Having read a vast amount of manga and owning quite the library of them, there are a lot of titles that I enjoy, but few that I praise and recommend for people to read. Emma is one of those titles. Kaoru Mori manages to recreate 1890’s London with an incredible amount of detail and research of that time period. The amount of love that Mori has that time period and maids definitely shows in Emma.
The series is about Emma, a maid of a former governess, Kelly Stowner. What’s unique about Emma as a maid is that her mistress has taught her not only how to read and write, but also taught her a wide variety of subjects, which is unusual for someone of that social standing to have. She was also given glasses, which maids of her class don’t really wear. When William Jones, Kelly Stowner’s former pupil, drops by her house for a visit, he happened to run in to the woman who would change his life. Before he could even knock, Emma mistakenly slammed the door on William’s face as she was trying to be on her way to complete her tasks. It was love at first sight for young William Jones, as forbidden romance takes center stage in this story. Mori does really well in illustrating the frustrations that both William and Emma have as they try their best to make their budding relationship work, which causes a ripple-effect with every other character that appears in the series; some support their struggle for happiness, some watch on with questions on their minds as to what is “proper” or “right”, while others see it as a futile attempt. While the amount of research done of the time period really impresses me, what does it for me is the amount of depth that each of the characters have. Mori is a brilliant storyteller and an amazing illustrator. This story is not to be missed!
The Emma manga was brought over to the US via CMX Manga, which was a division of DC Comics. In May 2010, DC Comics shut down CMX Manga, which left several of their mid-run series unfinished. Thankfully, all 10 volumes of Emma were successfully released in the US before the shutdown. However, after CMX Manga shut down, hunting down the volumes of Emma was near-impossible, leading to extremely high prices on eBay and Amazon Marketplace. I managed to get lucky and scored the full 10 volume run at a Borders store that happened to have them. But others were not so lucky, leaving their collection incomplete.
But fear not! Yen Press has acquired the series and they’re working on releasing the whole run, which is exciting news both for people who want to complete their collections and people who are curious about the series.
Yen Press is releasing Emma as omnibus volumes, which contains 2 volumes per omnibus volume. They’re also going the extra mile of releasing them in hardcover, which is really nice!
Before the actual manga pages, there are a couple of glossy pages with Mori’s sketches inside, which is a neat touch that the original US release lacked.
What’s interesting about Yen Press’ release is that they translated the some of the slang used in the series differently than CMX Manga did.
Yen Press did a great job with putting together 2 volumes into a lovely hardcover volume that leaves you eagerly awaiting for the next one! The first omnibus volume was released this past May, and the second one will make their way to bookstores this August. I highly recommend checking it out!
If you’re itching for more Kaoru Mori goodness, there’s A Bride’s Story, detailing the stories of a girl from a nomadic tribe, and there’s also Anything and Something, which contains a collection of Mori’s short stories.
There’s also Shirley, a one-shot that contains stories of a young maid named Shirley along with other short stories featuring other maids. The only downside is that since CMX Manga published Shirley in the US, it’s now very hard to find. Perhaps Yen Press will also release it at a later date? One can only hope!
Until next time, happy reading!