Thursday, November 18, 2010

Impressions: Emma

I usually read manga for entertainment, but this time I have read a story that provided a reality check, while showing the reader that in life there is hope. This story was “Emma,” manga series by Kaoru Mori published by CMX. The character, Emma, taught me something that I have not come across in other series. At least, I have not felt as strongly as I do with this series.

Let me share with you what went through my mind while reading the series. First, the basic storyline: the heroine, Emma, who does not fit society’s ideal beauty, has an aristocratic gentleman, William Jones, who is fond of her. Usually, I am not into romance stories, however, I adore stories that do not fit the stereotypes of love in society. Another appealing aspect was the artwork. At least for me, when it comes to reading manga, I rarely come across artwork that uses many strokes to depict the beauty of an object or person. The fine details depicted in the small comic panels are a visual beauty that cannot be overlooked.

An example of exceptional artwork was on page 10 and 12 -13 of volume 7, which shows the intricate details portraying Indian clothing. Now, I do not have much knowledge about the cultural attire. However, upon showing it to my friend, Asad, the front and back view of the outfit, I was told that it was called a "sari." The Countess Milldrake was wearing exquisite jewelry and a two-piece garment that bares her midriff. The top has short sleeves with a low neckline, the bottom piece was a long skirt connected to a draped cloth that covers the Countess’s head. One cannot help but stare and be mesmerized at sheer beauty.

Not only is the artwork visually appealing, but it also assists in the storytelling by bringing the story to life. The climax of the story happens in volume 6: Emma was tricked and kidnapped as a way to keep her and Jones apart. In chapter 41: “The Worst State of Affairs,” on page 98, within a single panel it depicted the despair surrounding the heroine. Words were not needed to describe the moment. Enclosed by solid metal walls and large objects, such as wooden shipping boxes, her posture and facial expression displays her emotional state: fear. This is a dark and confusing moment in her life that one would never want to experience. Where am I? Why is this happening to me? In front of Emma are the men that kidnapped her. In this instant, life seemed hopeless.

However, volume 7 provided an eye-opener to the character: Emma never gave up. After being released from her capture, she stumbles upon “the new world” and reflects on her life before this situation. She cries, but in the end Emma says, “Somehow or other…I’ll make a living.” When one thinks all hope is lost, she continues her journey of survival and lives on. She did not let her situation stop her from doing whatever she could to live on this planet. She did not let the opponent intimidate her. In reality, Emma had hope.
© 2010 Linda Thai

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