Manga Review: Pandora Hearts, Volume 1

“Pandora Hearts” by Jun Mochizuki is yet another variation on the “Alice in Wonderland” story.  This time “Alice” is teen boy named Oz who has just turned 15 (though, he’s drawn to look all of 10).  Just before his birthday he stumbles down a hole and finds a pocket watch, which upon touching leads him into a dream about a giant Black Rabbit who is disguised as a very insane girl.  Later at his coming of age ceremony he is formally sucked into the surreal abyss where B-rabbit saves him from some twisted entities called “chains.”   And then some stuff happens and the two of them end up at some mysterious mansion where they are invited to join a society called “Pandora.”  Pandora happens to be an organization that researches “chains.”  Does that sound familiar? Yep…blah, blah, blah … meh.

I suppose if I had not read other similar but much better manga series than this, I would have liked it more.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this series seemed very flat to me.  The chains, though trying, didn’t seem all that threatening, nor did they push the edge of looking twisted.  The main character, Oz, has no personality and B-Rabbit is just another crazy brassy girl whose true power can only be unlocked by the main adolescent boy character.  It’s all very commonplace.

This series falls along the lines of “DN Angel” and “Jing, King of Bandits.”  However, both of these series are far superior to “Pandora Hearts” and I highly recommend them — although “Jing, King of Bandits” can be a bit esoteric at times.  In terms of “Alice and Wonderland” variations, there is a new series running now called “Are you Alice?” which is far more interesting.  I give “Pandora Hearts” volume 1 2/5 because I did get through 90% of the volume before giving up.

4 comments

  • Most of the chains are meh but they're not the only ones. The powerful chains are an entirely different level.

    The mystery behind Alice's memories and Oz's connection to all the chaos is what's making this series intriguing xD The real good parts start later xD

    I don't think you'll like Alice but hhhmm . . .seems that you're not fond of Oz's twistedness either.

    But oh I love Jing and Are You Alice xD

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  • I was just on Amazon loading new recommendations and it looks like “Jing: King of Bandits” is out of print, so the only way to read it is at the library or online. The earlier volumes of D. N.Angel are also out of print, so what's out there is what's out there. Volume 8 is no longer available at Amazon. Sadness…I hope the English license holders make the series available online electronically so folks won't have to pirate the series.

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  • I am a big fan of Pandora Hearts so I’m slightly disappointed to here that you didn’t enjoy it as much but I guess that does make sense since the story has a slow start. It’s been years since I first started reading and since the latest chapters have taken a completely different turn from what it started as, I can see that the Pandora Hearts you read is almost completely different from the Pandora Hearts I’m enjoying now. It does get very dark an twist and it’s now at the point where you’re not sure who’s going to be alive by the end of it all. Oz and Alice (B-Rabbit) are still in focus as main characters but because of the amount of characters it’s amassed over the years and the amount of mystery and back story that is revealed about Oz and Alice makes me forget that they started out as pretty bland characters. My favorite character is still Echo.
    If you don’t like trying to sort out an extremely tangled but very interesting plot, this is not the manga for you, but I do want you to know that it deviated quite a bit from what it started as.
    Of course, I’m not going to try and force you to read it by saying “It’s going to get better” as many people have tried to pull that over me and I ended up resenting most of them, but I just want to point out the story is not going to go anywhere you expect it to.

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    • That was so long ago that I didn’t even remember that I tried to read “Pandora Hearts”. I think manga like that is just not my thing. I know A LOT of people like it though :).

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