I don’t know if it was because of recent developments in Ikoku Meiro no Croisee or that I’ve been craving a good romance story, but I decided to start watching Emma: A Victorian Romance. I have one thing to say: Why didn’t I watch this sooner?!
I don’t think I’ve seen an anime where maids were not sexualized in some way or used to satisfy some fetish, but it’s not only that, it did not include the romance genre’s most overused plot device: misunderstandings. Sure there are some minor discrepancies, such as it’s languidly slow pace (though it portrays Emma and William’s growing relationship realistically) and my growing dislike for the main male protagonist, but beggars can’t be choosers.
It’s honestly the most realistic Victorian inspired anime I’ve ever seen, and quite frankly it was a refreshing romance. Was it the best thing in the world? No, not really; it’s better than most for sure but the ending left a bit to be desired and overall it wrapped up a little bit too nicely. Despite its authentic portrayal, it felt a bit stale at times and the female protagonist wasn’t as developed as I would have hoped (Why exactly did she love the guy, why did she run away yadda yadda).
Okay so I’m nitpicking, I really did enjoy it. Comparing this to Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, despite sharing similar traits, would be a bit difficult, since they are from two different genres (no amount of hoping from my part will change that) and that really wouldn’t be fair to either of them. One’s a romance with slice of life aspects, while the other is a slice of life with hints of romance. But there are a few things both of these shows do rather wonderfully.
The distinction between social classes takes center stage in both of these shows. If your unfamiliar with Emma, it goes basically like this: A young gentlemen from the gentry (above the middle class but not quite nobility) decides to pay his old teacher a visit, and it’s there where he instantly falls in love with the maid working there. All in all its a basic love story that includes two people from different social classes, the only difference between the two is that the gender roles are switched. In Emma, the woman is the one from the lower class, while in Ikoku it’s the man. Basically we’ve got Cinderella (quite literally too, though Emma is treated much nicer than Cinderella) and Aladdin. While its yet to be brought up in Ikoku, the consequences of a marriage between two people from different classes is one of the main ‘antagonists’ of the show, and is handled in a rather graceful way without over playing it too much.
Emma’s authenticity is one of the best things about this show – besides the romance of course. While watching it, you’re automatically swept up in the hustle and bustle of 19th century London. It’s unique art style helps this feeling immensely. People look unique but not overly so and the scenery is simply a pleasure to look at. The particular fashion from this time is also something the simplistic style pulls off rather well and its a pleasure to see authentic maid uniforms where the only skin showing are the hands and face. The corset even makes an appearance, but it appears the crinoline has been out of production for quite some time.
Well, if you’re looking for a great show to hold you over until the next episode of Ikoku Meiro no Croisee airs, and you’re not afraid of a little bit of romance, then by all means give it a shot.
(There is also the manga, which the anime was based off of, which I have picked up reading. Though at the moment it looks like its going to go exactly the same as the anime)