So recently I stumbled upon Pandora Hearts, an anime I had meant to watch for a while but in the end I never began until now. And the experience was actually more than satistying.
It's a fact that a lot of people hate shonen anime and the sole appearance of a ''shonen'' tag puts them aback from many series. It's also true that most shonen, due to their main demographic target, won't develop very deeply interesting themes of all sorts and will just scratch their surface - after all, that's good enough for young people.
But what about it? As long as you have an intriguing, appealing story to tell, viewers of all ages and preferences can be amused. Pandora Hearts achieved this, or at least it did in my case.
Ever since the first episodes I could feel this was an interesting plot that was well thought up since the beginning. Most shonen will only start displaying the setting, general ideas and some plot keys, and from there onwards the author will make up whatever he considers better. But it's easy to see PH doesn't belong to the bunch. While it's entirely possible that the author hadn't thought out the whole storyline before beginning to draw, it is also noticeable that he had a very clear idea in mind of what he desired to portray. A lot of information and mysteries are sprayed all around from the start. By the end of ep 1 you already have much to think about, and it just keeps piling up until it all ties up later, slowly but surely. As a result what you get is a very coherent tale with plenty of hints and none of those sudden, lame plot twists that are oh so clichéd and abundant in the shonen genre.
That's in my opinion the strongest point of PH's story. Right from the beginning I felt intrigued and wanted to know more and more about this fictional world, the character's pasts and all the information that was missing in-between. And rather than frustrating me, the constant inclusion of new riddles (as well as the solving of some of the previous ones) only reinforced further my enjoyment and addiction to the series.
But it's not all about the mystery factor. The fantasy world in Pandora Hearts, while not-so-original, holds a charm of its own. With attractive narrative, a nice plot about warring houses with a tragic past between them impregnated with the idea of monsters from another world, and good characters to guide you along the way, there isn't much fault to blame PH for aside from a bit of hardly avoidable cheesiness, some unnecessary (though not annoying) moments throughout and an unsatisfying ending that shouts out loud ''S2 PLEASE'' or ''READ THE MANGA''.
My first impression of Pandora's animated style (colors used, resorts for a dark atmosphere and character design-wise) was that of a mix of the wicked laughs/horrified faces in Higurashi, the grimness of D.Gray-Man and the quirky style present in Soul Eater.
While many people seem to dislike the ''sad'', shadowy color palette, for me it was a plus. Pandora Hearts is not a light-hearted story and the animation really helped to intensify this feeling. I particularly liked the eeriness of the Abyss world.
As for character designs, they were beautifully done with lots of shadowing and thin lines. None of the important characters seemes overly simplistic neither in hairstyle nor in vestuary or facial quircks.
In general, a very pleasant experience. The only important shortcoming is in the battles, which were not fluent enough and the angles felt awkward at times. But fights in Pandora Hearts are not that frequent anyway. Not that it needs them since it's basically a story&character-driven anime.
What can I say? The OST for PH totally fits the bill. A reasonably broad set of themes are used throughout the scenes in a very well executed manner, and as a result of this the viewer feels himself engulfed in the story and overwhelmed by its impact in the senses.
It is not just an OST that goes good with several parts, it is a perfectly listenable batch of pieces full of emotions and worked to get the best possible effect when reaching the ears. In other words, even by themselves these themes are a treat to listen to.
The OP is great and sets the mood, the spirit of the anime, close to perfection, and so does the first ED, though not so brilliantly. The second ED piece is more light-hearted and not so well regarded on my behalf.
All in all, a really solid soundtrack that is sure to please the most exigent eardrums, combined with a competent group of voice actors that bring their roles to life.
Enjoyable. Relatable. Cool. Appealing. Intriguing. Funny. Those are some of the adjectives I could think of to refer to Pandora's cast. While some characters suffer from too little airtime, pretty much every character left me with a good impression of them when they were supposed to (I mean, not every minor character is more than a stepping stone to build up the final product). Ada was probably the weakest character among all of those with a minimal quantity of depth to speak of.
That aside, what we get is a really likeable cast that manages to make you care for them, suffer with them and laugh with them.
Oz Bezarius, the main character, despite his relative uselessness when it comes to battle, manages to be a likeable lead thanks to his intrinsically quirky personality, which makes him accept any reality as it is and overcome the obstacles and sad happenings with a calm demeanor and sharp thinking. This and other things distinguish him over so many other mains of his kind and add a certain air of uniqueness upon his figure.
My personal favorite would be Xarxes Break, who is easily the spotlight of the plot twists, the action and the well-inserted comedy, but absolutely not void of an engaging background just because of that. The intriguing, mischievous and strong-willed character of Pandora Hearts constantly proves himself a symbol of distinction of the show and very worthy of all the airtime he is given.
Fortunately, those two aren't at all the only solid towers that build up the cast and you'll most likely find yourself loving and relating to most of them.
I really enjoyed this anime and I personally think it exudes quality through all its pores. I'd recommend it to anyone, except people who can't stand a show with a serious tone.
-Fantastic storyline filled with loveable characterisation and mysteries to dig in.
-A light load of comedy mixed in that nevers seems inappropiate.
-Bewitching background music to help improve the experience.
-Xarxes Break. He kicks so much ass. Woah!
-It doesn't feel excessively long nor unrealistic or overdone when it comes to character interaction or depiction of emotions.
-Sub-par fights. They are good, but you could definitely expect much better.
-An unsatisfying ending.
-''Bishonen'' overload and a very, very, VERY slight shonen-ai undertone. You probably won't even care since it's almost nothing at all, but there are lots of fussy people out there, so yeah...
-Perhaps, quite a bit of cheese here and there.
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