Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Emma series (manga) by Kaoru Mori

(Please forgive this post - I know, I know, it's basically cheating, since I didn't really have to come up with anything new. My only excuse is that I've been really busy so far this week, and I'm tired. I'm also starting to run out of drafts to finish - I really need to create drafts for all the books and movies I've finished in the past couple months!)

Emma, a young maid in Victorian London, meets William, one of the gentry, and the two fall in love. Unfortunately, William's family objects to his interest in Emma because of the differences in their social classes. In an effort to forget about their feelings for one another, Emma leaves London to work as a maid in a large household, and William tries to be a good heir and do as his social class dictates. William eventually ends up engaged to a young lady who's much more acceptable to his parents than Emma, but William finds it difficult to be happy about his engagement after he is reunited with Emma. Both William and Emma have to figure out what they're going to do about their feelings for each other, and their decisions will have repercussions not only for themselves, but also for those around them, especially in William's case.

This is a slow-paced, romantic historical drama. The characters are a big appeal of this series. They are almost all interesting, and many of the characters are well-developed. Mori uses extended flashbacks to show readers the pasts of certain characters, like William's parents. Since Mori often does not reveal characters' thoughts, these flashbacks provide readers with more information about characters' motivations.

Another appeal of this series is its historical aspects. Although it's difficult for me to say how accurate the Victorian details (behaviors, clothing, etc.) are, since I don't know much about that time period, Mori is very interested (some might say obsessed) with all things old and British, and she puts as many appropriate details as she can in her artwork and dialogue. In keeping with the slow pace of the series, Mori often takes the time to show characters performing everyday tasks - for instance, servants shining silver or caring for clothing.

The gentle romance is also an appealing aspect of this series. William and Emma's relationship develops slowly. In the first couple volumes, they don't actually see each other often, and, when they do, they blush a lot, talk to each other, and visit certain Victorian London attractions. It's not until much later that William and Emma kiss - this is as far as their relationship goes within the manga's drawings, although, by the end of the series, it's quite likely that Emma and William will soon be getting married.

This series is suitable to recommend to just about anyone, but those who recommend it should be aware that several of the volumes include female nudity (the characters are fully nude, although the most that readers see are bare breasts and butts). These characters aren't doing anything objectionable, however, just being dressed by their servants or taking a bath. Actually, the nudity made me think more of nude drawings in art books more than anything else...

Overall, this is a lovely, slow-paced historical series.

If you'd like to see more information about the different volumes and the read-alikes and watch-alikes (why they were suggested, what they're about), then click on the links for the different volumes. I had a really hard time coming up with read-alikes and watch-alikes for this series, so some of my suggestions are a better fit than others, and some of them are really off-the-wall.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:

Volumes 1-3
  • Boys Over Flowers (manga) by Yoko Kamio; Boys Over Flowers (anime TV series)
  • Ouran High School Host Club (manga) by Bisco Hatori; Ouran High School Host Club (anime TV series)
  • The Gentleman's Alliance Cross (manga) by Arina Tanemura
Volume 4
  • Fruits Basket (anime TV series); Fruits Basket (manga) by Natsuki Takaya
  • Maria Watches Over Us (anime TV series)
Volume 5
  • Romeo x Juliet (anime TV series)
  • Mushi-Shi (anime TV series); Mushi-Shi (manga) by Yuki Urushibara
  • Fruits Basket (anime TV series); Fruits Basket (manga) by Natsuki Takaya
  • Maria Watches Over Us (anime TV series)
Volume 6
  • The Prisoner of Zenda (book) by Anthony Hope
  • Fruits Basket (anime TV series); Fruits Basket (manga) by Natsuki Takaya
  • Maria Watches Over Us (anime TV series)
  • S.A (manga) by Maki Minami; S.A (anime TV series)
  • The Initiation (book) by L.J. Smith
Volume 7
  • Maria Watches Over Us (anime TV series)
  • Shirley (manga) by Kaoru Mori
  • Land of the Blindfolded (manga) by Sakura Tsukuba
  • Fruits Basket (anime TV series); Fruits Basket (manga) by Natsuki Takaya

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