In 19th-century London, class lines are sharply drawn, and the social standing to which people are born dictates the path their lives will follow. Emma, an honest and hardworking young maid, never felt her place in life to be a burden. But then she met William, a member of the gentry and the eldest son of a wealthy family. His warm smile and earnest affection threaten to capture her heart... but can love truly conquer all?
Saori Kumi has also done novel adaptations of the manga, and two volumes were released in 2005.
The anime was done by Studio Perrot (famous for Bleach, Midori no Hibi and Blood+) and directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (who also directed The Twelve Kingdoms), and ran on TV from April 2nd, 2005 to June 18th, 2005. The Right Stuf International announced its Stateside licensing of Emma and it's second season (Victorian Romance Emma: The Second Act, which is not covered in this review) on June 30th, and plans to release it solely with subs and in a box set; a release date has not been announced at this time.
Story: The story kicks off with William Jones, a member of the gentry, visiting his old governess unexpectedly. Because he stands almost right in front of the door, he gets knocked off his feet (literally and figuratively) by the governess' maid, Emma, when she opens the door. And I'm betting that you can probably guess what happens based on the series' title, albeit with some added angles.
But one of the many things that makes this series stand out is the slow pacing of the romance. For some, it's going to be agonizingly slow (it takes William half the series to offer to take her out somewhere, and just over that for him to actually do so and kiss her while he's at it, which, at that point, is considered leaps and bounds), but for me, it's just right, especially with the sweetness and fluffiness of it all. I guarantee that you will be grinning like an idiot as you watch it develop.
With regards to faithfulness to its manga source: I've only got the first volume of the series to my name at this point in time, but from what I saw, the series was extremely faithful to the source, down to the angles of certain scenes.
Another thing that makes me absolutely adore this series is the way that the series invests you in every single one of the characters. It's a rare series that actually makes you feel - really, honestly care -- for characters that are clearly supposed to be "in the way". One of the best examples of this is Elanor, a girl of the gentry who is clearly meant to be "the other woman", and one of the the odd ones out in the triangle... square... thingy. But you honestly feel sorry for her, because she's just as much in love with William as he and Emma are with each other, and it's her first love, and it just absolutely sucks that it's unrequited on her end, and that she's clearly wasting her time with William. And the way that it does Emma's past would have seemed Sue-ish and annoying in any other show, but doesn't here.
But the thing that makes this series absolutely shine is the historical accuracy. Apparently, Kaoru Mori hired a historical consultant (Rico Murakami) from the third volume of the manga on to ensure accuracy; Murakami was also hired for the anime, and it shows. The subs I watched also included little historical notes at the end of each episode to explain unfamiliar/obscure things to the average viewer. Murakami and Mori released a companion guide (Emma Victorian Guide) that does the same thing.
And this historical accuracy holds, even in the resolution of the show. Shoujo diehards are probably going to absolutely hate the ending (don't worry; there's the second season if you dislike the ending that much), because it doesn't hold to shoujo standards. But you know what? After how historically accurate the series was, it wouldn't have seemed right for things to turn out any other way.
Art: This is one of the places where faithfulness to the manga holds. Pierrot's animation, which is beautiful in and of itself, is barely different at all from the art style that Kaoru Mori used in the manga. As such, it's just like watching the manga come to life in front of your eyes. Even details down to the angle of certain scenes from the manga hold, which makes seeing your favorite scenes from the manga that much more awesome.
Music: Emma has a unique OP and ED, in that none of them have any vocals to them; it's all just instrumentals. But the thing is that they're still very memorable, even without lyrics. I prefer the OP (which is so calming that I've been using to get to sleep lately) over the ED (which sounds fairly circus-y).
The music for the series itself consists of a lot of variations on the OP and ED, but has its share of original music, too. And every bit of it is beautiful, especially in the way that it uses strings and piano. And I'd be willing to bet that every bit of it could easily fit in the Victorian Period.
Seiyuu: There aren't any particular standout roles in this series, but on the other hand, there aren't any that suck terribly. Just a fairly standard set of voices. No problems on my end.
Length: Twelve episodes seems like a perfect length for this series. There's not any push to rush the series along, and it doesn't plod along, even though the story goes at a slower pace than most series. It's at just the right pace.
For those who didn't like the ending, or want more Emma, there is the second season that I've mentioned throughout this review (Victorian Romance Emma: The Second Act). However, know going into it that subs only go up to the ninth episode, because of its licensing.
Overall: This is far from your standard shoujo series. The historical accuracy, which adds in a defiance of typical shoujo standards, and the way it invests you in every one of its characters make it shine. The slower pacing of the episodes and the romance feels just right, and the faithfulness to the manga source in story and art style are a real treat. The music and seiyuu add the icing on the cake.
This is one of my top five recommended series. See it. NOW.
Story: VRE's story is very simple and easy to follow, two people from vastly different social classes fall in love with one another and throughout the series we get to see their trials and tribulations while dealing with it. Forbidden love is nothing new, but that doesn't mean this series is bland in any respect, there are plenty of dealings to keep the story lively. The nice thing, too, is that there is a lot of historical accuracy in the details, it keeps true to the time and doesn't pull any weirdo stuff for gimmick appeal. The story neither drags nor goes by too fast, it's paced perfectly.
Art: The character designs are cute and some of the scenery is nice, but this is definitely one of the drawbacks. The animation wasn't done that great, it's kind of grainy and basic. It's not something I would expect for when it was made, but we can't always get what we want. Honestly, you won't pay too much attention to the art anyways, you'll be engrossed in the story and characters.
Sound: The music is just quaint. It goes really well with the story and pretty much always fits the scenes. The opening and ending themes are especially cheerful and fun. It would have gotten a 10 from me, but it wasn't amazing music, it just fit really well.
Characters: The characters are one of the strongest points of the series. They've all got their different motivations and cover a wide variety of types so it's always fun. The two main characters, Emma and William, are very laid back characters, they're not hyper or weird at all... which is very nice. They are extremely interesting people with a multitude of layers behind them. There are a few characters that feel a little out of place for their time, but they are smaller roles so it won't affect much or be that noticeable/detracting for the story.
Enjoyment: Simply put, it's a really fun series. It's great watching the characters change throughout the story while dealing with their feelings and society. Everything is just done right, it's not over the top or lacking at all. I'm not one for romances usually, but this one could hook anybody I believe.
... first review, be gentle. When I write more I'll try to write better. read more
Emma - A Victorian Romance is a series about a member of the gentry, William Jones, who who falls in love with a maid, and the hardships they endure due to the differences between the classes. As William's family stops at nothing to dissuade him from the romance, it comes off a little bit like Romeo & Juliet with all the external tribulations preventing the couple from realizing their love. Of course both William and Emma both have a central character that provides them with encouragement when the going gets tough.
It's a classic romance that seems to stray from the cliches that abound in typical anime, mostly because of the style and the setting. The series takes place in 19th century Victorian London and seems to be quite accurate in it's portrayal. You also won't find any green or blue hair here, many of the colors of the people and the setting are subdued with shades of tan and brown.
Emma took a couple of episodes to draw me in, but I was hooked after that. I found the historical context of the setting to be pretty intriguing, and mostly I just wanted to find out what happens between William and Emma and if they can overcome their obstacles.
I did have a little bit of difficulty finding something to like about Emma, she was a little too reserved and bland to warrant the attention that William gave her. The most interesting character imho, Hakim, could probably stand to have a little more scene time to liven up the series a bit. Animation is good, but nothing to write home about. As there really isn't any action going on here, there isn't much need for dynamic pans and ultra-fluid movement. DVDs are in subs only, which is perfectly fine with me as I always watch subs anyway, but it could pose a problem for dub fans. Finally, as this affects my review score, [SPOILER ALERT] the ending leaves a bit to be desired, I suppose they were paving way for the second series, but I didn't find it too satisfying after investing the time to watch the series. [END SPOILER]read more
Stop me if you've heard this one before: a boy and a girl from different social classes fall in love, but find the path to happiness will not be easy. OK, not the most original premise, but combine Mori-sensei's lovely artwork, a good sense of atmosphere, a thorough lack of pretentiousness, and general lack of melodrama and we just might have an anime thats worth a watch.
'Emma' is licensed by Nozomi Entertainment and can be watched for free on their YouTube channel. Nozomi also produced a 2-part US DVD release.
It's 1890's Victorian Britain. Class divisions are so rigid that the various levels of the social order are practically different worlds. So when the son of a prosperous merchant falls in love with a maid the road is bound to be rocky. The story is full well-known tropes, it's hardly a genre-buster. But these tropes are played so earnestly straight that it's hard to hate them, even if the next event isn't exactly unpredictable. It's simple, it's sweet, and it doesn't pretend to be anything more than that. ( The series even lampshades its well-worn formula during one scene in a bookshop when a couple of background characters talk about a book telling the story of a maid and a noble who fall in love- as if to subtly acknowledge how long the basic plot has been around ). Most importantly, the central conflict of the series is very believable, rooted in the main characters' personalities and the world they inhabit- that's not always a given in this genre.
Karou Mori excels at drawing two things: 1) Beautiful women 2) Historically accurate and highly detailed costumes. You'll see plenty of both here. Emma's design is particularly pleasing (although I must confess a preference for meganekkos, so my bias is likely at work). The aesthetic is pleasant to look at, using lots of lighter pastel colors to create a relaxing atmosphere. The animation quality is good, but nothing particularly special. This isn't an action series, so it doesn't have to be.
Little to say here. The soundtrack is relaxing, never overbearing, using lots of flutes. It goes for a period-appropriate sound and sets the mood, but none of the tracks made me want to look it up on YouTube. The show is English sub only, and the Japanese voice actors do their jobs fine without standing out. Emma's voice was above average, as her actress managed to convey her shy, quiet personality. Sound does its job with no significant problems.
Again, the show sticks pretty close to formula here. Shy female lead, shy male lead, male lead has an outgoing best friend, etc. What most impressed me were the antagonist characters, nearly all of them behaved in a believable way and had reasonable motivations to inhibit the romance given what they knew (and they knew as much as they could reasonably be expected to know- no convenient ignorance just for the sake of drama). There is one antagonist who isn't exactly subtle, but he shows up fairly rarely and never goes to full-scale 'Rose of Versailles' melodrama, so it's bearable.
An anime to watch if you want something sweet that isn't saccharine, while also being pleasant and relaxing. Each episode is fairly light without feeling empty and pointless, meaning you're probably going to want to watch several episodes in a row. What else can I say? It's enjoyable.
This anime knew it was a straight-forward old-fashioned romance and didn't pretend to be anything else. It came, it did what it meant to do, did it well, and it left before the audience got tired. There's no shame in that, especially in a genre with no shortage of shows that sink into melodrama and pretentiousness in a failed attempt to do too much.read more
Let's just be honest and admit that every story is spiced up if it contains at least a small degree of romance. Love makes everything better, so here are the 25 most romantic anime shows in which love plays a very important role.