WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Emma 1-2 by Kaoru Mori
Type: Historical Fiction, Romance, Shoujo
Basic Plot: Emma is a maid that tends to catch the hearts of many men with her sweet spirit and appearance. Most men she has shown no interest in, but when she finally falls in love with William Jones, it seems like they can never be together.
Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The one thing I look for in manga romances in if it is cliché or not. The story was a common story of a forbidden love between the rich and poor, but it was unique in what the characters did. Since the creator tried hard to make the setting as accurate as possible, the story is creative because of its strong Victorian England feel and events. Characters go to places and perform activities that are unique to the time era.
Graphics: 4/5 Well Done: The drawings were less manga looking, probably because the setting was in England, but still had a Japanese touch in the eyes and details. Details were not overflowing, but were there. The artist had a way of making the plain and simple look beautiful and neat. The art changed in that I believe it looks a little darker and neater as the book goes on, and certain characters faces become more rounded. This is about done by the end of chapter four.
Moral: 2/5 No Clear Moral: The moral of the story is not clear. There is no defining lesson or message yet, though one may appear later in the story.
Overall: This manga is recommended for girls and women, especially if they like Victorian England.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2½/5 Suggestive: It shows a girl and boy leaning in to kiss, though the kiss itself is barely shown. A boy grabs a girls hand when he confesses his love. A girl puts her arms around a man. Two boys look at pictures of girls in low corsets and underskirts, one showing a girl sitting in an immodest fashion and showing part of her thigh. A man says that people in India “stride around half-naked.” Some girls from India wear outfits that show off their stomachs and curves, and some girls are shown to have low dresses in the front and back. Men are shirtless, but no inappropriate details are shown. A girl is helped to undress to her nightgown by a maid. A girl is nearly sold into a brothel as a child, but she escapes. The conversation between a man trying to sell her to the lady who owns the place is heard. A girl is hinted to have been born to an unmarried woman. The author says in the afterward wonders if she might be a “masochist” considering how much work she’ll do and that she enjoys it.
Violence: 1/5 Brief, Light Violence: A man gets his head hit when a door opens, and people are run into or hit by luggage at least once each. A man mentions that he once fell and hurt his elbow. A man talks about hunting foxes. A woman slaps a child. It is not shown, but a woman falls down a flight of stairs. A child is shown falling. An elephant goes on a rampage and starts crashing through a courtyard, though no one is hurt. A girl jumps off a wall and lands on her face.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Light Swearing: “Damn” is misused once. “Hell” is misused once. A girl calls another girl a “saucy minx,” though she is reproved for it.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Light Disturbing Content: A girl is kidnapped and almost sold to a brothel, and a man tries to convince the owner that men are becoming more interested in children. A woman dies of old age, though her death is not shown. Characters are mentioned to have died, and a man’s burial is briefly shown. The Victorian Era’s obsession with death is briefly mentioned. A man talks about his father dying, as well as that “drowning him in the Thames wouldn’t have killed him.” Characters tear up.
Religious Issues: ½/5 Brief Mention: An Islamic mosque is briefly seen once while touring a museum. Elephants are described as “sacred.”
Magic: ½/5 Brief Mention: A boy wonders if his brother “was bewitched” by a girl’s “face.”
Others: Characters waltz, and Indian girls briefly perform an Indian dance. Characters smoke pipes (British and Indian) and cigarettes, and it is hinted that some ladies leave so that the men can smoke. Characters drink, and a boy mentions how he drank lots on his first night out, that it is relaxing to drink, and the specific names of what he drank. A girl drinks and appears to be a bit lightheaded from it. Men play cards, though it is not made known if they are gambling or what they are playing. A man briefly mentions that the pubs are closed. The author mentions being a fan of Marilyn Monroe.
Overall: 3/5 Teenager Appropriate: I would recommend this morally to children fourteen or fifteen and older because of the suggestive content.
IMPORTANT: Upon further research, the manga takes a turn for the worse in Emma 3-4, mostly in part four, which shows a woman naked, revealing nearly everything except for the front of the lower half of the body, and an entire back shot is shown, with a girl only wearing her shoes. I would not recommend the series because of this.