Emma vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Manga is not where I expect to find a novel set in Victorian England. Emma is different from other manga I've read, not only because of its subject matter but its artistic style as well. The artwork is gorgeous - realistically, richly drawn characters and detailed backgrounds. Something about the artwork itself evokes the Victorian era. The drawings look more like images from comic strips or graphic novels than manga. The only strong similarity I see to manga are the characters' eyes. They aren't oversized as many manga characters' eyes are, but they are a bit larger than normal and very detailed. The manga is told in numerous small story boxes - often 6 or 8 small boxes page page. The text is spare; the art is so strong that words are often unnecessary.
The developing love between Emma and William has a timeless feel to it. It's young and innocent enough to be appropriate for middle school but sweet and romantic enough to appeal to adults as well. Emma and William are both quiet, self-conscious characters. William is head over heels in love with Emma. Emma is attracted to William but shocked at his interest. And William is only the first prospective suitor. Soon, young men are lining up to woo Emma. Who knew that a shy maid could garner such attention?
I loved the first volume of Emma and cannot wait to read more.
Rating: 4 / 5