Monday, October 5, 2009

Review | Anime | Pandora Hearts

PANDORA HEARTS : Oz Bezarius, the heir to one of the four
powerful duke households, is celebrating his coming-of-age ceremony upon his
15th birthday. During his ceremony, a strange group of cloaked figures intervene,
and Oz is condemned for an unknown crime and cast into a surreal underworld
known as the Abyss. To escape, he makes a pact with a "chain" named Alice, and
they both return to Oz's world, only to find that 10 years have passed. With the
help of Alice, Oz's friends Sharon and Gilbert, and an odd man named Xerxes
Break, Oz sets out to uncover the reason why he was cast into the

When it comes to anime, I'm a sucker for three things: Fantasy, cool outfits, and Yuki Kajiura. Offer me all three, and you've got yourself an anime reviewed. Though I was left hanging from a cliff, I was not disappointed to happen upon Pandora Hearts.

I almost didn't start this anime as soon as I did, because after learning my lesson having to wait a week for Vampire Knight's episode release - and nearly a month for Monochrome Factor's subtitles - I know things now. However, my curiosity got the best of me, and alas, I was back to waiting a week for releases. Since this anime was in such high demand, at least the subtitles were ready quickly.

Pandora Hearts begins with Oz Bezarius, a playful 15-year-old who loves to play jokes and explore his mansion with his younger sister Ada, and his servant and best friend Gilbert. Oz's idea of fun is to hide from his duties as a duke's heir; he would much rather play than attend his coming-of-age ceremony. Oz, for the most part, lives alone in his mansion, as his relationship with his father is very shaky. The closest thing Oz has to a father is his Uncle Oscar, who is very protective of Oz and Ada.

Oz, though dejected that his father would not attend, continues as planned. However, before Oz completes his ceremony, he is suddenly attacked by a strange army of cloaked figures; this group is known as Pandora, and they pass judgment on Oz for a crime that he was unaware of, and in consequence is thrown into a prison known as "The Abyss". The Abyss is a dark, surreal world with very little known about it. Here, Oz is constantly attacked by monsters called "Chains" that take on the appearances of a child's toy. Oz is finally too tired to keep fighting off the chains, and is ultimately saved by another chain name Alice, who alternatively has taken on the appearance of a young girl. Alice offers to help Oz escape the Abyss, in exchange for forming a contract with her to allow her to possess his body. Though reluctant at first, Oz eventually agrees when they are attacked by another chain.

Oz and Alice escape the Abyss to find that 10 years have passed in Oz's world. They arrive in the mansion of a Bezarius family acquaintance, whose daughter, Sharon Rainsworth, had attended Oz's ceremony briefly. Now at her side is a bizarre and whimsical man named Xerxes Break, and at Xerxes' side is a man calling himself "Raven"...and Raven is strangely familiar.

We finally arrive at several plot destinations: Oz wants to know why he was cast into the Abyss. Alice, who was once human, wants to revive her memories of her past life and why she exists. Oz wants to break his contract with Alice, upon learning that an "illegal contract" (which is what Oz formed with Alice), is eventually fatal. Inevitably, we want to know more about this array of characters.

The series progresses very nicely; we are not loaded with too much information (not all at once, anyway), and are also not dragging along. The series did, however, end rather abruptly, leaving a lot to be desired and many plot holes to be filled. there will no doubt be a second season, because no fan is going to stand for being left on this cliff. In the end, I'm hanging right next to Pandora Hearts' cluster of fans, desperate for details on the next season. They only recently became relieved of the stress of waiting for the release of an extended version of the Pandora Hearts' promotional video theme music, "Pandora Hearts" by FictionJunction. As upbeat and surreal as the PV's shortened mix was, even I was on edge for a longer version.

Though the show can get a bit violent at times, I wouldn't say that this series is too ridiculous for a child; I can easily name key concerns in the series. A man and a young girl become drunk in one scene (though the girl is not human), and the girl complains of the room being too hot and begins to remove her clothing to cool down (she is stopped). a girl attacks a boy when she is told he kissed another girl. Chains may be visually frightened for small children. Characters are shot and stabbed several times (the attacks are not graphic). A boy throws a girl's dead pet cat to her, and it is implied he has gouged its eyes out (no blood is seen). A man's eye is pulled out. The same man coughs blood several times.

Pandora Hearts was a lot of fun to watch, and it was definitely worth looking forward to every week. All there is now is to look forward to the second season, should there be one. Any Yuki Kajiura fan will not want to miss this show or its amazing soundtrack. In fact, any fan of anime period may just jump on the Pandora Hearts bandwagon. Curl up with some ramen and get started.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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