The Bottom Line
- A tender romance that skips the over-the-top shojo melodrama
- Elegant artwork that tells the story wth quiet, poetic moments
- Includes historical background of the era in an engaging way
- Story enfolds slowly, which can be off-putting to fans of more modern, manic shojo romances
- Original Title: Emma; also known as Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma (Emma: A Victorian Romance)
- Author & Artist: Kaoru Mori
- Publishers: CMX Manga (US), Enterbrain, Inc. (Japan)
- ISBN: 978-1-4012-1132-5
- Cover Price: $9.99 US / $11.99 CANADA
- Book Details: 183 pages, black and white format
- US Publication Date: September 2006
- Age Rating: Teen - 13+, for mildly suggestive romantic situations
- Manga Genres:
- Shojo manga
- Historical manga
- Other Manga by Kaoru Mori:
Guide Review - Emma Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
Set in Victorian England, Emma is a sweet, engaging love story about a maid and her relationship with the eldest son of a wealthy family. Although the strict rules of English society prohibit it, Emma and William’s relationship begins and blossoms in this first volume.
Unlike most contemporary shojo manga titles, the romance in Emma develops quietly, with a minimum of angst, exaggerated expressions or wacky humor. Events unfold naturally, much like a Merchant-Ivory movie; a perfect tone for the story’s backdrop, the world of English high society.
Painstakingly researched, Emma gives readers a glimpse into real places and provides historical context that makes this love story especially fascinating. These details make it easier for modern readers to really understand Emma’s world and appreciate the social mores that make her relationship with William difficult, if not almost impossible.
Elegant as it is, Emma also has moments of humor and surprises, like when Hakim, William’s friend from India comes to visit, complete with elephants, a car and a harem of dancing girls. Hakim’s matter-of-factness as he parades his elephants down a crowded London street or drives his car through the hallways of the Jones’ residence offers a fun contrast to the stiff-upper-lip style of English society.
The artwork is detailed, but not fussy. It has a delicacy that gives the story an air of quiet refinement. The characters’ expressions are subtle and distinctive, and allows the personality of each character shine through. Mori’s storytelling captures the sly smiles, the stolen glances, and the arch of an eyebrow that can sometimes say more than words.
Like William, by the end of Volume 1, I too had fallen in love with Emma, both the maid and the manga. Pick up a copy, and you will too.