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.
After I watched the anime, which was pretty good, I saw people recommending the manga. The manga had a pretty high rating and the anime left me wanting more so I read it. I read, like, 3-4 hours a day and I caught up in 3 days (my eyes really hurt). Needless to say, I really enjoyed this manga. At Oz Vessarlius' coming-to-age ceremony, he's suddenly dragged into the Abyss for a sin he never commited. There, he manages to escape by making a contract with a Chain called Alice. The story starts out quite simple but it takes a darker twist and it gradually gets more complicated. This story also has a lot of plot twists and my reccomendation is to not like or trust any character easily, for every character has their own dark side. If there were any problems with the story, I would say that the pacing's too fast and too much information dumping. If you wish to understand the story better, I reccomend you to watch the anime prior to reading the manga. The manga has a bit more violence than the anime since it goes more into the psychological and mental state of the characters and has a more complex plot. A good thing about the manga is that it has no fillers. Every chapter contributes to the plot and so does every charcter. The art was pretty good. The shading makes the art stand out and makes it seem dark. The covers are especially well drawn and colour oriented. The sheer simplicity of the cover has a strong effect on the viewer and actually manages to show the dark side of this manga with it's effects and dark choice of colours. Pandora Hearts has, imo, the most likeable cast of charcters in all the anime and manga I've seen. Oz is nice and flirty but, as the story progresses, you'll feel really bad for him and the things he has been through. Gilbert was loyal and timid. When he grows older, he gradually grows more handsome and even more loyal (if that' s possible). Alice is hot-headed and violent. She does have her cute side, though. Break is a clown. A very wise clown, nontheless. That's the main cast. There's also some other secondary characters that I'm not going to mention. The charcter development is immense and most of the charcter develop. I advise you not to grow too attached to any charcters for, I have a very bad feeling that our author, Jun Mochizuki, will kill off most of our charcters by the time that this story ends. Which, by the way, I'm not sure how. Pandora Hearts is a very thought provoking manga with some really dark twists. I immensely enjoyed it and it's my, currently, favourite manga (but that might be because that I don't reach much manga). I reccomend people who like dark storys to read it but, take it slowly beause after I marathoned it, my head really hurt.
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