Ikoku Meiro no Croisée Vol 1: Lolis in 19th Century France!

Reviewing this manga is a little tough for me. I read through its whole first volume raw, and while I got the general gist of things, a lot of fine details were lost on me. Someone had scanslated about a chapter and a bit of this, so I read through those to help me out. So, while I don’t really understand this comic, I’m going to try my hand at reviewing it anyway.

First, let’s set the scene: It’s France, in the second half of the 19th Century. Japonisme has swept the nation, along with a strong desire for modernization. These rapid changes in the times have brought despair to the shops in Galarie Du Roy, which is now in danger of closing its doors. One of these many shops, Enseignes du Roy, is now making an effort to sell Japanese goods to cash in on the French’s love for all things Japanese.

Claude, the man in charge of this shop, is startled when his older friend Oscar returns from Japan with not only Japanese goods, but a young Japanese girl! Her name is Yune, and she has come from Japan with a strong desire to work in France. In France, Yune learns to cope with the various cultural differences, and comes across a couple of colourful characters; such as the Japan-obsessed rich girl Alice, and a young thief.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée is a unique manga that takes moe elements puts them against a rich historical backdrop. Since my understanding of this was pretty bad, I was mainly taken in by the artwork. Takeda Hinata is an amazing artist who can render detailed and convincing backgrounds splendidly. Her character art is also consistently incredible. The girls in this comic always wear lavish outfits that are rendered perfectly panel after panel, and while the men’s attire is more reserved, Hinata draws them solidly. Her work, while very detailed, never assaults your senses. Her lines are gentle, and flow naturally.

The story is pretty slice-of-life, but there’s decent helpings of comedy, and some drama. Each chapter more or less follows Yune as she gets acquainted with life in France. There are often misunderstandings, Claude usually gets mad, and Oscar chimes in with light-hearted comments every now and again. The characters aren’t really unique, but they’re fun people and their interactions are entertaining. Claude is at times a bit too much of a Manga Protagonist, but that doesn’t really take away from anything. Yune is cute, and Alice’s Japanophilia is absolutely adorable.

It’s a real great comic. If you like like amazingly detailed artwork, lolis, 19th century France, and slice of life antics, I suggest you give this a spin. Not much has been scanslated, but if you can read Japanese go for it.