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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Five Things I'll Miss About Pandora Hearts

Spoiler alert: Discusses Mochizuki Jun's Pandora Hearts up to and including volume 22.

I've just finished the 22nd volume of Pandora Hearts - which, WOW - and for some reason, Yen Press has no information about the next, allegedly final volume. Not even a placeholder on the series page! Yen Press, y'all killing me over here.

There are not many series in which I feel physical and emotional consternation after finishing a book, but damn if MochiJun's Pandora Hearts isn't one of them. Over twenty volumes later and she still has the power to make me care about her expansive cast of characters while keeping the story fresh and interesting. Plus, she knows just when a series needs to end. And right now, the end of the story of the Abyss and Oz is coming sooner than later.

With the end of the epic fantasy manga series Pandora Hearts just on the horizon (probably, most likely), I'm looking back at some of the things I'm gonna miss when Oz and Alice and the rest of the team sign off for good.

(Well, until Yen Press releases the Caucus Race companion novels. Excited for those!)

5. The artwork: The art in Pandora Hearts is fantastically lush and detailed, and it is what keeps this series together. Are we surprised that Yen Press released an art book for this series? Cause I'm not. The chapter art, the tank covers, the splash pages - everything is gorgeous to look at. The manga has a consistently Gothic horror/fairy tale aesthetic, and Mochizuki has turned it from a Black Butler-looking clone to something entirely unique and her own.

4. The absurd as hell/mind bending plot twists: Remember when Oz's backstory was revealed? Remember when we saw the origin of Alice? How about Eko/Noise and the fate of poor Oscar Vessalius? MochiJun knows how to stick the knife in with every plot bomb, and twist it with every subsequent chapter. They can be shocking at times, ridiculous at others, but in the mad world of Pandora Hearts, they make sense - heartbreaking sense. Remember: a lot of these twists center around character death and depressing backstories!

PS - I'm still not over the Oz backstory reveal and never will be. Oh, my poor sweet abysmal child. Don't worry, Gil and Alice will make you feel better.

3. The limb loss: Y'know the meme about CLAMP and eye loss (as seen in Tokyo Babylon, Tsubasa, etc)? I feel like Mochizuki should have the same kind of meme re: Pandora Hearts. If there is a need for a visceral reaction from the audience while the author exacts severe physical trauma on a character, chopping off a limb is the best way to go. It's not as common as CLAMP's eye thing, but after Gil lost an arm, I've seen a slow surge in similar incidents.

And now, in volume 22, we have yet another loss of a limb, this time only a hand. Yes, only a hand. And it's Glen Baskerville's hand so no love lost there. Perhaps we'll have a Glen vs Gil showdown. One-handed sword fight, go!

2. The love: Is it corny to say love? Too bad. This is a series in which the characters really love each other. There's family love and friend love and romantic love and platonic love, healthy love and messed-up love, funny love and serious love. When I think of love in Pandora Hearts, I think of the relationship between Oz, Alice, and Gil. I think of the love in the Rainsworth household. I think of the love between Leo and Elliot. I think of the love Xerxes has for Sharon Rainsworth. I think of the love Oscar had for Oz.

There's love because these characters are so real to me as well as to Mochizuki, and that's how she develops them so well. And, well, I love that.

1. Xerxes Break: Oh, Break. Of all the cast, the Mad Hatter one surprised me the most in how much I enjoyed learning about him. He's a delightful trickster scamp with a dark history and a strong appreciation for those who support him, especially Oz, Reim, Sharon, Gil and Alice. He has a wicked sense of humor, can fight with the best of them, and is always perfectly dressed.

And in this latest volume, MochiJun cruelly, awfully takes him away from us. And this might be the death I mourn the most and the longest. Because at the very end, Break realized that he wanted to live - but he couldn't. And with the last ounce of life in his body, he went out selflessly, pulling through Oz and his party onto the correct path.

I know a lot of people consider Break their favorite Pandora Hearts character. Listen, do y'all want to just cry it out in the comments? Should we form a support group? That death was just mean, MochiJun. On the other hand, we'll always have Break-kun's character song.

Fellow PH fans, what parts of this series will you miss once it's over?