Feb 22, 2010

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.