Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act
Having left William Jones in London, Emma finds a new job at the Molders' estate, determined to make a new life for herself. Back in London, William tries to move on with his life and the family business under the prying eyes of his parents, his siblings and the gentry class.
But feelings are not so easily forgotten, and the intervention of chance might find the two with an opportunity to reforge that bond or cast it aside for good.
When I look back at Emma: A Victorian Romance -- including the first season -- I realize that I just went through the textbook example of a tale of forbidden love, much like the ridiculous concepts you can see in the "housewife porn" sections of your local book stall. Furthermore, since it's taking place in victorian era London, it's basically stiffly-dressed, formal to a fault and so stuffy, it's almost more than one can choke to death on. And yes, one of these days I'm going to find out just why I ended up liking this show so damned much.
I've got to hand it to the show, though; it's definitely doing a fine job of portraying victorian era London, all the way down to the class divide on both ends of the fence. Excess and poverty go hand in hand to such a degree that the maids themselves can consider themselves lucky just for holding the position they do. Even the first season had people like Al, who seemed to do ok for himself despite the fact that his living area seemed borderline squalid.
Of course, you'll get to see more than your fill of the lifestyle of the rich and famous as well. When the Jones estate isn't filling your screen with rich tapestries and paintings adorning a humongous living area, balls, concerts, dinners and other events will be featured frequently, what with William being a member of the social elite and Emma working for another house of the same. But even in the face of social excess like this, it's nice to see that this show doesn't fall into the habit of labelling the gentry as nothing but snotty, judgemental assholes all around. Sure, there are people like that -- certainly, the gossip chain is a thing to fear -- but even among the well-off, there are sympathetic souls. Emma certainly found an eccentric border for herself, the Molders' being portrayed as an eccentric, but generally understanding and kind family. We also quickly learn that William's father -- regardless of his actions in most of the first season -- may know all too well what his son is setting himself up for with his desire to take Emma for a wife. It gives the show a lot of heart by avoiding shoehorning everyone into roles based on their social status seen from only one side of the border, the trappings of many an inferior show.
And, much like the first season, in this show, the maids are just that. Maids. They do what maids are expected to do; housekeeping for whoever supplies their paycheck. And furthermore, they never ever refer to anyone as "master". Again, Emma: A Victorian Romance is not a fetish show, unless you have a significant interest in the era itself. Basically, any piece of clothing, including swimsuits (and yes, you do get to see swimsuits in this show), are so modest, it's almost ridiculous. Hakim still has his attendants, though, so if you REALLY want to see some smokin' hot babes, there's your chance.
I'm sure those of you who've watched the first season and is eagerly wondering where the second act is going are dying to know how things work out for William and Emma. Since the show itself reaches a conclusion here, that's what you'll get, too. I won't say anything, of course, but as a warning to all fans who haven't gotten their hands on this box set yet; the cover of the fourth volume basically spoils the whole thing. Now, you might not find any of this to be a huge surprise, but I just thought I'd warn you all the same. That said, I'd also like to mention that the anime, while normally following the manga story to a tee for the most part, actually has a few significant changes, meaning some parts of the story have been taken out and others have been embellished some. I haven't had the chance to finish the manga yet (I'm two volumes short -- which I plan to amend sooner or later), so I can't really say how closely the anime follows the manga ending, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter too much unless you're a big stickler for authenticity. They're basically superficial changes, probably for the benefit of an animated medium.
Either way, watching both volumes of Emma was definitely time well spent. I'm not saying I'll be rushing off to the "housewife porn" section of our local bookstore or library anytime soon -- or ever -- but as a romantic piece, and a "forbidden" one at that, this show provided without stumbling over its own manners and formalities. It's a set piece for the ages.
A fine conclusion to a fine show... with maids. Who knew? — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The many mature situations in this show basically sell it as a show for those with the maturity to handle it. There's not a whole lot of violence in it -- a few punches thrown, and that's about it. Hakim's harem aside, you will be getting a nice backside shot of the lady of the Molders house, stark naked. And she is ever the lady, no question about it.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, sub only
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act © 2007 Kaoru Mori / Enterbrain / Emma Production Committee
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