PandoraHearts centers on Oz, heir to the House Vessalius, one of four Dukedoms. On his 15th birthday, Oz and his sister, Ada, and servant, Gilbert, discover a secret cemetery with one tombstone. Oz notices a pocket watch sitting atop the tombstone and, entranced by its strange song, takes it.
Once back at his mansion, a clock chimes for the first time in 100 years, summoning two hooded assailants. Oz is rescued by a scythe-wielding girl named Black Rabbit, who disappears when she discovers the attackers intend to take Oz to "Abyss," a sort of purgatory. Oz does his best to fend off the hooded figures, but is eventually overcome and dragged to Abyss.
While in Abyss, Oz meets a group of creatures, including Black Rabbit (now going by the name Alice), who offers to help Oz escape if he agrees to enter into a contract with her. He agrees, only to return to a world that thinks he's dead.
With nowhere else to go, Oz and Alice join the group Pandora, a secret society investigating things related to Abyss. From here, Oz sets out to discover why he was condemned to Abyss and help Alice discover her lost memories.
Similar to Persona -trinity soul-, PandoraHearts is really hard to follow through the first few episodes. Several characters are introduced at a brisk pace, as are several concepts key to the rest of the show. As a result, the plotline drags and its hard to keep up with everything. This has long been my issue with anime in general, but if previous NIS-released sets have shown anything, it's that the show should pick up quickly in the Second Volume.
The included art book helps goes a long way in explaining many of the terms introduced throughout the first part of the series, as well as offering a better sense of the characters and their relationships. Each is accompanied by artwork form the series, which is easily one of my favorites aspects of the entire series so far.
PandoraHearts is a rough start for the series, but after going through the book and re-watching from the beginning, there's reason to place it on the watch list for anime fans. Hopefully, the next set delivers on the potential.