Oh, Kaoru Mori, what is it that I love best about your cartooning? Is it your elegant and understated way of rendering emotion?
Or is it your richly evocative images of a bygone era, so lush and detailed?
Would you think less of me if I admitted that it was probably your shameless autobiographical notes?
Whatever the reason, you really can’t go wrong with Mori manga. There are the first seven volumes of Emma (CMX), which trace the love story between a shy maid and a wealthy (but not aristocratic) young man (which I reviewed here). Or you could get a taste of Mori’s style and sensibility in the one-volume Shirley (also CMX). Or you could get some stand-alone glimpses of what Mori calls the “Emmaverse” in volumes eight and nine of Emma.
For those of you who haven’t yet read the first seven volumes of the series, don’t worry about being lost if you decide to sample volume eight or nine. They feature stand-alone stories of supporting characters from the main story, but they don’t depend on any previous knowledge. They’re simply charming, moving stories of people from across the Victorian social spectrum. I would imagine that they’d be slightly more moving if you’d seen the characters in their original context, but I think they’d still read beautifully without any prior knowledge.
I’m not giving you excuses not to read all of Emma, though.
(The images above are from the eighth volume of Kaoru Mori’s Emma.)