Pandora Hearts is an anime series by Xebec and is based off the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Jun Mochizuki. It was serialized in Square Enix’s shōnen manga magazine Monthly GFantasy from May 2006 to March 2015, with its chapters collected in twenty-four tankōbon volumes. In North America, it was originally licensed for an English release by Broccoli Books but was later dropped. It was relicensed by Yen Press. The series consists of 25 episodes consisting of 24 minutes each.
Seeing as we reviewed Vanitas no Carte and made mention of Pandora Hearts (who share the same manga author and illustrator) it only felt right to give our readers a review if they were maybe interested in opening this box. The series does feel a bit like the producers sacrificed in some areas to provide some eye candy and more character depth (which is this series’ strong point) for their viewers, but in totality, Pandora Hearts was an enjoyable yet entangled watch. So, try and keep it together else it can get confusing.
Moving on to the narrative the time which Oz spends in the Abyss doesn’t synchronize with the time in the real world, so his childhood friend is significantly older than him when he returns to the real world and is still 15 years old. This creates an interesting dynamic because Oz’s memories of his friend and the reality of the man his friend has become keep blurring and his expectations are met and then betrayed over and over as Oz struggles to put his past friend and this future friend together as the same person. For Gilbert, while his motivation never changes, he’s had a lot more time to investigate the mysteries surrounding Oz and has had to give up a lot to gain the power that he needed to be able to help him. This makes for one interesting childhood friend story. Oz escapes the abyss with his newfound friend Alice and together they set off to find the missing pieces of Alice’s memory to uncover the mystery.
The series has a reputation for its labyrinthine complexity – it took an entire volume to set up its premise, which (fair warning) is rather disappointing and leaves a lot of questions unanswered so if you’re looking for closure this is not the series for you. The series has a way of moving between goofy comedy and dark fantasy that should have been terrible in any other context, but in the case of Pandora Hearts it just somehow works. The author clearly demonstrated how comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin. The character traits that appear so humorous often turn out to be a reflection of their trauma or complexes. In the sequences where the series becomes serious, it can be downright heartbreaking so prepare for your feelings to be played with.
The character depth and development is on point. The contrasts of morals and twists in the plot catch the viewer off guard. The foreshadowing is done well without giving anything away and makes for a really great story.