This show is incredibly frustrating for me. This isn't because it's poorly done. It isn't because it's badly written or the characters are flat or the animation is shoddy. No... It’s because this anime could have been so much more than it turned out to be. What frustrates me more than anything is the untapped potential of this show. It just needed a little more polishing and focus to achieve brilliance. Allow me to elaborate further.
Story: This show is about a young Japanese girl, named Yune, who travels to Paris in order to intern in a metal works shop with an elderly man named Oscar and his grandson Claudee. It is about the cultural misunderstandings that arise between the three of them and other characters who appear in their lives. It actually turned out to be a sweet slice of life anime. There was something endearing about these characters and the communication between them. However, my big problem with the show is that I was never quite sure what the point of it was. What did the creators want me to know after watching this? Ultimately, all I can gather as an absolute message is "There are differences between cultures, but we can still find love in our differences." It's a good message and one that more people in this world need to learn... however, the story also tried to tackle other themes that I thought were far more poignant than the message they settled on. These other themes, on the other hand, just felt like vignettes that weren't meant to be focused on for too long. For instance, there are parts of the show that seriously ask what it means to be useful. Are you useful because you can do a job well? Must you yourself feel useful or is it enough that someone else sees your potential? Can your "use" in life just be to be loved by someone else? I loved that this question was addressed and I thought it could have been a really beautiful theme to settle on. Yet, they end this argument in a pretty bad way, with a message that I could see being misconstrued. The creators also could have developed more fully the idea of what happens to people when their own culture is too stifling. Ultimately, it feels like none of the characters in this story (except for possibly Yune and Oscar) are satisfied with what their society tells them they should be doing. We have characters that are limited by class. One of these characters is essentially told, from a very early age, that the best path to pursue would be to be someone’s lover (never husband or wife) but merely a lover. Another character is told that all they are good for is marriage, thus this character feels more like a commodity. The ideas of class, love and marriage weave together in this show with no real resolution. These issues are largely only addressed in flashbacks but are never resolved in the present. Thus, we have characters who are dwelling on the past but not even endeavoring to change the present. They have already given up, thus this part of the story is over before it even begins. This show does ask some great questions but it doesn't ponder them long enough. It doesn't give us time to dwell with the characters before it is time to go on to the next question. Plot points come up too quickly and too briefly for the audience to really grasp what they mean. It's like the creators didn't recognize how much they could say about these issues that they brought up.
Animation: Aspects of this animation are absolutely lovely. Paris looks beautiful. However, I love the fact that Paris doesn't feel like a foreign place. In the midst of all the beautiful sunset shots and architecture you are able to witness the mundane life of shopping or even the shadier parts of Paris where thieves live. Paris feels more like home and not as romanticized as I expected it to be. It was a refreshing representation. I also enjoyed the atmosphere. I liked when the lights were dimmed down. It made the show feel calmer and like the characters had an atmosphere to talk. However, this show does have a great deal of awkward animation moments. The characters look really stiff most of the time. The hair in this show bothered me especially because it rarely moves. Unless you have a breeze or someone rustling another person's hair it stays absolutely still. This is especially noticeable on characters like Alice and Camille who have a lot of wavy blond hair. It is genuinely unsettling to see them move. Furthermore, the heads didn't always look right. I can't count the number of times I would be looking at the back of Claude's head and asking "why is your head so tall?" The clothes also didn't move like fabric. All in all, the characters were often stiff and bizarre.
Sound: I love the decision to use French in the introduction. It was a good choice that reinforced one of the main aspects of the show. All of the voice actors did an excellent job with their characters. They helped me feel for these people and their problems. The background music was alright. It set a sweet atmosphere for the show but didn't really help to draw me in. I didn't find myself getting drawn into an emotional moment because of the music. It was alright.
Characters: The creators developed these characters well. Each person had pasts, opinions, hardships, loves etc. However, the creators didn't know which characters to focus on and they didn't have nearly enough time to give them all the attention they needed. Yune is a sweet and caring girl who often lies in order to comfort others. She also has a fierce loyalty that is unwavering. In spite of understanding all of this about her, I think she could have done more. She is a character who could be more active in her role as a protagonist. She isn't often the cause of action. A majority of the time she performs actions after another character suggests them or drags her into them. This isn't the best quality for the lead character because it doesn't allow for plot to happen very quickly. The decisions she makes on her own actually are quite interesting and usually cause a lot of character to be revealed (such as giving Claude her mother's kimono or following the cat in the last episode). I enjoy the fact that I dislike Claude. Hear me out. He has enough flaws in his character that he felt like a real person to me. He is a bit selfish, domineering, narrow-minded and controlling. Some of his scenes were actually unsettling for me to watch. Yet, he doesn't realize how much he acts out of fear or anger. He is an interesting character to watch but not somebody I would necessarily want to know. He was one of the characters, though, who carried a lot of potential plot themes with him. A lot of unique ideas were put forward by this character but never developed which leaves me frustrated when the plot concludes. Oscar is more of a mediator between Claude and Yune than an actual character. He is there to explain misunderstandings and cultural phenomena since he is well traveled. However, his character, by itself is just a likeable womanizer. Alice irritates me to no end. She is flat out rude, demeaning and possessive. One episode does a good job of giving this character a place in the show, but it’s too short. We don't have time to sympathize with this character between her squealing and ignorant comments. I wanted way more scenes with Camille. She is such a quiet character that not all of her story gets told. However, the cold politeness of her personality makes for incredibly interesting scenes. She could never be the protagonist of her own story, but when you put her in scenes with other characters what develops is incredibly intriguing. It's too bad she doesn't appear more.
This show underestimated what it had the potential for. I truly believe that this show could have been pretty brilliant if it had tried to be. It isn't bad for the show they tried to make but they threw in too many different ideas without a focus. It is a very good show but irritating for the potential they squandered.
just finished watching the anime and then read this and had to comment..your review is very well written and describes this anime beautifully.Howlorihara's review gets a 10\10