Monday, February 6, 2012

Anime Review: Victorian Romance Emma: Second Act

Nozomi has really gotten on the ball recently about putting their shows on their youtube channel, I have no idea if it's just for R1 viewers or if anyone can see their shows, so the week after the first Victorian Romance Emma season finished up they started posting episodes from the second season. As before the episodes are only up for a limited amount of time, I believe for about a month each, so unfortunately you won't be able to check it all out there now, I'd recommend anyone whose interested in Nozomi's shows to follow their twitter to keep an eye on stuff like that. But enough about that, onto the review!

Victorian Romance Emma: Second Act

Summary: Emma has left London and found employment as a common maid in the Malders household where she tries to forget about William. William is also trying to forget about Emma and find happiness in his arranged engagement with Elanor and slowly finds himself growing into the family business. But fate gives them one more chance to meet and they discover that no, this just isn't going to work.

The Good: It's lovely to watch a romance where the characters don't spend the entire show trying to spit it out that they love each other or become suspicious and jealous of their significant other, rather this is the story of Emma and William realizing that yes, they do love each other and love each other enough to overcome the circumstances between them. Also nice is that both of them do seem to have at least a little bit of feelings for other romantic interests in their lives, after all it's odd for people to only fall in love once, and I thought those were handled fairly well (and by that I mean they were realistic and messy, while the show does present a rose colored view of love it does also show that love isn't the solution to everything). The show also added on an epilogue which I hadn't seen before, apparently it's from volume 10 of the manga and I stopped reading it when the main storyline stopped (the last few volumes are just short stories) which was a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed*. 

The Bad: This may have been just since Nozomi didn't stream episode 0, a recap episode that fits in between the two seasons, but people unfamiliar with the manga might be rather confused how Emma ended up with her new appointment and I'm really curious why the show didn't simply put that in the first episode anyway. Elanor's father comes off as a very flat character, I don't remember him being such an ass for the sake of being an ass in the manga, and that made some of the later problems a bit harder to take seriously. And once again there are a number of coincidences that allow Emma and William to meet up again but if you were a fan of the first series, and you must to be watching the second, I doubt that will bother people much at all.

The Audio: The opening and ending themes are done in the same vein as the first season, instrumental only music that sounds quite European and a bit folksy, something that sounds like it could've been played 100 years ago. In fact, the op and ed might simply be variations on the ones from the first season, I believe the ed is and the ops sound rather close. There are some additions to the cast but all the voice acting is as solid as it was in the first season and all of the characters manage to sound like real people, not like cartoon caricatures of people.

The Visuals: As I said in the previous review, the visuals work here but they just don't quite work for me. Something was lost in the change from the manga to the anime and I just didn't find the show as aesthetically pleasing in animated form. I will admit that the lack of variety in character designs bugged me, especially the lack of variation in eye and hair colors (it's true that in real life many people in England could be expected to have blonde hair, but there are many different shades of blonde hair and this anime only had one color yellow for hair, honestly that bothers me a lot more than characters in a realistic setting having "unrealistic" hair colors). Conversely, I did like the color schemes for the many outfits in the series, a lot of shows seem to be scared to use bright colors in a Victorian setting so I'm glad to see a show that went ahead and did so.

Another lovely installment in the series and it makes me want to buy the limited edition sets from TRSI even more (provided I can save up enough money before they're gone and, considering all the stuff I need to pre-order/buy from Bandai and such it's looking less and less likely sadly). I actually wish this series was a bit more well-known since I know of so many people who don't normally watch anime (mostly YA authors I follow on twitter who are suckers for romance) who I think would adore this show, not sure how to go about making the show more well-known however.

*provided that you don't remember, as tvtropes points out, by that point World War I is just around the corner and realizing that the rest of their lives would be filled with the World Wars and Great Depression