Set in VictorianLondon at the end of the 19th century, Emma is the story of a housemaid who falls in love with a member of the gentry. However, the young man's family disapproves of him associating with people of the lower classes.
Both the manga and anime versions of Emma are unique for being set in a setting seldom visited by either medium without some fantasy or speculative element. The author and illustrator of the manga, Kaoru Mori, is a self-professed Anglophile, and attempted to recreate 1895 London with meticulous detail. The manga has a cult following in Japan, even going as far as opening an Emma-inspired and themed maid café in Shinjuku. Its popularity has sparked an interest in English maid cosplay, even going as far as having the official Emma anime website selling Emma's "costume" for ¥45,000.
The main protagonist of the story. She falls in love with William Jones from the first time they meet. Originally from a poor seaside Yorkshire village, she was kidnapped as a young girl to be sold to a London brothel. She managed to escape but became lost in London. She managed to work odd jobs for food, until she was taken under the wing of Kelly Stownar, as her housemaid. Under Mrs. Stownar, Emma was taught to read, write, and a variety of other subjects. In later chapters of the manga, it is revealed that Emma can also read a bit of French.
After the death of Mrs. Stownar, Emma leaves London, intending to go back to her village, but she ended up meeting with a maid who worked for the Mölders (Meredith in the English translation of the manga) family, German immigrants who live in a mansion in York, and Emma is hired as a servant in the Mölders' household. There, she becomes a favorite because of her fluency in English, and for this her mistress always brings Emma on distant trips, e.g. the trip to Mrs. Trollope's (Aurelia Jones') house and also the trip to London alongside a few menservants who could also speak English. She was also a well-liked maid among the staff due to her honesty and diligence in her work, as well as the children who often played with her.
The male protagonist of the story. He is the eldest son of the "House of Jones", a very wealthy merchant middle class family that is attempting to rise into the gentry. As his father's heir, he is under tremendous stress to not only take over the family business but also marry a girl from another wealthy family, preferably into the peerage. He develops feelings for Emma after their first meeting. He often intercepts her coming from Covent Garden on Regent Street. In the manga, William had told his father about Emma but his father had never seen Emma (different with the anime).
After Emma's departure, William changed drastically. He began to work very hard, attending social meetings and took care of his family's business. In his own perspectives, he never stopped regretting losing Emma, but he would live his life in the 'upper class side' as his father expected him to be. His change affected everyone around him, including Hakim.
However, during the engagement party (the one with Eleanor Campbell), he accidentally met Emma, who is Dorothea Molders' companion at the time. Infused with this new hope, he is conflicted by his engagement to Eleanor.
Emma's employer and William Jones' former governess. She married at the age of 18, but lost her husband two years into the marriage, and did not have any children. Young and educated, Mrs. Stownar decided to become a governess, and tutored William and his siblings with an iron fist. Right before retiring, she met Emma, and took her in as her maid.
Kelly was the one who taught Emma to do the household chores, to read, and to write. It was also Kelly who acted as a 'bridge' between Emma and William, although she realized that the relationship between Emma and William would never work out smoothly.
William Jones' best friend, who is a prince from India, and acts as a foil for William. He and William both attended Eton College. Somewhat of a womanizer, Hakim's straightforwardness and being outgoing is a clear departure from William's reservedness and dislike for social events. Hakim usually has his servant harem accompanying him and travels with a full complement of servants and elephants. Like William, Hakim was captivated with Emma the first time he saw her.
His stay in England was prolonged simply because he wanted to see how the relationship between Emma and William progressed. Once he found out that Emma was in love with William, he tried to encourage their relationship into something further, but he let go Emma when she said that she would go back to her hometown, and made no efforts to prevent her from leaving. When William finally proposed to Eleanor, Hakim finally said that he would go back home. To him, there was no more excitement seeing William surrender to the pressure of the society.
According to Mori, Hakim was originally intended to be a pure rival to William, but his role in the story changed as it progressed.
The young daughter of a viscount who falls in love with William. Her feelings for William are often reinforced by misunderstandings from William's courtesy and accommodation. Though her family is of the peerage, her family's financial situation is deteriorating. Due to this, her father very much wants Eleanor to marry into the wealthier, but lower class, Jones family.
Eleanor is a very shy girl, yet at the same time she always tries to catch William's attention, for example by inviting him into a tea-party in her mansion, and visiting to William's mansion for 'seeing the rose blooming'. She is very shy whenever William is around, yet finally she is able to tell him her feelings when they are watching opera. She is (almost) always accompanied by her faithful servant Annie, who takes care of her since she was a child (in the 4th volume of the manga, it was shown that since Eleanor was still a child Annie has been serving her.)
Housemaid of the Mölders household. Emma first met Tasha at King's Cross railway station where she was leaving for Haworth along with her mistress Dorothea Mölders. Tasha later shared the same carriage as Emma, after learning that Emma was a maid, she suggested to her to apply for employment at Mölders household in Haworth, which was short of staff. After Emma is hired there, she and Tasha shared a servant's quarter and they became close friends.
Eleanor's father, a member of the nobility with strong classist views who secretly despises all non-nobles and resents the fact that lack of money forces him to accept a commoner as husband for Eleanor. This is shown drastically when, after shaking hands with Richard Jones, he throws away the glove he was wearing.
A local Jack of all Trades who knew Kelly Stownar's husband, Doug, when they were children. She often calls upon him to fix things around her house and shares her concerns about Emma with him. His relationship to Kelly is ambiguous. Most times, their banter makes them seem like siblings.
A minor character and the clerk at Leyton's, a shop in London often frequented by the characters of Emma. Like Emma, Sarah has come to the attention of many a young gentleman in local society. Unlike Emma, Sarah is less reserved and often puts her foot in her mouth during her scenes. This does not, however, detract from her charm. Often, her comments serve to spur the various characters of Emma to make decisions and take action.
The Jones family butler. He is often a go-between for William and his father, and his duty to the head of the house, Mr. Jones, often forces Stevens to seem uncaring of William's difficulties concerning his courtship of Emma. Several times, during the course of the series, Stevens has been at the sharp end of some gentleman's displeasure through no fault of his own, but his tact and devotion to the Jones family resolves every situation in a face saving gesture of servility.
A sullen young footman in the employment of the Mölders household. His father was a wandering clockmaker who passed on his mechanical skills to his son. His taciturn behaviour may be as a result of his regretting his father's rebellious nature, which eventually led to a nomadic and impoverished lifestyle. The unstable lifestyle of his childhood leads him to appreciate the quiet security of his current profession. He respects Emma for her strong, quiet spirit and grows protective of her as and when he notices her in her vulnerable moments.
The head of the Mölders household. A German merchant who moved to England together with his family. He is shown to be fond of his children and having a wide perspectives, in which he once told his son to say 'thank you' even towards servants, "because that is what a gentleman should do". It seems that difference of class doesn't matter to him as much it does to English people at that time. He is a bit ignorant of a person, in which Dorothea always pushes him about the matter of education for their daughter Ilse.
The wife of Wilhelm Mölders. Often acts as a bridge between the Mölders family and the other upper class families, Dorothea frequently goes on parties and dinners on behalf of her husband, accompanied by a servant who takes care of her dresses and make-ups. She is shown to be careless, for she mistakes Emma as her personal assistant Tasha in King's Cross station and she takes Emma to her residence in York just because 'that girl seems to get along well with Tasha.' She is a close friend of Mrs. Trollope (later revealed as Aurelia, William's mother). Kaoru Mori personally noted that the role model for Dorothea is the opera singer Maria Callas.
Erich Mölders (?, ?rihi Merud?su)
The first Mölders' child, shown as a boy around 6-7 ten years old. He has a pet squirrel named Theo, and it seems that he likes his pet very much seeing that it frequently accompanies him. Erich speaks no English. In his first meeting with Emma, Theo was stuck in his bedpost's canopy and Emma helped him bringing Theo down although Emma couldn't speak German. Later, Erich expressed his gratitude toward Emma by kissing her on the cheek in front of parents, which surprised them.
Ilse Mölders (, Iruze Merud?su)
The youngest child in Mölders household. In the manga, it was stated that Ilse is 5 years old. Ilse is a shy and quiet child yet adorable, so it seems that the servants like her very much. She is shown to inherit her mother's dark hair, and she has a favorite elephant doll, which is probably given by the servants on her birthday party.
Emma as depicted in volume 1 of the manga
Emma is drawn in a meticulously crosshatched pen and ink style, and Mori is noted for the depth and accuracy of her research in creating the characters and settings. A companion reference called the Emma Victorian Guide has been published to explain many of the unfamiliar and obscure historical references. Emma appears on all the cover of the volumes of the manga series. From volume 3 of the manga on, Kaoru Mori hired a historical consultant, Rico Murakami, to ensure the historical accuracy of the manga. Murakami also became the historical consultant for the anime series.
The main story of Emma serialization run in Enterbrain's Comic Beam was between the January 2002 and May 2006 issues, ending at 52 chapters, corresponding to the end of the seventh collected volume. The author has since been creating additional stories in the same setting, focusing on characters beyond Emma and William. These stories were serialized in Comic Beam as Emma: Further Tales (, Emma Bangaihen) between the September 2006 and March 2008 issues, and are collected as additional volumes of Emma. Volume 8 in Japan was released in a special edition that included a DVD (ISBN4-7577-3450-6).
The Japanese title of the anime is written using a couple of kanji from before the adoption of simplified characters after the end of World War II, which reflects the usage of kanji in the time period the story is set in. In modern Japanese (Eikoku Koi Monogatari, lit. English Lovestory or Lovestory in England) would be written as , the characters for country and love being replaced by their modern variants. The series' official English title is Emma - A Victorian Romance.
The anime series was continued in a second season, Emma - A Victorian Romance: Second Act (? , Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma Dai Ni Maku), which premiered in Japan on numerous television stations from April 16, 2007. Animated by Ajia-do Animation Works and directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi and written by Mamiko Ikeda, the second season was first announced by the anime's official website in August 2006 and the September 2006 issue of manga publisher Enterbrain's Comic Beam magazine, in which the original manga has been serialized.
Both seasons have been licensed in English by Nozomi Entertainment, with a box set of the first season released on June 24, 2008 in English subtitles. On September 18, 2018, Nozomi Entertainment launched a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to gather funds to produce an English dub for season 1 for $110,000, along with a $180,000 stretch goal for season 2, following their successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017 for Aria. The campaign ended on October 18, 2018 as a success, with a total of $253,834 raised; 130% over the original goal.
Two pieces of theme music are used for both seasons; one opening theme and one ending theme each. The first season's opening theme is "Silhouette of a Breeze" composed and arranged by Kunihiko Ryo, and the ending theme is "Menuet for EMMA" composed by Kunihiko Ryo, arranged by Kenji Kaneko, and performed by the Tokyo Recorder Orchestra. The second season's opening theme is a "Celtic Version" of "Silhouette of a Breeze" and the ending theme is "Rondo of Lilybell". Both "Menuet for EMMA" and "Rondo of Lilybell," are done mostly with a recorder. A "String Quartet Version" of "Silhouette of a Breeze" was the BGM used when introducing the show's sponsors at the beginning and end of each episode.
Album: Victorian romance Emma original soundtrack album - Silhouette of a Breeze
Release date: June 15, 2005
Silhouette of a Breeze
Love at First Sight
Menuet for Emma
Silhouette of a Breeze (piano solo)
Emma (Piano solo)
Solitude (recorder ver.)
Menuet for Emma (piano solo)
Emma (harpsichord ver.)
Silhouette of a Breeze (recorder ver.)
Album: Victorian romance Emma second act original soundtrack album - Memories