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Webcomic / Pandora's Tale

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"I've broken so many rules. A Helper lives to obey. Without obedience, what am I?"
Pandora's Tale is a webcomic by Xanthippe "Xan" Hutcheon which debuted in 2019.

The story centers around Pandora - a Transgender Helper, created and conditioned to serve the rich, who flees her training facility to escape having her personality rewritten. Upon being found by a group of resistance fighters, she imprints on the well-intentioned Isabelle, declaring her to be her mistress.

The comic can be read here.

Pandora's Tale contains examples of:

  • Animesque: To the point of arguably just flat-out being an OEL Manga.
  • Arc Words: Broken. The word is used by Pandora in the first two chapters to describe herself, as she is described as this early on due to her being transgender. It's also the title of said chapters.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Doctor Shah is generally rather nice, but has zero patience for people putting themselves or especially others in danger.
Shah: Because if any harm comes to that sweet baby, I will kill you.
  • Isabelle , despite usually making an effort to hide her anger, does have her limits.
  • Cat Girl: Helpers.
  • Cuteness Overload: Lyra's response to seeing Pandora for the first time.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Everything but the chapter title pages and chapter 1's ending page are full black-and-white.
  • Dystopia: The air is polluted enough throughout most of Pioneer City that not wearing a surgical mask is considered a health hazard, and the class disparity is high enough that servants are being bred for the rich and the government is doing seemingly nothing about it.
  • Fantastic Racism: Helpers have no legal rights and are sold as luxury merchandise. The official line is that owning Helpers isn't cruel because Helpers don't really feel anything, and there are even those among the resistance who believe that they aren't people.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Heroic Seductress: Essentially Isabelle's role in the resistance. Her skills as a dancer and sex worker serve as a distraction from whatever resistance business is happening in the nightclub.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Isabelle is a sex worker who uses her skills to aid the resistance. She's also a protective and kindhearted girl who takes her guardianship of Pandora very seriously.
  • Imprinting: Opening a Helper's delivery pod triggers the release of a gas that makes them imprint on the first person they see after emerging. Isabelle unwittingly causes Pandora to imprint on her when helping her out of her pod.
  • Insistent Terminology: Isabelle initially insists Pandora call her by her name rather than "mistress," but relents shortly after discovering that Pandora physically can't and experiences intense distress when she tries.
  • Little Bit Beastly: All Helpers are this, specifically of the "cat" variety. They even run like cats.
  • Meaningful Name: Pandora - she figuratively opens Pandora's box for the main cast.
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: Scheduled for Pandora before her escape.
  • Miss Kitty: Miss Fortuna, a former courtesan, runs a nightclub where the dancers often provide additional services to customers (as well as cover for resistance activity). She seems to have assumed a mentorship role with Isabelle in particular, referring to her as a protege.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: A guest at the club seems to assume Pandora is a sex worker based purely on the fact that she's a Helper.
  • Noble Bigot: Zero. Though a rebel, she has a nasty habit of treating helpers as subhuman.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Poor Isabelle. She's the most insistent about freeing Pandora from slavery, and so is predictably mortified when her actions result in Pandora imprinting on her, effectively making her Pandora's "owner".
  • Painting the Medium: Pandora attempting to speak over the loudspeaker in Chapter 1 is conveyed by her dialogue bubble physically covering the loudspeaker's bubble.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Isabelle tries this to get Shah to cover the cost of Pandora's hormones, and fails. Pandora immediately does the same thing, to resounding success.
  • Reality Ensues: Isabelle tries to give Pandora her old clothes, only to be faced by the fact that human clothing was not designed to account for giant cat tails. Cutting tail holes in clothes then becomes standard practice for the crew, as actual helper clothes are exorbitantly expensive due to helpers being mean for the rich.
  • Servant Race: Helpers. They're made from birth to be servants, and even intensely conditioned with certain behaviors, to the point to where doing something unbecoming of a Helper, even if their master asks, is so distressing that it makes the Helper believe they're going to die.
  • Sex Slave: Implied to be something Helpers are usually used for, given that they receive special training for it.
  • Transgender: Pandora and Isabelle are both trans girls. Hemmel, the local resistance leader, uses they/them pronouns.

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