The most obvious visual on the Pandora Hearts volume covers are
the metallic chains around the characters.
We have seen the theme of chains binding a Contractor to a Chain at the limb(s) within the actual series, namely with
Break at his right arm. Maybe this is an idea carried over
to the cover imagery, with chains wrapped around limbs
indicating a contract.
This raises some interesting questions for characters like Ada
later on. But characters like Lottie, Lily, Glen, and Leo, who most
definitely are Contractors, don't have chains binding their
limbs. Could this be because they're Baskervilles? Yet the
Baskervilles Gilbert and Echo have tightly wrapped chains. How
to make sense of these patterns? Is it degree of control over
the Chain, the nature and willingness of the relationship?
(Click on the pictures for a larger version.)
Oz takes a confident pose, grasping the gold Lacie music watch
in his right hand and a slightly broken chain in his left. The
chain wraps around his arm, but his own grip on it suggests it
is a willing commitment, and probably represents his voluntary
contract with Alice.
The left half of Oz's body is dressed in the white robes of his
Coming of Age ceremony. They are lines with gold and green,
colors associated with the Vessalius dukedom, while the coat's
underside is crimson and clotted like blood. His outfit is in
tatters, likely showing his time in the Abyss.
The right half of his body is dressed in the clothes he acquires
after escaping from the Abyss: white shirt, yellow-rimmed black
vest, striped green shorts, and a bright red tie. Look for this
tie on some of the rabbit dolls, designating them as Oz.
His cover symbol is the Lacie music watch, showing the paramount
role the watch plays in his life. It is symbolic of his
connection to Jack and the past of 100 years ago as well as his
guide to the future.
Overall, the watch and the change of clothes represent the
passage of time, since Oz did jump 10 years into the future,
although this also has the more ominous symbolism of Oz's
illegal contract ticking away.
Gilbert's posture and expression is a lot more passive than
Oz's. His right hand is bandaged with white ribbon from the
being wounded by resisting Zwei's Doldum puppet strings. His
left hand is wrapped in chains more tightly than Oz's, and he
has no grip on them. This is the hand that releases his Raven
Chain, which is too powerful for him to properly control. The
chain isn't broken.
He is dressed in his usual black trench-coat, with parts of it
blending into blue as one of Gilbert's signature colors. But its coattails
are disintegrating into black feathers. Black feathers are also
his cover symbol, showing his past as the one designated by Glen
to acquire the Raven Chain, his present connection to Raven, his
access to the Abyss, and even his tie to the Baskervilles.
There are three main feathers, which could be symbolic of his
three attempts to contract with Raven. There are also five
smaller, loose feathers on the bottom, possibly representing the
five black-feathered chains, traditionally owned by Glen, that
Raven is part of. Glen wanted to transfer all five of them to
Gilbert, but that plan fell through.
Break's posture is very withdrawn and defensive. He is not weak,
but he is protecting any vulnerabilities he may have. His sword
is held in front of him to ward off approach. His color scheme
is purple and white, with a bit of red from Mad Hatter.
His left hand holds both his cane-sword and his chain, showing
that his melee and Contractor skills are like second nature to
him and don't require active control. The chain hangs loosely on
his left arm, but winds around his sword, and then extends to
the side where it is slightly broken. The reddish chain to the
left of it is Mad Hatter's, as are the reddish wings.
His right hand covers his left eye, hiding his hollow eye socket
and the story behind it. Break has to actively protect his
secrets. He is tricky and resourceful, and even the fact that he
disguises his sword as a cane attests to this.
Emily is perched on his left shoulder. The doll probably
represents the little Sinclair girl that Break abandoned in the
process of trying to reverse her family's massacre. Though Break
changed his name and personality since then, he still feels
enormously guilty about what happened, and perhaps made the
Emily doll to represent that. Though others have forgotten,
Break still carries his past on his shoulder.
His cover symbol is the illegal Contractor seal,
foreshadowing what we would later learn about his past. Only one fourth of it is visible, which
reinforces that he's trying to hide it.
Sharon sits on the floor like a goddess. Her luxurious dress is
sprawled on the floor around her in a circle. It is many shades
of pink, with occasional hints of turquoise, and decked with
frills and bows.
The top half of her dress circle is neat and tidy. Next to it
are a tea kettle, a cut of tea, some sweets, and probably sugar,
suggesting refinement and relaxation. Her cover symbol,
on the right, is a
Lily of the Valley, symbolic of sweetness, humility, and
renewed happiness. This shows what kind of atmosphere she
creates for those around her.
The bottom half of her dress circle is wilder and torn,
revealing even her left leg in way that would probably not be
proper decorum for a Victorian lady. This shows Sharon's more
dangerous and violent side, which she displays to enemies, but
also to friends who trigger her short temper.
A chain wraps twice around her foot, with one end going under
her dress and the other end dipping off the page. The chain is
not broken, but unlike everyone else's, it is green and
flowering. This likely shows that she has a fruitful and
harmonious relationship with her Chain, Equus. In this context,
instead of bondage, the chain being around Sharon's foot
indicates that Equus' ability is linked to travel.
Lilies, symbols of purity and majesty, grow along the length
of the chain, and she holds one in her left hand.
Vincent extends his right hand in a threatening manner, as if he
could reach through the page and grab you. The twirl of his hair
and clothes suggest a sudden, swift turning motion. His
expression is confident and focused.
He wears his usual layered robe: black with gold rim on the
outside, white on the inside. Perhaps this is a play on his dual
nature. His clothes are tinged blue like Gilbert's, since that
is a color seen often around these siblings. Vincent proudly
displays the pointed sword/dagger-cross of the Nightray dukedom.
His left hand is hidden behind him, but from where it would be
fully extended some chains curling in opposite directions: one
gray, one light blue. Is this one chain making a loop? Or are
these two distinct chains, one for Doormouse and one for the
Queen of Hearts? The blue chain comes down to Vincent's feet
(click on the cover for full picture), where it disintegrates
around the body of a decapitated pink rabbit plushie.
The upward-curving of the two chains is completely broken off
from its extension in the top left. It's as if it were cut by
the giant scissors in the background, Vincen't cover
symbol. Scissors are Vincen't favorite covert weapon
besides his secret Headhunter chain, but these are not the
scissors he has right now. These elaborate scissors are the ones
he left in Alice's room back in Sablier 100 years ago, and
thereby represent his secret past.
Lottie appears dressed in vibrant Baskerville red, with some
pink frills and black fishnet underneath. She also has a pink
rose in her hair and pink pom-poms to tie her cloak, which is
stylishly tattered at the bottom. Cute, yet psychotic.
Her demeanor is both seductive and sadistic. What chains she has
do not bind her and, instead, she has them in a tightening noose
around the throat of a B-Rabbit Alice doll. She is not one to
shy away from violence, but engages in it with orgasmic passion.
But she is not completely free. Around both of her wrists and
ankles are shackles... yet these shackles have no chains. What
are they for? Does this indicate a willing servitude that
doesn't require chains, such as her loyalty to Glen?
In the top right corner of her cloak is also some kind of
circular clasp from which extends a belt-like thing. It's almost
like a leash. At least I can't figure out what else it could be
Her cover symbol is a five-pointed crown with
crosses. Is there something about Lottie we don't yet know? Is
she royalty? Or is this simply a symbol of her dominatrix-like
Both Jack and Vincent are extending their hand towards the
viewer, yet manage to pull off such different impressions.
Jack's entrance is warm and beckoning, making you feel like
everything will be all right if you just take his hand. Chains
shatter all around him, promising liberation from bondage. This
is the look of a hero about to save the day.
He wears the standard Vessalius colors: green, yellow, and
white, plus some black. But his green coat is splashed with
blue, giving him an overall turquoise appearance, like the
he's been likened to by Reim. Although Glen senses the water
in Jack not as awesome power, but a
clear reflection that he can't fathom. Jack's teardrop earrings are also
blue. Behind him is his cover symbol: expanding
These are the same ripples we see when Jack
with Oz, and the same ripples we see when we first
Alice. They are the watery depths of the Abyss, and they were
chosen as Jack's defining characteristic. Perhaps this is just
because that is where we normally see him, but what if there's
more to it?
The yellow in his coat glows gold - literally glows! - and
spills over even into his turquoise coat. Curious. Gold, of
course, is the color of the Abyss lights, and of the beautiful
Golden Wold that the Abyss was before something went horribly
wrong. Is Jack permeated by this power to the point of emanating
it as an aura? He often comes and goes in a flurry of Abyss
lights, and his clothes are sometimes
dappled with golden lights.
Also notice his braid. Ever wonder why it's so freakishly long?
Alice had braids when she was human, too, but after she died
they became chain projectile weapons with spikes on the ends.
Could Jack's braid be representing a chain, as well?
Cheshire is in a fetal position, and his active right hand is
protectively hugging a crazy-eyed White Rabbit doll
representative of the Will of the Abyss whom he zealously
All he's ever wanted was to shelter her from the evils of the
world, and so he happily serves as keeper of the traumatic
memories Alice locked away in his dimension. His cover
symbol, the torn pieces of Alice's memories, are here
as testament to his sense of purpose.
His right index finger is unraveling the bandages around the
left eye that he got from Break, showing his perceptive
vigilance. He has a very sharp, dangerous appearance, and his
shoes are pointed and curved like scythes.
His left hand is clutching a disintegrating chain which leads up
to the White Rabbit doll. Why? Whose Chain is who? The other
three or four chains also aren't tied to Cheshire. They are all
either wrapped around or released by the White Rabbit doll. The
doll is dressed in purple.
Cheshire's colors here are black and red. The huge red ribbon is
an exaggerated version of the ribbon he wore as a regular cat,
but that one didn't have bells on the ends. The two ends of this
ribbon are spiraling in opposite directions. Perhaps this
represents an inner conflict he has, such as his love for both
W-Rabbit and B-Rabbit Alice.
Echo looks helpless and sad. Three out of four of her limbs are
bound by chains, and none of the chains are broken. She has more
chains than any other character except Elliot, who has the same
number, but even Elliot has his legs free.
Her right active hand is especially constrained, with three
chain wraps, while her passive left hand is slightly more free,
with only two. This could mean that if she wants to disobey her
Master, she has to do so in more subtle, cautious ways.
The chain around her right leg is the most loose of the three,
and her left leg isn't chained at all, suggesting more physical
than mental mobility. The stocking on that leg is also
disheveled. It was probably drawn that way for a reason. Could
this mean that she gets roughed up by Vincent if she acts on her
own? That she's clumsy when trying to think for herself? Or that
when not bound by her chained obligations she's able to relax
and not be so uptight?
Her color scheme is blue and white, the colors of the feathers
we've seen around her. She also has a black tie. The sleeves of
her dress are way too long for her hands. This has the practical
application of hiding her blade, but also the symbolic
implication of her having limited utility of her own hands.
Echo has two cover symbols: the blue wings from
St. Belligeron's Day and her gold hair wrap worn by Zwei. It is
the duality that exists inside her. It's interesting to note
that the wings are on the side of the leg that isn't bound.
Glen has his back turned and is looking over his shoulder. Does
he have reason to be suspicious? Then again, he has is back
turned or is looking away in most of his pictures. His
expression is calm and melancholy, which is also pretty common
Glen's color scheme is black, red, and violet. His cape in
particular is turning bright red towards the bottom, as if it's
soaked in blood. Is this standard Baskerville red? Or is it
symbolic of him ordering the massacre of Sablier?
Five rust-colored feathers drift in the background, likely
representing his five signature Chains: Jabberwocky, Raven,
Griffon, Dodo, and Owl. A lone reddish chain hangs leisurely
across the page. Even though Glen's left hand isn't visible, the
arc of the chain looks like it isn't tied to it. The chain isn't
In his right hand Glen holds the Lacie music watch, and the
Lacie Cross is his cover symbol. This shows the
importance of Lacie in his life. She was his sister and he loved
her dearly, but he had to live knowing it was his fault that she
was born with the cursed red eyes, and that he would one day be
forced to sacrifice her to the Abyss with his own hands.
Reim is friendly and diligent as he sits among the pile of
paperwork. Though, oddly, all the papers look blank, whereas the
piles of paper in the volume's color
insert have writing on them. His color scheme is grey and
white, and his earrings are rectangles with hoops at the end.
His right hand is adjusting his glasses, all the better for
doing his job. His left hand has a chain wrapped around the
wrist. He would rather hold the papers than his chain, perhaps
showing that he doesn't use it very often. The chain comes down
to the floor and breaks in two.
His right leg is relaxed on the ground, but his left leg is
raised and ready to get up if needed.
He has three candies falling out of his coat pocket. He probably
keeps those around as treats for Break, but they also show
Break's influence on him. Or maybe the papers with candy on them
are the ones that Break was too lazy to handle himself.
Reim's cover symbol is the Pandora Cross,
showing how his duties to Pandora consume his life.
Ada's posture seems to be one of surrender. She's on her knees
with her shoes off and her hands on the ground, staring off into
the distance. Very unlike the cheerful and sweet Ada we normally
There is a blue chain wrapped around her left arm as well as her
left ankle. Could this indicate that she is a Contractor? She
certainly was desperate to rescue Oz from the Abyss all these
years, and has learned much about sorcery and the occult to that
end. It would only be a matter of time before she figured out
how to ask for the help of a Chain.
Ada's color scheme is black and white. She is wearing black
fishnet embroidery on her head... possibly a sign of mourning,
possibly for Oz while he was in the Abyss. She has blue roses
and their petals on the ground around her, another symbol of
wish-fulfillment and attaining the impossible which is linked to
Contractors... or perhaps simply to her magic.
Her cover symbol is a cage hanging on chains.
Maybe it's just showing her affinity for medieval torture
devices, but maybe it stands for some kind of metaphorical
Lily radiates confident enthusiasm in her red Baskerville cloak.
Unlike Lottie's, her cloak isn't torn on the ends, perhaps
saying that her psychotic tendencies are more innocent and less
sadistic. Her hands are on her hips, saying she's ready for
Lily wears a lot of black, including three black bows, and also
some white. She has a tassel coming down from her right ear.
Like Lottie and Glen, Lily is not bound by her chain. It hangs
loosely behind her, and she even decorated it with whimsical
stars, showing how much fun she's having at her job. The little
wolf head dangling off the coils is representative of
Bandersnatch, her fearsome Chain.
Lily's cover symbol is the demonic tattoo she
was branded with because bad things kept happening around her.
It represents both the ostracism she felt among normal humans,
and the fulfilling sense of belonging that she found among the
Baskervilles. Fang and Doug even tattooed her mark on themselves
Elliot stands resolute and strong despite being bound by six
These chains are swathed in black ribbon, symbolic of his
contract being a secret unknown to him except as hints in
dreams. They wrap both his arms, with the most around his sword
arm, showing Humpty Dumpty's manipulation of his mind and
actions. But his legs are free, showing that his ordinary
physical mobility is unimpaired.
His right hand holds a sword, and his left hand is balled into a
tight fist. Elliot's a fighter, and once he realized what was
going on, he wasn't willing to back down from anyone, especially
not Humpty Dumpty.
His clothes are a deep Nightray blue, and dappled across them is
the silhouette of the Statice flower, which means "something
that never changes." Aside from being fitting for Elliot's
steadfast nature, it is also symbolic of his friendship with
Leo, since the song he gifted to Leo bears the same name. Parts
of his coat are streaked with series of diagonal lines. They
look like scratches of cuts, damaging in some way.
Elliot's cover symbol is the Nightray family
crest, which looks like a sharp sword-cross. This symbol looks
much more prominent and darker than the symbols on other covers.
It stands for his integrity, principles and honor, and his pride
in the Nightray bloodline. It also stands for death, both his
own and that of the Nightray family by his hands.
Rufus sits relaxed by in control. His posture is secretive and
With his right hand he holds his favorite weapon, a black fan.
It is open and covering half his face, helping to hide any
expressions he might make. Not that he's very expressive in
general. He usually has quite the poker face going on without
need for a fan.
A chain extends between his legs and up to his right hand, but
we can't see what it's tied to.
His left hand holds down a scroll with writing on it. Rufus is
quite the erudite, and he's very calculating in how he
disseminates the vast amount of information at his disposal.
Indeed, his cover symbol is a book. Arthur
Barma's diary, to be precise, showing the pivotal role the
information contained therein plays in his motives and actions. The cover has a design of a
rectangle with a loop on each corner. It loosely parallels the
Pandora Cross' design of four diamond-shaped gates linking into
a central square.
Rufus' color scheme is an overwhelming red. He is swathed in
opulent red robes with yellowish feather motif speckled with
dots reminiscent of Abyss lights. A semi-transparent red scarf
curls around him, as if to add to the obscurity.
Sakura (cherry blossom) petals rain down from above. Since
sakura bloom so beautifully and die so quickly, they symbolize
the transience of life in Japan, and have been used as metaphors
for warriors killed in their youth. Well, Rufus is quite old so
it's too late for him to die young, but perhaps his knowledge of
history allows him to appreciate impermanence. This is
reinforced by these wind-blown sakura appearing in
visions of 100 years ago.
16: Leo (Special
Leo is draped in lush folds of Baskerville red, which is tinged
with hints of Glen's purple. The purple also appears in the
black outfit that Leo is wearing, as well as in his black hair
The cloak wraps around him, restricting the movement of his
arms, and yet he wears it this way willingly, perhaps
recognizing the helplessness of his situation. His
active/projective right hand is completely hidden. His
passive/receptive left hand is a little more free, suggesting
that his actions are currently re-active, guided by instinct and
Leo's body language is both carefree and confident, yet
still carrying the undertone of deep depression and hysteria. He has
already lost everything important to him and now surrenders to
the momentum of his fate, willing to play his role and finish
what was his predecessor started 100 years ago, in an attempt to
atone for everything that has gone wrong.
Leo's cover makes for an interesting contrast with Elliot's.
Both are surrounded by six chains, but each responds to the
chains very differently. Whereas Elliot is defiant, Leo is
accepting. Whereas Elliot is bound, Leo is free. Indeed, Leo
dominates them, resting his active right foot rests triumphantly
on a reddish chain. The chains around Leo are, however, larger
and thicker than on any other cover.
His cover symbol is a door to the Abyss. Though
all the Abyss doors look the same, this one is most likely the
Baskerville's door in Sablier. It looms behind him, representing
his identity as a "Glen," his newfound purpose of destroying the
Will of the Abyss, and everything he is willing to do to
17: Lacie (Special
Lacie wears the summer dress she had on when she met Jack. This
is her younger self, but she is not wild and spontaneous as
we're used to. She looks quite sad and despondent, resigned to
her fate. Maybe she was never as carefree as she appeared or,
rather, lived her life that way to take her mind off the doom
that hung over her. Her hair has her brother Glen's purple
Though Lacie is a Baskerville, her cover is very different from
the other members of the family. She has no red cloak, and the
cool colors surrounding her accentuate the crimson of her eyes.
While other Baskervilles dominate their chains, both Lacie's
hands are bound.
Because these chains aren't hers. There's five of them, and so
these are probably Glen's five Chains of Conviction passing
"judgment" upon her, dragging her down to the Abyss. But she
bears no ill will towards her brother for this. Her right hand
lightly caresses the chain.
Lacie's cover symbol looks like Abyss lights. These are
the wisps of gold that she saw towards the end of her life, and
indicate her destiny. They are an interesting match with Jack's
aquatic ripples, since they both represent the purest essence of
the Abyss: water and gold. Or, in Jack's case, water that
reflects Lacie's light.
But, considering this is young Lacie on the cover, the symbol
could be snow. The flecks on Lacie are white, not gold.
Snowflakes and Abyss lights are drawn very similarly in the
manga, and I think this may be intentional. Many scenes with a
link to Abyss plot points happen in the snow: Lacie meeting
Jack, Gil and Vince making their way to the Baskervilles.
Snowflakes are, after all, glistening frozen rain. They combine
both light and water - the two main Abyss symbols - so it is
fitting for Lacie to have them as hers. Snow is very meaningful
to Jack, who treasures the memory of meeting Lacie above all
others. But snow may be important for Lacie, too. During the
time she spent with Jack, she was free of her cage and could be
herself. It's a little unclear, but it's probably her who
says "on snowy days like this my heart dances, as if
something might appear at any time to take advantage of this
Levi's cover is quite different from all the preceding ones. It
minimizes the whiteness of negative space and is missing the
usual assortment of material props that dominate the other
covers. Instead of the crimson Baskerville cloak, Levi is
positioned with the Abyss at his back, colored in the Glens'
rich royal purple. As head of the Baskervilles, he is the one
most learned in the Abyss' mysteries.
Levi once said that "the
Abyss is at once the beginning and the end of all things."
True to this concept, the Abyss is depicted here not in its
typical aquatic imagery, but in the likeness of a space nebula.
Space nebulae consist of gas and dust: the raw materials from
which worlds (stars and planets) are born, and to which they
Levi appears in the twilight of his life, bandaged to mask the
inevitable breakdown of his body from bearing the Abyss' power.
Its dark clouds wrap around him, ready to absorb him into its
fathomless depths, and his physical form is shown dissolving
Behind him are three unbroken chains, connecting the human world
in front of him with the Abyss behind him, and intersecting at
Levi as their nexus. These could represent Lacie, Oswald, and
Jack - the people he used to carry out his Abyss experiments -
but it's more likely they represent Lacie, Alice, and Alyss -
the culmination of those experiments. Lacie, Alice, and Alyss
are the ones able to reach between the two worlds, and Levi is
the one who orchestrated their roles.
Levi's cover symbol is chains breaking around a
cracked crystal. This recalls his analogy of the human world as
a cracked crystal held together by
special chains which keep it from being engulfed by the
Abyss. Severance of these chains would trigger the
collapse of reality. This symbol is Levi's essence because
he gave Jack the idea to drop the human world into the Abyss in
order to make Lacie happy, thereby starting the ball rolling for
the tragedy of Sablier and the entire story a century later.