A smoke-filled alley in Chinatown harbors Count D's Pet Shop. The pets sold here aren't your everyday variety and the Count prides himself on selling Love and Dreams in the form of magical creatures that come with an exclusive contract. But buyers beware. If the contract is broken the Count cannot be held accountable for whatever may happen. A fascinating and macabre look into the very soul of human nature.
Reading this series, one might think they can smell the sweet scent of cake and incense that lures unsuspecting customers to Count D's exotic Chinatown shop. Like moths to the flame, readers turn the page over and over in a constant search for the truth behind the seductive illusion that Pet Shop of Horrors is.
A collection of vignettes, much like Aesop's Fables of old, the short stories that make up the manga are timeless in nature. Though we are not new to the idea that humans a...re destroying the world, Pet Shop takes a very unreal turn, not attacking man for it's domination, but for
it's very nature. Through the eyes of animals, the course of greed, jealousy, lust, wrath unearth from the most unlikely sources again and again. The perpetrators are all different, but the manga illustrates again and again that it is because they are human. This ideal, terrifying as it is, holds a reluctant mirror to ourselves with each story as we see what we are and what we could be. To throw it over the top, the moral is never forced down your throat. You will get it if you get it, but if you don't, it probably doesn't apply to you to begin with.
The story is highlighted heavily by it's thick artistic detail and design. Matsuri Akino paints us a crystal-clear picture that no manga-ka could possibly make any more luxurious a vision. Visceral in nature, we see the beauty turn to unspeakable horror before our very eyes. Eyes drawn to be racked with terror, Akino suspects our reactions and reflects them in such a surreal manner, I've never seen anything like it in anything I have ever seen or read before. There is no sloppiness here. Everything is exquisitely crafted in ink.
The ringleader of this deconstruction of humanity is the coy, cake-loving D. Though shy in expression, D demonstrates a variety of various emotions as the series progresses, to which credit could be given to no one other than D's exact opposite; the crass, violent detective, Leon Orcot, who is out to arrest D for a variety of charges, none of which Leon can ever prove. It is only his presence that invokes D, but alone he is essentially a waste of pages. This conflict between the two of them persists the length of the manga and is the cohesive force that holds the various short stories together. What is more inspiring is it's Cowboy Bebop-like approach to its characters, in which each chapter-exclusive character is fleshed out to his or her full potential in regards to the story at hand.
To say I enjoyed this manga is like saying Leon has a fixation with D. It is a gross understatement. These are stories that are universal in their lessons and timeless in nature. This manga is not just a warning though, but a sign of hope, as sometimes the outcome of any given story is not a thing of disgust and horror of the capabilities of our kind. Take it for what you will, but any reader will likely recognize the tales as one or the other. The art, the story, the dialogue, everything is spot-on. The recurring characters are never betrayed and warped into something they are not and remain as mysterious at the end as they are at the start. To conclude, it is this humble reviewer's notion that Pet Shop of Horrors is the Cowboy Bebop of manga. It has no real genre unto itself and can be accessed by just about anyone without any other knowledge of anime or manga. Thus, it is my opinion that Pet Shop of Horrors is nothing short of a masterpiece.
This is my favourite manga of all (well, so far). I love it to bits and pieces.
You've probably read manga where the drawing technique was better, more elaborate, unique in the end. You've possibly read manga with a much more solid, tight storyline. I find though that it doesn't really matter. A story doesn't have to be perfect to be utterly enticing. And Pet Shop of Horrors (further PSOH) is. So. Freaking. Charming.
Or maybe you are like I was: rather spooked with or uninterested in manga-style drawing (which, as it turns out at a closer look, isn't one style at all). I think PSOH can
be a good place to start getting acquainted with manga. Because it's eclectic and has elements that may appeal to different kinds of readers: horror/supernatural, mystery, crime/action, humour, morality tale, and then there are animals and very attractive main characters.
I began with the PSOH anime (available on YouTube). It consists of only four episodes (Daughter (from Vol 1.3, rabbit), Delicious (Vol 2.3(7), Mermaid), Despair (Vol 1.2, Medusa), and Dual (Vol 5.1, Kiri). People say that Count D's voice in Japanese is better but I really liked his English voice (I watched the English version).
I admit that by the end of episode one I was thoroughly creeped out. It still stands out in my mind as one of the creepiest episodes in the series, but to see it first, without any idea what I was getting into? Was a shock. But I was intrigued too: how come that animals are also people? I mean, how? And what's this Count D's agenda? He didn't seem evil, but the consequences of his business transaction were quite horrible. So I watched on. And by the end of episode four was absolutely, madly in love with him. So of course I rushed to find the manga. It's not difficult to find; I think it might be sold where you live, and if not and if Amazon isn't an option for you, it can be found on the net almost in any big place that trades manga.
There are ten volumes of the original PSOH manga, and three more of Shin Pet Shop of Horrors, the sequel (only two are scanlated so far) that features different main characters. The premise is as follows. In LA Chinatown, there's a Pet Shop. Quoting from the book: "Its proprietor, an enigmatic figure known only as Count D, beckons through his doors the injured and the scarred, introducing them to creatures friendly and bizarre. [...] Detective Leon Orcot [..] has traced a series of seemingly unrelated crimes to Count D and his Pet Shop of Horrors. A steadfast sceptic, Leon dismisses as trickery the inexplicable events he witnesses."
It begins as spooky; the morals are a bit annoying and repetitive, and detective Leon Orcot seems to be little more than a hot-tempered dunderhead. But it's still intriguing. So you read on. And it becomes less creepy, or at least much more varied. The dunderhead turns out to be not that bad. You begin to see the logic (or a logic) of Count D's actions. Then, gradually, the big story becomes a focus rather than those short ones of which it consists. Leon and Count D develop a sort of friendship that is actually 3/5 flirting and 2/5 shouting at each other. Enter Chris, a six-year-old third main character. You learn more and more about Leon, his past, and his life; in the end you learn a lot about Count D too (in Vol 10 in particular). You learn to treasure the drawing: D's expressions, comic relief scenes, outfits, animals. So when it ends, you turn to fanfiction as the only painkiller available -- 'cos it ended, and the very fact is devastating.
On the way it so happens that the two main characters and antagonists have a real potential. It's easy to develop a crush on Count D. He's enigmatic, mysterious, aloof, and the further the more appealing. But whom I really love is Leon. He's an ordinary guy to umpteenth degree, but he's so good it's impossible not to fall for him. Leon hides strength of character and integrity under his rude and messy outlook. He's like Harry: often clueless but true and good. By the end of the first series, my heart was so totally his that I couldn't completely get into Shin Pet Shop. You'll see why when you get there. Chris is plain wonderful. And animals? Awesome. T-chan in particular, but you won't meet him until the middle of the series. So, love it is :)
I want to say thank you again to iibnf for the anime and to RexLuscus whose enthusiasm made me try it and who's been a wonderful guide.
Petshop of Horrors draws you in from the moment you pick it up, that is if you don't mind all the gore in it. Yes, it can be a bit bloody at parts but it ends up being part of this series appeal. This isn't your normal horror story (if it was I wouldn't be praising it, I hate horror). There are many parts that make the reader actually think about what they are reading and while some parts may be a bit hard to understand the first time it's worth reading a second time to understand the meaning behind it. As for the cast,
you could hardly ask for better. While Count D may try to be emotionless and detached from everything he sometimes fails and lets his emotions show, which just makes an amazing character all the better. It's funny to read his conversations with Leon, whose at the other end of the pole. And then there are the animals. Not only do they all have different personalities, but you actually learn things about the different spices that appear in the series.
Overall, this series is one of the most amazing and wonderful pieces I have ever read. It's just one of those stories that you can't get out of your head and just need to continue reading until the very last page.
Welcome to a shop that makes your wishes a reality… scratch that, this is a shop that will stock the rarest animals in the world that will make your dreams a reality. Sometimes the explanation of this manga and xxxHOLiC sort of mix with each other. The idea is pretty much the same though in that we have the owner of the shop who helps people, a outsider brought into the shop to learn about it, and a by chapter storyline that is new every, I want to say two or three chapters. And then the ending goes into one big storyline at the end,
but that would be a spoiler so let’s not worry about that.
Now all through the books, there are times when we would have parts that didn’t feel like any part of the main story or the little people stories. I consider them more like side stories. Even though we have those side stories, they actually work well in this since most of the story is really dark and depressing; we need a little bit of something comedic in order to break it up. The little stories were some of the animals play around with each other or when D is being his fun cute self are actually enjoyable before we go back into the dark depths of peoples hearts and minds.
I love the rather fun style of D although he feels like Yuko from xxxHOLiC a bit. He is always going gaga over sweets and answers questions in a rather whimsical mysterious manner, never giving an actual straight answer to the question. Because of this, most of the time we are left to wonder what he means and makes us think or, in my case, sometimes doing a little soul searching. Leon is like Watanuki without the large amount of whining. Although Leon isn’t there for most of the times people buy pets from D’s shop, he is basicly our inside look to the shop being a newbie himself. He is always asking the questions and although he does get annoying at times with acusing D of selling dangerous animals (and yes, I do believe some of them would never be allowed to be sold if the government knew exactly what was in the shop), he does have his good points in that he is willing to try and learn what is going on.
Another thing I was so happy about was the informational pages that were placed at the end of each book. They explained each mystical animal more thoroughly for those that never heard of them. It helped a lot in being able to find if the animal was made just for the manga or if it truly had a place in myths and legends.
The artwork is very beautiful in many of the areas, showing a lot of details, flowing hair and clothing and the most fantastic clothing designs I have ever seen. Some of which seem almost as though they could be part of the character themselves instead of being just normal clothing. Wings look like wings, fur looks like fur, and many of the humanoid animals look very close to their animal look with none of them looking like any other unless they are supposed to. With that said, sometimes it does lack like when there are funny little moments when D is sort of playing around or when some of the normal creatures we see are doing playful little side stories that really don’t mean anything to the actual story taking place. There are also times when things are very hard to see such as in misty areas and times when a color blends with the background. It is a problem with the rather fine lines this artist gives the manga.