Title: Pet Shop of Horrors
Japanese Title: Pettoshoppu obu Horāzu
Author: Matsuri Akino
Genre: Fantasy, horror, mystery, supernatural, thriller
Licensed: Yes (Tokyopop)
Release Date: June 2003 (in Japan 1995-1998)
This series isn’t so much a single story as it is many stand alone stories strung together to create an amazingly refreshing manga experience. The plot focuses on Count D, the proprietor of a mysterious pet shop located in a Chinatown in the United States. Each chapter in this series tells a short story that involves a customer and the pet sold to them by the Count. People come into the shop often looking for regular pets but what the Count can offer them is a pet that may fulfill their deepest wish, as long as the new owner cares for them per his instructions. Should the instructions not be followed exactly, the Count is not responsible for what occurs after, no matter how deathly the results may be. Each story seems to focus on the inner battle of the customer and their ability (or lack thereof) to overcome their weaknesses/temptations and care for their new “pet” exactly per contract.
Count D denies that his name is “Count D” he says that this title belongs only to his grandfather, the shop’s true owner. He runs the family pet shop in Chinatown while the shop’s true owner travels. The Count distinctly shows a greater love for animals than humans. However he doesn’t seem to dislike the company of Leon and Chris. The Count has a very calm personality and rarely displays any anger. He is often found to be drinking tea and probably has the world’s biggest sweet tooth. Much to the Count’s disdain he is so beautiful he is often mistaken for a woman.
Leon & Chris Orcot
Leon Orcot is a brash young detective who constantly attempts to connect the pet shop with mysterious events and for drug trafficking. He is convinced Count D is a criminal and begins to investigate him. Although the two should be enemies, they often act more like a team and the Count never turns away Leon when he stops by to investigate the shop. Leon spends a lot of time chasing girls and his entire room is filled with posters of sexy women. Chris is Leon’s much younger brother who comes to stay with Leon (and consequently the Count) partway through the series. Chris does not speak due to a traumatic incident but has a great relationship with the pets in Count D’s shop.
I love the art for this series. Leon’s hairstyle and clothing definitely has an 80’s/90’s feel to it, but it really looks good on him. Also each creature is so fantastically drawn that I often have to flip back to get another look at them and take in all the details. One thing that scared me away from this series was HOW girlie the Count looks. But I grew to appreciate his unique look.Up until this series I stayed away from any manga that was categorized as “horror”, I assumed that it would be distastefully bloody and violent often like the horror movies out there today. However this manga is a lighter more intellectual type of horror. I found myself driven by morbid curiosity to see what would happen to the next customer, and the next, and the next. Ideally I had planned on reading one or two little chapters before bed each night…..but in the end I finished all 10 volumes in a week. The only thing better then discovering the dilemma and weaknesses of the customer is learning what the next fabulous pet is going to be. Each pet is usually an exotic creature that is seeped into China’s history; most of the pets are considered mythological. This series also has a great comedy element to it. Watching the Count and Leon and their completely opposing personalities interact brings a smile to my face.
The xxxHolic manga is the closest manga out there to this series, it has pretty much all the positive points that I loved about Pet Shop of Horrors. However, I will say I enjoy the art style in xxxHolic far more, its gorgeous.