August 15, 2012

Anime Review: Pandora Hearts

Pandora Hearts takes an interesting take on the commonly known story of Alice in Wonderland. Whilst the technical details are quite similar, the story and characters are completely not what you expected. The anime explores the dark and mysterious details of Alice in Wonderland that not many people know of.

Pandora Hearts Synopsis:

Oz Vessalius, heir to one of the duke houses, has just turned fifteen. His life is rich and carefree, darkened only by the constant absence of his father. At his coming-of-age ceremony, however, everything changes. For no reason that he can discern, he's cast into the prison known as the "Abyss", only to be saved by a "chain" known as Alice, the bloodstained black rabbit. It is unknown why was he cast into Abyss, how does Alice factor into it all, and what does the organization known as "Pandora" want with him.


So how much do you know about Alice in Wonderland? No really, what do you *really* know about that story behind Alice in Wonderland? Not the cut down version that we all know off, but the version with all the nitty-gritty details inside. Pandora Hearts uses Alice in Wonderland as a major plot device throughout it's story. Although there are some similarities in environments and characters, the story is totally different. The story starts of with a boy named Oz who is thrown into the Abyss during is coming-of-age ceremony. There he meets a "Chain"called Alice which helps him to escape the Abyss. Upon returning to the real world, he discovers that 10 years has passed. Incidentally, the "Baskerville" group wants to capture him and Alice because they are the "key" to accessing the deepest depths of the Abyss in search of the "Will of the Abyss". Along the way to help them is a secret group known as "Pandora". In the end, the story got quite confusing and there were plenty of plot holes that were never filled. For example, we never got to know the true relationship between the "Will of the Abyss" and Alice, the true intentions of Oz's father and why he joined the "Baskervilles", how and why are the four doors not properly explored by the characters, who is Alice exactly, why didn't the anime show what happens if Oz's clock completes a cycle, and the list goes on. Simply put, this anime was more concerned about the development of Oz becoming a man rather than what's happening around him. Although the action sequences and mystery was quite good, the ending was really disappointing for me.

The art although excellent in some parts was decently well illustrated. Animation and presentation was quite good indeed, especially the scenes within the Abyss was quite imaginative. Characters all looked unique and had nice facial expressions. There were some comic relief moments and the characters reflected those moments really well. They were all pretty memorable. The designs for the"Chains" for rather creepy as intended, but they were pretty decent and original.

Theme songs were pretty good, with a nice mixture of fast and slow songs. Voice acting was also pretty good with the exception of some minor characters. Overall, sound quality was high and I have no complaints here. The uniqueness of the character's voices made the anime that more memorable and enjoyable to watch.

Pandora Hearts features quite a number of characters that recur in nearly every episode. Oz for one, can be described as a low self-esteemed boy that slowly discovers who himself is and we see his attitude change throughout the series. Alice on the other hand is still quite a mystery for me. All I know that she can turn into the 'B-Rabbit', and that she has a twin, and she died 100 years ago. Anything else is basically unexplained. Other characters such as the various families of the Dukes as well as Gilbert are supporting characters. I have to specially mention Sharon and Ada, two of my favourite characters in the anime, because they are just so damn cute and peppy.

Overall, I enjoyed the special storyline that Pandora Hearts has to offer. Some plot holes were present and some characters were left in the dark. I don't know why this anime was named that, but somehow 'Pandora' is related to all this. The characters were all memorable and the music was enjoyable to listen to. This is a shounen anime typically, so expect some generic shounen anime plot devices and dialogue to be present.

The anime continuously was a mystery for me, even after watching the entire series, some bits were still unclear and some questions unanswered. The action was enjoyable though, and the comic relief moments were memorable.

ART: 7
Some parts was excellently illustrated and animated, other felt a bit lazily done. Characters all looked great though.

Theme songs and music was appropriate to the anime, and voice acting was excellent for some characters.

I found the characters quite memorable although some are not developed enough.

As much as I enjoyed a typical shounen anime, Pandora Hearts sits quite close to the top.

Despite the disappointing anti-climatic ending, the mystery elements was interesting to follow and the characters were memorable. I had a fun time watching the anime series from start to finish.