So far, I’m enjoying Pandora Hearts way more than I ever would have expected. As of episode 2, it is probably my third favorite show this season after K-On and Sengoku Basara. There are a number of things I want to say about this show and the second episode itself, so I’m going to go by episode chronology to cover it all.
First things first, I find the opening by FunctionJunction very nice. It helps that I’ve had time to get used to it from reading the many posts about it over at Onagaku (be very sure to check out his awesome piano cover of the song.) I really enjoy the piano flittering in the song’s background and the vocals are actually, like, sung, which is more than you can ask from most anime ops these days. Sung to a rhythm, too, and the voice doesn’t sound like it’s from the Mickey Mouse club. All bonuses!
This episode continues to have the super-excellent art style that I loved in the first episode. Up until now, I wasn’t sure if I should be calling it a fluke, since this show isn’t made by the best staff in the world nor does it have the best animation, but near the start of episode 2, the show gave me an assurance that it was stylish on purpose. Sitting by a large amount of pretty flowers we meet Sharon who’s dress is animated using a still pattern effect (see Gankutsuou, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, etc.) It’s an awesome effect, a spectacular pattern used, and it blends right in with the rest of the style while standing out in it’s uniqueness from the rest of the clothes, giving it that air of ‘wow, she picked a nice dress.’
Now, what gets me is that a lot of people have been insulting this show’s art. Not just it’s animation, it’s art in particular, and I couldn’t really figure out why… until I compared it to other shows this season and realized that this show looks like it aired in 1999. If you told me it had been drawn with cels, I’d totally believe you. The way colors and tone are used have a very hand-drawn aesthetic and it’s not in any way crisp or computerized. Now for me, that only enhances the experience. After all, the 90s are my favorite era of anime as far as tone and feel goes, and as you may know, I am totally behind the times and old shows feel normal to me, so this show feels right at home. People complaining about the art are probably the same idiots who won’t watch anything pre-2003.
I love the show’s ability to keep comedy and srs bzns to different places, and that only one or two jokes come out per episode, never compromising the show’s dark atmosphere but still keeping a light out in that darkness. This episode’s joke was quite fun, too, being that the 15 year-old main chara was feeling despair over the beautiful girl he just met only being 13. He has the perfect ‘awwww goddammit….. but.. I’d still totally hit that’ kind of reaction. Like ‘just wait till you grow up!!!’ Hits close to home XD
Like the first episode, this one had mostly fun and exposition for the first half and then batshit crazy gothic insanity for the second half. We get some very careful setup where there’s a boatload of well-placed forshadowing that tickles the interest while just enough is left in the dark so that the situation is understandable but still mysterious. Things get really nuts with a number of twists and turns toward the end and a fight that, while not well-animated, was still quite entertaining. Sure, there’s potential for things to go haywire with the show not really having a clear goal set ahead of it yet, but there’s also plenty of potential for awesomeness and the foreshadowing really leads me to believe that there are good things waiting to come from this show.
The only thing pissing me off is the music. Yuki Kajiura has slowly begun to piss me off more and more the more she does. Because all of her music sounds THE EXACT SAME now!! The first episode’s major song was ripped clean off of the Kara no Kyoukai soundtrack, and the song from this episode’s action scene was torn straight from Le Portrait de Petit Cossette. If her high placement on my last.fm chart isn’t enough indication, I’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE! She seriously needs some original material before I can’t stand her anymore. That all said, though, the song that plays in the next episode previews is positively superb.
I’m definitely looking forward to my continued experience with Pandora Hearts. The manga has recently been licensed by Yen Press and while the full volumes don’t start till December, they are planning to publish it in their monthly magazine,Yen Plus, come June, so maybe I’ll check that out. I don’t know what it is – this show has no real reason to be so great – the plot isn’t deep so far, the cahracters have yet to show much depth at all, and the animation kind of sucks, but it has an unmistakable charm that has me totally hooked.