Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth The Animation (2011) takes place in the late 1800s. It’s about Yune, a Japanese girl that goes to live in Paris with a French blacksmith and his grandfather.
Kinmoza! (2013) takes place in modern day and is about Shino, a Japanese girl who visited England on homestay during elementary school. Fast forward to high school when her good friend, the daughter of the family she stayed with, has now traveled to Japan for a homestay with Shino’s family this time.
Both are tales of cross cultural interaction with leading young ladies.
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth is a quiet and slow drama/romance while Kinmoza! is a peppy slice of life comedy. I said Croisée is about Yune but it’s also about her love interest, the blacksmith she lives with and he drives most of the show’s conflict.
On the other hand Kimoza has no significant male characters and is entirely about Shino and her gang of friends goofing around.
Let’s start with some of the more obvious parallels.
Yune from Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth on left and Shino from Kinmoza! on right.
Yune and Shino both:
- are 15 years old
- are fascinated with western culture and language, particularly that of France. (Shino is primarily fascinated with England but clearly expresses interest in France as well.)
- have gentle and kind personalities
- have an older sister they care about
- have really similar hair styles
- are said to resemble dolls by other characters
Both girls also have European friends that are their same age and named Alice.
Alice from Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth on left and Alice from Kinmoza! on right.
Croisée’s Alice and Kinmoza’s Alice both:
- have mid length wavy blonde hair and blue eyes
- love Japanese culture and that is what sparks their main interactions with Yune/Shino.
- are from well off families. (The Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth Alice has a father owns multiple department stores and shopping centers in Paris and is clearly upper class while Alice from Kinmoza! is probably upper-middle class based on her house size and lifestyle.)
Attempts at Understanding Another Culture
Alice from Croisée and Shino from Kinmoza share an approach when comes to learning about another culture. They both collect objects from the culture they admire. Alice has an impressive kimono and Japanese art collection. Shino collects kick knacks having to do with England and France and has closet full of western inspired costumes. But when it comes to understanding a foreign culture both girls struggle with moving past the novelty aspect of their collections.
Alice proudly trots around with a kimono over her dress, eager to show off to Yune.
When Shino’s friends question her attire she simply tells them she’s dressed as a foreigner.
Croisée’s Alice is described as an “Asia Maniac” and in Kinmoza Shino’s friends comment on how she seems obsessed with foreigners. But despite these two characters’ avid interests in foreign cultures, rather than truly experiencing and understanding said cultures they instead entertain themselves with their own ideas of what they assume that culture is like.
These two characters also struggle with language barrier. Croisée’s Alice never attempts to learn any Japanese from Yune (even though Yune has taken the time to teach other characters about her language). In Kinmoza, Shino is actively studying English but fails to retain much of anything beyond “hello”.
In both series this is juxtaposed to characters that have learned to be fluent in a second language. In Croisée, it’s implied that Yune learned French on her own before going Paris. In Kinmoza, Alice learns Japanese with the help of friends and family before she goes to Japan.
So despite appearances, Croisée’s Alice has more in common with Shino and Kinmoza’s Alice is more similar to Yune in how they approach a new culture.
Emphasis on Fashion
As mentioned earlier, Croisée’s Alice and Kinmoza’s Shino both have clothing collections based on the foreign cultures they admire so much. However both series place importance on how clothing and fashion can represent something more than just the culture its from.
Fashion can be sentimental. In Croisée, Yune has a precious kimono that’s a keepsake from her mother, which ends up playing an important part in her romance with the French blacksmith. In Kinmoza, Shino gives a Japanese hairpin to Alice when she very first comes to England. Alice treasures the accessory uses it to remember Shino’s visit. Years later ,when she reunites with Shino in Japan wearing the hairpin, Shino is surprised but happy that Alice had kept it for that long.
Fashion can also represent identity. While Croisée‘s Yune remains in Paris for an indefinite amount of time, she almost always wears kimono. Even after she is given a hand-me-down dress from Alice, Yune continues to wear traditional Japanese fashion. Rather than blending into French society she sticks out in colorful clothing and loud wooden shoes. Despite learning French, moving to France, and falling in love with a French man she retains her identity as Japanese and visually communicates this through her attire.
Shino in Kinmoza similarly sticks to one fashion style. She only wears western clothes. (Since most clothes in modern Japan are western in style, this isn’t very hard.) But even during Japanese festivals where traditional Japanese clothes are typically worn, Shino wears a western inspired version of a yukata to stand out from her friends who choose to experience a more traditional version of Japanese culture.
Emphasis on Freedom and Looking Forward with a Global Attitude
Both series focus on themes of freedom, specifically the freedom to travel and communicate.
The freedom to travel and do as one pleases is something Croisée’s Alice yearns for while Yune is fortunate enough to actually have the means for travel during the 1800s. In Croisée, Yune feels guilty about leaving her family behind in Japan and Kinmoza’s Alice gets homesick for England from time to time. But both characters still decide to travel and experience a new part of the world for themselves, exercising a freedom to movement.
“Maybe we don’t speak the same language, but we can communicate as long as we try to listen to each other’s hearts.”
This is a piece of advice given to Kinmoza’s Alice before she meets Shino for the first time.
This phrase exemplifies a freedom of communication. In Kinmoza, when Shino and Alice first meet, they are able to build a friendship despite not speaking the same language. They learn to understand each other by reading each other’s expressions and tones.
In Croisée, Yune discusses how things in Paris sound when compared to Japan, like the different noises rain drops make on a western umbrella vs. a Japanese umbrella. She cooks Japanese food for her caretakers. She even uses the visual appeal of kanji to help design a metal shop sign for one of the blacksmith’s clients. Sights, sounds, and tastes are forms of communication that don’t require words. They are something that can be universally appreciated, and Yune uses them to help others understand her and her culture.
Croisée takes place during a time when Japan was beginning to embrace western culture and the western world was beginning to learn more about Japan than ever before. Kinmoza taking place in modern day means modern technology helps connect people around the world, including Shino and Alice. Both these series show progression towards a more global environment where different cultures are actively shared, travel is more common and language is a much smaller barrier to cross. With that, these two series look toward the future of how people will continue to connect to one another.
[This post was originally posted: Jun, 8th 2016 on the Otaple 1/2 Tumblr]