Over the years, it has become more common for anime series to be set in previous time periods. Popular examples include Demon Slayer and Spy x Family, but another one that’s often considered is Emma: A Victorian Romance. Set in the late nineteenth century, the critically acclaimed anime and manga series focuses on a woman named Emma and her adjustment to life in London during its Victorian era.
When her employer and caretaker passes away, Emma decides to become a maid for a wealthy family, where she is loved by everyone for her exceptional hard work and intelligence. While working there, she comes across a young upper-middle class man named William Jones and falls in love with him. Although William reciprocates her feelings, he is heavily discouraged by his father of marrying anyone from a lesser social class.
Emma: A Victorian Romance Had Drama But Leaned Toward Slice-of-Life
Despite the drama and romance being present, Emma: A Victorian Romance leans more toward the slice-of-life approach, in contrast to the overemotional aspects fans seem to prefer. Due to slice-of-life anime commonly not having much of an intensive storyline, fans may find this historical romance to be boring or not worth watching, especially if modern day dramas pique their interest more.
While Emma: A Victorian Romance has received very high reception in Japan — even spawning a maid café based on it and an official cosplay of the titular character — the same cannot be said for the United States, where it has gone mostly unnoticed. However, live-action historical drama films and television series have done well among Western audiences, most notably Downton Abbey and Gilded Age. If Emma: A Victorian Romance were to follow the former two’s examples and shift to live-action, its popularity may be able to surface more.
Why Emma: A Victorian Romance Could Work Better as a Live-Action Series
On top of that, Kaoru Mori — the historical romance manga’s author and illustrator — openly admits to being an Anglophile, someone who has an extreme fascination with England and its culture throughout the years. With this, there is no doubt that Mori paid close attention to the details of London’s history, from displaying its constraints on each social class to the clothes everyone wears.
This wide range of historical accuracy would allow viewers to immerse themselves further into the series, but it would also draw awareness for those who do not watch anime but still enjoy historical drama and romance programs. They might even be enticed to watch the anime, thus boosting its popularity.
However, there are plenty of anime set during the Victorian era. While they may not contain the level of historical accuracy that Emma does, they can still be enjoyable, such as Black Butler and the first season of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Still, the former shows that supernatural elements are not needed in order to make a historical-oriented anime worth watching. A live-action adaptation of Emma: A Victorian Romance would allow anime and non-anime fans alike to get an active glimpse of what life was like in Victorian England and what was expected of everyone, thanks to Mori’s sharp eye on detail and rigor.