a.k.a. Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma
Company: Studio Pierrot
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 4/2/2005 to 6/18/2005
William Jones is the eldest son of an up-and-coming family in Victorian England. His father has tried to pair him up with noble girls in an attempt to do some social climbing and bolster their position in a society ruled by the upper class. But his father has not been successful since William is not interested. On a visit to his former tutor, he meets Emma, a lovely, young maid working at the house, and falls for her. Will their love be able to resist the forces of an oppressive and extremely conservative society?
summary by Soundchazer
Highs: Very detailed historical references; believable interaction and dialogue
Lows: Slow pace; dry characters
Victorian-related romance stories tend to be tricky. More often than not, they are fascinating reads, filled with intrigue, deception, heartache and tons of subtle dialogue and situations. Unfortunately, these stories tend to be unsuccessful when translated into a visual format. And it is not because of a lack of quality, poor acting or a weak storyline. The key ingredient missing is pacing. Some people are okay with a slow-paced show, but more often than not the vast majority of viewers tend not to stick around for long. It doesn’t help that Victorian society tried really hard to subdue the most basic trait of humanity: emotion. Characters in a Victorian novel are less emotional, and when you take these reactions away from a romance, which is by nature slower paced, then it becomes increasingly difficult to view.
Fortunately for this show, a good director was at the helm. Kobayashi Tsuneo is no stranger to drama. He was responsible for one of the most intriguing, dramatic epics in anime history: Twelve Kingdoms. Kobayashi was able to keep this anime from becoming a boring experience by including several subtleties that should delight fans of this historical period. It is very accurate in its use of language and activities of Victorian society, and presenting those situations with the story make it some sort of a 24-minute immersion into Britain in the XIX century. Even the colors used are on the sepia palette to give it an old feel to it. Another element that makes it a delightful anime to watch is the use of the music. Both the opening and ending themes are charming, classic instrumental pieces composed by Ryo Kunihiko. We should keep an eye on this composer, as he was also responsible for the music and arrangements in the ending theme for Fantastic Children. It is unfortunate he has not done more anime in the past, because he could surely give more established musicians like Kanno Yoko a challenge.
In the end, this anime is more of an acquired taste, catering to a very specific group of viewers, which is probably why it only lasted 12 episodes and ended at the first act of the original story. This is probably a good place to stop because it provides an adequate ending, but it leaves room for a sequel. If you have a craving for ironed newspapers, scones, proper, ladylike behavior or anything that would make Jane Austen proud, then Emma: A Victorian Romance is the way to go.
Emma: A Victorian Romance can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.