Sunday, August 1, 2010

My First Manga: Emma

I've peeked at a few mangas, mostly from my sons' shelves (they are particularly fond of Hikaru nu Go) but I've never read one all the way through. I've heard recommendations for Emma: Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori, so I summoned it from my library. It was interesting how long it took me to master reading it.

I proudly remembered to start from the back, since manga is read from right to left. And then I had to figure out on almost every spread that I should start with the right page. At the top right corner. My eyes really hated to skip over the left panels, and reading speech bubbles in the correct order drove me crazy. It didn't register with me that of course you read the bubbles on the right before the ones on the left, and my reading speed is faster than my reaction time, so that I'd usually read the wrong one before remembering where to look for the right one. I got to watch myself learn the mechanics of reading all over again, which will hopefully give me more patience helping my nephew practice.

The story itself held my attention through these troubles; Emma is a maid in Victorian England who captures the love of a rich merchant's son. But Emma and the boy's father know that this connection is impossible. The loving attention to all details of English life keep the pictures lively, and I forgive the silliness of the elephant riding maharajah because of the fun of the illustrations. The story moved a bit slowly for me, and it took me a while to learn to tell the characters apart; the style of pictures is different from American comic books, so I had to learn how to read the illustrations as well as the text. I'll probably request the next in the series to see where it goes. B

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