Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Briana Lawrence
Review Date: Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Release Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Matsuri Akino
Translated by:Angela Liu / Mike O'Sullivan
Adapted by:Angela Liu / Mike O'Sullivan

What They Say
It's been several years since the bizarre Chinese count known only as D left L.A.'s Chinatown. In that time, life has returned to normal in the world, and the nightmares associated with Count D's pet shop of horrors have ceased. But across the Pacific, amidst the bright lights of Tokyo, a mysterious Chinese man has been spotted, and he seems to be opening a new shop...

Magical "pets" are the elixirs of people's dreams--and the potions of their nightmares--in this continuation of the horrifying and tantalizing tale known as Pet Shop of Horrors.

The Review
Just when you thought it was safe to buy pets from beautiful men in Chinatown again...

Packaging:
Count D is on the front cover, wearing a dark outfit that's decorated with blue trim on the sleeves and gold dragons, one of which is coming off of his clothing and curling above his head. There are long, claw marks ripping into the cover behind Count D, and it's hard to notice at first but the claw marks show parts of the picture that appears on the first page; Count D with a tiger. The title appears at the top of the page, the word "Tokyo" in large font with the city sketched out behind it, and "Pet Shop of Horrors" is written in front of it. The back cover has the description of the manga and the title underneath it. "Tokyo" is in an even large font that stretches across the page with the city behind it.

Artwork:
Any fan of the series knows how breathtaking the different creatures of the story are. There has always been a great amount of detail in the animals, and that remains in the sequel, but it was quite a pleasant surprise to see just as much detail in the human characters. In fact, this time around, there's a lot of focus made on the pet owners in both art and story. The characters are what look best in this book, from their eyes, their hair, and even their clothing (Count D, especially). The different locations in the story don't stand out nearly as much as the characters, but they're drawn well enough to know where everything is taking place.

Text/SFX:
While some manga translate the sound effects that are written in kanji, this one does not. This isn't really a problem because the sound effects are self explanatory. The only time anything is translated is when Japanese terms or names are used, for example, one of the pets is named "Natsuki" and the mangaka explains that natsu means summer and kibou means hope. When reading this, one should prepare themselves for lots of bold and/or large text for all of the screaming, freaked out characters in the story.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story starts with a letter from a son to his father. In the letter, he talks about how good business is going for him in Neo Chinatown, especially with the newest tenant occupying the 13th floor of his building. But there's something strange about the new tenant; he's some sort of Chinese count who will be running a pet shop that specializes in rare, exotic animals. This is the cue for fans of "Pet Shop of Horrors" to feel sorry for this poor landlord.

The rest of the volume focuses on the different people who come into the shop and take pets home. If you're new to the story, you'll see that the animals appear human, which leads to some outrageous assumptions of Count D running some sort of brothel or illegal child slavery ring. This, of course, leads to a very suspicious landlord, especially when some of the pet owners end up dead. Current fans of the series will be surprised to see that these stories focus more on the pet owners and the trials they face in their lives. It isn't so much the animals that make their stories interesting (though they certainly add to it), but the characters themselves all have an interesting story to read about.

This volume is nothing like the previous part of the series, which (in the beginning) focused on owners who neglected to follow the rules that came with taking care of their pet and paid for it with their lives. In fact, the rules never come up in this volume at all, and I have to wonder if that's going to be an important point in the story this time around. The owners in this volume actually take good care of their pets and the tragedy happens because their own lives are horrible, not because they mistreated the pet somehow.

Comments
I remember watching the four episode anime for "Pet Shop of Horrors," having found it at Blockbuster years ago, back when I had to absorb anything and everything that was anime. I remember being freaked out by the story with the bunnies and vividly remember the image of bunnies exploding out of each others' bodies to create more and more rabbits. And I remember thinking that it was the most grotesque, and coolest, image I had ever seen in anime at the time.

When the manga came out I was more than happy to shell out ten dollars per volume. Each volume felt even better than the last and I was sad to see it end, but honestly, there wasn't anything else to do with the plot. You can only have creepy animals and a mysterious count last for so long. So when I heard that there was a sequel... I didn't know how to feel. "Pet Shop of Horrors" is certainly a great series, but I feared that a sequel would ruin the story by dragging it on when it was clearly over. Thankfully, that didn't happen with this volume. In fact, this volume is rather enjoyable and I was happy to see a bigger focus on the pet owners and how their lives changed, for better or worse. There wasn't as much of a horror element to the story, and there wasn't as much of a focus on the stupidity of humans who bought a pet, didn't follow the rules, and then were brutally murdered for it.

Of course, I have to talk about the "controversial" story in this volume that deals with Eva Braun, Hitler's lover. This is actually the most interesting story in this volume and is very well written. There isn't anything that promotes or condones Hitler's actions, the story just goes through a rather creative scenario where Eva Braun bought a pet from Count D's pet shop (technically its his grandfather). When seeing the blond haired, blue eyed child, Hitler decides that he is perfect and tries even harder to achieve his goals, which is exactly what Eva desired. It's impressive to have such a supernatural idea fit in with the events of WWII, especially since none of the events of the war were changed in the story.

If you're new to the series there isn't a strong need to go and read all ten volumes of the original PSoH, though it will make this volume a bit more enjoyable. There isn't much of an overarching plot in PSoH: Tokyo yet and this volume starts off the same way the previous series started out: mysteriously beautiful count with pets we've never seen before. While this volume was a good read, I do fear that an overarching plot might follow the same formula of the previous story, which would make the sequel both repetitive and pointless. It's hard to tell where this series is going and I can't think of anything new that PSoH: Tokyo can offer at the moment, but for now, I'll remain content with this volume and wait to see what volume two has to offer.



Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-4278-0607-1
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Pet Shop of Horrors Tokyo