When the first season of Emma concluded, things were looking bleak for our titular heroine and her high-class beau. With Emma’s employer Mistress Stownar now deceased, young William Jones no longer has any socially acceptable reason to call upon his old governess or her young maid. More importantly, the working-class Emma is in need of a job and a fresh start away from anything that might remind of her of a love that cannot be. William rushed to the train station hoping to stop her from leaving London, but it was all for naught.
Now, in the distant village of Haworth, Emma has started anew on the country estate of the wealthy Molders family. It’s quite an adjustment, going from being the sole servant of a household to being one of many and Emma’s eccentric new mistress is a far cry from the dignified Mistress Stownar. Still, Emma tries to put the past behind her even as the possibility of a new romance arrives in the form of the footman Hans.
At the same time, a love-sick William throws himself into his work, earnestly trying to become the businessman his father wishes him to become and a worthy heir to the Jones family fortune. He even tries to pay court to Eleanor Campbell, the beautiful and kindly daughter of a viscount, in an effort to fulfill his father’s aspirations to ascend to the nobility. But while Eleanor is kindly, beautiful, and quite obviously attracted to him, William finds the idea of an arranged marriage distasteful – even if his bride-to-be is a high-society darling. Besides, try as he might to lose himself in Eleanor’s sapphire stare, he can’t help but think about another pair of eyes he’d much rather see looking at him through rounded spectacles.
Fans of the first season of Emma will find more of the same in this, the “Second Act.” Though I’m an admitted Anglophile, I’ve never had the patience for Regency Romances or Victorian Romances or any other kind of Romance with more angsting than kissing. However, that does not mean I cannot appreciate the craft of such stories and in my estimation Emma is a good one. In terms of anime, it works as both a historical period piece and as a slice-of-life animated series that just happens to be set in Victorian London. It’s also interesting to see the high and low societies of turn-of-the-century England viewed through the lens of modern Japanese culture, given the stereotype both cultures have for being prudish and obsessed with social status and proper appearances.
As with the first season, Emma: A Victoria Romance, Season Two is rated 7+. Being a prim and proper Victorian Romance, one would expect there to be no sex, no drugs, no violence, and nothing at all untoward. I think the most suggestive thing in the entire anime is one brief scene where William and Emma are left in a bedroom alone together for several minutes and absolutely nothing happens. Well, it is England, after all!
Emma: A Victorian Romance, Season 2
Nozomi Entertainment, 2007
directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi
325 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, Season set
Company Age Rating: 7+
Related to: Emma by Kaoru Mori [Editor’s note: Mori’s manga series has some nudity in later volumes]