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Where is Victorian Romance Emma?

Thursday 15th May 2014

Hugh David asks: why do we get Downton Abbey but not Emma?

Fans of K-On! The Movie’s lovely and realistic vision of London may not be aware that in between that film and Steamboy’s loving depiction of a steampunk-era Manchester and London rests a show that is as accurate as either, and yet is also arguably the most English anime show ever made. Yet it still cannot be bought on DVD in the UK itself. How has this state of affairs come about?

In 2005, well before the current UK TV costume drama revival, Japanese animation was, as usual, ahead of the curve. Victorian Romance Emma debuted on TV, adapting Kaoru Mori’s exquisite 2002 manga into a first season of 12 episodes. Emma begins as a beggar, taken in and scrubbed up by Mrs Stownar, a retired governess who makes her a housemaid in late 19th-century England. But Emma the happy home-maker has her head turned by a gentleman caller, William Jones, a handsome man who was once one of Kelly’s pupils. William and Emma feel an instant attraction, although the path to true love is unlikely to be smooth—William is a member of one of the wealthiest merchant families in England, whereas Emma is a mere maid. As such, the couple might as well be from different worlds, and that’s before William’s friend Hakim, a bona fide Indian prince, arrives and falls for Emma himself.

Victorian Romance EmmaThe manga already felt like a series built by someone who had watched every possible British costume drama ever, but in the best possible sense of homage to them. Emma herself was just different enough from the type of Victorian maid character seen in countless fictions before, given an inner strength and self-belief that suggests her children would follow in the footsteps of the Suffragettes. In that sense she is a more traditional anime heroine, but appropriately written for the setting, and the anime brought her and the setting to life brilliantly.

The understanding and portrayal of the various classes may seem a little on the nose, but are positively subtle compared to current shows on air. Despite the beauty and polish on display, there is enough grit in the mix to remind viewers of how terrible the times were for so many people in England, the sheer grinding poverty under industrialisation and the horrors wrought by urbanisation. If one’s heart is not tugged at by the little match girl desperately trying to make a sale, by the implications of that, then made of stone must your heart be. Emma’s sympathy and understanding of those less fortunate than her is at distinct odds with how many of these dramas choose to wallow in the lifestyles of the rich and famous, ignoring the brutal Victorian reality for millions. In short, it was the perfect series to release in the UK, especially if it could be dubbed locally.

This is where the unfortunate facts of industry life got in the way. With the desire to make a second season the driving factor, the original licensor was asking $30,000 per episode as a minimum guarantee for the US and UK licenses combined. No company could expect to make that back from a show that, in anime terms, was niche. A shame, as with the right dub (possibly via a TV sale to the BBC), the audience for Victorian Romance Emma was much wider than just anime fans. It would be years before a lovely subtitled US release would be made affordably, via taking pre-orders first to reach the production minimum; but no DVD can be had in the land of Emma herself.

Currently, Victorian Romance Emma is only available to UK PS3 and PS4 users to download or stream via the TV section of the PlayStation Network.


Rwby: Volume 1-3 Steelbook

was £34.99
A young hero, an exalted heiress, a troubled rogue, and a party girl...

RWBY focuses on 15 year-old Ruby Rose, a young girl woh has just been accepted to Beacon Academy. This ancient school was founded to train the monster-slayers known as Huntsmen and Huntresse. However, Ruby will not be alone. Upon arriving at Beacon, she is promptly paired with Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. If these four girls want to graduate they’ll have to learn to work together both on the battlefield and in the classroom.

Their school work, however, will not be their only challenge. Between the White Fang, Roman Torchwick, Cinder Fall, and the Vytal Festival Tournament, the girls of Team RWBY will have their work cut out for them!



Rooster Teeth and Animatsu Entertainment to release RWBY: Beacon limited edition Steelbook on November 21st.


Hugh David on the full monty
Asian-American animator Monty Oum passed away tragically on the 1st February this year at the age of 33. RWBY (pronounced Ruby, the lead character’s name, but also an acronym of the four lead characters) is his legacy, a fully CG-animated web series that is as close to anime as a series made outside of Japan can be, so much so that Warner Bros Japan have bought it to dub and release locally.


The magnificent 47 Ronin

Stephen Turnbull asks what (if anything) went wrong with the 47 Ronin?
When T. H. White’s great Arthurian fantasy The Once and Future King was first published the New York Times described it as “a glorious dream of the Middle Ages as they never were but as they should have been.” A very similar comment would not be inappropriate to describe the strange world of old Japan conjured up in the movie 47 Ronin.
Manga UK and Animatsu Entertainment will be at London MCM Comic Con all weekend, so head to the booth and say hello!

Black Butler: The Movie!

Out in UK cinemas on 17th October
The fan favourite anime comes to the UK in a live-action feature version.

One Piece Film Z

Send in the Marines!
One Piece Film Z, out Monday on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.
Japan, the mecca of all things anime, have taken it upon themselves to create a popcorn bucket out of Eva Unit-01's head!

Men Creating Women

Andrew Osmond on anime’s gender gap…
Miyazaki said that women “who are striving for their independence” despise such fantasy females. “They feel this ideal is a one-sided attack on the part of men who are trying to fit women into a mold.

K the Animation

Andrew Osmond keeps calm and carries on
The start of an action anime series is often a bewildering experience, dropping the viewer into a whirlwind of unfamiliar folk having very big fights. K’s like that, but luckily the main character starts the show as baffled as us. Yashiro Isana is a bit different from the standard schoolboy hero


Andrew Osmond says, if you like that, you might like this…
Summer Wars and Sword Art Online are made for a generation who’ve grown up with and within virtuality: social networks, video streaming, games without borders or ends. Both anime are adventures about things going wrong in cyberspace, but neither are technophobic; on the contrary, they’re all about hugging the avatar.
We asked you to send us your #AskAndrew questions for our Marketing Manager Andrew Hewson, and you definitely delivered!

Good Luck Girl

Helen McCarthy goes in search of a teenage goddess
Momiji Binboda is no normal teenage girl, but a Goddess of Misfortune sent into the human world to correct a dangerous imbalance in the flow of good fortune and happiness.
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