Ikoku Meiro no Croisee 6 – The Birdcage and the Stray Cat

This show always brings out the romantic in me. Not that that’s particularly hard, I tend to view the world through rose colored lenses anyway.

According to another anime, cameras took around fifteen minutes to capture an image. That's a freakin' long time.

If you weren’t already aware, I’m a huge romantic. I live off of prolonged glances, subtle touches, moonlight meetings, you know, corny stuff like that. Heck, even before Camille appeared in Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, I partnered her up with Claude and thought “Wouldn’t that be cute?” fully aware that they had no chance in hell. It wasn’t until someone brought it to my attention that they apparently had history, that I rushed off to read the manga. To my delight, Claude and Camille certainly did have history and you know what history means to a hopeless romantic…

"How does it feel to be in a birdcage? The more you wear one, the more comfortable it gets."

Social structure is one of the main themes in Ikoku Meiro no Croisee besides cultural differences, and it’s made evident by not only different surroundings, but in the way people dress. Compared to the manga, the anime focuses on a piece of clothing called the crinoline. Overall, its bulky, constricting and doesn’t look all that comfortable, but with time many people can become accustomed to just about anything. The birdcage metaphor is what makes it interesting.

Camille, as her sister points out quite often in this episode, is the epitome of what you would call a lady: polite, demure, and – unlike her sister – conforms without question to society and her place in it. This conformity has made society her birdcage. It’s something she’s accepted, the way she dresses and what she’ll eventually become, and as such has effectively locked and thrown away the key to what basically is her freedom. She doesn’t seem to mind, however because she’s locked herself in this birdcage of society, she’s effectively cut herself off from one of the few things she does want. She’s set in her ideals – being a lady of class – and there’s no way she can have both.

Differences between social classes isn’t a stranger in romance, it’s been done up the wazoo in literature and television. However, I’m still  interested in how she will eventually, if at all, try to break away from society to pursue something (someone) she has feelings for. At the moment Claude couldn’t do much for her even if he wanted to, (it looks like he still harbors ill feelings toward Camille anyway) so it’ll be up to Camille to patch things up.

Camille, despite being the token ‘ara ara’ onee-sama, is given quite the character development in the manga, where we see that despite her social status and being a lady of class she has a bit spunk, especially when Claude is involved. Their relationship and Camille’s part in it isn’t as front and center in the anime (unless you watched episode 4.5, which has the best soothing music I’ve heard since Aria), but in the manga, chapter six sheds some much needed light upon her character.

It’s a bit odd hearing a child speak of love like this, especially when it’s meant to be taken that she doesn’t acquaint love with marriage. This could just be how she was brought up, being someone of high standards means your marrying basically for appearances and money, but you’d think she still harbor dreams of marrying someone for love, even if it was just a child of an aristocratic family’s dream. Nope, even at a young age it appears she already accepted her standings within society. She doesn’t even entertain the idea that they could have a future together marriage wise, it’s playmates with benefits or nothing.

Even here, the word lover has bad implications, though it contains the word love. In fact Camille likens it to a prostitute, someone who only acts as a part of the family, playing in a sense. The stray cat is Claude, free to roam the streets of Paris at his leisure, not bound by social restrictions. Camille’s cat, whom she herself calls pitiful, is a perfect example of herself. That cat, stuck inside this mansion, relates to Camille and her own birdcage. The house, to the cat, represents it’s cage, while society and its rules is Camille’s cage.

She’s calling herself pitiful if you look at it that way, admiring the freedom the stray cat possesses. However that doesn’t mean she particularly wants freedom, she’s already accepted there’s nowhere to go having been trained to conform to standards set by society.

When taking all that into account, I find that it’s easier to accept Camille’s comparison between Claude and the stray cat. She honestly doesn’t mean for it to come across as hurtful, the way she sees it that stray has one of the few things she does not and that is, to her, something to be proud of. After all, she’s the pitiful cat stuck inside its cage.

That doesn’t mean she didn’t have the chance to escape however, which makes her all the more confusing. What usually happens in situations like these, the well worn street rat takes our pampered princess through a tour of the city, showing her an entirely new world. Camille, however, rejects this world before she even experiences it and states that “I would rather stay then not be able to see you.”

(I misread this at first and thought she basically just rejected him (perhaps it was because of her facial expression), but after a few reads it finally dawned on me that she meant that she didn’t want to lose him. Funnily enough, it appears like that’s exactly what happened. I wonder if this was their last meeting?)

Young Camille appears to be genuinely afraid of what her parents will do if they should ever find out about Claude. Children tend to push against the bounds set by their parents to see just how far they can go, but Camille doesn’t even try. Perhaps society’s chains have already been shackled to her wrists by overbearing parents (the likes of which we never see).

One of my favorite accessories of hers is the fan she constantly carries. Not only does is signify her status, it’s something for her to hide behind and speak through. In the manga, there’s hardly a point where she is seen speaking without it covering her mouth, and she does it most often when she is speaking to Claude. People tend to cover their mouths when speaking when they themselves don’t agree with what they’re saying or when they’re lying. For Camille, though, I find it to be more of a mask to hide behind. She finds safety behind something that is familiar to her.

This is portrayed perfectly in these two pages:

remember those prolonged glances I told you about?

When Camille starts to speak of Yune – where she comes from, the type of education she’s had and her family – she makes a point to say that “girls will always be girls”, implying that no matter where in the world, during this time period, girls don’t have much say in what becomes of their life, especially if their from high class society.

Claude’s outright rejection of society’s constriction surprises Camille, and for once that mask of hers doesn’t hide the look in her eyes. You can take Claude’s statement two ways:

1. A defense for his growing feelings for Yune, whatever those may be.

or

2. An acceptance of Camille’s world and her place within it, but also his resolve to look past all that and see her for what she is.

It shouldn’t take much to figure out which one I prefer. I really hope this show (and manga) does their relationship justice, it’s been awhile since I watched a good romance. I don’t expect it to take center stage, but I certainly hope that they finish what they started.

(Just look at what romance does to me, this post is looong. Anyway hope you enjoyed)

About Nishimura

An anime enthusiast who finds time to blog when she has no time to spare.
This entry was posted in Anime, Episodic, Manga and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Ikoku Meiro no Croisee 6 – The Birdcage and the Stray Cat

  1. Snippett says:

    Nice analysis. I haven’t read the manga so I have no idea that Claude and Camille have history. Aside from the birdcage, the metaphor of the cats is also interesting. Camille having every thing she needs however she’s a prisoner of her own grandeur and status. And Claude being a free and stray however suffering from lack of status.

    It’s true that Camille uses her fan as a mask so that she can hide and restrict her true desires. We can also see this as something that is forced to her, but she couldn’t put it down because there would some unwanted consequences e.g. disappointing her parents.

    Anyway, thanks for this article. It’s really a nice read.

    • Nishimura says:

      Well, thanks for reading ^^. I’ve been trying to find some more information on the fan after watching this episode and another anime called Emma, but haven’t really been successful. For some reason I thought that during the Victorian era, the fan – while being primarily a cooling device – was meant to conceal the face, but I haven’t been able to confirm it. I guess it’s just something that my mind made it up.

  2. Pingback: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee 8 – Those Childhood Dreams | hellohelloanime

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