Story/Art: Jun Mochizuki
Translation/Adaptation: Tomo Kimura
What They Say
Once, following the tragedy of Sablier, Jack Vessalius made a valiant sacrifice to stop his best friend, Glen Baskerville, by allowing his body to anchor a set of seals by which Glen’s soul was confined. But now these seals, long guarded by mages under the watchful gaze of Pandora, are being smashed one by one at the hands of the Crimson Shinigami, whose aim is to return their master to his once-whole state. And so, the fragile peace achieved over the last century begins to writhe, like a horror released from Pandora’s forbidden box…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The last volume of Pandora Hearts was an action packed descent into madness, cumulating in the revelation of some key facts that we readers were unaware of. It’s a tough act to follow, so it’s no surprise that this volume begins with some much needed down time before picking up speed once again.
The focus shifts back onto Break for a few chapters, while Oz’s burgeoning D-Rabbit powers are left to an internal struggle that is only briefly mentioned. Break has been the elder of the group, and as silly and secretive as he is he’s still the one who seemed to know the most about how to deal with the challenges the group was facing. Now he’s handicapped going forward, and is going to have to rely on the others more. Both Oz and Break are operating on borrowed time, not just from their chains and the negative effect they are on the health of the boys. The Baskerville shinigami still have the advantage over the protagonists, and are moving fast.
The Baskervilles manage to outmaneuver the protagonists and undo another seal on their master in this volume. I can’t quite understand the logic of leaving the seals unguarded except for two people. Worse yet, once Oz and gang find the first seal they go looking for they leave only one extra man behind. It’s not hard to imagine they might be followed, and that’s exactly what seems to happen. It’s almost as frustrating as watching someone walk down to the basement in a horror movie.
Pandora seems to do a particularly poor job of preventing infighting and politics in their organization, to go along with their poor planning on keeping their enemy sealed up. Elliot remains angry at Oz, for reason’s that seem very petty in the face of such evil. We find out much about Elliot’s family towards the end of this volume, and his family has been struck with more tragedy than I would have guessed. Although, the flashback where we learn about his past is more than a little confusing. It took me two reads to realize exactly who the characters were in relation to Elliot, especially since some of the men in his family look like characters we’re already familiar with.
There’s also the introduction of a new antagonist which goes along with Elliot’s backstory. We never see the ominous headhunter, although we see the bloody results that she(?!) is capable of. It’s been a long time since Alice has seen any combat in this series, and I’m curious to see if it’ll be her, or Oz acting through her, that gets to take on the headhunter. Maybe it’ll be Gil or Elliot who strike the final blow instead, as they have a more personal stake in taking her out.
The hunt for the seals is on, but Oz and the gang still struggle against their mostly unseen foes. The sudden shift in setting at the beginning of this volume from Sablier back home was a surprise, if not a bit confusing. Pandora Hearts jumps from location to location in the blink of an eye in this volume, leaping from flashback to battle to momentary calm. There’s certainly a lot going on, and why we do get a few more gaps in several character’s histories filled in we don’t have the same level of shocking revelations that the last volume did. I’m not certain that Pandora can do anything to stop the return of their archenemy, who’s motives are still unknown. Right now I’m just enjoying Oz’s group become tighter knit.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: B +
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 24th, 2012