I'll be the first to admit, when I heard about Pandora Hearts from one of my friends, I didn't expect myself to like and for one reason...it's got an over-arching story. For people that know me and my taste in anime, they will know that I love parody animes, ones which don't have a huge story, like Binbougami ga!, or animes which parody the fact that they don't have stories, such as Gintama. As such, the fact that I love Pandora Hearts as much as I do...it came as a shock to me, considering I originally only watched it to see one character!
Pandora Hearts tells the tale of Oz VESSALIUS, a young boy who, at his coming-of-age ceremony, gets sent into the Abyss, an alternative dimension inhabited by monsters known as Chains. In the Abyss, he meets Alice, a Chain who tells Oz that she can get him out of the Abyss and back to his world...but only if makes a contract with her, signifying that Oz is Alice's. When Oz escapes the Abyss and appears in his own world, he comes to see that not all is the same as when he left.
I have to say, Pandora Hearts takes a while to really grab the audience’s attention, the first couple of episodes lead up to the story mentioned above, but spend most of their time explaining Oz's relationships between him and his uncle, servant (who I'll get on to in a bit) and his father. Giving how much anime I watch which has no story, character building and development isn't something I'm used to, as such, it was actually quite weird to see them explaining the characters before the story arrived. But when the story does come in full force, it really grabs you! If they were to rename Pandora Hearts it would be "Plot Twist"- although even less people would know about it - it perfectly describes what happens at least twice every episode! By the end of episode 21, my brain could literally not take anymore!
The music in the show is some of the best music I've heard in anime. The opening "Parallel Hearts", really sets the mood for the entire anime, with its vocals, guitars and hauntingly beautiful strings. The first ending, "Maze"...after I heard it I immediately downloaded it and had it on repeat for about an hour! The second ending "Watashi wo Mitsukete", I'll admit, I didn't really take much notice of it, so I won't comment on it. But the music during the anime, it's so unbelievably good! "Bloody Rabbit" "Melody" "Everytime You Kissed Me" and "Dash" being ths standout tracks, I can't recommend the OSTs enough!
Now for the all-important character section! I don't care how good the story, animation or music is in an anime, if you don't have good characters it's not going to work. Thankfully Pandora Hearts has a wide range of awesome characters...however, like what seems to be the trend of a lot of animes, the main character is perhaps the most boring and unlikable. Now don't get me wrong, Oz is a good character, but when you have this many amazing and likable characters, he losing out on a lot of points.
Alice is perhaps everyone's favourite character in the anime and rightfully so, she shows many sides to herself; her funny side, her tsundere side, her clueless side, her vulnerable side, her emotional side...it's all there and she is an absolute joy to watch! And thankfully, unlike most female protagonists, she isn't just fan service (there is one brief moment, but we won't mention that). Then there's Gilbert...I won't go into too much detail about him, as it would ruin his character, but I'll just say his relationship with Alice is perhaps the best part of the show.
Then there’s the side characters, unfortunately this review is going on far too long, so I won't go into detail about them all, but let's just say, they are amazing! Sharon RAINSWORTH is as cute and noble as she is deadly, Oscar VESSALIUS is as perverted as his beard lets him, Elliot NIGHTRAY (who only appears in two episodes) changes Oz from a weak boy to a strong man in a speech that even the mighty Kamina would be proud of!
And then there is Xerxes BREAK, a character so full of charm, mystery and sugar it's impossible not to continue watching once you meet him. His goal to find the Will of the Abyss and to take down the delightful Cheshire Cat is an amazing story and, without Break, I probably wouldn't have loved this as much as I did!
Overall, I'd say Pandora Hearts has quickly become one of my favourite animes. With it's amazing characters, fabulous outfits, heavenly music and more plot twists than the entire run of "Lost", it's difficult not to fall completely in love with this show!
"Let me tell you something... People that misbehave for other people's sake, are the ones I hate most!"