Petshop of Horrors

by Karen Mystic

Petshop of Horrors

This manga, Petshop of Horrors by Matsuri Akino, is really unique. It's one in which I love the story a whole lot, but I really don't like either of the characters; it's very iffy there. The tone in each chapter is vastly different from the other - ranging from horrible and sadistic to wonderful and heart-warming.

The whole manga revolves around Count D and his customers who live in the Chinatown of Los Angeles. Count D strikes me as being a strictly moral man with very uncertain morals. His pets can either be normal animals or mythological creatures. The pets, although animals, can look exactly like humans and talk as well. However, only certain people can see them in their human forms.

The first chapter of the manga is Dream. Since this is the opening, we see all of the things that make Count D. His ambiguity in that he shows a callous disregard for human life yet he wanted to spare a young teenage girl from a horrible devastating sight which could possibly ruin her life. D's comical side (his love for chocolate) is also revealed.

I don't like the fact that D doesn't tell his customers everything they should know when they buy their pets; they wouldn't break the rules of their contract if they knew what the consequences would be. However, without the secrets, there would be no plot. I'm also wondering if the fate of the girl's two magical birds parallels her decision for her own future. Maybe, maybe not. While the manga does make some statements, not all of it is meant to be insightful.

The second chapter (Despair) introduces Detective Leon Orcot, although I don't think his full name is mentioned at this point. It's a nice light-hearted chapter in comparason with the rest of the volume, more comedy than anything else despite the title. I really enjoyed the character interaction here.

The third chapter Daughter is the most gruesome and also the most unbelievable as a wild pack of rabid rabbits stampeed through Los Angeles. I couldn't stand Count D much in this chapter.

Even though it does make a necessary and important statement which I like about the chapter (how kindness and ignorances combined can corrupt), D acts arrogant and holier-than-thou. He knew what his two customers would do with their pet, and giving it to them was like giving a toddler a loaded gun. Leon Orcot makes another appearance, skeptical about D's magical pets and wondering if there was something normal about it.

The fourth chapter (Dreizehn) is the most heart-warming, and I was so happy at the ending. It's about a girl who was attacked and blinded. Count D gives her a dog to guard her and protect her. Even though D does some good things, I still can't bring myself to like him after the rabid rabbit incident. Even so, I really loved this chapter; it just made me feel good inside. The artwork is awesome. Although the dog looks like a human, the way he positions himself (when the girl kicked him out and when he sat near her bed) was absolutely like a dog, giving the reader a special insight into what he truly was.

On the whole, this is a good manga for people to love animals, mythology, comedy, and drama.

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