Thoughts on Pandora Hearts

And the series is finally complete. It took me nearly two and a half years to finish a twenty-five episode anime, but I did it.

Now, there was a reason why I held off this anime for quite some time. It was a battle shounen initially, but then it slowly evolved into a crawling mess. There was a lot of talk about the characters’ inner workings and dark pasts and personality flaws and their affects on others, and it annoyed me. A lot. Pandora Hearts is a series dedicated to perfecting the art of dementia. However, dementia is hard to pull off when you can’t relate to the character… nor do you even like the character to begin with.

A series like Pandora Hearts is one that tries deeply to be the grandest of stories. The type of story where one not only will be completely enveloped by its characters, but its dark story elements as well. It tries to incorporate suspense and mystery and comedy and romance and horror and psychological torture and everything else that would otherwise appease the audience.

This is the problem.

What exactly is Pandora Hearts? Is it an action adventure aimed to please shounen fans? Is it a psychological drama aimed to please fans of suspenseful mysteries? Is it a romcom aimed to please pretty much everyone else? It’s a little bit of everything, but more importantly, it’s a mix of things that can’t work together. Wouldn’t you like to see chibi versions of the main characters fight over food two minutes after seeing them stave off outer dimensional beings? I, for one, highly enjoy seeing a blossoming romance between two characters who just got back from finding out that everyone they love is dead. It really adds character to a show.

Would you eat chocolate on pickles? How about mashed potatoes and sour kraut?

Despite being fairly unrelatable, the characters are still more hit than miss. The only major miss would be the main character himself, Oz Bezarius. He’s that of the typical overpowered (yet not powerful at all), tragic hero who just wants to do good for others. I’m just glad he never had a harem. His personality is explored later on in the series in a bit of a mature way, which impressed me. One will definitely like him more by the end of the series than in the beginning. Still, he’s average, at best. Alice is Oz’s “chain,” basically this anime’s version of the term “sidekick,” except edgier. She’s tsundere, and likes food. From a completely guilt-ridden perspective, she’s fairly enjoyable. As a character, she’s not too strong though. Gilbert is the bishie pretty boy of the series, except he’s actually a crybaby who’s afraid of cats. Cats. His 2cool4school appearance is irritating, but his personality is likable enough for the audience to care about. He’s fine.

The other characters aren’t really important, as the barely ever make an appearance for anything important. However, Break starts to become more of a focus later on in the series, after they find out that he’s full of vital information. Break is probably my favorite character. Not for his dark past or his random overpowered character because he’s important, but because he’s aloof and dumb, while also serious. He’s the sort of pedestal that Pandora Hearts wants to showcase as a tragic hero, but he’s learned to deal with it, which is as mature as this series could possibly be. They could’ve made him dark and edgy, similar to how they made Gilbert near the beginning, but they decided to take it rationally, almost like they cared about him as a character. Very nice.

The art is a thing. It’s dark and edgy and good golly, I’m using those terms a lot in this entry. But why shouldn’t I? That’s most of what Pandora Hearts is, dark and edgy, with everything else sprinkled on top for maximum profit. The animation for this series is pretty standard for battle shounen. It didn’t really stand out as much for how demented they wanted the series to be. Talking dolls and giant animals? Wow. I’m traumatized. Lots of repeating circles for pupils, though. So I guess that’s something. Everyone looked dark and edgy, except Oz, because he’s the innocent beacon of light to shine the little darkies to freedom and prosperity. Out of context, that sounds a tad racist.

Basically, spaghetti and whipped cream. I am using far too many food puns. Pandora Hearts seems like an experiment of sorts, like it doesn’t really know what it wants to be and just tries to incorporate different things at different times in order to appear relevant. Among the major categories, story is by far the worst of this title’s worries. The characters dress the part, but don’t necessarily act the part; they’re likable, nonetheless. The art could’ve been more gripping, more frightening, in order to have a more lasting effect on the viewer, especially with an area known only as The Abyss. It just tries too hard, and loses itself in the process.