To be honest I have two pet peeves
My first is for the Victorian period, with it's over embellished gowns, stuffy imperialism, insufferable housing conditions for the poor and its general... snootiness.
My second is for anime style maids - you know the ones, the clutsy, half a brain variety, whose only purpose in life is to either look cute, get chased by the male lead, or trip and reveal various parts of her underwear in as many ways as possible every episode.
As such most manga and anime about the period or subjects never really caught my attention...
That is, until the day I was introduced to Emma.
Emma (or to use the Japanese title Victorian romance Emma) is a series by the new and up and coming artist Kaoru Mori. This is her first solo project to be published by a mainstream company, and its currently being serialised by the Japanese comic company Beam Commix. Now the series is being translated and released in the west by DC comics' DMX label and has also been adapted into a 12-part animated series.
Emma is set in late 19th century London and follows the life and times of Emma who, since childhood, has served as a maid in the service of a retired governess.
Yet her seemingly quiet, organised world is turned upside-down by the arrival of William Jones, the son of a rich industrialist, and the stirrings of love begin to blossom between the two of them.
However, in an era where a rigid social order bars their way, can these two lovers, separated by tradition and birth, find true happiness or are they doomed to be forever apart, either through circumstance or the scheming of Richard Jones, Williams's father, whose plans for William spring more from self-interest than love for his son.
The first thing that made his series stand out for me was the absolute attention to detail about Victorian life that Kaoru Mori has researched - testament to her attention to detail, and a standard that many artists and writers should aspire to. From clothing to mundane pieces of furniture - even to Emma's ways of cleaning carpets - the research is exhaustive and extensive.
The artwork also shows the hallmarks of this diligence, with an attention to detail of the buildings, clothing - even the backgrounds - In ways that make the series seem almost cinematic in its storytelling.
The scriptwriting, often the deciding factor of many manga, completes the experience, being both believable and moving. Every character, from the lowliest bit-part to the leads themselves are well thought out and realised, their personalities and thoughts so realistic that its as if they are living breathing people, rather than characters in a comic.
The result is a series which, from start to finish, will pull you in, wring emotion form even the hardest of hearts, and leave you wanting more.