Petshop of Horrors is an old manga (1995-1998) by Matsuri Akino (wrong name on the image). The story follows a handsome Chinese shop seller, the strange cases around the pet shop where he works and his customers. While odd events occur, the police begins investigating and everything points the young inspector Orcot to the handsome pet seller.
What follows is that the strangeness continues, the pets become even more surprisingly beautiful… and life changes.
Mysterious animals are brought into the country, all bought by the elite, but not only. The Count is a the perfect salesman – charming, strangely attractive and oddly familiar with everything. This is not the Chinatown you know, it is the Chinatown filled with mysterious monsters and immense questions whose answers one could find only though the cold-eyed, but warm-faced Count in the pet shop.
The so-called anime is made-out of four OVA episodes, all focusing on the sale of a different special pet to a unique owner and the tragedies resulting. While the result is a nice animation, graphically speaking, and a nice look into the world of the Count and his family.
The first episode focuses on a couple which is looking to replace their daughter with a new pet… Which the Count suggests to be a rabbit. But why does it seem so similar to their Alice? They have to follow three rules, so that the rabbit will behave and the Count won’t take it back… But, of course, they do not and a massacre happens.
The second episode tell us of a man who has just lost his wife in a pool-drowning accident and is looking for one of the Count’s special pets. A mermaid looking exactly like his wife is the proposition. Naturally, he takes the pet home, promising to abide by the three rules… But failing to at the end. A second watery death in the family.
Thirdly, we are introduced to a man who used to be an actor, a famous one, but… his death looks even odder than others. His pet is a lizard, supposedly bought from the same pet shop from which the two previous victims did purchase their own rare animals.
The fourth episode meets us with a rare animal, a much rarer one than the others… The Kirin. A godlike creature which may once more bring chaos, granting wishes to its owner.
While the anime is an excellent pathway to discovering the manga a.k.a. the original story which uncovers all the mysteries in the plot, but also sets new ones. In fact, the manga is uncensored, full of sexuality and has a lot of violence. What you will see in the anime, you will see better and harsher in the manga. Yet, you will also see lot of story, personal developments and also… relationships which grow and become stronger, develop and grow, break and then get fixed.
Unlike in the anime, where they found time only to show the Count is a shop guide (more like a consultant, though) and seller, in the manga we get to know how deep his relations to the anthropomorphic humanoid are.
In fact, the manga adds the pieces which create a story, while the show is a perfect door to it. The only problem with the written content being the lack of colour, this is a manga worth reading. The desaturated-ness of it is really not a problem because of the intricate graphic representations.
There are two other related titles to this project – the manga sequel Pershop of Horrors: Tokyo (a.k.a. Shin Petshop of Horrors) and the cancelled Hollywood live-action adaptation of the story.
The sequel of the original manga “Shin Petshop of Horrors” began in April 2004 and continued until November 2012, a totally canon work which comes from the same artist and writer as the original. It focuses on the more… personal relationship between Count D and a new pestering inspecting man – Taizuu. In fact, it focuses more on this, trying to put the fantasy element more into the background, unlike in the original. Days in Tokyo pass differently, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s for the worse, although I did find the sequel a bit dull and like a vague implication to the lovely storyline and the unique ideas expressed in the original.
So, who should watch and who should ignore this story?
Be aware that this has a lot of old-school, old-old, almost ancient animation. If you cannot stand these kinds of things – ignore. if you cannot stand feminine males – ignore. If you cannot stand the typical Asian vs US behavioural stereotypes – ignore.
If you like old anime, if you like horrors, if you enjoy cheeky humour, a bit of sexual innuendo and food for homosexual discussions (yaoi fans and fanfiction writers – this one’s for you) – do check it out. Tales of the Crypt fans out there? You should definitely try it.
Do not forget: Once you sign a contract, you are bound by it.
Petshop of Horrors in The List
Unfortunately, Petshop of Horrors no longer has any official web representation.
Images: Tokyopop, Madhouse