Thursday, March 12, 2009

'Emma, vol.1'

Emma (manga) volume oneWritten and Illustrated by Kaoru Mori
Translated and Adapted by Sheldon Drzka
Manga, 2002 (Japan), 2006 (English translation)
CMX, pb, 188 p.
An upstairs gentleman and a downstairs servant share a secret love. The saga begins. In Victorian England, a young girl named Emma is rescued from a life of destitution and raised to become a proper British maid. When she meets William, the eldest son of a wealthy family, their love seems destined. But in this world, even matters of the heart are ruled by class distinctions.
I’d wanted to try reading manga for a while but part of my hesitation was because there are simply so many of them and I just didn’t know where to begin. Also, how to find ones I would be interested in, that aren’t too cheesy, or sickeningly kawaii, or full of supernatural superheroes. Well, I love Jane Austen and stories of that type dealing with issues of class and society so I picked this up a few months ago thinking it would be a good introduction for me to manga, and it really was!

The art is wonderful, full of details, and I was completely transported to London in the late 1800s. The images also did a great job expressing moments of silence and awkwardness between the characters. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. The artist is apparently quite the Anglophile and tried to represent the time period as realistically as possible. And I did feel like I was reading a comic version of a classic English love story. What fun!In this, volume one, we are basically only introduced to Emma and William and a few other characters, and the scene is set for their growing relationship and we can imagine the trouble they'll have trying to overcome the prejudices of society as the series continues. Now I can’t wait to read the rest of Emma and William’s story, and have, in fact, already ordered volume 2 and 3. My first manga is a definite success!

Interview with Kaoru Mori
Historical notes for the series

First sentence: England, the end of the 19th century. London. Owing to the Industrial Revolution, it is an age of change and innovation.

My Rating: 4/5
(#11 for 2008, Manga Challenge, Try Something New Mini-Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
things mean a lot (volumes 1-7)
If you've reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.


  1. I just went to my library's website and put this on hold! Thanks so much for the recommendation I have been wanting to read these magna books for a while,but didn't want one that was strange or filled with nudity. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  2. I loved how well she portrayed those silences and moments of awkwardness. This is such a great series, Can't wait to read your thoughts on the other volumes.

  3. Hi Nat,
    I am tempted to read these Emma series. I bought the complete Persepolis and Mouse I&II for my Graphic Challenge.
    Woooo Whooooo, I have to redo all my sidebar idems. Changed my blog to an orientaly look and somehow clicked the wrong place and lost all my widgets, I am getting them back a piece at the time.

  4. I am glad you read this series! I am almost up to the point where these books are going to be reviewed on my blog! I read all seven of them, but I am forever behind in reviews at this point. Still reviewing books from February!

  5. I am about half way through reading the first volume of this online, and so far it is good. I get a bit confused sometimes about which speech bubble to read next but other than that it is okay.

  6. I have never read Manga or even a graphic novel!! So weird too, because it really is the kind of thing I like. BUT...I did pick up the first Sandman and the first Fables at the library this week.

    Nice review...this sounds really good!

  7. This looks really interesting! I'll have to see if I can find a copy here ...

  8. With yours and Nymeth's review I really should look these up. It's not too late to sign up for my manga challenge and add your review... :)

  9. bethany - I know what you mean about not wanting to end up with something that's really bizarre or pseudo porn. This seems like a really nice series though, I hope you enjoy it when you get a chance to read it.

    Nymeth - Well, I have volumes 2 and 3 here now so it probably won't be too long before I get to them.

    Sylvie - Persepolis and Maus are great, I hope you enjoy them. They're the first graphic novels I read too. I haven't read any graphic novels for the challenge yet this year, but there's still time.

    Kailana - I look forward to your review of the series.

    Marg - There should be a diagram at the very back showing the correct order to read the panels. That helped me get the hang of it pretty quickly.

    Stephanie - Have fun with your first graphic novels! I know I'm enjoying my new foray into GN and manga.

    Kristen M. - It was fun to read, I'm glad I finally gave manga a try.

    Rhinoa - LOL. Like I mentioned in my reply to your other comment, I'm actually already signed up for your manga challenge. You'll find my name on the sign up Mr. Linky. :P
    I have a couple more reviews to post and then I'll come by and add them to the list.

  10. I was reading online for no back to speak of. I did check my library and they have all seven volumes so I am going to borrow that instead.

  11. Yeah for your first try at manga and it being successful!! I too am new at this genre and from Nymeth's review and yours, I think I'm going to really like this!! I was able to get 1-4 from my library but I'll probably end up buying 5-7!! I'll link your review when I review my thoughts!!

  12. Marg - You did mention before that you were reading it online. Sorry for not paying attention. I had a quick google and this diagram might help. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

    Staci - I'm really happy my first venture into manga was successful too. I hope you have fun with this series. I know I'm looking forward to reading it and trying some other ones too.

  13. I think I've stayed away from Magna for the very same reasons you have! I saw Nymeth's review of this series though and now that you are also giving it a thumbs up that means I must check it out :)

    I'm going to see if my library has it!

  14. Iliana - I'm on the third volume now and it's a lot of fun. I think you'd like it. :)


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