On the eve of nobleman Oz Bezarius's fifteenth birthday, he and his loved ones gather to celebrate in a coming-of-age ceremony. But after Oz steps under a long-stopped clock and the hands finally move once more - thus fulfilling a mysterious prophecy - he is violently thrown into the legendary prison known as the Abyss by three cloaked intruders. Existing in another dimension, the Abyss is home to lifeforms born within its walls known as Chains; these beings can only live in the real world if they make contracts with humans, binding their power to the person's body. However, there's a catch - in time, the human will be overcome by the Chain's power and then thrown into the deepest level of the Abyss. When Oz wakes up in the Abyss he is quickly attacked by hungry Chains, only to be saved by one named Alice - a Chain who appeared just before he was thrown into the prison. Together, the two make a contract and return to the real world, where they are enlisted into the Pandora organization - a group researching both the Abyss and the trio that threw Oz into it. Along with members of Pandora, the duo searches to find Alice's lost memory fragments that are scattered throughout the world, to discover the secrets of the Abyss, and to determine if there's a way their contract can be broken without killing either Oz or Alice.
At first, I wasn't that interested in Pandora Hearts. I started reading the first volume, and its first chapter focused on a rambunctious little rich kid named Oz who runs around his mansion hiding from the housekeeper and teasing his servant Gilbert. Then it took a turn down a rather dark street after he found that pocket watch, and my interest was piqued. Oz is the heir to the Vessalius dukedom, and on his fifteenth birthday he has to take part in a coming of age ceremony. However, as he's doing this, the clock that has been silent for one hundred years suddenly starts ringing. Oz is then dragged kicking and screaming to the Abyss, a terrifying dimension from which there is no escape. What's Oz's crime? Simply existing, according to the god of death who acts as his judge, jury, and executioner. While down there, Oz is saved by a foul-tempered girl named Alice, whose true form is a nightmarish giant rabbit. She is a Chain, a denizen of the Abyss who can escape by making a contract with a human. Despite some misgivings, Oz eventually forges a contract with Alice, and they escape into the human world, waking up at the Rainsworth estate, where Lady Sharon Rainsworth and her happy-go-lucky servant Xerxes Break, await them. Break explains that he and Sharon are members of an organization known as Pandora, investigating anything to do with the Abyss. They were too late to stop Oz contracting with Alice, but at least they now have them in their employ. It is explained that normally, Chains contract with humans out of malicious intent, but Alice's intentions are a lot more innocent: she woke up in the Abyss with no memories of how she got there, and just wants to get her memories back. Said memories are scattered throughout this world (hello, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles!), one of them being the pocket watch Oz found earlier. I smell a video-game style fetch quest coming up. Nah, not really. This manga was pretty good, and I'm glad I read it. The action scenes are sharp and engaging, and the moments of chibi comedy flow well into the story rather than being completely jarring, with a couple of laugh out loud moments, usually whenever Break was on the page. Jun Mochizuki also draws really pretty characters, and some fairly scary monsters. (When the monster pretending to be Sharon turned her head around and revealed her true form (giant, bulging eyeball and all), I was kind of horrified. I can sense good things to come in this manga, but I think it's at its best when it's dark and horrifying. 8/10
Ok, this probably looks like I'm biased, but it has been a very long time I've been THIS hooked up with a manga. Apparently many fans didn't get the story properly. But if you read the chapters carefully (if possible without any big gaps between chapters) then you understand it. I understood everything and the plot amazed me. All these plot twists. The mangaka has planned the plot from the first chapter onwards until the last (chapter 104). She left nothing to chance. The characters are incredible complex - there's no "hero" or "enemy" in my opinion. I think there are a lot of psychological effects inside the story - insane characters, murderers, sanity slips etc. etc. This manga deserved a "horror" tag - there are many disturbing things inside the manga. The art is absolutely beautiful. You can see how the mangaka improved during the first few volumes, so the drawing got better. The emotions were well-drawn. I can't remember the last time I've cried while reading a manga, but Pandora Hearts did it to me. I will recommend this manga to everyone and anyone. Except for those who want to read simple mangas to kill time. This manga can be complicated and is well-thought.
As early as my mind recalls, I remember seeing some of the Pandora Hearts anime when I was 8 or older. Although I was young and only saw only the first episode, it clearly left an impression on me if I can still remember it. Years later, after seeing a number of anime and manga, I have finally read the series and now I wish this was one of the series I had grown up with. Story- It is soon to be Oz Bezarius's 15 birthday and with that his coming of age ceremony. However, all is set in motion when Oz is thrown into the prison known as the Abyss. In the Abyss live lifeforms called Chains that can only live in the real world by forming a contract with a human. From there Oz meets Alice, the first Chain he runs into. Together they form a contract and make it back to the real world. They are soon recruited into the Pandora organization, who goal is to research the Abyss and the ones who threw Oz into it. Now Oz and Alice search the land in order to find Alice's memory shards to learn about the Abyss and to find a way to break the contract without killing Oz or Alice. I have to admit, it took a while for the story to pick up, but once it did it was so worth it. Pandora Hearts may be a slow burner, but its a good slow burner. Art- Pandora Hearts has some of the best artsyle I have seen when it comes to monthly shonen series. The time it took for fans to wait for each chapter must have been worth it, cause those color spreads were lit, no wonder the magazine did so many color chapter openings, cause Jun Mochizuki knows how to draw! On another note, the author also knew how to draw gore, since the series looks especially gorgeous! Characters- When the author knows how to develop the side characters just as well as the main characters, you know the author is doing something right. You get attached to these characters, and then before you know it you get super sad and depressed when they die unexpectedly. Mochizuki-sensei is not afraid to kill off her characters, so don't be surprised when a character you love suddenly dies. Another plus would be the well written villains. Without spoiling who the villains are, I can happily say that the villains are relatable and over time they lost their way. I love how Oz is not a perfect character, with the fact that he tries to take everything on by himself, but eventually he grows past this thanks to Gilbert. I know people are complaining about the author not focusing on any romance between Oz and Alice, but think the author was focusing more on the camaraderie between the main characters. Overall- I was trying to read more of this series during the day, but I think I realize my mistake in doing this. There is a lot of detail with every chapter, so this is a series you can't really rush through. I was able to slow down with the series and now I can really enjoy it. This was a grand adventure that Oz and the guys went through, and it was a roller coaster of emotions. This was definitely a shonen series that gave me the feels, something I don't think happens a lot.
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