Emma, as you might have guessed, tells the story of a young Victorian/Edwardian maid and her forbidden romance with a gentleman from a large merchant house whose family has aims for him that are much higher than she.
Volume one of the series contains the first seven chapters of the eventual fifty-two and focuses on basic introductions. We meet the shy, but kind and intellegent, Emma, the exotic Hakim, prim Mrs.Stowner, the somewhat daft and dashing Young Master Jones... the list goes on.
Pretty much every character we see, be they the main focus or the bit part side characters, will show up many times throughout the series, and not just as filler. Every single character has a point to them, whether it be to show some side of Victorian Society or to help a more important character (or even just the reader) figure something out about the story at large. I really must applaud Mori for this.
The art is superb, with a strict attention to details and architecture. There's something about the way Mori draws that lends elegance to her character's features. Despite the fact that Emma and Eleanor are considered beautiful, they're not drawn in the typical manner associated with beauty in manga... in fact, they're quite atypical if you compare them to other manga... but, in the spirit, mood, and fasion in which they ARE drawn, you cannot help but see them as so.
The pacing is just right for this sort of quiet courtship... slow and delicate, with an emphasis on subtlety that makes you feel like you're sharing a well reasoned secret with Kelly as she watches the two grow closer.
In the translator's/author's notes/bio at the end of the volume, a point was made that CMX has decided to bring over the series untouched. I assume that means it will be unedited, and am glad and hopeful that my guess is right. FAIR WARNING; in the later volumes there will be some female nudity as there are two, perhaps three bath scenes with several characters that have yet to be introduced. Parents should know of those, though I consider it to be quite tasteful.
There are only two things I didn't like about the release... one, was a choice the author made in the creation. There's a scene late in this volume where the reality breaks down a little and several characters, in typical fashion, have animals hovering near them that represent their current moods. It's generally a good emotive tool, but in a title that strives to portray a reality fairly strictly, this seems out of place. It's a fairly MINOR beef, and hardly noticeable, but I thought I'd mention it.
The other issue was a production one... in particular, the paper stock that CMX used. Perhaps it was done for affect, to make it seem aged (as it is a period piece), but the texture and color of the pages are off... too rough and off-white. It kind of washes out the art and makes it lose crispness. The cover too, is off odd consistency. I just recieved my copy yesterday and already it is starting to bow seriously, in spite of the care I've taken not to bend the spine in reading it. I really wish they used the heavy stock, at least on the cover, like the job they did on Megatokyo's fourth volume. Oh well.
My final recommendation is to BUY THIS BOOK... and every volume after. It's a short series, so it won't take too much of a bite out of your budget, and is WELL WORTH the investment. This is one of the few manga titles that I would include under the heading of LITERATURE... it's just that damn good, in story, character and rendition.