Apr 17, 2011
jai88 (All reviews)
Pandora Hearts is an anime that draws inspiration and many thematic elements from the story Alice in Wonderland. It is about a young aristocrat named Oz Bezarius, the heir of a noble house, who becomes the victim of a dark ceremony in the first episode and is cast down into the "Abyss" - a prison like area inhabited by monsters called Chains. While there, he meets the Chain known as Alice, the Black Rabbit.

The show starts out incredibly strong, but its strength doesn't last long at all. The overlying problem with the show is that it doesn't seem to know what direction it wants to go in. You are initially presented with a dark and gothic horror that almost immediately makes way for super deformed art and bright, flashing colours. The show remains this way, tying together ridiculous anime tropes and scenes right next to its dark and gritty storyline. Alice quickly moves from a creepy and dangerous entity to a glutton and comic relief character. I think a bit more focus in either area would have been fantastic, but as it is Pandora Hearts can be disorientating and very dissonant.

The characters are great. Oz is a typical shounen lead, complete with a tendency to risk himself for others that borders on suicidal. It's quite stereotypical, but not to the point that I hated whenever he appeared on screen, and he at least presented himself in this honest way for the majority of the show. However the other characters are fantastic. Gilbert is written extremely well and undergoes a lot of development throughout the show, and Xerxes Break eventually ends up as a complete scene stealer as soon as he is given even a hint of his backstory. Alice, however, never quite moves past her brutal introduction and despite being the center of the entire story she quickly fades in and out of obscurity for episodes at a time.

The soundtrack from Yuki Kajiura is extremely strong, and has several pieces that match up to her great scores from Kara no Kyoukai. Some tracks are often described as repetitive, but I had no issue with this myself. I do think that a couple of times a song choice for a scene may have been less then amazing, but the music itself was very good.

This leads me to the ending - there are massive plot points that never get resolved and I wish I had known that going in. For such a great premise and beginning so many things slip away through the story that it is really kind of infuriating. The ending of the series is anime only, and like many other poor anime adaption endings you will be able to pick up the exact moment where the story veers off. Anime only ends can be done right - but this one wasn't. Nothing was answered, and the mysteries that Oz and Alice often mentioned resolving were simply ignored until the end.

What is the biggest shame is how much more could have been fit into 25 episodes, where instead the writers wasted absurd amounts of time with super deformed art and typical anime filler scenarios. There are many plot points that are deemed as important to the main characters that never go anywhere and end up being a complete waste of screen time. The most infuriating part comes towards the end of the show, where you should be spending your time getting your answers to the questions you've built up, an entire episode is instead spent on showing everybody drunk. Put simply I kind of wish the series had cut some of the bullshit, a lot of the comedy moments were poor and completely out of place.

Pandora Hearts is a fun ride and there are some FANTASTIC moments, but ultimately your destination ends up being a hole in the ground that goes straight to the Abyss of Anime-Ending-Only Hell. There are no side trips to Resolution or Answers, you just go straight into the pit. And since I've already visited, I'll try to warn you not to.