Adil: How can you defend a country where 5 percent of the people control 95 percent of the wealth?
Lisa: I’m defending a country where people can think, and act, and worship any way they want!
Adil: Can not.
Lisa: Can too.
Adil: Can not!
Lisa: Can too!
Homer: Please, please kids! Stop fighting. Maybe Lisa’s right about America being the land of opportunity, and maybe Adil has a point about the machinery of capitalism being oiled with the blood of the workers.
The Simpsons did it first, did it better.
There are such huge differences between the Japanese and French cultures. This is true now and it was doubly true during the late 19th century. For any Japanese person to wake up one day and find him or herself in the middle of Paris, this has to be a major culture shock.
From religious to philosophical to political issues, you name it — the French and Japanese cultures couldn’t be more different. Wouldn’t it be awesome, then, for these two cultures to meet, discuss, and to try understanding one another? Wouldn’t it be intriguing for a French person and a Japanese person to sit down over a cup of coffee or tea, and challenge each other over life’s most profound questions?
Let’s just toss one example out there. Late 19th century France always had the vigor of liberalism in it, even if the memories of their bloody revolution were just beginning to fade. Japan, like many East Asian cultures, is still somewhat collectivist to this very day, especially when compared to the West. Imagine the debates a French and Japanese person could have on just this very difference?
Instead, Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, focuses this week on… breakfast. Oh? The Japanese eat rice and miso soup and fried fish? And the French like to wake up to some butter on baguette and a nice, hot cup of coffee? Gee willikers! Then Claude takes Yune on a scintillating trip through a market where we get to watch the young girl marvel over produce and cured meat. Just when my heart couldn’t possibly handle any more excitement, the anime makes a big deal out of Yune trying to eat pot-au-feu.
Poor Yune is struggling to enjoy things like cheese, but she doesn’t give up. The two men ask her why she’s trying so hard. She tells them that — can you guess it? Can you guess why she wants to like cheese so badly? I bet you can’t! — she just wants to learn how to cook delicious meals for them. Awwwww.
I know Yune is cute and adorable, and people have already fallen in love with her, but this is precisely why I didn’t want her character to be so young and simple-minded. We won’t and can’t engage in any truly thought-provoking differences between the two distinct cultures because she’s nothing more than a child. So instead, we sit here and watch a cute girl fumble around with a spoon.
I’m reminded of God Grew Tired of Us, a 2006 documentary. The film tracked the lives of Sudanese refugees invited to live in the US:
“They must now learn to adapt to the shock of being thrust into the economically intense culture of the United States, learning new customs, adapting to new and strange foods, coping with the ordeal of getting, and keeping a job, or multiple jobs, while never forgetting the loved ones they left behind in Africa.”
I then look at Ikoku Meiro no Croisée and see a wasted opportunity. Sure, adapting to unfamiliar food is also a topic in God Grew Tired of Us, but only briefly. The rest of the documentary is actually thought-provoking. I don’t expect an anime to live up to a serious documentary, but Ikoku Meiro no Croisée can do so much better. But instead, it’s going for broad appeal and what’s broad appeal? The cute but pleasantly banal.
This anime’s biggest fault is a complete lack of vision hiding behind adorable visuals. That’s why these shows only ever feature a child, especially a female child.
B-but learning how to cook a delicious meal for the men in your lives is so important!