Manga-ka: Kaoru Mori
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: December 2006
Synopsis: “William Jones regards Emma as a beautiful, charming young woman, not merely a servant. After their first real date, things seem to be going in a positive direction for them. But the leisurely pace of the growing relationship between Emma and William ends when tragedy strikes at home, forcing Emma to leave the house she shared with Mrs. Stownar. Meanwhile, when the rest of William’s brothers and sisters show up, they discover their brother’s budding relationship and try to bring it to a screeching halt.”
In this second volume the dynamics of Emma’s world are shifted when she loses the woman who helped her begin the life she’s come to be so content with. Now left tending to the affairs of her estate, and preparing herself for her seemingly empty future, Emma struggles with her own profound loneliness. Despite the fact that I still find myself unable to connect much with Emma because of her overtly docile personality, it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for her during such an emotionally trying time, even if the impact is quickly lost after the fact.
Meanwhile William is more confident than ever in his love for Emma, and the two spend the book’s beginning going on their first date. The contrast between them both is as evident here as it was from the beginning, with William showing much more enthusiasm than Emma. The two still seem to be on fairly equal wave-lengths when it comes to the sincerity of their feelings though. However, there’s still a wide gap between the two in terms of what they see for their future together, or in Emma’s case the lack there of.
It’s frustrating in the well-directed shoujo way when you want a couple to get together only to see the two take off in different strides. As for me on the other hand, I don’t find much spark between the two, truth be told. William’s affection for her still fails to engage me past seeing it as a flight of fancy, and Emma is so nonchalant about most things that it goes back to my inability to feel much for her at all.
Still, though the nuances of the particular characters are lost on me, the grace in which the artist continues to present the story are still very well handled. The detail of the locations and clothing completely draw the reader into the era, as does the carefully researched mannerisms of every character. I consistently find myself more compelled to read about the secondary characters, such as the exuberant Prince Hakim, or the sweet young Elenor who fancies William, and I had a good chuckle over the enthusiasm of William’s lively little sister. The secondary characters help flesh out a story that otherwise falls a little flat when left purely to the devices of the leads.
The end of this second book sees William and Emma physically separated and the synopsis for the next volume leaves me a little more interested to continue the series than volume one did. I hope that more time to see Emma in different situations will allow her personality to flourish to something more substantial than what has thus far been imposed on readers. My faith in the high opinions of others keeps me curious about the quality this series could achieve, but unfortunately I’ve thus far yet to see the apparent brilliance through the overall under whelming execution.