Friday, July 31, 2009

Emma, vol. 6

The story: Starting off with a chapter from a Victorian romance novel William's younger sister, Vivi, is reading, it sets the tragic tone for this volume. When William visits the family of his fiance, Eleanor, it sets the wheels in motion for a tragic turn in the story. When Emma receives an urgent telegram supposedly from William, a horrible plan concocted by Eleanor's parents goes into motion. Just what will happen to Emma and will she ever see William again?

Reaction: Not only is the cover of this volume indicative of the theme, there's a reason the bulk of the chapters' names are "The Worst State of Affairs." Things go from bad to worse in this volume and I wonder how Kaoru Mori plans to resolve it all in the next volume (while Emma is a total of nine volumes thus far, the story of William and Emma is resolved by the seventh volume). Thankfully, all of the tension in this volume was broken up by some lighter moments, most of them including William's siblings and Emma's co-workers (not together, of course). I particularly like Colin, William's youngest brother -- he vacillates between quiet patience, a real surprise for someone his age, and mild apprehension, which is made apparent on his small face. Altogether, though, these humorous touches distract one just long enough before having to return to the darker story that is brewing here.

Deep thoughts: It is fascinating to watch the class differences under the lens of Emma. While the Jones family is considered upper class, they seek to align themselves with the nobility through William's engagement to Eleanor, as Eleanor's father is a viscount. And, despite the Joneses success, they are still looked down upon by those above them. It almost seems like William's father is constantly clawing his way upwards, doing his best to bring his family more success or riches; it's unclear what his ultimate goal is. Then, there's the working class, among them Emma, which is, in turn, looked down upon by those above them. For all of the difficulty William and Emma have in regards to acceptance of their relationship, it's so hard to understand in our modern era.

Artwork: The interiors that Kaoru Mori draws are especially amazing in this volume -- from the Campbell residence to William's home to Emma's workplace, each has a beautiful layer of detail from the wainscoting in the parlors to a velvet settee. And while all of these families are well off in their own ways, there are still easy-to-spot details that differentiate their class status. It simply shows Mori's attention to these fine points and the level of historical accuracy to which she's adhered. Again, we see some female nudity, but it is tastefully done. Lastly, I really enjoyed the black backdrop to the panels depicting a late-night, outdoor scene with Emma.

The verdict: Highly recommended. This title has quickly grown on me and, with the cliffhanger we're left on with this volume, I'm wondering how Mori will wrap up this troubled romance. Emma is available in the U.S. from CMX.

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