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Manga Review: Pandora Hearts

Tagged as: Manga.

Written by darkness on February 19, 2015
Pandora Hearts is one of those in medias res, Alice in Wonderland, everything's fucked up kind of manga. It starts out with a kid getting pulled into a proverbial hell because his sin is "his existence". When he gets out with the help of a strange girl who's also apparently a murderous rabbit, he finds himself ten years in the future and things only get stranger from there.

That's the basic gist of it.

I believe that it is an interesting manga, to say the least. There's probably a ton of Alice in Wonderland kind of stuff out there, seeing that it's pretty much just about things trippin'. In the manga, beings called chains function as demons with which to make a pact for power. At the end of a contract, marked by a full revolution of a clock hand, you go to hell, with few exceptions. That's the short tale of the story, anyway. It's a little hard to explain much more without going into spoilers, since every arc seems to add a new interesting facet.

There's a ton of surprises and double takes to be had along the way. The first major one will actually be relatively easy to see coming, but some stuff down the road are real whammies. The stories of who is actually who are the focal point of the plot, and most of them are fairly touching, if not just really somber and depressing. Others don't get as much screentime for backstory, but their current tale can be just as compelling. And even among the dreary tones there are signs of the usual manga chibiisms and shenanigans, which sort of dances the line between optimism and insanity.

One thing I didn't like was the relative lack of combat. Although it's initially poised to look like some serious fighting could happen, a good portion is instead reallocated to more murder-mystery and assassionation-esque scenes. The main beast barely gets any fighting done, despite her supposed ferocity. A few fights seemed good, but they felt a bit forced, like they were meant to both further the plot as well as distract from it, if that makes any sense. They didn't feel like they had much substance.

I also think that, like a lot of manga, it tends to pick up a little too fast at the endgame of it. It's just accelerated to a sort of "do or die" scenario that, while sufficient with the flashbacks told, didn't feel necessary at that point of the plot. It works, no doubt, but it leaves a lot left behind that could've been fleshed out more. It's also fairly flashback heavy, but there's an interweaving of generational consequences that make the whole thing... adequate.

If you're interested in zany clashing philosophies and intriguing character developments, it's not a bad manga to pick up. It's very clear that every character are out for something: memory, vengeance, world domination, and even stranger goals. It appears to be nearing it's end; all the available volumes can be found in English, and only the last one remains (presumably). I'd recommend giving it a read if you want.

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February 19, 2015
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