Be careful when you enter the Devil’s pawnshop, you may be getting more than you bargained for...
Writer/Artist: Kaoru Ohashi
Translated by: Ari Werry
Adapted by: Nicholas Maragos
What They Say
The mysterious Shadow and his assistant Maria run a small pawnshop. Every customer of their shop experiences unforeseen consequences because of his or her dark side. What they pawn there may be something that they are not supposed to let go. When you enter the Devil's pawnshop... be careful what you wish for!
The front cover features the pawnshop staff, Shadow and Maria. Shadow is placed at the foreground to the right and wears a black turtleneck and an enigmatic smile. He holds out a sparkling round bauble in his left hand with a dark butterfly hovering over it. Behind him is a large gilt ornate frame, and within that is Maria, who is also smiling mysteriously. She wears a red dress with matching bow and clutches her everpresent white bunny plushie in her arms. The background behind them is the color of a stormy sky, and to the top left is a lantern similar to the one that appears in Nightmare 3 with the volume number in the center of it. As would be expected for a horror title, the title logo at the very top is designed such that the letters look like they are bleeding blood. Mangaka credits are placed to the bottom left in white block lettering.
The back cover features the splash illustration from Chapter 1, which depicts Maria in a ruffled pink dress and matching bonnet with a darkened sky behind her. Unlike the Maria of the front cover, she looks like a tragic heroine (definitely not the case) with her windblown blonde hair and pensive expression. The manga title is repeated at the top, and the story summary is aligned to the left against a magenta panel. Below that are the publisher's icon and rating icon.
Materials for this title are pretty good. The pages are thick and bright white, and the copy quality is crisp and excellent. The binding is durable though it is on the stiff side; you almost have to crease the spine if you want to read. Some of the original Japanese dialogue text was not removed in a few places. Extras include a 38 page bonus manga and ads for other Aurora titles.
Ohashi does an excellent job with the artwork for this series. Illustrations are cleanly drawn, and the use of light and dark, creepy objects (mostly skulls), and tone work in the background very effectively sets the atmosphere for each story. The mangaka puts a lot of effort into the details of the items that end up possessing our hapless victims, like the rings in Nightmare 1. In regards to character designs, our resident demon Shadow and his assistant Maria do not have monstrous appearances, but instead look like an eyeglass-type bishounen and a frilly prepubescent Lolita. In fact, most characters look like they would be quite at home in a lighthearted shojo story. However, as their stories darken, the mangaka distorts and shadows their facial expressions to make them rather unnerving versions of themselves. Ohashi is particularly good at frenzied eyes and evil-I'm-coming-to-get-you-glow-in-the-dark eyes.
This is horror/supernatural title, and each story has its share of violent scenes. Some of the imagery is quite graphic and include severed digits, mangled bodies, and the very nasty results of accelerated aging. Be warned, Ohashi does not leave much to the imagination but draws each of these horrors in striking detail.
Any Japanese honorifics have been removed, and all characters appear to be on a first name basis. Vital text is translated with overlays, but most text is left untranslated. Translations of sound effects are placed beside the Japanese sound effects in lettering that matches the originals. Translation of the manga dialogue is satisfactory for the most part, but there are a couple places where characters are cursing where their word choices sound a little strange.
Welcome to Shadow's Pawnshop, where loans are extended in exchange for your valuables. However, Shadow's standards of "value" differ greatly from the norm. For instance, that ring on display may look like a cheap piece of costume jewelry, but it is rich with the pent-up sorrow, hate, despair, and loneliness of an abused girl. And that may look like an ordinary photograph in the window, but it's not just the picture of a boy -- it's actually his life. And that razor over there is a memento of love turned to hate. As for the proprietor and his cherub like assistant, don't be fooled by appearances. Despite their beautiful faces, they're devils on the inside so beware of what they offer you!
I did a review last year on the manga, Yume Kira Dream Shoppe, which was based on a similar premise as Nightmares for Sale. Both titles are comprised of short stories, whose only common thread is an encounter with the proprietor of a magical store. However, while Rin of Yume Kira Dream Shoppe is a benevolent soul whose clients end up with fluffy happy endings, the demon Shadow and his assistant Maria are the exact opposite. They are not out so much to grant their clients' desires as they are out to manipulate those desires to draw them to dark and tragic ends.
Because the stories are so short, I can't delve too deeply into them without giving the whole plot away. All I can say is that each story focuses on a different character with some sort of unmet need or desire. Shadow offers a means to grant each client what he or she wants, but his solutions come at a steep price or have unforeseen consequences.
Shadow and Maria are the only characters that show up in each story. Ohashi does not provide much background on them. All you know about them is that despite their beautiful appearances, they are predators of humankind and are actually much older than they look.
If you like horror that explores the dark side of humanity and prefer it in bite sized chunks, you may want to check out this title.
This title is rated 16+ for profanity, disturbing images and imagery, and violence.