Book Review: Pandora Hearts Volume 22

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Well, it looks like things are going pretty smoothly, huh?

After finishing up with what I got before Christmas, I continued on with the things I got for Christmas, starting with one of the four books in print format that I got, which now leaves only three.

Today, I will be reviewing another one of those books, which is called Pandora Hearts Volume 22 by Jun Mochizuki.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

Everyone is now gathering at Sablier with his or her own goals and chains are attacks civilians.

Meanwhile, before Oswald can make good on his plans to change the past, he must contend with somebody that resides in the shadows of the Baskerville clan.

After having to deal with things that usually do not satisfy me that much, this book was a nice breath of fresh air.

While it has been quite some time since I have read the previous volume, I was pulled into the world rather quickly. In fact, unlike the first book of A Certain Magical Index, this is what I expect from a series that I follow. After all, I would not be giving it much praise if it did not.

I liked how Oz decided to put his differences aside and made contact with Jack. This seems like something that we all must do in life, especially myself, because I have done things and others have also done things that ultimately sours my relationships with people. However, if the situation is bad enough, there might not really be any other options than the person you do not get a long with, no matter whether they are of the opposite sex or not. In the case of this series, Jack showed his true colors only a few volumes ago and Oz ultimately ended up rejecting Jack during the recent events.

Of course, now that the series has been extended by one more volume beyond when I thought it was going to end, according to Anime News Network, I wonder exactly why Oz needs Jack now, other than the fact that OZ would have disappeared if Jack did leave the body, since Elliot died when he decided to reject Humpty Dumpy back in volume 15, and that, at this point in the story, chains like Oz cannot cancel contracts themselves.

Another thing that I liked was that the mystery behind the children of ill omen explored a bit in this volume. During much of the history of the universe, including the point where Oswald became the new Glen Baskerville, Jury kept telling the glens to cast the ill-omened children into the abyss like they were an abomination. Here, however, it is revealed that the core of the abyss created the children of ill omen. This seemed kind of interesting because it seems like the core of the abyss never really wanted to be lonely to begin with. Then again, if the core wanted to have somebody or something around, then it had achieved its goal when it pretty much merged itself with the white Alice, who like the Alice Oz made a contract with, is a daughter of Lacie Baskerville. There was no reason for Vincent, or even Break, to become children of ill omen.

Speaking of Break, he really surprised me in this volume. He seemed to have been aware of quite a few things from the very beginning, since he knew that Oz brought the B-Rabbit out of the abyss with him back in the first two volumes. However, in this volume, when he is told to kill Oz, should the need arise, he reveals that he had already taken into account the possibility that he would have to kill Oz, while being shown flashbacks from volume 2. This makes me wonder if Break knew all along that Oz was the true B-Rabbit, even before Oz started wielding the power himself.

Over the course of the series, the only ones that seemed to know what Oz really was were Oswald, who was around when Oz first emerged during the Tragedy of Sablier, the other Baskervilles, Jack, and Xai, since he was the one who sent Oz into the Abyss.

Now that Break possibly knew early on as well, I wonder how he knew, because he never really met Oz when he met the Alice of the abyss, as revealed back in volume 7.

Unfortunately, seeing as Break met his end in this volume, those questions might not be answered, but there is still enough time to find out, seeing as the final chapter has yet to be released, even in Japan.

The thing that I liked most about the volume though was the fact that Oz finally stood up to his father, who even now continues to refuse to acknowledge Oz.

While this did occur in the anime, even though it was just filler, considering that I noted in my review of the anime that it covered content from the first eight volume, before turning to filler, it just seemed to be more believable here.

In the anime, Xai just seemed to sit back and accept the fact that Oz has decided that he does not need Xai to acknowledge him, without so much as attacking Oz again.

However, in this volume, Xai and Oz had the shared goal of rescuing Ada from Echo, who Oz now knows was Zwei all along, and Oz noticed something about his father that he did not before, wishing that he could have exchanged more words with. This is how I wish the anime version of their encounter had gone, because it made Xai seem more like a human being than some soulless creature that he had pretty much always been, and the fact that Oz gained the resolve on his own to acknowledge his own existence shows just how much stronger he had become through the series.

The fact that a few things were explored and few more mysteries show up, that may be too important to learn at this point, as well as the fact that Oz telling his father that Xai does not need to acknowledge his existence was much more believable than it was in the anime, made this a pretty decent volume.

Although there were quite a few things that I liked, there are some issues.

Fortunately, only one thing really bothered me. Yen Press released this volume as if it were the penultimate volume.

Even though there are sources, one of which I linked to in my review of the previous volume, that say that this series was supposed in the next volume, there ended up being way too many chapters released since then that they could not possibly be contained in volume 23 alone, seeing as there have been no more than five chapters per a volume and, according to the Pandora Hearts Wiki, there are nine or so chapters that have not been compiled into volumes as of the day I wrote this review.

Not only is the chapter count not right for the series to end in only 23 volumes, but it has also been announced three days prior to the date Barnes & Noble said it was released.

Now, I will admit that three days is kind of short notice for a series to be extended, even for the people that print the volumes for Yen Press, but I really wish that Yen Press had put off the release of this volume a bit longer, now that I know that there will be 24 volumes.

After all, there are way too many things left unanswered for this to be the penultimate volume. Had I not known about a 24th volume, this kind of thing would have ruined whatever enjoyment that I had for this volume, because a penultimate volume should only be leaving the most important mysteries for last, not add in entirely new ones. At the latest, new mysteries should only be introduced in the antepenultimate volume. Any later and things are just going to be ruined.

On the bright side, the Japanese version of this volume also has this same issue, which I can somewhat confirm because that is where the source of the original announcement of this series being only 23 volumes came from.

Still, that does not change the fact that I wish Yen Press fixed things when news of a 24th volume broke, and makes me think they rushed this to be released.

While the only glaringly issue with volume also exists in the Japanese version, the fact that Yen Press released this volume seemingly without confirming that the 23rd volume was really the last volume hurt the quality of this release.

Despite the fact that Yen Press seemingly did not bother confirming whether or not the next volume was the last, the good outweighed it enough to make it worth reading. I recommend this only to fans of Pandora Hearts, because the end is getting closer.

What are your thoughts on Pandora Hearts Volume 22? Did you like or hate it? Were there things that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.