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Emma: A Victorian Romance

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1 Emma: A Victorian Romance on Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:12 pm


One of the most beautiful and touching mangas I have ever read. You could say Emma is Romance incarnated in the form of a manga.

Set in Victorian London at the end of the 19th century, Emma is the story of a maid who falls in love with a member of the gentry. However, the young man's family disapproves of him associating with people of the lower classes.

Emma is drawn in a meticulously crosshatched pen and ink style, and Mori is noted for the depth and accuracy of her research in creating the characters and settings. A companion reference called the Emma Victorian Guide has been published to explain many of the unfamiliar and obscure historical references. Emma appears on all the cover of the volumes of the manga series. From volume 3 of the manga on, Kaoru Mori hired a historical consultant, Rico Murakami, to ensure the historical accuracy of the manga. Murakami also became the historical consultant for the anime series.


Emma: The main protagonist of the story. She falls in love with William Jones from the first time they meet. Originally from a poor seaside Yorkshire village, she was kidnapped as a young girl to be sold to a London brothel. She managed to escape, but became lost in London. She managed to work odd jobs for food, until she was taken under the wing of Kelly Stowner, as her maid. Under Mrs. Stowner, Emma was taught to read, write, and a variety of other subjects. In later chapters of the manga, it was revealed that Emma could also read a bit of French. After the death of Mrs. Stowner, Emma flees from London, intending to go back to her village, but she ended up meeting with a maid who worked for the Mölders family, a German immigrant, who live in a mansion in York, and Emma is hired as a servant in the Molders' household. There, she becomes a favorite because of her fluency in English, for which her mistress always brings Emma on distant trips, e.g. the trip to Aurelia Jones' house and also the trip to London alongside a few menservants who could also speak English.

William Jones: The male protagonist of the story. He is the eldest son of the "House of Jones", a very wealthy merchant middle class family that is attempting to rise into the gentry. As his father's heir, he is under tremendous stress to not only take over the family business but also marry a girl from another wealthy family, preferably into the peerage. He developed feelings for Emma after their first meeting. He often intercepts her coming from Covent Garden on Regent Street. In the manga, William had told his father about Emma but his father had never seen Emma (different with the anime). After Emma's departure, William changed drastically. He began to work very hard, attending social meetings and took care of his family's business. In his own perspectives, he never stopped regretting losing Emma, but he would live his life in the 'upper class side' as his father expected him to be. His change affected everyone around him, including Hakim.owever, during the engagement party (the one with Eleanor Campbell), he accidentally met Emma, who is Dorothea Molders' companion at the time. And, because of this new hope, he canceled his engagement with her as he began to pursue Emma again.

Kelly Stowner: Emma's employer and William Jones' former governess. She married at the age of 18, but lost her husband two years into the marriage, and did not have any children. Young and educated, Mrs. Stowner decided to become a governess, and tutored William and his siblings with an iron fist. Right before retiring, she met Emma, and took her in as her maid. Kelly was the one who taught Emma to do the household chores, to read, and to write. It was also Kelly who acted as a 'bridge' between Emma and William, although she realized that the relationship between Emma and William would never work out smoothly.

Hakim Atawari: William Jones' best friend, who is a prince from India, and acts as a foil for William. He and William both attended Eton College. Somewhat of a womanizer, Hakim's straightforwardness and outgoingness is a clear departure from William's reservedness and dislike for social events. Hakim usually has his servant harem accompanying him and travels with a full complement of servants and elephants. Like William, Hakim was captivated with Emma the first time he saw her. His stay in England was prolonged simply because he wanted to see how the relationship between Emma and William progressed. Once he found out that Emma was in love with William, he tried to encourage their relationship into something further, but he let go Emma when she said that she would go back to her hometown, and made no efforts to prevent her from leaving. When William finally proposed to Eleanor, Hakim finally said that he would go back home. To him, there was no more excitement seeing William surrender to the pressure of the society. According to Mori, Hakim was originally intended to be a pure rival to William, but his role in the story changed as it progressed.

Eleanor Campbell: The young daughter of a viscount who falls in love with William. Her feelings for William are often reinforced by misunderstandings from William's courtesy and accommodation. Though her family is of the peerage, her family's financial situation is deteriorating. Due to this, her father very much wants Eleanor to marry into the wealthier, but lower class, Jones family. Eleanor is a very shy girl, yet in the same time she always tries to catch William's attention, for example by inviting him into a tea-party in her mansion, and visiting to William's mansion for 'seeing the rose blooming'. She is very shy whenever William is around, yet finally she was able to tell him her feelings when they were watching opera. She is (almost) always accompanied by her faithful servant Annie, who takes care of her since she was a child (in the 4th volume of the manga, it was shown that since Eleanor was still a child Annie has been serving her.)

Al: A local Jack of all Trades who knew Kelly Stowner's husband, Doug, when they were children. She often calls upon him to fix things around her house and shares her concerns about Emma with him. His relationship to Kelly is ambiguous. Most times, their banter makes them seem like siblings.

Sarah: A minor character and the clerk at Leyton's, a shop in London often frequented by the characters of Emma. Like Emma, Sarah has come to the attention of many a young gentleman in local society. Unlike Emma, Sarah is less reserved and often puts her foot in her mouth during her scenes. This does not, however, detract from her charm. Often, her comments serve to spur the various characters of Emma to make decisions and take action.

Stevens: The Jones family butler. He is often a go-between for William and his father, and his duty to the head of the house, Mr. Jones, often forces Stevens to seem uncaring of William's difficulties concerning his courtship of Emma. Several times, during the course of the series, Stevens has been at the sharp end of some gentleman's displeasure through no fault of his own, but his tact and devotion to the Jones family resolves every situation in a face saving gesture of servility.

Hans: A sullen young footman in the employment of the Mölders household. His father was a wandering clockmaker who passed on his mechanical skills to his son. His taciturn behaviour may be as a result of his regretting his father's rebellious nature, which eventually lead to a nomadic and impoverished lifestyle. The unstable lifestyle of his childhood leads him to appreciate the quiet security of his current profession. He respects Emma for her strong, quiet spirit and grows protective of her as and when he notices her in her vulnerable moments.

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2 Re: Emma: A Victorian Romance on Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:04 am


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I liked this one... very understated and well scripted romance... which is exactly what the Victorian era was about... the mangaka did a fine job getting his back-story straight.


There are three reasons why you can't defeat me. One: Your sword is too light. Two: There's nothing I can't cut. Three: I'm more handsome than you - Kyo
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