Saturday, March 28, 2009

'Emma, vol. 2 and 3' (+vols. 4-7)

Written and illustrated by Kaoru Mori
Fiction/manga, 2003 (Japan), 2007 (English translation)
Translated and Adapted by Sheldon Drzka
CMX, pb, 194 p. (vol. 2), 186 (vol. 3)
Tragedy forces Emma to leave London… and William… behind!
London’s elite society places great importance on class differences, unlike William Jones. He regards Emma as a beautiful, charming young woman, and not merely a servant. After their first real date, things seem to be going in a positive direction for them. But the leisurely pace of the growing relationship between them ends suddenly when disaster strikes at home.
A chance meeting leads Emma to a new situation… and new challenges.
On the train back to her hometown, Emma meets Tasha, a maid working at a wealthy family’s mansion in the country. This fateful encounter leads to Emma finding employment with the family as well. But despite her years of experience as a maid for Mrs. Stownar, living in a mansion filled with servants is something for which she is not prepared.
After thoroughly enjoying the first volume, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait too long before picking up the next one in the series. I had ordered volumes 2 and 3, and so had them already on hand, and quickly read through both of them. As in the blurbs above, Emma has to leave London, and William, behind, and she finds new employment in a large house in the country. It was a lot of fun to read about Emma’s experiences working among so many other servants for the first time and the upstairs downstairs dynamic between the various staff and the family in residence. Volume 3 ends with the promise of more interesting episodes as the series continues.

After finishing volume 3, I went online to see about getting the next 4 volumes in the series (the main story is told in 7 volumes with a couple of companion volumes after that), and found to my surprise the while volume 4 was readily available, volumes 5 to 7 were almost impossible to buy online, the places I checked anyway. It’s seems very strange for them to be out of print when the earlier and later ones are still available. But this left me at a bit of a loss as I really wanted to continue reading, so I found a site where I could read the scans online.

Reading it on the screen of my laptop was less than ideal though as I couldn’t see the whole page at once, and had to scroll down to see each page in its entirety, but I couldn’t help reading just one more chapter… just one more page… until I’d managed to read all of the remaining 4 volumes. And what a lovely story it was! Sure, I could guess how it was going to end right from the beginning, just like I can imagine how a Jane Austen story will end, but it’s the journey to get to that ending that is so enjoyable.

The art was fantastic throughout, with some truly beautiful scenes. I loved the art so much that I’m quite tempted to buy the series in the original Japanese, all the volumes of which are available. I really want to see the art on paper, in book format, and as it was truly meant to be seen. So I’m trying to convince myself that since I now know the story I could try to read it again in Japanese. It might be a fun way to study, but I would at the very least be able to admire the drawings. Regardless, I’ll be getting volume 8, which was recently released in English translation, as I want to know more about the other minor characters that made up this tale. All in all, it was a very satisfying Victorian love story and a wonderful introduction to manga.

Historical notes for the series (vols. 1 - 5)

First sentence: (vol. 2) Stevens... close the curtains, will you?

My Rating: 4/5
(#17-18* for 2009, Manga Challenge, Try Something New Mini- Challenge)
*although I also read volumes 4-7 online, I'm not counting them in my yearly numbers.

Also reviewed at:
things mean a lot (vols. 1-7)
The Written World (vols. 1-7)
Have I missed your review? Let me know and I'll link to it here.

7 comments:

  1. Exactly...it's all about the journey. I'm really looking forward to the 3 "bonus" volumes. I'd love to learn more about the secondary characters.

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  2. I am glad you enjoyed Emma. The whole series sounds like a good one. I always think it strange when it's hard to come by later volumes. At least you were able to find them online!

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  3. I love this series! I looking forward to the later editions. :)

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  4. I just grabbed Volume I at the library based on your review and it looks really interesting so far ... I'll let you know when I review it!

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  5. Nymeth - I'm looking forward to the 3 companion volumes too. Such a fun series, I'm still thinking about it.

    Wendy - I am glad I found it online, but it really wasn't the same as reading the actually books. Hopefully they'll republish those later volumes at some point.

    Kailana - Me too! Like Nymeth said, I'm also looking forward to finding out more about the secondary characters.

    Kristen M. - I hope you have as much fun with it as I did. I look forward to hearing what you thought of it.

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  6. This series is everywhere at the moment, I really need to get a copy. Glad you are enjoying it still.

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  7. Rhinoa - I thought it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the companion volumes and may have to check out some of Kaoru Mori's other manga series.

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