- RECENT REVIEWS: SHAKUGAN NO SHANA *** FREEZING *** SHANGRI-LA *** ERGO PROXY
- STRIKE WITCHES *** KING OF THORN *** STEINS GATE *** GA-REI-ZERO *** DEADMAN WONDERLAND
- TENCHI UNIVERSE *** ONE PIECE *** WOLF CHILDREN *** RUROUNI KENSHIN *** [C]-CONTROL
- BLACK LAGOON *** SERIAL EXPERIMENT LAIN *** MASS EFFECT *** BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM
- A CERTAIN MAGICAL INDEX *** TORIKO *** RENTAL MAGICA *** BOOGIEPOP & OTHERS *** EMMA
- BLOOD C *** HEAVEN'S LOST PROPERTY *** SWEET BLUE FLOWERS *** SHINGU
After my first foray into anime with the utterly droll EMMA: A VICTORIAN ROMANCE, it may come as a surprise to you that I’d be watching its second season. Methinks Tom has a dark sense of humor when he hands out DVDs. Plus, I’m clearly a masochist.
Part of me wondered if somehow, some way, the series improved once it developed its characters and got to the point...
The second season begins with a full recap, voiced by the only redeemable character of Season 1 - - the blunt Indian prince Hakim. For those unfamiliar with this Victorian will-they-won’t-they love affair, Emma is an unassuming maid in Kelly Stowner’s household. When Emma meets Ms. Stowner’s former student, William, her whole world is turned upside down and.... and you know the drill. William comes from a stiff upper crust family, complete with bratty little sisters, a stoic father, and a somewhat arranged marriage with fellow socialite Eleanor Campbell.
This recap proves just how sluggish the first season feels.
Hakim wraps up the entire plot in twenty minutes: boy meets girl, boy is forbidden to marry below his class, girl’s mother figure dies, girl takes off for her hometown to start a new life. In true tragic heroine fashion, Emma realizes that she and Henry do, in fact, live in two different worlds (two different Londons, how poetic) and, as demonstrated in straightforward voiceover, Emma and Henry let each other go... because they truly love each other.
Give me a break.
EMMA's "SECOND ACT" introduces a handful of new characters, kicking the series’ plot up a notch. Moving Emma out of London (and away from Henry) was a sharp move; the Molders’ household introduces a new family to serve, a troupe of sassy housemaids and Hans, the sullen foot soldier who (surprise!) also has a thing for Emma.
Meanwhile, in London, Henry mourns the loss of his beloved Emma... until little miss Eleanor shows up again.
The season progresses, dipping back and forth between both worlds, as Henry begrudgingly courts Eleanor and Emma settles into the inevitable drama of her new home. Plot twists (if you can call them that) include some false accusations, an illicit affair in the Molders’ house, and the ever-growing love triangle. The two star-crossed lovers unwittingly inch closer and closer together, until everything comes to a head at an engagement party!
The design is still impressive, especially in regards to attention to detail. While the addition of more characters definitely adds a little spice to the mix, in the end, I just don’t care about Emma. Why is everyone so obsessed with her? Why can’t she grow a backbone like any other respectable Victorian heroine? Can’t we focus more on Hakim and his adorable harem?
The simpering love story still drags in Season 2, even if it is a slight improvement from Season 1.
Ultimately, you probably have to be interested in these sort of overdrawn love stories to enjoy EMMA: A VICTORIAN ROMANCE. At least now, I know what happens between those two crazy kids, and can get to work on my “Give Hakim A Spin Off” Kickstarter campaign.
Or maybe I’ll take a cue from Emma and just gaze longingly out my window.
Rachel Heine is an anime novice, film buff and food blogger based in Los Angeles. She writes and edits for arts & culture online magazine, Buzzine, and runs her own personal blog at PopandSizzle. Follow her Twitter: @RachelHeine