Monday, August 25, 2008

Manga Monday: Shirley!

Shirley (Volume 1)
Kaoru Mori
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My favorite manga last year was Kaoru Mori's Emma, so I was ecstatic when this new manga from Mori was announced from CMX. Shirley is a book of short stories, the first five of which center around a 13-year-old maid taken in by a kind single cafe owner. She's very hard-working and diligent, but she is a child after all, and has a lot to learn, and must act (and be treated) like a child from time to time. After this, we are treated to the tale of a child master who gains some insights while playing with his servant, the maid Nellie, who is obviously a prototype for the title character in Emma. The volume rounds out with "Mary Banks" about servants subjected to the pranks of their eccentric old master. All of these stories feature maids from Edwardian England, a subject that the creator is obviously fond of, as she meticulously researches them and illustrates them lushly and lovingly. Still, these early stories by Mori aren't as impressive as Emma, which admittedly took a few volumes to warm up to also, and kept getting better as it went along. It just takes longer serialized stories to make me care about a character enough to get a reaction from this sort of story, and the short bursts of story collected here aren't enough. I'm more excited to see more Emma from Kaoru Mori, which is coming next year, but beyond that, I'd like to see her grow beyond a subject that she has obviously grown very comfortable writing about. I don't mind if she wants to do more historical fiction pieces such as these, because she obviously crafts them very well, and I want Mori to do what she wants to do, but I would like something new from the creator, something to get me excited for her work all over again.

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