It's London, the late 1890s. Young Emma is a "maid of all works" who lives and works for a former governess, outstanding because of her unusually high level of instruction (her mistress has taught her all sorts of subjects) and her glasses (which women of her class and station hardly ever wear). When a former pupil of her mistress, William Jones, drops by for a visit, both maid and man fall in love with each other. However, there are numerous obstacles to their relationship, like their different social statuses, the pressure on William to marry another woman, among other things.

The manga, by KaoruMori, also has a number of side stories, covering things like older characters' pasts and the daily lives of minor characters. They have more of a SliceOfLife feel than the main story.

Yep, it's a classic, almost cliched story whose premise is almost a DeadHorseTrope. However, the story feels very fresh because of the personality of the main characters, and the fact that almost no one can be hinted as a real villain, even those who don't like Emma and William's relationship. It also helps that the Victorian sense of romance is very similar to the Japanese sense.

There was an anime series in 2005, which only covered half of the story. A second series, which completed the second half, began in April 2007. Both series have been released separately on DVD in the U.S.; an omnibus DVD edition, in two volumes, was released on September 13, 2011.

Although it has a sizable PeripheryDemographic, fans explain it as "a show about a maid, but not [[{{Meido}} a maid show]]."

Not to be confused with Creator/JaneAusten's ''{{Literature/Emma}}''.
!!This series provides examples of:
* AdaptationExpansion: Especially in regards to the ending. The manga ends without a wedding or DistantFinale, at least at the time when the anime was produced. The last few side chapters wrapped it up with a wedding.
* AnimationAnatomyAging: Compare Dorothea and Aurelia in flashbacks to their older versions. Also Kelly Stowner to some extent.
* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Argh, ''[[SpoiledBrat Vivi]]''.
* ApronMatron: Mrs. Kelly Stowner.
* AristocratsAreEvil: Mostly averted, as about half the characters are aristocrats. However, played ''devastatingly'' straight by Viscount Campbell.
* ArtEvolution: The manga starts off with its characters having soft, round features, making it quite unique compared to other manga. As it goes on, the style evolves into a more sharp, defined style, eventually with a typical "manga" look.
* AtTheOperaTonight: Will and Eleanor watch ''The Barber Of Seville'' (presumably Rossini's version) together; Grace and Viscount Campbell are also fans. A later side-story goes behind-the-scenes with the cast.
* AuthorAppeal: Author Mori Kaoru is an avowed Anglophile and very fond of maids (and possibly blondes)
* BigFancyHouse: This series shows just how much work goes into keeping one of these running.
* BilingualBonus: Any writing in the anime shows up in English... but the series is produced entirely in Japan.
** Spelling is a little irregular at times, like the Cristal Palace Gaid in volume 2 of the manga.
* BittersweetEnding: The final ending takes place early in the Edwardian era and just about everyone's happy. That is, until you realize [[FridgeHorror what happens]] [[WorldWarI in less than 10 years...]]
* BlindWithoutEm: Emma ''needs'' her glasses.
* CheerfulChild: Erich Malders
* CoitusEnsues: What happens between Wilhelm and Dorothea Malders in a side-story.
* CoolOldLady: Mrs. Kelly Stowner, again.
* CrashIntoHello: Dorothea almost ran Wilhelm down with her horse when she first saw him.
* CuteClumsyGirl: Tasha. Her coworkers consider her only a little better than useless. She gets teased a lot, but they can't bring themselves to fire her or really lay into her.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Especially for Western readers. Curiously enough, the Victorian sense of romance is similar to Japanese ones.
* DistantFinale: While it's not THAT distant, the 3-chapter finale covering [[spoiler:William and Emma's wedding]] at the end of volume 10 apparently takes place several years after the end of the main part of the series, judging from how the children have aged.
* TheDoorSlamsYou: Emma and William meet when Emma opens a door just as William raises his hand to knock. Mrs. Stowner is more than a little amused at the mark it leaves.
* TheEdwardianEra: When the finale takes place, sometime in the early/mid 1900s.
* EternalSexualFreedom: In the manga Dorothea has a very frank attitude toward sex, though this may be partly to emphasize her "foreignness". ''Standing naked in front of a window'' is probably going over the line, though. Then there's the servant girls bathing together and openly talking about how much they enjoy sex...
** Granted, this is likely an attempt to show the hypocrisy of Victorian sexuality.
** Actually it was just one maid talking about how she could never have just one man and the head maid telling her not let her love life interfere with work or the household
** It's also shown that Dorothea's attitudes have rubbed off on her husband as well.
* {{Fanservice}}: Kind of an odd contrasting case, there's ''almost'' none, with the exception of Dorothea, who gets several rather gratuitous naked scenes.
* FlashBack
** WholeEpisodeFlashback: The story of how William's parents met.
* FunnyForeigner: Prince Hakim and the Malders (specially Dorothea)
* TheGayNineties: A newspaper in one of the side-stories suggest that most of the plot takes place around 1898 more or less.
* GenkiGirl: Vivianne
* GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex: Dorothea and Wilhelm are two of the nicest aristocrats you'd ever meet. They have a very active and loving sex life.
* GorgeousPeriodDress: Naturally, but the level of detail is striking.
* GossipyHens: Eleanor's interchangeable friends, at least one of whom has a crush on Grace
* HappilyMarried: Wilhelm and Dorothea Malders
** And later [[spoiler:William and Emma]].
* HighClassGlass: Vicount Campbell and Wilhelm.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: [[spoiler: Eleanor and Hans to William and Emma respectively.]]
* IWasQuiteALooker: Johanna, the Malders' head cook, claims to be this, but we only have her word for it.
** Actually, Kaoru Mori drew Johanna's younger self in the author's notes section in manga volume 6 and commented it with: "Young and pretty Johanna"
* IsThatCuteKidYours: Grace gets this now and then about Vivian and Colin. She does not take it well.
* [[KnightTemplarBigBrother Knight Templar Big Sister]]: Monica, to Eleanor, though not quite as extreme as most examples.
* LargeHam: Monica.
* LoveAtFirstSight: William towards Emma
* {{Meganekko}}: Emma
* {{Meido}}: Emma and about half the cast
* NamesToKnowInAnime: YumiTouma (Emma), Creator/SanaeKobayashi (Eleanor), Creator/YujiUeda (Hakim), Naomi Wakabayashi (Tasha), Creator/NorikoShitaya (Colin), Creator/YokoHonna (Sarah), Creator/SayakaOhara (Grace)
* OfCorsetsSexy: Both the manga and anime have scenes where characters have their corsets laced. In the manga, the author explains that she is [[AuthorAppeal fond of such scenes.]]
* OldRetainer: Stephens to the Joneses.
* OnlySixFaces: It is often difficult to differentiate between the characters; the author usually uses hairstyles and AnimationAnatomyAging to make her characters distinct. Most obvious with the women in Hakim's harem—it seems to be made up of several ''identical'' Indian beauties.
* ParentalAbandonment: Emma is an orphan; the Jouneses have a MissingMom due to what looks like a case of post-partum depression. [[spoiler: She's not dead, just retired in the Yorkshire countryside because she couldn't stand the stress of society life.]]
* PornStache: Dorothea agrees to marry Wilhelm on the condition that he grows one -- his face looks "scary" without. In her defense, it does make him appear more paternal.
* PromotionToParent: Grace has to fill in for her absent mother and busy father with Vivian and Colin. She might be a bit ''too'' good at it. William also catches a little of this.
* SceneryPorn
* {{Seinen}}: You'd think it would be [[ShojoDemographic Shoujo]] or {{Josei}}, given its focus on romance, but according to TheOtherWiki, [[https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Emma_%28manga%29 it isn't]].
* SheCleansUpNicely: Emma. Not that she's unattractive in her everyday maid outfit, but when she gets dolled up to accompany Mrs. Trollope to the party, she's ''stunning''.
* ShownTheirWork: Rather obsessively in some respects. And then the translators Stateside decide to have Richard Jones say things like 'Blimey' just because he's British. Because, you know, people of his class would've said that. That said, there are some lapses by the author herself. In chapter 2, for example, there is a functional biplane model. Biplanes of that type only existed around WorldWarI, almost two decades after the setting of the series.
** It helps that after the release of Volume 3, a historical consultant was hired to maintain historical accuracy. That same consultant would also consult for the anime.
* ShowWithinAShow: The characters attend operas and plays pretty regularly. One manga chapter features ''ThePrisonerOfZenda'' and another, ''TheBarberOfSeville''.
* ShrinkingViolet: Emma- justified on account of her social station; a girl from beginnings as... humble as hers could never have hoped for a respectable position as a lady's maid, which was fairly high-class for a poor girl in that day. Emma is keenly aware of social class and recognizes her absurd luck at having been taken in and educated by Kelly Stowner. She is thusly reluctant to do anything forward enough to jeopardize her career (or hurt William's standing), even if it means turning down the man she loves.
** Also little Ilse Malders, who is quite shy.
* SleepingSingle: Most of the aristocratic couples have separate bedrooms. This was very common in that era, partly because many upper-class marriages were {{Arranged Marriage}}s, but even for HappilyMarried couples it was considered "proper behavior" not to sleep together all the time. Also, a husband wasn't supposed to witness his wife putting on makeup or other WomensMysteries.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: One fan translation, while very good in most respects, insisted on the spelling 'Jounes.'
** The original official spelling was "[[http://iitran.secchan.net/img/src/1113395014675.png Jounse]]," so this might not be as ludicrous as one might think.
* SpoiledBrat: Vivian.
* TrainStationGoodbye: [[spoiler: William is just a bit too late to catch Emma when she leaves town.]]
* TsurimeEyes: Eleanor and the other Campbells.
* UptownGirl: Inverted, the girl is the poor maid and the guy is the wealthy gentleman from the Ritz.
* TheVoiceless: Colin, until the DistantFinale.