Pandora Seven Vol. 1 Review – Discovery and Adventure on Every Page

    Title: Pandora Seven Vol. 1
    Author: Yuta Kayashima
    Release Date: January 17, 2023
    Publisher: Yen Press

When I first got my hands on Pandora Seven, I had the reaction many of you are probably having right now. ‘What the heck is Pandora Seven?’ Well, I’m happy to say that, unlike the proverbial Pandora’s Box, this manga isn’t holding something terrible within but instead, hopefully, the start of something extraordinary.

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The manga is written and illustrated by Yuta Kayashima. It follows the story of Ria Frontier, a human girl living harmoniously on a secluded island amongst several other animal and plant-derived species.

Although she loves her friends and her adopted dragon family, she yearns to travel to the sea to meet her fellow human counterparts worldwide. However, leading up to the famed Millennium Festival, Ria and her mother sense something ominous afoot. On the day of the festival, things will be forever changed when a group of uninvited guests arrives on the island.

NARRATIVE AND CHARACTERS

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In terms of the narrative, I will be intentionally vague in the future because the experience is enhanced by knowing as little as possible. While the premise may seem standard at first glance, the writer does well to utilize it to subvert expectations and implement rapid twists and turns, all while slowly and subtly setting up a larger world. There are no punches pulled, with the story not fearing to showcase utter carnage and tackle subject matter aimed at a more mature audience. Themes of grief and loss are dealt with rather well, and the story is seemingly an allegory of human’s constant and unrelenting participation in animal cruelty and environmental destruction.

The main character Ria is a fun and charming personality to follow. Watching her as she reacts to her power and comes to terms with her actions is genuinely intriguing. Following her journey to try and get rid of her powers and fix her mistakes is a fresh take on the formula, twisting the trope of characters usually chasing great power.

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The villains of the first volume get their fair share of page time, with three of them standing out in particular. First, the overtly malicious and somewhat cartoonishly sinister Rhodan is initially thought to be a stepping-stone villain that the story uses to highlight the hero’s determination and strength, but somehow is always able to claw his way out of hopeless situations and turn them into victories.

Second, Celys is intelligent, capable, and on a similar path of overcoming failure to prove her worth, mirroring the main character. Finally, Everett is the newest introduction and the most mysterious of them all. His kind demeanor and soft features are an overly terrifying aura that even other villains fear, and he is one to keep an eye on going forward.

ART

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To put it simply, the art and paneling are extraordinary. Jaw-dropping environments and detailed world-building dominate the pages. From character designs to unique settings, the attention and care put into crafting this world are easily noticeable.

All that being said, the best part is how Yuta Kayashima uses his art to push the narrative forward, which he does so by driving home character expressions and emotions. When a character is feeling tension, fear, or sadness, you can see it through their expressions without needing to be told, which enhances the impact of every scene.

CONCLUSION

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Pandora Seven was a surprise on all fronts; from its immersive world-building to its action-packed and unpredictable narrative, the writing has been a joy to experience. Add that to a cast of characters on their unique journeys and bundle it with breathtaking and expressive artwork, and the result is an excellent first volume. Hopefully, the series will capitalize on this blazing start, and it’ll be one to keep an eye on in the future.

4.5/5

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