For those of us with income brackets still in the quintuple digits, it’s difficult to look upon the rich with anything resembling pity. While the current political climate has the rich mingling with the common folk on a regular basis, humanizing them, back at the turn of the 20th Century, the rich were objects of wonder for those who didn’t know them. They were higher up on society’s ladder, on a rung that the poor and middle class couldn’t hope to even catch a glimpse of if they weren’t working as a servant of some sort.
For once, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee actually brings forth an interesting notion, that the rich had a lot more to worry about as far as how society views them, and how to keep prosperous. This is when IkoMeiro is strong, when it doesn’t focus on Yune trying to comprehend the terribly vast differences between Japanese and French cultures.
In the last episode, the constraints of the attire that the French social elite donned regularly were touched on. With the poofy dresses shaped by metal wiring trending for the longest time both in France and worldwide, the idea of the free-flowing yet still posh kimono was quite the difference. But that was the only interesting observation from the previous episode, something entirely overshadowed by the focus on Yune’s nearly indisputable cuteness.
The two noteworthy moments were related to how Alice’s older sister, Camille, perceived her role as the heiress to the Blanche family and the hinting at her feelings for Claude. Discarding (most of) the focus on continuously culture shocked Yune and taking these two interesting plot points from the prior episode and making them the focal point of this one, Ikoku Meiro actually had an episode that made me think… even if that was only about how to write my next filler post.
I think I felt a few ears perk up earlier at the mention of Claude and Camille having feelings for each other, and it is pretty obvious with the bizarre way Claude halfheartedly denies it and Camille coyly smiles and skirts around the issue. In their childhood, Claude would constantly visit Camille at the Blanche estate and bring stray cats. When she asked him to keep visiting her even if she got married, he got into a sulk and left her be, giving rise to my theory that this is the reason why he hates the Blanches to such a degree.
In contrast with Camille’s seemingly uhappy, forcefully secluded fluffy white monstrosity, the strays were always brimming with life. Despite her familiarity with the crumbly, flaky crust of the heights of French society, her behavior when it’s brought up can be thought of as just a bit morose, most likely expressed by this cat metaphor.
This melancholy response can be attributed to one facet of society that’s always pressuring the well off: Expectations.
As the heiress, Camille is expected to take the will of the family to heart, and marry into another rich family that can keep her supported. Love isn’t a factor in this equation, stability is. While this method of choosing a spouse has been around for centuries, and still is a common practice in some countries, it doesn’t leave much room for the interest of the individual. The western fairytale dynamic of a princess only being able to be with her one true love, usually a prince, is brought into the equation to further prove the point.
Camille is expected to shoulder potential unhappiness and relinquish control of her life for the sake of prosperity and security. To make things even worse, appearances are everything to her standing. If she’s caught doing something scandalous, which could mean anything from sleeping with Claude to being caught with a tan, her reputation is ruined and marriage prospects compromised.
When talking with the subservient, hopelessly naïve Yune, she ironically decries this lifestyle, telling her to enjoy what she wants regardless of what’s thought of her for doing so.
Even with this heavy burden on her shoulders, Camille is still expected to carry a smile at all times, regardless of her feelings. Diverging from her free spirited, bratty sister, she’s resigned to meeting those expectations whether she wants to or not, while calmly urging others away from it. And that is so deliciously tragic, and matching with an understandable plight. While Camille isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, it’s nice to see somebody get noticeable development in this show.
Unfortunately, before Camille’s demons can be fully exorcised, it’s back to Yune-inspired antics and Alice fawning over her nonstop. There could also be a post on Alice meeting, yet twisting the bratty rich child archetype in her special way, but it wouldn’t be nearly as substantive.
As for the episode itself, it was surprisingly heartwarming seeing Camille putting aside her worries just to enjoy her sister’s company and her gallivanting about. Aside from the needless comparison of Claude’s dilemmas to his interactions with cats by Oscar, there isn’t much that felt unnecessary here. It’s a laidback, mellow, occasionally boring episode, matching with the rest of the show perfectly.