traditional, they often are associated with childhood, such as Zui Zui Zukkorobashi, which is about half onomatopoetic, thus when Yune tries to explain it’s meaning to Claude, it sounds like proper nonsense. Alice is also shown misunderstanding the role of traditional Japanese instruments. She tries to play a type of wooden bell called a Mokugyo that is used in Buddhist temples, and she gives Camille what looks like Shakubyoshi, a type of wooden clapper, neither of which are appropriate to the children songs that Yune is singing.
After a while Yune and the wandering musician, Ana discover that they have a connection through music, especially a particular song written by Ana’s grandfather for a woman he loved, but left behind in Japan. Yune’s sister seemingly met Ana’s grandmother, and the song was passed along. This begins an interesting segment in which Camille shows one of her rare flashes of darker emotion. Typically she is, as Alice noted, the perfect lady. On occasion we have seen suggestion that there is a bitter grimace behind the smile. Ana’s story about how her grandparents couldn’t be together, except by both sharing the song triggers an outburst.
Ana remarks that, “In every era, there are things that won’t allow you to be with the one you love”. Ana has a life that enables her to wander freely. As we have seen this past week, Camille is very protective of Alice’s freedom precisely because she has none of her own. As Yune sings the song about loving someone far-away, we see a montage that shows it to be a common experience in the human condition, and even see the following image that appears to be Camille as a child being dragged away from Claude.
If I wasn’t already (and, honestly I was), this episode would have sold me on Camille and her doomed love for Claude. I enjoyed the calm pace of the early episodes, but I am really glad that Ikoku Meiro no Croisée is building up the tragic love story of Camille and Claude. I’m really interested in seeing what happens. We seem to be heading towards Camille’s marriage. She is destined, it seems, to marry someone rich for the sake of her family.
Although Claude can be criticized for treating others in the same bad way he has been treated, it is notable that all of his talk about freedom really amounts to treating Yune as he must wish Camille was treated. That is, though he mistrusts the lower classes (the petit thief, and the wandering musician), he offers the freedom to Yune that was denied Camille.