Ikoku Meiro no Croisée's penultimate episode looks all set to grant Yune another exciting day out with Alice, as she invites her diminutive Japanese friend on a trip to the Grand Magasin, complete with a visit to her brother's exhibition about Japan that has just opened.
Although Yune is clearly excited at such a prospect, Claude's return from working with a client soon puts paid to her happiness, as he forbids Yune from going anywhere near the Grand Magasin - a demand which Yune and Alice both reluctantly cede to. While we know that Claude views said department store as "the enemy" of his own livelihood and workplace, Yune is quick to realise that there is something deeper-seated to Claude's reticence to allow her to visit.
Out of guilt from depriving Yune of her trip, Claude instead suggests that they do something else, and ultimately the two of them and Oscar head off for a picnic in the park instead, with the rain clearing up long enough for them to eat while Oscar manages to get Yune a little tipsy with his "water of life". As the alcohol causes Yune to dream of her past and life back at home, so it soon emerges that Claude isn't the only one burying and hiding away her emotions, as she ends up recounting a tearful story of how she feels responsible for her sister's frailty and loss of eyesight, even if her initial motivations as a child were entirely pure. Is this outburst going to give Claude the confidence to confide his own hidden emotional wounds, and indeed will it spur him to perhaps allow himself to open his heart to Yune a little more? Maybe those are questions that the final episode can answer for us.
Overall, this turned out to be one of the more emotional episodes of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée which kept its humour to a minimum to focus primarily on Claude and Yune. While we now know about perhaps Yune's deepest fear, that she is responsible for her sister's condition, what ails Claude mentally is still something of a mystery despite our knowledge that it involves his father. Thankfully, we're invested enough in all of the characters at this juncture to actually care about these things, so whether the show's final episode chooses to be fun or deadly serious I get the feeling we should be well served by this little summer season gem that has rarely failed to entertain from beginning to end.