Rejoice Pandora Hearts fans! The manga’s writer/illustrator, Jun Mochizuki, now has an art book that spotlights Pandora Hearts, as well as her lesser known one-shot manga, Crimson-Shell.
Pandora Hearts: Odds and Ends features over one hundred pages of full-color images, including those used for promotion or for the covers of manga. It also boasts doodles from Mochizuki’s sketchbook. Readers can see the early designs of Pandora Hearts characters and a few from Crimson-Shell, plus characters who never had the chance to appear in the manga. These pages are full of notes explaining the motivations behind the different images: “this was my impression of someone named ‘Elliott,’ I didn’t go with it because he’s too plain,” “Not good—might have too many characters with glasses.” There are also some great silly scenes in which the characters do things they would never normally do. These aren’t fully-developed comics, just scribbly sketches, but many include dialog and are quite funny.
I genuinely can’t tell whether this book is meant to be read right-to-left or left-to-right—since there are no comics or pages of text that have to be read sequentially, it doesn’t actually matter. If you read it right-to-left, like a manga, the end of the book is Mochizuki’s author note and brief descriptions of each piece of color artwork. These include observations like, “I’ve always wanted to draw a piece where Black Alice is physically there, but White Alice is the one reflected in a mirror,” as well as technical notes, like descriptions of what tools were used to color the pieces.
The color artwork is lush and dramatic—a good match for Pandora Hearts, which is a series full of drama and detail. Symbolism spills across the pages: skulls, roses, and chains. The characters wear refined clothes with great attention to the small touches like ribbons, buttons, buckles, and fancy trim. In addition to black, white, and shades of gray, each character tends to be associated with a particular color. Mochizuki refers to these as the characters’ “image colors” in her notes at the end of the book.
Some of the full-color images, like those used as the covers of manga volumes, match the feel and events of the manga storyline. Others are fun explorations of things the characters don’t really get to do. For instance, Mochizuki comments that she enjoys drawing the character Sharon, who usually wears voluminous dresses, outfits that show off her body shape. She says at one point, “I put maximum effort into drawing Sharon’s hips [in pants], as you’ll probably never see them again in the main story”.
This may be a good time to note that this volume does contain mild fanservice. No nudity, but plenty of short skirts and a few bikinis and the like. No violence to speak of, which is certainly unlike the Pandora Hearts manga!
Physically, the book is a hefty paperback with a cardboard slipcover. Its pages are thick, the images somewhere between glossy and matte. The slipcover features a diamond-shape cutout strategically placed to reveal a glimpse of the book’s cover. A few pages of the book sport similar cutouts, framing and highlighting pieces of the pages to the left and right as you flip the cutout page.
The color images from the front and back covers and the frontispieces of volumes one through nine of Pandora Hearts are all included, but nothing beyond that point. Fans who love characters introduced later in the series may be disappointed not to see their favorites illustrated here, but they’ll likely still enjoy this gorgeous book.
Pandora Hearts: Odds and Ends
by Jun Mochizuki
Yen Press, 2009
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen