Title: Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something
Author: Kaoru Mori
Publisher: Yen Press
Volume: One-shot, $16.99 (HC)
Vintage: 2012 by Enterbrain Inc., December 2012 by Yen Press
Genre: Short stories, comedy
This lovely book is a rather unique collection of work from Kaoru Mori’s ten years as a manga creator. Fans will know Mori from her hit series Emma, about a maid in Victorian England who falls in love with a English gentleman. Or more recently, her meticulously drawn A Bride’s Story. The first half of the 208 page book is filled with short stories ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. The first, “Welcome to the Mansion, Master!” is about an overzealous maid and butler on the lookout for a new master for their manor. The fast paced, humorous story is a great beginning for the book, starting things off with a bang and a laugh. “To Come to See” tells the story of a middle school girl who gets glasses for the first time, and is amazed by how her improved vision changes her life. In “Burror Gentlemen’s Club,” a bunny girl (as in the Playboy styled variety, not a literal bunny) deals with over anxious male clientele with quiet dignity. A brand new high school girl copes with her over sized brand new uniform that she is assured she will grow into in “Baggy-chan.” “The Swimsuit Bought Long Ago” is a small window into the life of a husband and wife, told solely through the wife’s point of view as she frets over her appearance in an old swimsuit she only wore one time. A very early piece from Mori, “Miss Claire’s Ordinary Daily Life” tells the story of a no nonsense maid and her eccentric master. A young man struggles with growing into an adult in “Maudlin Baker,” another maid/master tale. “Fellows! and Me” is a series of shorts created with Satoshi Fukushima that tell the story of a young girl’s surprise haircut. “Sumire’s Flowers,” also written by Satoshi Fukushima, is the longest tale here, about two very different high school girls and their appreciation of life and art.
The second half of the book is made up of various sketches, mini-comics, and Mori’s own brand of commentary. Most of the sketches are from autograph sketch cards and souvenir booklets. Others are images for ads for bookstores or special promotions. There are even some early character concepts for Emma and Amir. If you’ve ever been interested in corsets, there’s a very detailed set of pages all about them, their design and history (within the Victorian Era), and even how to wear and care for them. There’s even a set of pages about Victorian fireplaces, their design, and how they were used and decorated. Both sections are really very informative, and entertaining with Mori’s illustrations and commentary.
The entire book is a delight, especially for a Mori fan. To be honest, if you’re not a Mori fan, I wouldn’t pick this up. On the other hand, if you’re interested in her works and haven’t picked up anything yet, this might be a good place to start. It’s filled with examples of Mori’s range, and the entire thing is filled with her personal commentary as she walks you through her career. A must for any Mori fan; if you’ve got one on your Christmas list, might I suggest picking this up?