Emma, Vol. 3

By Kaoru Mori. Released in Japan in two separate volumes by Enterbrain, serialized in the magazine Comic Beam. Released in North America by Yen Press.

The entire first half of this omnibus gives the reader the opportunity to watch a giant other shoe dropping, and the back half then shows the shoe’s impact, with horrible consequences for many people, but mostly for Emma. Last time I talked about how well the repressed yet burgeoning love between William and Emma is, and it flowers here, with Emma visibly getting happier and less repressed. William too is different now that he accepts his feelings and is determined to do something about them. Sadly, that determination runs up against absolutely everyone – his own family, who are determined that he not make the same mistakes they made, and more importantly his fiancee’s family, who may cross over the line into actually being evil, or at least willing to commit slow murder.

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The author is very fond of big, dramatic moments – you see it in her Bride’s Story series as well – and you can see why, as she’s fantastic at handling them. The arrival of William at the Molders estate, and Emma running out to embrace him (the the surprise and amusement of the ENTIRE household) is fantastic, and reminds you again that it’s nicely coincidental that Emma ended up in the one household in Britain that wouldn’t be appalled at this. That said, that’s why William came up to meet her – the rest of society is not going to be quite as forgiving. The volume starts off with a flashback showing us how William’s parents, Richard and Aurelia, met and married. Aurelia is not of a lower class like Emma is, but she’s still “eccentric”, and that’s deadly for the time. More to the point, she’s introverted, and the pressures of society exhaust her to a damaging degree. Which is why they now live apart. It’s very bittersweet.

As for Eleanor’s father, wooooow. It’s rare we meet someone in a manga like this who gets to be pure evil. He’s really well handled, too, being extremely polite to William’s father, then throwing away his gloves in disgust afterwards, as he had touched someone of a merchant class – horrors! When William breaks off his impetuous and foolish engagement to Eleanor, to her horror, the Viscount calmly sees what needs to be done – Emma needs to disappear. Luckily, he knows some thugs who can fairly easily trick and abduct her (though the cliffhanger seems to hint she may be rescued soon). This sequence may be the weakest in the book – it’s a bit overmelodramatic, to be honest – but it’s earned, at least, and the true high point of the last half of the book is Williams’ screaming match with his father in any case.

I expect things to be resolved soon, even though we have two full omnibuses to go – the last three volumes of Emma were side stories and sequels, so these two wacky kids should get their happy ending soon. Which is good, as this volume could get pretty depressing at times – as Mori herself notes in the afterword. No worries, the journey is still very much worth the effort.

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