“Your sin… is… your very being.”
Fifteen-year-old Oz Vessalius is more excited about exploring the special family residence he gets to visit for his coming-of-age ceremony than the ceremony itself. But what he finds there is just the start of his decent into prophecy, danger, and the Abyss, a mythic prison from which there is supposedly no return.
Pandora Hearts starts slow and couple for a few chapters, then rapidly throws intrigue and conflict at the reader in breakneck fashion. It works for me because the world and its mysteries are engaging, but there are far more questions than answers in this set up volume. Oz really knows nothing about the chaos he’s thrown into, so neither do the readers. Yet the little clues and foreshadowing provided, as well as the glimpses of the various forces at play and dire pronouncements delivered, are quite engaging and pique curiosity nicely.
I enjoy the twisted layer of Alice in Wonderland that permeates everything, and am curious to see if there is eventually an in-world explanation or if it’s entirely thematic. Either way it works to add a little something extra to the manga. Its Alice serving numerous roles as enigmatic partner, powerful creature with her own agenda, and representation of “Wonderland” (rather than being the point of view outsider), gives the potential for significant depth as things proceed. I hope it’s capitalized on.
From the protagonist who doesn’t know his hidden powers to the female co-lead with nebulous background and motivation to the mysterious organization investigating the world no one thought was real, Pandora Hearts has numerous cliched elements of Shounen manga at its core. But I like the way they’re presented and blended here, and am definitely going to read at least a bit more.