Reminiscent of a broken toy box, the mystical Abyss is a terrifying realm home to monstrous creatures called "Chains." Most believe it to be only a fairy tale, used to scare children who misbehave. Oz Vessalius, the cheerful and mischievous heir of the noble Vessalius family, is one such individual—until, at his coming-of-age ceremony, the mysterious Baskerville Clan inexplicably arrives and condemns him to the Abyss for a sin he didn't commit, nor knows nothing about. Oz then forms a contract with Alice, a unique Chain who can take on human form, in an attempt to escape from the Abyss.
Pandora Hearts follows the young boy's struggle to unravel the mysteries behind his sin, the Abyss, and a tragedy from one hundred years ago. Soon, Oz and his companions will find themselves confronted by the Baskervilles and ghosts from the past, as he makes his way back home in a journey plagued by relentless despair.
[Written by MAL Rewrite]
Volume 8: Pandora Hearts (pilot)
Pandora Hearts was published in English by Yen Press from December 15, 2009 to March 22, 2016; in German by Carlsen Manga from March 18, 2011 to June 2016; in Polish by Waneko from October 1, 2012 to July 28, 2016; in Italian by Star Comics from November 3, 2012 to March 2, 2016; and in French by Ki Oon from July 1, 2010 to April 14, 2016.
This is my first time ever writing a manga review, so please bare with me.
I want to start saying that this manga may not be the easiest reading; the plot is like a puzzle, at first you get to see the big picture, but without getting into the details, you won't reach the end result. I must say that this may be my favorite part about the series, each little detail is relevant either for the main plot or to get some character development and that enriches the story more and more every time you read. There's actually no time to get bored because everything
is in constant movement.
The characters development here it's delightful as no one ends the same way they started, they go back and forth in their own individual worlds. The premise here is that there's not one only way to act, but actually a wide range of options where everyone can go at their own pace, and that makes possible for us readers to experience first hand the emotions/thinking that made a character the way they're at the moment or why they decided to change in some point.
Finally, the art. The main points are it's beautiful settings, a great amount of details, and a unique way of expressing emotions. In this last point I want to emphasize, because Mochizuki Jun is not only great with words (like those white/black pages that made me cry with dialogue solely), but the way she can make a few pages or even with just a single smile to overflow with emotion makes this manga a master piece.
Hope this would help you if you're still not sure about reading it, but give it a try.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”
― Lewis Carroll
Reading Pandora Hearts is like untangling Christmas tree lights, at first glance it seems like a simple and mundane task, but once you really get into it you discover just how tangled it really is. When you are finally done you can't help but to look back and reflect on how much has changed throughout the process and just how much
effort and planning must have been put into tangling it up like that in the first place.
The story beings by introducing us to our protagonist, Oz, a young boy and member of the prestigious Vessalius family. Shortly after meeting Oz as well as some minor characters and getting a sense of normalcy we see Oz accused of committing a grave sin that neither he nor the readers are aware of and then thrown into an alternate dimension called the abyss, full of darkness, ruins, and monstrosities known as chains, luckily he is saved by a chain named Alice and returns back to the normal world, however many things have changed since Oz was banished into the abyss, Oz is introduced to an organization called Pandora, which is responsible for studying the abyss and stopping chains from wreaking havoc in the human world.
Pandora Hearts beings very vague, concealing a lot of information from the reader, we have a large cast of characters but just about everyone’s motivations are unknown, the information we are given about the world is also limited, this lack of information left me very disengaged during the early segments of the manga, the only thing that kept me reading was Oz’s character, which I found to be very strong. Oz deals with a lot of stress throughout the story and constantly suffers, yet we see him always putting on a light hearted façade to hide his true feelings. I found myself wanting to know why he acted this way and to see what the implications of his personality would have later on. However as the story progressed I was left very impressed with much more than just Oz. Character motivations and details about the world and the way it functioned were given in small fragments slowly throughout the manga and each new bit of information gave everything an additional layer of depth and changed my entire perspective on the events beforehand.
Each new fragment of information was not only groundbreaking in the way the events of the story were perceived but also flowed very well within the narrative and were subtly foreshadowed beforehand, I never felt like a plot twist was contrived, nor did they ever feel that what was to come was obvious. The manga does a brilliant job at framing its story while also playing with the reader’s expectations through a mix of lighthearted humor and the various ambiguous aspects of the world and cast. At later parts of the manga I would look back in awe thinking about how much had changed, many things I thought I knew early on was proven false and I almost felt outsmarted by the story’s structure.
Pandora Hearts is a constantly evolving narrative in every sense of the term, as I read on not only did the story unfold in a magnificent and brilliantly planned way but so did the characters. In the early parts of them manga the cast seemed fairly weak, and even a bit one dimensional at times, especially the characters that were shown to have malicious intent, some of their actions made no sense to me and I just dismissed them as being that way to progress the story, however I was very mistaken, nothing was as I thought it was. As the characters were slowly explored and fleshed out their motivations were made clear and the entire cast took on a whole new light, characters that I thought were simply delusional or insane. An example of this would be Vincent who was portrayed as very sadistic and maniacal in the early parts of the manga, this made me dismiss him as a simple crazy villain, but this was by far not the case.
What I adore about Pandora’s cast as a whole is that the line between good and evil becomes very blurred the further the story progressed, every faction and character had reasons for their actions and they were all logical with few exceptions, I found myself empathizing with almost everyone and growing fond of each and every individual character in one way or another. The cast also excelled in diversity, it never limited itself to tropes and clichés and was not scared to break out of the molds. Characters ranged from being conserved and submissive to cynical and maniacal, to fun loving and eccentric. These characters blend very well and create some very unique and interesting dynamics between one another, a big example of this was Ada, Oz’s sister and Vincent who were polar opposites, but managed to bring one of the most interesting relationships in the manga.
The art for Pandora Hearts was drawn by Jun Mochizuki and it was pleasant to see it improve as the series progressed, in the early volumes the art was very simplistic, especially during more comedic scenes and did not particularly stand out in one way or another from similar art styles. As the manga progressed the style became much more crisp and detailed especially with the more creative chain designs later on, the last few volumes even featured some color panels and they were simply breathtaking, the color panels and covers for the later volumes are vibrant and simply beautiful, by far the most visually impressive aspect of this manga.
Pandora Hearts is a manga with a lot to offer but requires some investment, many readers might find themselves turned off by the vague and slow early volumes filled with light comedy and seemingly simplistic characters, however if you do end up giving this manga the time it deserves you will definitely be impressed by what it truly has to offer at the end of the rabbit’s hole.
Out of all the anime. manga, visual novels I have read or seen, Pandora Hearts is the one that will always be engraved in my heart and the others as well.
Nothing is stereotyped about this series, there is no lovey-dovey romance for otaku basement-dwellers, instead, this manga focuses on something that has been long overlooked: friendship. It doesn't matter how old one is, its gender or anything else, friendship will always be the greatest form of love and I'm glad the authoress managed to convey this message with such a masterpiece.
Don't let the Tumblr shippers/fangirls fool you, there barely is something that can be
called "romance" in it.
At first glance it may look like a comedy but it soon becomes the most complex mindrape I have ever read, yes, way ore than NGE and any other work you can consider "mindrape". If you're looking for a variety of unique characters, each with its own backstory, plenty of surprising plot twists, you just found the best manga I can recommend you.
The art is amazing since the very first chapers, and it gets way better later, I don't really have anything else to say about it, except that the art isn't really the strongest point even though it's one of the best drawn manga I have read.
As I said before, Pandora Hearts has plenty of unique characters you might want to relate with, even the "villains" have its own reasons, pasts, and regrets, as well as even mostly secondary characters being very useful to the plot and the main characters. I can't say anything about this because it would be a lot of spoiler, but I can tell you each character isn't ever being overlooked.
Once you'll reach around chapter 20, you'll enjoy it to the fullest, all your theories about what'll happen in the story will crumble, as there are many unexpected plot twists that will make you enjoy even more the manga, the authoress also loves to play with our feelings, which is another unexpected thing.
Never I had found a masterpiece as perfect as Pandora Hearts which made me laugh, cry and smile so much, all my attempts were useless, I still struggle to find a manga which could be equal to it without any success.
I am planning to re-read it soon to enjoy it all over again, as it is my #1 favorite manga I have ever read
When reading this felt as if you could feel the emotion of the characters. The story itself is a unique play on Alice in Wonderland as it has a similar feel while being completely unique.
The story immediately takes off in the first volume and keeps a good pace. You can see the art develop over the course of chapters. This mangaka used a lot of inking throughout this work and detail. There is a good balance of action and slower moments and there are no unnecessary lengthy fillers. There is deep character development from all characters but from specifically Oz as he grows more
confident and accepting of his circumstances.
The only negative aspect of this is it can become confusing especially the overwhelming amount of story in each character and the three family houses.