To be honest I have two pet peeves
My first is for the Victorian period, with it’s over embellished gowns, stuffy imperialism, insufferable housing conditions for the poor and its general…. Snootiness.
My second is for Animé style maids – you know the ones, the clutsy, half a brain Variety, whose only purpose in life is to either look cute, get chased by the male lead, or trip and reveal various parts of her underwear in as many ways as possible every episode.
As such most manga and animé about either period or subjects never really caught my attention…….
That is, until the day I was introduced to Emma.
Emma [or to use her Japanese title “Victorian romance Emma”] is a 10 volume series by the new and upend coming artist Kaoru Mori, with this being her first self – created series to be published by a mainstream manga company. It was originally serialised by the Japanese comic company beam commix, was translated and released in the west by DC comics’ late lamented CMX and has also been adapted into 2 12 – part animated series.
The series, set in late 19th century London, follows the life and times of Emma who, since childhood, has served as a maid in the service of a retired governess.
Yet her seemingly quiet, organised world is turned upside-down by the arrival of William Jones, the son of a rich industrialist, and the stirrings of love begin to blossom between the two of them.
However, in an era where a still rigid social order bars their way, can these two lovers, separated by tradition and birth, find true happiness?
Or are they doomed to be forever apart, either through circumstance or the scheming of Richard Jones, William’s father, who plans for William lie more in him improving his own standing in society than the feelings of his son?
The first thing that made his series stand out for me was the absolute attention to detail about Victorian life that Kaoru Mori has done on this series – testament to her research, and a standard that many artists and writers should aspire to. From clothing to mundane pieces of furniture – even to Emma’s ways of cleaning carpets – the research is exhaustive and extensive.
The artwork also shows the hallmarks of this diligence, with an attention to detail of the buildings, clothing – even the backgrounds – In way’s that make the series seem almost cinematic in its storytelling.
And it’s the scriptwriting, often the deciding factor of many manga, which compliments, and, like two halves of a circle, complete the experience. With every character, from the lowliest bit part to the main characters themselves, well thought out and realised, their personalities and thoughts so realistic that its as if they are living breathing real people, rather than simple drawn characters on a piece of paper.
The result is a series which, from start to finish, will pull you in, wring emotion form even the hardest of hearts, and leave you gasping for more.
the anime adaptation is still available from Right Stuf International and, while CMX is no more it’s still be possible to collect the 10 volume manga series from amazon.