Pandora Hearts, vol. 12: a review

So, I go to Goodreads to copy my review of vol. 12, and I find InD’Tale magazine has reviewed Shining Armor. Nice.

Kind of nervous, though. They mentioned that the story is slow in the beginning, and yes, it is. Though The Baker’s Wife is better in parts one and two, I can feel the same slowness happening in part three. Trying really hard to keep that from happening. We’ll see if I can manage it. Wish me luck!

(All spoilers must be highlighted.)

Pandora Hearts, #12Pandora Hearts, #12 by Jun Mochizuki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Looking at the same thing and then deliberating is not the only way to walk together. Even if you are walking different paths, individuals continue to be linked together.” [changed the quote]

At the moment, I’m giving this four stars, though it should really be more like four and a half. There’s so much in this volume to like/love that I feel like I should give it five stars anyway. I can’t even describe what about this feels off. I’ll see if I can manage it after I do some general rambling first.

This volume’s theme is “growing up”. Eventually, the innocent children we were give way to creatures who know. What I love about this manga is that Oz isn’t the only one going through these transitions.

We start with Vincent, of all people. Now, here I have to say that I still think he’s twisted and evil and miserable and I don’t care how awful his life was when he was a kid. Gil went through the same garbage and he still has a good soul in him.

However, with Mochizuki, you never know. The character you’re praising today could be the one who slits another character’s throat tomorrow. The innocent child who blushes whenever she gets the attention of a handsome gentleman, could turn out to have a taste for torture and the occult.

And it seems that vice versa can also be true. Even though I’ve only softened a little toward Vincent by knowing his past, I can’t help but smile at the glimmer of redemption Mochizuki has given him. (spoiler) Yes, after this chapter, I can’t ship AdaXGil anymore. It just wouldn’t be right. I think Ada would scare Gil. O_O Not only that, but Mochizuki has put Ada and Vincent together too often, and with this current twist I wouldn’t be surprised at their relationship developing into something that might actually inspire him to change. Once he’s gotten over the shock, lol.

Gil’s brief discussion with his brother also shows that Gil has done some thinking as well, and is trying to form a more mature and stable relationship with his brother. I loved the look on Vincent’s face afterward. I hope he takes Gil up on his offer before too long.

Lady Sharon also shows that she’s maturing emotionally. She’s become stronger and more self-sufficient. She doesn’t need anyone protecting her from ugly truths anymore, especially Break. It’s fascinating to see how he handles it. (spoiler) I really loved the scene on the balcony when he confesses to her that he can’t see. That was so well-written/drawn, I choked up.

Elliot, too, has begun to look at what he was taught and what’s real. His participation is turning him into a character to admire.

And, of course, Oz has begun to play games at the level of the Great Dukes. His intelligence manages to get Pandora inside the mansion of the foreigner, Isla Yura.

Can I stop for a sec and give a warning here? Isla Yura is the freakiest thing in this manga so far. That’s right, folks. I’m saying he’s freakier than missing eyes, cut-up human organs, sadism, insanity, chains, and spells that tattoo how much time you have left in this world on your chest.

He tops all of that.

Anyway, yes, growth. I’m really thrilled with how this story is progressing. And if I say anything more there will be major spoilers.

So why not give it five stars?

I think it’s because this volume tries to get back to a light-hearted tone and tries a little too hard at times. The story tends to jerk around a bit as a result. It’s not too jarring, but still, it’s there.

Introducing Isla Yura….Sometimes, when an author introduces a foreign element, it really adds to the story. Fullmetal Alchemist gained a lot of depth with the foreigners that got tangled up in the plot. I’m hoping the same things happens here, but at the moment, Isla Yura feels too much like a plot device, not a character with true depth. I trust that will change as the series progresses.

And finally, the scene where Oz, Break and Co. try to infiltrate Barma’s residence felt like Mochizuki had no idea how to get certain characters together, so she kind of slapped some elements together to get something by her deadline. That sounds harsh, but I’m pretty sympathetic, actually. That scene, and the tea party that kind of comes from nowhere and feels a little forced, are only two out of many, many amazing scenes in this volume.

And now I have to wait two months until I can buy volume #13. 😦

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