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kamuinoyume's Pandora Hearts Tv Review

Pandora Hearts

Pandora Hearts tv Review

Oz Vessalius, heir to one of the duke houses, has just turned fifteen. His life is rich and carefree, darkened only by the constant absence of his father. At his coming-of-age ceremony, however, everything changes. For no reason that he can discern, he's cast into the prison known as the "Abyss", only to be saved by a "chain" known as Alice, the bloodstained black rabbit. The mystery there begins as Oz unravels the mystery behind Alice, the Abyss and the strange organization known as Pandora.

The series features heavy references to Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and can be considered both fantasy and mystery.

Story & Characters

Pandora Hearts tells the story of Oz Vessalius (or Bezarius depending on which fansub you're watching), a nobleman of 15 who is sentenced to a prison known as the Abyss (think Azkaban from Harry Potter only it's located in another dimension) where he meets a Chain called Alice (the Blood Stained Black Rabbit), whom he forms a contract with in order to escape the place. Upon landing back in the real world, he sets on a journey to find out why he was convicted and to search for Alice's lost memories aided by his companions Raven, Xerxes Break and the lovely lady Sharon Rainsworth.

This is a show best enjoyed without knowing any spoilers, so I'll do my best to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.

I'll split this part of the review into Characters and Story.

Story - I'll give it a 7 and here's why:

Episodes 1-3 (or “The Prolog” as I like to call this mini-arc) represent basically the synopsis that I've written up there. Truth be told, the first two episodes drag like hell, and they repeat the same plot points so many times that if you'd make a drinking game out of them, you'd be stoned by the time you're done. They're still interesting nonetheless. They introduce you to your main characters and the main event which the plot revolves around.

Episode 4: Interlude between arcs, and way too long for its sake.

Episodes 5-11 (or the “Working for Break” arc) are a sum of 3 chases that Break tricks the main trio into investigating. These are basically the character development arcs, where we are introduced to some of the characters' back-story. The main event of the episodes usually tackles one of the main three's demons, while advancing the plot along as well. It's a pretty nice run, but Oz's story expands for four whole episodes and is rather slow-paced, while Alice and Raven are forced to share screen-time, which is a bit unfair.

Episodes 12-16 (commonly referred to as “The Cheshire” arc) is probably the most revealing but at the same time most confusing off all the arcs thus far. Frankly I blame this on the Manga, because up until episode 22, the Anime faithfully follows the Manga, with a few minor shifts here and there, but this one has none. This arc gives you the feeling that you've stumbled upon a story, which is already half way through, so most of the hints and references completely fly over your head, and you won't understand them until you get to the beginning of things, which, unfortunately, is the Answers arc for the Manga, (and it wasn't animated, so if you stop where the Anime ends, you'll never figure it out). I definitely appreciate it after reading the Answers arc, because it gives you all the hints, but distorted with vital pieces mishmashes that you can't make heads or tails of it, but for any regular watcher, this will most like be the most disappointing and confusing arc you will encounter (I sure know it was for me the first time around). Now, why do I say this is such a bad thing? Well, because it's not done right. Even after reading the Answers arc, I still consider it the weakest from the bunch, because it still feels like it comes out of nowhere and most importantly, you don't really need it... most of the stories covered here reoccur in a much more coherent way in other arcs, so in retrospect, I honestly don't see the point of it, but some people do love it for being different and all that.

Episodes 17-20 (commonly referred to as “The Lutwidge Academy” arc) We are finally introduced to the villains and Hero of the story! A long missed character finally makes its appearance, and, the best thing of all: Leo and Eliot! It is by far the most interesting, well paced, intriguing and fun arc the Anime has to offer! So enjoy it to the maximum when you get there!

Episodes 21-22 (or “Break's Back-story”) by that title alone you should know just how promising this arc is, and trust me it delivers to the full! Break is by far the most interesting character you will encounter in the Anime, and as I've mentioned, at least they got to animate his Story before they decided to throw everything to the gutter.

Episodes 23-25 (or the “Anime Original Ending”) I honestly don't know that many show that have an Anime original ending that's half way decent, but I can sure tell you this is not one of them! It takes all the development and problems that they've been having up until now and throws them out the window and sticks together some of the most generic and idiotic excuses of a happily ever after plot line... somehow, which leave the viewer with a complete WTF did I just watch expression. It is god damn awful and I honestly don't see the point for it!

Characters - an 8 and here's why:

You have a very well rounded and colorful cast in this Anime. The different personalities of the main five give way to some pretty interesting developments in terms of friendship/rivalry and the like, and I honestly don't think any relationship is truly shafted though obviously some interactions are much more emphasized than others. Plus you have some down right interesting side characters to boot.

Alice is your female protagonist, and also one of the biggest mysteries of the show despite the fact that her personality, contrary to the rest of the cast, is pretty straight-forward. She most prominently resembles your typical main Shonen male protagonist: a fiery persona with a simple mind, a bit of a food obsession (especially meat), and an unwavering devotion to a cause.

Oz, in contrast to Alice's male type persona would be your typical female protagonist (despite him being male, they're a little reversed personality wise, there two), seeing as his strengths lies with his wits and devious mind. He is probably the most perceptive character in the room, and more often than not he tends to use these things to his advantage, though he is also too much of an escapist which can get one some people's nerves (and some of the characters nerves as well).

Raven is pretty much your average cool stereotype for the first few episodes till we finally manage to dive into his character. Xerxes is the one who constantly keeps you guessing and the one with the shadiest reasons among the whole bunch. Sharon is your typical high class lady and, unfortunately, probably one of the most generic and underdeveloped characters in the show.

As for the rest of the cast, you have some interesting villains (whose motivations are never fully explored in the Anime), a somewhat Mary Su-ish Hero-figure, and side characters with sinister or uncertain motivations.

All in all, a pretty colorful cast that will keep you entertained.

Rating: 8

Art

There are a lot of chibi expressions in this show with bland backgrounds. The animation feels a bit lazy at times, and the movements aren't always fluent but more often than not the facial expressions are passable, though the fighting scenes leave much to be desired (e.g.: there really isn't a decent fight scene in this whole show, so shonen fans, you have been warned!).

The characters have interesting designs that match well with their personality, which makes it easier to distinguish between and remember them by some trademark accessories they have e.g.: Xerxes' doll and cane, Raven's hat, etc.

I'm gonna give the show a 7 for art.

Rating: 7

Sound

It's Yuki Kaijura... and surprisingly, she doesn't work for this Anime. And this has nothing to do with most of the Tracks she's made for the Anime, just with a specific two that really get on my nerves which are put to extreme poor use, and these are:

The B-Rabbit's theme: “Bloody Rabbit” is loud and ostentatious, in contrast to the slow and minimal fight scenes, which don't really seem to match up with the epic sound playing in the background.

Track one of the OST ironically entitled “Pandora Hearts” always pops up when someone is trying to explain something plot related, which is a real pity, because, this is one of those tracks backed up by a vocal, and while it is beautiful, it's rather vexing when the damn music is louder than the actual voice actor. It was tiring when I had to pause every time and rewind to understand what the character had said.

Most of the other tracks are put to good use, but the first half of the series is poorly paced and sometimes the songs are terribly position and contrast heavily with the kind of mood the imagery is setting, and you just don't quite get to enjoy it as much as you'd like.

The Opening is quite memorable and nicely animated, but it always felt a little too blurry for my taste, like I was watching it all unfold through the reflection of a stream. I suppose they were going for the cool vibe, but it felt just annoying. The Endings weren't memorable at all, and I couldn't care less for any of them.

As for the voices, they're extremely fitting. The loud mouths are loud, the shy ones sound shy and the old and wise ones have fitting voices as well. I especially love Sharon's voice actress, Kana Hanazawa, who is just amazing, she manages to pull off Sharon's childish temper tantrums, her wise old lady moods, and her “I am your queen worship me” moods pretty well.

Overall, I'm gonna give this a 7 for sound.

Rating: 7

Presentation

As a stand-alone, the ending of the Anime leaves much to be desired, since it feels rushed and doesn't resolve any of the major issues and questions asked throughout the show, but rather leaves you with more doubts, and I would even dare to call it bad character development and the events that transpire leave an abysmal glaring plot-hole in the story as well. So I give you a hearty recommendation to ignore the ending and read the Manga, because, sadly the Anime stopped right when the most interesting part of the Manga starts, and anything that you've seen in the Anime before now will be completely blown out of the water by the next arcs.

As a Manga adaptation: it's pretty faithful to the source material. In fact I can confidently say that any Anime watcher can just about skip reading the arcs already covered by the Anime and read on from chapter 33 (while doing your best to pretend the last Episodes don't exist, of course). In fact, the only thing you might have a problem with upon starting the Manga, is the Character of Sheryl Rainsworth, Sharon's grandmother, who has already appeared in various chapters throughout the Manga by this point, so her presence might come a little out of the blue, but I'll point out these chapters where she appears for you (21 [pages 15-20], 29, 32). The rest are pretty similar, though I would recommend reading chapter 8 after seeing episode 7 because it's just a great scene that they changed, probably thinking it too creepy to show to little kids.

If you're interested in the mystery side of the show, then don't waste your time with the Anime and dive head in to the Manga. Because the little changes that they've made might be alright for your regular Anime watcher, but when it comes down to the mystery, the slight tweaks in dialog or character development really do matter especially for this show where the author enjoys leaving everything there in full sight only to mock you later for not having picked up on it (trust me, a re-watch after the Answers ark made me feel a heck of a lot stupider than I actually am).

As much as I've bashed the show in this review, I have to admit that I love it to bits, because it did a great job to introduce me to the Masterpiece that is the Manga and, frankly, the first time watching the show, I didn't notice much of the flaws I mentioned above. It was later, upon re-watching that I began noticing most of its flaws, and I think that's a real point in its favor, because nothing is perfect when you start analyzing every single detail. So for me it was really entertaining the first time around, it doesn't hold up so well upon a re-watch, but it definitely left me with a bittersweet nostalgic feeling.

Overall, I'm going to give this an 8.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

7.67 (good)

Reviewed by kamuinoyume, Aug 28, 2012

Comments

  1. WalkingEncyclopedia Sep 28, 2012

    That's a really helpful review~
    The way the anime ends bugged me to no end but after reading this I'm certainly gonna give the manga a look! Thanks :)

  2. Drakill Oct 10, 2012

    Nice review!
    Although I probably would've given it more of a 6/7 than a 8.

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