A review of Pandora Hearts
Pandora Hearts (anime) is an adaption of the Alice in Wonderland-themed manga by Jun Mochizuki, and contains strong Alice in Wonderland references throughout.
It is set in a world where children are taught from a young age that if they commit bad deeds, they will be banished to a hell-like realm called Abyss, which is inhabited by monsters known as "Chains". Most people put it down to being just a tale told to children to get them to behave well, not one that holds any truth or meaning.
This is not the case.
Any human who is banished to Abyss can escape by signing a contract with a chain. They are then called the chain's "Contractor", and gain control of the powers of their chain. When a human signs this contract, a clock appears on their chest and, once the hand of the clock completes a full revolution, the contractor is cast back into the deepest pits of Abyss.
One of the many chains in Abyss.
Now, the doors to Abyss are guarded by four ancient families of nobles, known as the "Four Great Duke Houses", who each have in their keeping one of four doors to Abyss, so no one of them can release the horrors of Abyss single-handedly.
However, in an event known as "The Tragedy of Sabrier", one of the houses betrays the others and a great evil befalls the capital city....
15 year old Oz is the heir to the title "Duke of the Bazarius family", one of the four great duke houses. As is customary for members of his family when they reach his age, a "Coming of Age" ceremony is to be held in his honour, to show that Oz is ready to become the head of the family.
However, on the day of the ceremony, something goes horribly wrong. Oz is thrown into Abyss by a group of mysterious hooded figures, as the guests of the ceremony are frozen in time - unable to help.
Here in Abyss he is rescued by a powerful chain named Alice, who looks like a young girl, but can take on the form of a massive scythe-wielding rabbit called "B-Rabbit".
Oz signs a contract with her and the two of them escape from Abyss to find that they haven't returned to the same time period as the one Oz left, but rather have arrived some time later...
Signing the contract with a kiss.
Along the way, they are joined by many other colourful characters on their quest to retrieve Alice's lost memories and bring justice to the traitors who caused the tragedy of Sabrier, while trying to decypher the secret that surrounds the Will of the Abyss.
Now this has to be said up front: This is, and will probably always be, my favourite anime. Ever.
But for the sake of the review, I'll try to remain as unbiased as possible, so as to give you lovely people an idea of whether or not you'd like to watch it.
The first thing I'll say is that this anime managed to bring me to the brink of tears at some point in nearly every episode. The storyline is gripping and filled with tender moments of love, friendship , and sadness. The bonds that are created between the characters are a wonder to see, and it's hard not to get attached to all of them.
Not only that, but all of the characters that you meet (even minor ones), come with a tragic back-story to explain how they ended up in their current situation, and to convey to the viewer the emotional weight that they bear.
Clockwise from the pink-eyed girl: Lady Sharon, Gil, Break, Alice, and Oz.
But it's not all soppy tear-jerking moments of love and sadness - this anime contains it's fair dose of comedy, and every comedic moment is genuinely funny (and I'm not just saying that as a fan).
Be it Alice's constant rude behaviour, Oz's extremely childish moments, or Break's hilarious quirkiness (when he's not busy being awesome, that is) - so many moments made my actually laugh out loud, and this is one of the things that makes me love Pandora Hearts as much as I do.
Now, a lot of people complain about the standards of the art and visuals but, while they mightn't be at the same standard as many other modern animes, I feel that the hazy (for want of a better word) art style fits in nicely with the surreal fairy-tale theme of the anime.
I will say, though, that many of the episodes feel like 'fillers' purely put in place to stop the plot from progressing too fast - though this might be necessary to stop it from feeling too rushed.
Which brings me on to my next criticism. The final few episodes feel, in my opinion, very anti-climactic and rather condensed. It's almost as if they took their ideas for five or six more episodes and squeezed them into just two episodes, in an effort to get the series finished quickly.
These little problems are the only thing stopping me from awarding Pandora Hearts a perfect score, but they're not nearly enough to stop me from adoring and obsessing over this wonderful anime. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy-themed anime or manga, and all I can do now is look forward to the next series impatiently.
I thank any of you who have made it this far for reading my review. I do apologise, it went on much longer than I had expected, but I hope you enjoyed reading it and I appreciate any opinions/criticisms you might have.
I'm giving Pandora Hearts a solid 9/10, and I hope some of you take the time to watch this brilliant show - you won't regret it, I promise.