We've got yet another anime from NIS America and this time it's Pandora Hearts. Adapted from Jun Mochizuki's original manga that debuted in 2006, Pandora Hearts is filled with plenty of mystery and fantastical developments.
What is Pandora Hearts?
Pandora Hearts revolves around Oz Vessalius, the young heir of his family's dukedom and also the Prophesied One to bring ruin to the world. At his coming of age ceremony, Oz is suddenly attacked by a group known as the Citizens of Baskerville who seal him away in a prison dimension known as the Abyss.
Oz Vessalius has turned 15 but during his coming of age ceremony, he is attacked and imprisoned for all eternity within the Abyss. This is where he meets a Chain (a being born within the Abyss) named Alice who appears to him a number of times prior to being imprisoned. Together, the two escape the Abyss and are soon recruited into the Pandora Organization.
The story is told in both present time as well as a number of flashbacks, keeping things relatively suspenseful as Oz, Alice and the whole cast of characters begin to unfold more about the Abyss. The narrative can at times feel dull but most episodes leave you wanting to find out more.
There are a number of references to Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and those do make for some interesting moments.
The animation in Pandora Hearts is pretty standard fare with the only real extravagancies being the character designs. Since the story is set in an alternate early European setting, characters are dressed in high class robes, full dresses, plenty of ribbons and whatnot. Don't expect any over-the-top action sequences, most of which are filled with rather stiff and rigid animations, as the series' focus isn't so much on action as it is on mystery and drama.
On that note, viewers will notice a large amount of noise and grain in the video. It doesn't quite sink in at first but it is a grain effect added to give the visuals more texture and depth. Personally, this isn't much of a bother, but since the brightness of the video can be quite high at times, the noise and grain tend to bring out the darker colours, making the overall image feel a bit flat.
As with all of NIS America's anime releases, it comes packed in a hard-cased collector's box with the DVDs, containing the first 13 episodes of the series, and hardcover art book. Let's take a look.
Unlike previous releases, there aren't any interviews with the Japanese cast. Instead, the collector's art book features character art and descriptions as well as explanations on key words and events important to the plot with plenty of images to refer to.
The real jewel of the art book are the pages of illustrated works featuring mostly Oz, Alice and Gilbert. The most striking one in particular being an illustration of the characters in the world of Alice In Wonderland! In addition, there is also a mini comic segment titled Gilbert In Wonderland.
All in all, a pretty interesting anime series. It's not one that draws any immediate attention as most of its character archetypes feel a bit used and old. However, the sense of mystery that surrounds the plot will certainly draw you in should you decide to pick it up. Art lovers will likely enjoy the art book as it features plenty of full page illustrations as well as a bonus comic.
Pandora Hearts is available for $47.99 at the NIS America Online Store and select online retailers.