Tag Archive: Alice in Wonderland


The Will of the Abyss ~ Pandora Hearts

“We’re connected not by light, but by shadow”

Pandora_Hearts_Seal___Vector_by_tseon

Listen closely. Whispering ever so softly, can you hear it?

From a small golden pocket watch comes the most beautiful, most sorrowful melody to grace human ears. In its notes it sings of a happiness once found and a tragedy soon befallen.  Just as time continuously moves forward with each note of the song, so too does its story. To piece together its fragments is but one option…and an option that will not be easily carried out at that.

This small watch is but the first key moment of many that soon encompass a young boy’s life and that of those around him.

On the day of his coming of age ceremony, young master Oz Bezarius, his friend and servant Gilbert and his little sister Ada stumble into aPandoraHeartsAnimeWallpapers_377015 hole with but one lone unmarked gravestone and a small watch wound around a side of it.  Picking it up, Oz hears the beautiful notes resound and carries it with him as they depart.

Little did he know that his life was about to change forever. After all, no one ever anticipates the moment that they will lose everything they know and love in one swift, fatalistic blow.

That evening as Oz walks into the old cathedral and towards clock frozen in time, he recites the verses he dutifully memorized and receives honor from his uncle. Ascending the stairs he kneels in front of the stopped clock. As the first word leaves his mouth, the grand clock bellows to life in twelve massive rings. The destined one has awakened and at that very moment all hell breaks loose.

pandora-hearts-screenshot-02Out of nowhere, a large black-scythe-and-chain wielding rabbit emerges and begins to fight the cloaked intruders threatening Oz’s life. Lightning flashes and in a moment of haste, Oz picks up the holy sword at his feet and swings towards one of the lead intruders…only to find himself slashing down his closest and best friend, Gil. Torn by sorrow and grief he is captured and given judgement for his sins. His punishment: to be cast into the abyss for all eternity; and then everything goes black.

The abyss, however, is not simply an endless black hole; but rather a culmination of deadly madness that few ever truly escape from. It is there that Oz first encounters beings of the abyss called “chains” and one chain in particular, named Alice, whom he forms a contract with in order to escape.

Upon their escape, they run into a group of individuals from an organization called Pandora: a group that seeks something called TheChesire9 Will of the Abyss. With the aid of both new and old friends, Alice and Oz seek numerous answers for which they know nothing of. Recovering Alice’s fragmented memories is only the beginning as warring households and dukes as well as opposing organizations all fight towards the same objective. The Will of the Abyss, the century old tragedy of Sabrie, illegal contractors and their chains and even mysteries within their own trusted group allow danger and mistrust to blossom along every step of their journey. Towards what goal, even they remain unsure, but they will move forward no matter what the cost.

Pandora Hearts is a series that has long caught my attention due to its dark, twisted nature and tendrils of magic drawn from Alice in Wonderland. The story, music, visuals and characters all immerse you into its depths with little effort and hold you there throughout its entirety.

The main cast and the larger chains all hold such unique qualities and quirks it is hard to not adore them. An aspect that I found clever was how they directly linked characters from Alice in Wonderland to those within this series – as chains. The most powerful and influential chains encompass not only names of similar nature but also some unique traits as to their overall significance (to include: B-Rabbit (attributed as the March Hare as well as Alice’s embodiment), the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat).

pandora_hearts-1The story, as mentioned previously, is gripping and remarkable of its own accord. Searching for lost fragments of Alice’s memories, defeating rampant chains strewn throughout the city, discovering the secrets each character is carefully trying to mask, finding inner relationships and ties between the cast, a hint of time being tampered with and a link to a tragedy that dragged everyone into their current position. The only complaint I truly had with this anime was the quick tie-up it pulled together to find closing at 25 episodes. The story progressed fine, but ended up leaving more questions unanswered as it diverted up a quick trail to write “the end”. Luckily, as I had heard previously and will now be finding out for myself, the manga is (as often the case) much more in depth and is still ongoing.

I had heard for quite some time that the written version was much better, but even still, I am glad to have watched the anime. Seeing characters come to life through voice and action is always surreal and the music, much of it written by Yuki Kajiura, is simply stunning and would be left incomplete without. Overall, it is an anime that I would easily recommend but with warning that it will leave you returning to its manga roots by its finish.

As time unravels to one of heroes and bloodshed, the softly spoken melody carries on through years to come…through unanswered questions, tears and smiles.

“Every time you kissed me
My heart was in such pain
Gathering the roses
We sang of the grief
Your very voice is in my heart beat
Sweeter than despair
We were there, in everlasting bloom”

“I’ve not come back here looking for a fight,” says Alice as she examines the edge of the Vorpal Blade with her fingertip.

“That’s a pity,” replies the Cheshire Cat, “one’s certainly looking for you.” 

Once there was a fantastical story about a young girl, bored of her everyday proper life of tea parties and outings, who found herself stumbling down an abysmal rabbit hole. The world she awoke to was immense and something of her wildest dreams.  This was a place that made the impossible, possible.  Talking rabbits, insane tea parties, dragons, shrinking and growing, riddling cats, and all in all, everyone around was truly quite mad. Lewis Carroll first introduced audiences to Wonderland in 1865 (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and since then many adaptions have come about, the most well known probably  being the works of Disney both in animation and a more current release in 2010.

A few years back (well, if a few equals 11) a video game by the name of American McGee’s Alice found its way to computers everywhere. The magical and illogical realm so well known and loved was finally able to be explored by eager audiences.  However, the Wonderland people received was a Wonderland gone horribly wrong. The game takes place following Alice’s adventures in Through the Looking Glass; as her house is burned to the ground leaving her entire family killed save for her, the only survivor.  The cause and reason unknown, Alice quickly loses herself and is placed in Rutledge Insane Asylum.  Ten years after the fire, Alice is summoned back to Wonderland by the white rabbit but finds her once joyful escape reminiscent of her current state of mind: chaos and terror.  She begins to fight her way battle by bloody battle in order to save Wonderland from the Queen’s morbid reign all the while hoping that by saving the twisted Wonderland her mind has made, she will be able to save herself before it is too late.

Now we arrive at a time that fans of the genre and previous game have awaited for years: a sequel.  Alice: Madness Returns  picks up directly after the events of American McGee’s Alice.  After Alice’s release from the penitentiary, she now resides in an orphanage under the careful observation of Doctor Bumby.  She is still horribly traumatized by the fire that mercilessly stole her home and parent’s lives but continues to go about life in Victorian London.  On orders from the doctor Alice makes her way to the town’s chemist to pick up her medication.  Along the way, a small white cat catches her attention and she begins to follow it (with a small remark on how following small white creatures tends to lead her straight into trouble).  Another turn down the ally and Alice find herself surrounded.  Horrifying visions of unimaginable creatures begin to close in from all sides.  Just as panic completely takes over it comes to a screeching halt.  Before her stands an small elderly woman,  a nurse from the insane asylum. Whether she be her savior or tormentor is left to be decided as events soon rage out of control. It isn’t long before the insanity overwhelms Alice, and she soon awakens to a place she had thought left long behind her: Wonderland.

This Wonderland is not how she left it though.  The Red Queen’s previous terror seemed a walk through the park compared to what Wonderland faces now.  The Cheshire Cat appears here and there offering cryptic advice as you soon discover invaluable weapons such as the Vorpal Blade and the Pepper Grinder amongst various others that will aid in your survival. You quickly meet the Mad Hatter, torn limb from limb by the now evilly mechanized Dormouse and March Hare, and soon learn of an infernal train that is set to destroy Wonderland leaving nothing left in its wake.

Alice spirals in and out of Wonderland throughout the game.  The majority of each chapter takes place within Wonderland with brief glimpses of her deranged, dismal, and psychotic life on the streets of London interluding in between.  The changing settings only emphasize the striking resemblance between the realms for Alice.  Her insanity taking over, saving Wonderland is the only way she will be able to emerge from within herself intact.   As each striking moment unravels the peril of just how lost her mind has become, the depth of the situation truly comes to light.

I am only nearing the halfway point of the game but from the moment it began to play I was entranced.  The story is dark, surreal, and almost humorous at times and the over all game play and battles are rapid and smooth once you fully understand the extent of your arsenal.  A slew of puzzles, exploration, maneuvering, and fighting keep things from becoming too monotonous and the various difficulties, in-game items, and trophies to acquire will ensure replay value.  Once finished there will be more of a review, however for the moment, Wonderland is still in peril.  So ask yourself one question:

Are you brave enough to let insanity take reign? Wonderland awaits…