For general information on this series: Pandora Hearts – Caucus Race entry
This review is for the first volume of Pandora Hearts: Caucus Race by Shinobu Wakamiya. The English edition was released by Yen Press in June 2015. The second volume released in September 2015, and will be followed by the third in January 2016. So far, there are three volumes available in Japan.
This is a somewhat harder book to review, as it is very much a light novel intended specifically for those who are already fans of the Pandora Hearts franchise. The four stories of this volume assume the reader is well-familiar with all the characters, and is aware of some of the plot twists made in the first half of the series. There is very little in the way of explaining setting-specific terms and giving background information on the characters’ relationships.
For those who know nothing about Pandora Hearts, I will go ahead and strongly recommend giving the manga a try. (It is published by Yen Press, and its final two volumes will be releasing over the next few months.) In a Victorian Europe-like setting with some fantasy elements, a group of characters deal with a variety of large-scale mysteries and a great deal of political intrigue. The character development is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the artwork is quite lovely (and steadily improves with each progressing volume). It is my #1 favorite manga, and its themes resonate with me strongly.
With all that in mind, you can imagine I was quite excited by the Yen On announcement that the light novel spinoff volumes would be localized for English release. For those who are Pandora Hearts fans, your question now might be: Is this light novel any good? This book is not written by Jun Mochizuki, so in a way it could be considered a kind of fan fiction.
But as luck would have it, I feel the stories here are all written quite nicely, and feel right at home amid the canon of the manga storyline. The prose is simple, but has a bit of an elegant flair to it that I found fitting for Pandora Hearts. The author (Shinobu Wakamiya) seems to have a good grasp on all the characters, as all of them acted very much in a manner I’d expect them to. The stories themselves are overall of the inconsequential variety (perhaps making them “filler” for all intents and purposes), but I found them all enjoyable reads. If you like Oz, Gilbert, Alice, Sharon, Break, Reim, and the others as much as I do, you’ll get a kick out of the antics they get involved in throughout this volume. I considered listing some examples of the situations they end up in, but half of the fun is being surprised by it all.
If you like Pandora Hearts, be sure to pick this volume up. It may not advance the main plot in any way, but it’s a nice chance to spend some more time with a lovely cast of memorable and easy-to-like characters.
Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended… for Pandora Hearts fans