I’ve recently become an advocate for a practice called Mochijunism. Ever heard of it? No? Well, let me explain it to you and hope that this post will help convert all nonbelievers into followers of this new belief. First, a short definition:
the practice of creating mind-bending twists no one ten miles away would have been able to guess; the art of creating strange but totally lovable characters and subplots that can’t be called subplots anymore because they are so crucial to the story; the process of writing such developed and original storylines that every reader constantly marvels at it for the rest of their lives
synonyms: awesome; amazing; mind-blowing; this is the shiz; if all authors could write like this that’d be great
I believe you have a better understanding of the term Mochijunism now. Are you curious? I hope so.
Okay, long story short, I’m basically going to be talking about an author who kind of changed my reading life, and probably how I’m going to enjoy books from now on. Everyone, meet Jun Mochizuki, author of the brilliant Pandora Hearts! (I, uh, don’t actually have a picture of her since she keeps a pretty low profile. But here’s a gorgeous PH volume cover for you to feast your eyes upon!)
JUST LOOK AT THAT DEFINITION OF BEAUTY.
See, about two months back, my good friend Lesley from Books and Beautiful World convinced me to give Pandora Hearts a try. PH is her favorite manga ever, but I was still hesitant to try it because reading from right to left was really, really hard at that time and I didn’t think I could get used to it at all. (I did, in case you were wondering, so much so that I even read ordinary picture panels from right to left before realizing. O_O) But I underestimated the power of Lesley’s persuasion, and she even bought the first few volumes for me, so how could I say no?!
And you know what? Pandora Hearts kind of ruined my enjoyment for YA books. Here are five reasons why.
1. The twists, guys, THE TWISTS
Let me just say that you will not be able to predict anything that happens in Pandora Hearts.
Now, I’m not the most observant person on the planet. While people can guess who the culprit is in the first couple pages, it takes me at least twice as long for me to be entirely certain that that man was the one who did it. But I’m more than sure that the twists in this story will blow the socks off anyone who reads it. And who doesn’t love twists like that? Hell, I’m still reeling over some of them right now. THIS is how you do things, authors. You leave hints and clues behind that seem painfully obvious only AFTER the twist has been revealed, not before!
And, um, I may have gone all batshit crazy with Lesley after some of the unexpected turn of events. I abuse CAPS way too much. D:
2. The lovable, squishy, oh-so cuddly characters!
I can probably count on my right hand the number of books I’ve read where I found it hard to hate the villain, despite the evil things s/he’s done. Oftentimes, it’s easy to despise the villain because what they did was so unforgivable that they deserve to be thrown into the deepest parts of hell forever. But in Pandora Hearts, even the villain was given a proper backstory that explained why s/he turned out to be this way, and why they did what they did. And I’d be damned if the bad guy’s story didn’t tug on my heartstrings.
What’s more, there is no clear definition of “good” and “bad” in this story, either. No character can be classified as completely pure, but not all the bad ones are fully evil at the same time. I just love how realistically that reflected the real world, where nothing is in black and white, but rather in many shades of gray. Again, the characters were so well developed that you just want to gather them all up and hug them to you and never let them go. Characters I never expected to have more than a flimsy side role were given a spotlight that totally changed my opinion of them. There was even a character who got so much development in just a single chapter that it made it nearly impossible to hate her.
She still did some pretty evil stuff and I can’t really forgive her for that.
And while we’re at it, here’s a gif of my favorite character, Xerxes Break!
^ This guy caused me too much heartache.
Today also happens to be his birthday — eep, same month as me! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEET BREAK. <3
3. The story
Pandora Hearts is about Oz Vessalius, a fifteen-year-old boy, who suddenly gets thrown into the Abyss (a “myth” he believed adults told to children to keep them in line–the Abyss is a prison where people with unforgivable sins go) during his coming-of-age ceremony, after being told that his sin is his very existence.
The story then plunges into mystery after mystery, problem after problem, and while there was a dull moment or two in the first couple of volumes, the mysteries start to build up SO MUCH that you wonder how the author is ever going to answer them all. Maybe it’s because PH has been going on for nearly a decade (it started publishing in 2006), but the intricity and plot development just blew my mind. I started off this story with more questions than I could handle (I was honestly frustrated with how little answers we got in the beginning), with more subplots than I had ever seen before, and now everything is beginning to tie together in a way I never imagined possible. Subplots and characters whose roles I never understood are making so much sense, and all those mysteries? They’re slowly getting answered.
I can’t really talk much about the story because everything is so spoilery, but if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that the plot in PH will be one of the best you’ve ever read.
4. The brutality
Despite all its cuteness and humor, PH doesn’t lack in brutality at all. Because characters die. Characters die, and they don’t get resurrected, and they are not always given beautiful death scenes. Friends turn against each other. People are forced to kill against their will. And pretty much everyone has a tragic past.
I have more to write, but this post has gotten long enough! I guess what I’m trying to say with all this talk about Mochijunism is that I want to see more of it in YA fiction. So many young adult books follow after the “current trend” that I don’t see much originality anymore. That, and the romance, frankly, sucks. There isn’t romance in Pandora Hearts, but there is still so much chemistry sizzling beneath the surface of the characters that it’s practically impossible not to ship all of them together. *O*
So, um, yeah. This is the end of my rave-fest about this brilliant manga. I HOPE YOU READ IT. And if you’ve never read manga in your life — never fear! Pandora Hearts is a good place to start. It’s such a shame that it isn’t as popular as some of the other manga out there (like Shingeki no Kyojin or Tokyo Ghoul), but trust me, it’s just as good.
READ IT, READ IT, READ IT!
I’m not a very persuasive person, but have I convinced you to give this a go?
Oh, wow! What a coincidence! Lesley’s posted something about Pandora Hearts too! ;)