Title: Emma Volume 1
Author: Kaoru Mari
Publisher: Yen Press
Page count: 388
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Emma is exactly as it sounds. It tells the story of a Victorian maid who has a forbidden romance with a member of the leisure class. This elegant story was originally published in 2006 and gained an anime adaptation called Emma: A Victorian Romance. Kaoru Mari is a self-professed Anglophile and I must admit, with my own scholarly background based in 18th and 19th century literature, I had a very difficult time finding fault in this story. In fact, I fell absolutely in love with Emma and her plight.
Volume 1 tells the story of Emma, a young maid who lives with a retired governess. One day the governess’s former Master, now a young man, visits her unannounced. He spots Emma and her bespectacled eyes and immediately falls in love. Kelly, the retired governess, notices this and subtly encourages Emma’s interest in their guest. Kelly is completely aware that marriage laws and English customs forbid a marriage between the classes but does nothing to discourage the romance. She knows a woman in Victorian London is nothing without a man’s protection. Of course if the young Master thinks Emma will be easy to catch, he is very wrong. Apparently men all over London have fallen in love with Emma from a single glance. William also learns that Emma has turned down every marriage offer. The story is not without some laughs – the Master William has a guest from India who is a prince… and the prince brings along an elephant and three women. By the way, he too, falls in love with Emma. When circumstances change for Emma, the young maid has to make an important decision that will change her life.
This is not an often visited subject area for manga or anime. It doesn’t contain the sci-fi fantasy elements of Black Butler nor does it contain ridiculous and over the top comedic elements like in Tora Dora. That is what makes Emma so special. This is a traditional love story written within a society with strict rules of conduct. Reading a lot like Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, Emma shows a ethnographic perspective on how vast socio-economic boundaries negatively effect both the rich and the poor in England.
When I say I am in love with this manga, words can’t describe how much I want to read every single volume of this series.
I should also note that this comes packaged as a large hardcover in a double-sided dust jacket with different illustrations of Emma.
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**This item was provided for review.