Emma is a seven volume manga series by Kaoru Mori (actually an eighth volume featuring short side stories will be coming out later) set in Victorian England. Emma, the central character, is a maid who meets and falls in love with William, who is on the opposite side of the social spectrum as he is from a wealthy family. I normally don't gravitate towards period works such as Emma, but one flip through the first volume was all it took for the artwork to make me want to read the story.
Emma is a love story, but it's not contrived, nor does it have cliched characters. Kaoru Mori, the writer, artist, and creator of Emma so beautifully renders England circa the late 1800's that the city and environments in which her characters live are a big part of why Emma comes alive as it does. Reading and looking at Emma reminds me of anime by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart, Howl's Moving Castle) and I can think of no higher compliment.
Later this year the anime version of Emma will be translated here in the U.S. and I for one can't wait. I'd recommend taking a look at the Emma manga (and the anime when it arrives) if you're of the opinion that all manga and anime is of the same mold.
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