Book: My first manga…

October 22, 2009 § 19 Comments

This is not  Jane Austen’s “Emma.”
It is a graphic novel by Ms Mori. I’ve read it for Dolce’s Japanese Literature Challenge III.
It was my first experience with reading “back to front” (as we would consider it), and left to right.
The book had instructions on the inside cover for neo-readers.
Nice touch.

The story:
It’s Victorian England and Emma is a maid, a beautiful maid by all accounts (tho’ we see her be-spectacled and be-hatted). She receives letters and invitations from all manner of young men and writes her regrets back to them.

Along comes a rich young lord who was nannied by Emma’s boss.
He has a friend from India who happens to show up on the scene as well.
Life goes on with the leisure class visiting one another while Emma worries about how she will afford new eyeglasses, goes shopping, visits the library.
Will the young lord win her heart? Will his Indian friend usurp Emma’s affections?
Does Emma have a clue?

The story is genteel.
The artwork is wonderful, rich with detail and accurate (for all I know!) to the architecture and costume of the time.
I took my time reading this.
I didn’t want to read it quickly, like I might read an Archie and Friends comic book.

But then, this is a book. A real book. A nice book.
The paper is nice. The covers are nice.  There is plenty to look at, to stand around and stare at and appreciate.
Slow down, look around, enjoy, was my sub-mantra as I read.

Interesting how Mori chooses to use her cartoon squares.  She gives us close ups on character’s faces. No hurry. She knows her art. The street scenes are wonderful. Then, with the Indian entrouage arriving, we see a certain bejeweled pomp including elephants and servants. There are also crowd scenes and street scenes where everthing is sketched, right down to lit streetlamps but sometimes, Mori leaves faces blank, undrawn.

Mori always labels the end of the chapter (except chpt 3 in my book does NOT have “end”) and follows the “end” page with a one-page  “epilogue.”
I like her style.

Is the story stunning? Not yet. Is the reader intrigued? Yes, by the combination of all the elements. 
Yes, I have ordered volume 2. (be careful; it’s a multi-volume story and brand new, it retails at $9.95 for each volume and there are at least 4.)
So, yeah, I would like to get the entire set…but there’s no rush.

Manga. Emma. Try it for your bedtime read.

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§ 19 Responses to Book: My first manga…

  • jeanie says:

    Well, that’s a cool endorsement! I’ve never read a graphic novel, much less a Japanese graphic novel/manga. This looks cool (because anything set in that time period is cool to me!) You always give me good food for thought!

    • oh says:

      Jeanie, I’m going to look for volume 2 and can then give a better feel for the story, which continues. I suspect it will “deepen,” but the visual as one reads along is different…I like it.

  • Nora says:

    Well at least we have ideas on what to get you for Christmas this year =) The cover art is not at all what I expected. pretty neat! Which reminds me, I’m behind on my Murakami book. I guess I best pick up the pace on that one!

  • ds says:

    Hmmm…Methinks memust investigate Manga. Thought it was the print version of Anime. Which, from your review, I gather that it is not. Would not have considered Victorian England as a subject at all. Thank you for furthering my education. Longhand for: great review!

    • oh says:

      DS – that was the surprise for me, too. A “manga” centered in Victorian England? Apparently manga is often historical. I don’t know how to build a link in my response here, but wikipedia (I can’t believe I’m referring to that!) has a good definition.

      Yes, I shall likely go on to volume 2 of Emma!

  • Bellezza says:

    Isn’t reading manga an experience?! At first, it took me awhile to get the hang of it, and then I was hooked. I read six volumes of Great Teacher Ozinga, and I almost felt like what I imagined a Japanese teenager would be. (um, is that grammatical?) Anyway, I loved your enthusiasm for this genre and this book in general. I’ll have to see if I can lay my hands on it.

    • oh says:

      Dear B, I had to order Emma at my B&N. Not to be found on the shelves, but that’s ok, I mean, who doesn’t need a reason for a repeat visit to the bookstore? Anyway, thanks for getting us on this JLC path! We’re going slowly but enjoying every bit of it. ANd for some reason, I bought some very intriguing origami paper. Thought I might use it somehow because no, I don’t know or do paper folding. Hmmmm…but I could!

  • anno says:

    Sounds intriguing… I think there’s a real skill to absorbing the combination of words and pictures that I have not yet mastered. This one, because of the more familiar story line, sounds like one I might enjoy. Thanks for the review!

    • oh says:

      You’re right, Anno – there’s a difference in the way we “get” story from things. The fact that this one is “Victorian” sets up certain expectations which Mori fills nicely. And it was really rather nice to pause and look at her drawings, done in such detail. I haven’t had a book with hand-drawn illustrations in ages!!!

  • Ruth says:

    I’ve read Maus, the only graphic novel I’ve read so far.

    I like how you snuck in that reference to “Clueless” aka Emma in the line “Does Emma have a clue?”


    • oh says:

      Ruth – Aha! you got the “clueless” line! And I can’t help it; that’s one of the movies my daughter and enjoy every time. (I am surprised actually at the movies this household will watch multiple times.)

      And I haven’t read MAUS though I likely should. While I’m enjoying the graphic novel, it’s not as layered or “depth-ful” as a (regular) novel.

      And given the crazy (corporate) week, I’m looking now for a good chick lit selection… pathetic, I know!

  • Ruth says:

    I mean the movie “Clueless.”

  • Arti says:

    While Manga offers a fresh perspective of storytelling (although they’ve been around for decades in Asia), I worry that in recent years they’ve been replacing books among the young. Having said that, I’m eagerly awaiting the graphic novel, (the complete volume compiling all 4 issues) to come out, one of my all time faves, Pride and Prejudice, the one written by the English writer Jane Austen.

    • oh says:

      Really, Arti? They’re doing P&P in graphic form? It’s likely to be beautiful.
      As for manga replacing traditional books, I don’t know. They have all kinds of choices on reading matter now and I’ll be glad if they put down their ipods and i-lives and read anything! I miss teaching only because of the connection to what the kids are doing and thinking and coming up with. We’ll have to hop on over to Dolce Bellezza’s to see what’s up with the reading youth!
      In the meantime, I have found there is no replacement for a good novel. Nope, none at all.

  • typehype says:

    The back-to-front formatting in Emma is intriguing. I also appreciate when a writer tweaks the structure in an innovative and readable way.

    I chuckled at your “Archie” reference. I used to devour those comics.

    I like when you describe the feel and smell of the book’s paper and cover. It’s what got me to pick up (and caress) The Elegance of the Hedgehog, while I was traveling through Austin, TX. I’d read reviews of the book, but then I’d forgotten about it, but remembered it again after reading one of your previous posts. I’m sixty pages in and hooked.

    Thanks also for your nice comments on my blog. Very much appreciated:)

    • oh says:

      Typehype, ooooh, I’m running late for work already so I might as well just stick here in blogworld a bit longer. Besides I threw out my hairdryer over the weekend and forgot to buy a new one so I’m sitting here with a wet head!
      I did like reading in a different direction; it added something to the book for me. ANd it’s not a deep book or story by any means. But what fun to see the character’s expressions.
      So you purchased HEDGEHOG, too? I love it for the aesthetic as well. I have it leaning against the end table, so I can see it. I haven’t started it yet. It’s kinda like looking forward to time off and it will be so delicious once it begins. I’m just making myself finish two other books first.

      Hi, Linda! Well, the truth is, now that I have vol 1 of Emma, I must pursue the next volumes. Geez. They are certainly not at my library. So, our personal library will have to grow a little to make room for them. I mean, I have to see what happens to Emma’s “missus” for whom she works. And what will occur between Emma and one of her suitors who is destined for an arranged marriage to a wealthy girl…etc.
      And yes, thanks, I bopped over to Dolce’s and read the “Oh” review and it sounds rather excellent, doesn’t it?

  • shoreacres says:

    Manga, Anime… And I thought Steampunk was pushing my boundaries!

    Your review makes it sound truly appealing – I’d love to give it a go. The artwork seems especially nice, and it isn’t at all monsters and technie stuff. (That was my uninformed view of all this.)

    For the time being, I think I’ll content myself with online research about the genres, and a little video viewing. So little time, so many books!

    By the way, if you haven’t been to Belleza’s yet to read her review of “Oh!”, the book, hie thyself there this very minute. I’m telling you!

    • oh says:

      Linda, My “answer” comment is above, with Typehype’s! Sometimes, I just go techno blank here. Hope it’s warm and sunny on your shores. We are experiencing more bleak and drear. Ah, to stay in and read!

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