Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo Vol 1 by Matsuri Akino Manga Review

Title: Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo

Author:  Matsuri Akino

Publisher: TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  9781427806079

May Contain Spoilers

Count D is back, but he’s moved his digs to Tokyo.  Setting up shop in Neo Chinatown in Shinjuku, the mysterious Chinese count is back in business selling his unusual pets to those with the money or desire to adopt a new family member.  D isn’t always up front with his customers, and some times their new pets aren’t quite what they expected, but that’s ok – they all come with a 30 day return period.  If their owner is still alive, that is.

Forget about those cute puppies and kittens that crowd the cages at other pet shops.  Count D collects more obscure species, and he’s always waiting for just the right customer to stroll into his shop.  Whether it’s a creepy bug, an exotic dog, or even something that looks quite human, D’s got what you’re looking for.  There was a good mix of stories in this volume, and the episodic nature means that it’s easy to pick this book up when there are only a few minutes of reading time to spare.

“Domestic” was a gripping chapter about a woman suffering from nightmares about her violent ex.  She visits D’s shop, looking for a pet to protect her son, Shingo, from his father, and ends up taking home a little boy.  Reluctant to keep him, she’s soon won over by his helpful attitude and, best of all, the fact that her bad dreams have stopped.  Miki is a woman with a lot of problems, having suffered serious disappointments in her young life.  She longs to be a good mother, and maybe her new pet can help her fulfill her dearest wish.  Or maybe he just has his own agenda and Miki just happens to play into his aspirations.

“Double-booking” was my favorite story in this volume, as Reiko struggles with her failed ambitions, trapped in a meaningless job and becoming more bitter as the years pass her by.  Drawn to D’s shop, she asks for the most grotesque creature in the shop, something that creeps everybody out.  Feeling ugly herself, she needs a physical reflection of her own self worth.  When D presents her with a gross, disgusting animal, he promises her that it will bring her good fortune.  D’s got such a funny way of looking at things.  Sure, Reiko’s frustrated dreams suddenly become a glamorous reality for her, but for how long and at what cost? 

“Dust” was about a yakuza boss’s woman, the gang member who loves her, and the dog who loves him.  Anastasia was one of the most normal pets featured in any of the Pet Shop of Horrors stories that I have read.  Focusing on forbidden love and the seedy world of the yakuza, the chapter emphasized the loyal, forgiving nature of dogs.  Too bad Anastasia fell in love with such a chucklehead.  I really liked Anastasia, and felt bad that she ended up in such an unsavory environment.  Poor puppy!

I thought the weakest chapter was the side story, “Door,” which had Eva Braun visiting D’s grandfather’s shop in Germany during the Third Reich.  Eva’s feeling a little blue, and she’s having insecurities about whether the man of her dreams, Hitler, loves her as much as she loves him.  Living in the shadow of such a powerful man, she’s afraid that he’ll soon move on to another lover.  D’s grandfather helps her out, granting her deepest desire – she longs for a child, and lookie, there just happens to be one in the back of the shop.  This tale just didn’t grab my interest, and I couldn’t relate to the characters.  Turning a blind eye to the horrors occurring around her, Eva could only see her own selfish wants.  The creature in this chapter did win the Coolest Award though.  Too bad he wasn’t the star of a better chapter.

Grade: B

Rated for Older Teen

Review copy provided by TOKYOPOP

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