Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki

December 22, 2011
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Pandora Hearts

I remember the first time I read this series like it was yesterday. Perhaps it was the grim figure of a crimson colored sickle that attracted me, or perhaps I was carious to all the allusions of harnessing chains, foreboding clocks, and twisted, mad rabbits that graced the pages. Either way, I was curious.

Upon reading, I found myself addicted to the fairy tale like story that Jun Mochizuki casts in the beautiful (yet tragic) world of Pandora Hearts.

The story itself takes place in some European country, presumably Victorian France, England, or Italy, though mainly the former. It starts off with young Oz Vessalius (often mistranslated as Bezarius) is about to head to his coming of age ceremony, where he, as the oldest son of the Vessalius dukedom, will know commence in adult, aristocrat society with other nobles of the like. However, during preparation, he, his servant Gilbert, and Oz’s younger sister, Ada, hear a strange melody. Oz, with his endless curiosity, decides to follow the sound, saying that it sounds nostalgic and was calling to him. Then and there, Gilbert and Oz fall into an underground graveyard through a hole, yet there is only one grave. Tied to that grave is a golden pocket watch which plays the melody, Lacie. Oz is drawn to it, and as he reaches out to touch the stunning watch with his own hands, is whisked off to what seems to be a child’s playroom.

A freakishly large amount of talking dolls greets him, telling him many sorts of things. They are shushed by a young girl, who goes by the name of Alice. She greets him as well, though this friendly greeting goes wrong, as the whole room catches into a blazing fire, only to have the fire end and be chocked then stabbed by “Alice.” Of course, when he opens his eyes once again, he is back in front of the grave holding the watch, yet choke marks are visible along his neck.

Oz casts the event aside, and with great caution, proceeds to his party. Likewise with the playroom, all is not what it seems when a mysterious group of red-cloaked strangers called the Baskervilles appears and send Oz to a “prison” called Abyss for the sin of existing.

That’s where this story begins. What is Oz’s sin? Who is Alice, and who is the B-rabbit? What was the Tragedy of Sablier and what role did some of his beloved people play in it?

These questions can leave anyone begging to know more about the story, even if the first four chapters are a bit slow and take a while for one to find a good hook. Jun Mochizuki knew just where to carefully put foreshadowing (ex: look at the doll that Alice drops that catches on fire. It’s the Queen of Hearts, but what does that have to do with fire? It’s significance comes back almost forty through fifty chapters later) and just where to put her allusions towards Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and even after the characteristics of the original author and the girl who inspired him to write Alice in Wonderland.

The further you get into the series, the more you want to know. You want to know who the Intention of Abyss is, what did Vincent do that was so terrible that millions of people died for it, who is the true hero, and even the difference between the white rabbit and the black rabbit.

Even if you’re not remotely interested in mystery, the art is another matter. Along with Jun Mochizuki’s specific way of telling the story through art. Sure, in the beginning, the art isn’t perfect, but like with any comic series, over the years, it improves. For example, I found the art in Retrace I disgusting, yet here I am, gaping my mouth in astonishment at the art in Retrace 68. I found the style to be so enchanting, to have its own unique touch that I haven’t seen in a long while from a comic. Not to mention the Victorian setting of the book greatly puts emphasis on the characters of nobility simply by taking one look at their costumes. (Ex: See Miranda Barma and Arthur Barma compared to Rufus Barma. Miranda and Author wear clothes that distinguish them as wealthy, European nobles despite being foreigners and Rufus wears light, elegant clothing which emphasizes his foreign roots. Both Miranda’s and Rufus’s clothing is easy to move around in, while Author dresses for the best.)

Either way, I got a bit off topic. With its unique characters, lovely storytelling, and magnificent art Pandora Hearts is completely, and absolutely, an amazing read for those looking for an interesting mystery and tragedy series with touches of the original Alice series.

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SmileForeverandAlways said...
May 21, 2014 at 9:14 pm
I am a big fan of pandora hearts and curently reading the manga.
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