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Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, Volume 1

Review

Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, Volume 1

Welcome to Count D's pet shop, where you can find a pet that will grant your dearest wish...for a price.

This new series beginning takes off a year after the original Pet Shop of Horrors, the beloved 10-volume series also from TOKYOPOP. The enigmatic and beautiful Count D, the Chinese proprietor of the title pet shop, has settled in Tokyo's sketchy Kabukicho district, near the hustle and bustle of fashion-famous Shinjuku but relating to the decidedly darker underworld of hostess clubs and yakuza. D couldn't be happier, as this is the kind of place where his pet shop will be able to do booming business providing the hard-to-get and possibly illegal pets his clients desire. D is very solicitous to his customers and prides himself on being able to locate the perfect pet for anyone who comes into his shop. What his customers never quite realize, though, is that his shop brings more than just consummate service, and his pets will teach them the lessons they need to learn rather than what they want to learn.

A kind of “Twilight Zone” with animals, PET SHOP OF HORRORS: TOKYO tells vignettes of each new pet and owner, highlighting the psychological horrors all encounter more than the actual violence, although there is a fair smattering of blood within these tales. Count D's pets have the trick of appearing as animals to most folks, but to their owners, they take on a human glamor that feeds their ultimate desire --- whether that be a person to help out around the house or the perfect child

"Domestic" provides a window into a young single mother struggle to care for her only son while on the run from an abusive ex. Her new "pet" is there to lend her aid, but he also forces her to face the desperate, violent destiny that awaits her. "Double Booking" spins an interesting twist on destiny and true love, featuring cicadas as the instrumental pets adopted by two lonely owners pining after creative success. The most unsettling and creep-tastic installment in this volume is "Door," a tale flashing back to D's grandfather's pet shop in Berlin during Hitler's rise to power. Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress, becomes a customer of the store by taking in what appears to be an ideal Aryan child in order to keep the Fuhrer close to her. The rise to power, both for Hitler and for Braun at his side, twists her ambitions and reveals the pair for the very human monsters they were, while at the same time highlighting the desperation to cover frailty that drove both. Her pet, as it turns out, is the legendary kirin, a mythical creature said to appear at the downfall of an empire.

Pet Shop of Horrors has always been more about atmosphere than about truly surprising plots --- readers can often predict the twists that are coming at the end of each chapter. Instead, the pleasure comes from Matsuri Akino's talent for truthful dialogue, attention to detail in the art, and a fine sense of how to portray both laughter and dread. An overarching story of D and his ancestors became the focus of later volumes in the original series, as well as his entanglement with Detective Leon Orcot, who was determined to bring him down. I for one hope that further volumes will develop a similar, overarching story arc to tie the vignettes together. 

Fans of the original series will be overjoyed to have more stories of the Count, and new readers will have the fun of delving into a fine horror series at a satisfying starting point.

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Reviewed by Robin Brenner on October 18, 2011

Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, Volume 1
by Matsuri Akino

  • Publication Date: February 12, 2008
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: TokyoPop
  • ISBN-10: 1427806071
  • ISBN-13: 9781427806079