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Manga: Pet Shop of Horrors

"Welcome to my pet shop. Tonight, you will find something you desire."
Count D

Pet Shop of Horrors is a Horror/Fantasy manga by Matsuri Akino, which was later developed into a four episode anime. Its demographic is josei. Despite the title, the manga rarely focuses on horror, instead slowly building up the relationships between its characters in a magical setting. It has the occasional gore scene, though, and whole lot of terrifying monsters. Despite having some Early Installment Weirdness, the manga is generally considered to be much deeper than the anime, which mainly focused on the horror aspects.

Pet Shop of Horrors is the story of a peculiar shop in Chinatown, and the clients that visit it. The store's proprietor is an effeminate and sinister man only known as "Count D". He sells normal animals and mythical creatures to people who visit his Dysfunction Junction, and the animals and creatures can appear human to clients who are searching for something in life — a pet to help them get over the loss of a child, or to cope with unrequited love. Count D uses his pets to teach their human caretaker a lesson, making them sign a contract stating they'll take good care of their new friends. Almost inevitably, they don't. The outcome is rarely pleasant, although some stories (especially those involving pets given to children) do have very heartwarming endings.

Enter Leon Orcot, a young and inexperienced LAPD detective, who has noticed the correlation between some very messy deaths and the victims' visit to the titular pet shop. Leon takes to spending more and more time at the shop as the series progresses, developing a peculiar yet close relationship with the guy he's supposed to be investigating for murder.

When Leon's traumatized and mute little brother Chris arrives to stay with his sibling, D becomes the boy's babysitter. Along with the animals of the pet shop, Leon and D become the boy's new family, and they gradually open up to each other. The cast additionally consists of Jill (Leon's detective partner), Tetsu (a teenaged Tao Tieh goat-demon with a crush on D), Pon-chan (a little raccoon girl), Hon Long (a three-headed dragon girl), and Q-chan (D's familiar, who is much more than he seems to be). However, D's affection for Leon and Chris doesn't stop the pet shop's body count from increasing — and when D's Evilutionary Biologist father turns up after many years, Leon finds himself drawn into a desperate attempt to save all of humanity.

Tokyopop's translation of the first few volumes was widely disliked by the fans. It added swears, mistranslated many names and sound effects, included many typographical errors, and generally seemed disrespectful towards the source material. After four volumes, a new translator was hired, who immediately asked the manga's fan translation community on Yahoo Groups for help. As a result, the remaining six volumes of the series have a much more accurate translation. Sadly, however, much of the manga's text is full of untranslatable jokes: D's speech in Japanese often states one thing in hiragana (ex. "innocent bystanders"), but something quite different in kanji (ex. "mere mortals"). Finding an annotated fan translation is still highly recommended to fully enjoy the series.

The manga currently has a sequel in the works, Shin Pet Shop of Horrors (New PSOH, or PSOH:Tokyo, in English), with the action moved over to Shinjuku's Red Light District in Tokyo.

Not to be confused with Little Shop of Horrors. Nor Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop toys. Nor the Pet Shop Boys. Nor Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop. Though Google will kindly do it for you anyways.

Pet Shop of Horrors provides examples of:

  • Actually That's My Assistant: Despite serving as the caretaker of Count D's Petshop D's not the owner Count D. The actual Count D is D's grandfather.
  • Almost Kiss: D loves getting a bit too close to Leon's face.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: The Kirin chooses this form. It's approriate, considering the Kirin is a Chinese mythological creature.
  • Anti-Hero: Count D and his grandson D
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Chris' guilt over "killing" his mother (she died in childbirth) is a major part of his characterization, and he becomes a bit of a woobie as a result. Leon, however, who was actually raised by the late Ms. Orcot until he was 18 or 19, never really goes in to his reaction to her death.
  • Agent Peacock: D
  • Agent Scully: In spite of the steadily increasing volume of evidence, Leon simply refuses to believe that there are supernatural forces at work, instead trying to come up with "realistic" explanations
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Alas poor man from OVA 2, whose head we see cradled lovingly by the mermaid replacement of his dead bride.
  • All Myths Are True: Unicorns, Kitsune, Phoenixes, and Vampires all exist in the PSoH universe, not to mention the fact that the pet shop's animals appear and talk as humans.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Leon is aware that D is dangerous, but he seriously underestimates how dangerous. Good thing D likes him... Chris, however, is totally unaware of the darker side of D's nature, but if anything, his innocence protects him.
    • Wu-fei knows, though... and falls victim to D's cases often. Far too often. To the point of death, even. But, of course, it's always an illusion
  • Artists Are Not Architects: While Akino's backgrounds are generally beautiful, there are times when perspective and distance are just off.
  • Attempted Rape: D is saved by his pets.
    • Xiao Fua fights back against her Boss/attacker. She doesn't get raped, but she dies.
  • Audience Surrogate: Jill.
  • Big Brother Worship: Count D's younger sister seems to have this.
  • Big Damn Kiss: D and Tetsu. Leon is disgusted by it.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The pet shop.
  • Character Focus: Leon, in Doom.
    • Wu-fei, in either volume 4 or 5 of Shin PSOH.
    • T-chan, in a sidestory that didn't appear in the Tokyopop version of PSOH.
      • Chris in the other sidestory, as well as the first chapter he appeared in and the second Christmas chapter...; he's popular!
  • Character Overlap: D turns up to have tea with the lead character and his posse of animals in Genju No Seiza, Petshop's sister series.
    • And in Shin PSOH (PSOH Tokyo), we have this guy from some other series that takes care of the petshop for a while.
    • Femto-kun, all over both Petshop mangas.
  • Celibate Hero: D, for obvious reasons.
  • Cheeky Mouth: Averts this like the plague, except for some cartoony expressions.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Happens once, with the painting of a blooming cherry tree on a kimono.
  • Christmas in Japan: Alluded to in chapter 5, Dragon where D (correctly) guesses that Leon is loitering in the petshop on Christmas Eve because he has no girlfriend to spend Christmas with.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Don't get D started, whatever you do. You'll be there for years.
    • Leon gets a serious case of this illness at the end of the manga.
  • Cool Pet: D has Q, and arguably every single pet in the series is a Cool Pet of some sort.
    • Q is not his pet. Q is his grandfather the real Count D. But he doesn't know that. Neither do we, until the end.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: Tokyopop's earlier English volumes seems to be a rather loose adaptation of the Japanese original, with dialogue often being completely rewritten for no good reason, sometimes inducing plot holes (see below at Dub-Induced Plot Hole).
  • Death by Childbirth: Leon's and Chris' mother dies during childbirth. The story justifies this by mentioning that not only was she pregnant very late in life, but she wasn't in the best of health to begin with.
  • Dissonant Serenity: D, though it might be a mask — case in point, Dynasty.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The idea and the title almost sounds a little like Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Doting Parent: The parents in "Daughter" believed they were this. The truth was that they lacked any restraint to discipline their daughter. They never chastised her for anything she did wrong, especially when she was hooked on drugs. It was even worse when the mother gave Alice more drugs rather than help her rehabilitate.
  • Downer Ending: The series consists mainly of vignettes about the pet shop's clients. Not many have happy endings. The conclusion of the series, in which D leaves Leon forever, isn't exactly what you'd call a happy ending either.
    • It was expected by fans to be retconned in the second series, what with the first two volumes ending with a short vignette about how Leon is chasing D ALL OVER THE WORLD. But Akino left it hanging again.
  • Dramatic Irony: PSOH thrives on this, but the most obvious example is when Leon reassures himself that vampires don't exist... while the reader, through D's perspective, sees that the vampire in question is sitting on the couch behind Leon, in bat form.
  • Driven to Suicide: Evangeline's real death. She found out that Jason still loved Louise, even after marrying Evangeline, and threw herself off the ship.
    • Medusa. After her lover removes her blindfold and dies upon looking into her eyes, she decides to take her own life by looking at her reflection.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In "Discovery" there's a scene where D treats Leon's wound, which Leon remembers also happening in what he assumes was a dream. That is significant, as realizing it wasn't a dream is part of Leon's final acceptance that D is not exactly a normal human. Nevertheless, in Tokyopop's "translation", Leon just remarks that D is as weird as a tattoo artist he once shacked up with—something the "translator" seems to have pulled out of their ass. Along with D apparently not remembering the "dream" in question, which is just ridiculous.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: D is constantly being mistaken for a woman.
  • Early Installment Weirdness
  • Hair Decorations: Xiao Fua. Lao-Tai Wei makes her put a flower in her hair for her visit to D so she wouldn't "look like a damn street urchin" when she went to bribe him. It worked.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: The Count's shop.
  • Fairy Tale Motif: Eva's storyline parallels to the Hans Christian Andersen's Tear Jerker Fairy Tale, "The Little Mermaid".
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Tetsu goes from a being a cunning murderer to being a cute, child-like comic relief after his first appearance. In one of the final volumes, however, he's briefly shows as a bloodthirsty demon again, when the situation calls for it.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: D lets a mermaid switch bodies with him for a while, so that she can go to the shore to contact her human boyfriend again. Hilarity Ensues when Leon, who doesn't know what's going on, finds a seemingly amnesiac D and a hot naked mermaid.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: Averted.
  • Gay Bravado: D's behaviour can easily be interpreted this way, considering how all of his flirting is intended as mind games and manipulation — and his heartfelt confession in book 9 that he is incapable of understanding love.
  • Generation Xerox: D's whole family, with some pretty grim implications. All of them are mistaken for the real Count D(D's grandfather) Chris eventually falls into this trope too.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Even if Chris hadn't regained his voice when he did, he would still have lost the ability to see the pet shop's true form as he grew up.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: An early chapter (and the first episode of the OVA) has a rich couple who lost a daughter visiting Count D's shop and taking home a very rare species of rabbit that looks exactly like said daughter. Unfortunately, their love for their daughter leads them to break one of the rules of D's contract, and much rabbit-horror ensues.
  • Has Two Mommies: Sorta; Leon's been promoted to parent in regards to Chris, and D is Chris's babysitter with an ambiguous relationship with Leon.
  • Heroic BSOD: Volume 10, D suffers from it after getting shot by Vesca Howell and falling into a river; grandpa saves him by summoning visions of extinct species to motivate him once more to fight against humankind.
  • Historical In-Joke: One kirin owner was Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's lady; they name him Blondie.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Leon and D, or alternatively...
    • Also applies to D's dad and FBI agent Vesca/Weskar Howell, rubbing off on readers on an almost Generation Xerox level.
  • Masquerade: Count D and his family, along with the animals.
  • Humanity on Trial: The pet shop clients And, friendship with Leon notwithstanding, D's the prosecution...
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Chef Wong, from Dessert. Of course, it's because he's actually a totetsu in a human's body, but that doesn't make it any less creepy.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All chapter names begin with the letter "D".
  • Interspecies Romance: Robin Hendrix and Medusa to the point where even D is surprised when Medusa takes her own life after Robin's suicide.
    • Also from the first manga: the fisherman and the mermaid, Pon-chan and Hon Long for Chris, T-chan and Mary (sidestory not in the Tokyopop version) as well as T-chan and D, the vampire Marquis Alexander and Isabelle, etc.; and it gets worse in the new manga.
  • In the Hood: Count D to differentiate him from both his son and grandson D who are told apart from their hair lengths. The length of Count D's hair or whether he even has hair is unknown.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: D and his family acknowledge this. They also want to accelerate the process...
  • It Was Here, I Swear: When the police and the FBI raid the petshop after D has left, Leon is shocked at finding only a small storage room instead of the vast underground maze.
    • In that same chapter, Chris calls Leon and confesses what he saw as well, probably still in unbelieving shock that the petshop is gone.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: D uses this on a security guard of a zoo sperm bank.
  • Josei
  • Karmic Death: And how!
  • Karma Houdini: A phoenix, oddly enough, who makes a human suffer through several lifetimes, allows her to fall for each and every member of D's family time and again, has her die alone thanks to love ignorance, and then goes back over to D and his family to gloat about it.
    • The phoenix was a gift to that human in her earlier lifetimes, when she was a princess in a foreign country. D's grandfather Count D gave it to her as a wedding present, to grant her a wish. All the girl wished for though was the heart of D's grandfather. Since the phoenix couldn't grant that wish, she was stuck reincarnating and dying until her wish was granted. Still doesn't excuse it for not telling D about the early death clause though.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty
  • Kids Are Cruel: Most children in the series cruel, but there are a few exceptions.
  • Killer Rabbit: With actual flesh-eating bunnies.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: The pet shop, which can make a labyrinth out of a tiny building and that can be packed up and moved on remarkably quickly.
    • Wu Fei, in Shin PSOH, lampshades this at some point in one of the first two volumes.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The pets are the living embodiments of this, though they quickly become a means of creating a Self-Inflicted Hell.
  • The Mafia: Let's generalize; however, notorious flavors are Italian, Japanese, Peruvian, and (of course) Chinese.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: D is able to fully recover from mortal injuries, but he can't cure minor ones. When he hears that the "blood of a God" is needed at one point, he calmly slits his own wrist to provide it. But when he breaks a nail...
  • Mascot: Q-chan, Pon-chan and T-chan.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Count D has one gold and one violet eye. This may be an indicator that he's a supernatural being.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: A chapter in SPSOH tells the story of some swallow eggs that make women pregnant with a girl upon eating them, Wu-fei health-checks all of his employees (trying to catch D with diabetes or the like), D's results get switched with another person's, and....
  • Moon Rabbit is used as a metaphor for why technology can be a burden, saying that humans "killed" the Moon Rabbit, the Moon Princess, and all the other mythological creatures of the moon by landing on the moon and showing none of them are real. Chris then cheerily replies "That's not true! They were all hiding!" which is appropriate considering Count D's Petshop is full of "mythical" creatures masquerading as pets. It also helps D gain more faith in humanity in general which is a good thing because both D and Count D himself are actually monitoring mankind to see if/when they will be ready to join the rest of the animal world in harmony. Very appropriate considering one version of the Moon Rabbit has the rabbit pounding medicine to heal Humanity's wickedness and "wounds".
  • Mysterious Parent: D's dad and grandfather AKA the real Count D.
  • No Ending: The second manga leaves three plot threads hanging, namely Leon's pursuit, Chris's framed drawing, and Wu-Fei's accidentally rejected kirin. The first two are from the first manga, making it more frustrating that Akino has, once again, ended up without a magazine to publish in, having to hurry to the end of the manga... The third was just a further kick on the face to the resident Chew Toy.
  • No Name Given: Count D's son and grandson(nicknamed D by everyone)
  • Obfuscating Disability
  • Odd Couple: Leon and D.
  • Off Model: Matsuri Akino cannot draw horses.
  • Older Sidekick: Chin to Wu-Fei, in SPSOH; arguably also a potential Battle Butler.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Offered to D's dad and Vesca Howell; this trope was abused thoroughly this one time, much like Mistaken for Pregnant above.
  • Parental Abandonment: Leon's mother died giving birth to Chris and their father(s) is/are never mentioned. D has daddy issues of his own.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Both Leon and Chris are blond-haired, blue eyed, all-American boys.
    • Doesn't stop with the Orcot brothers, though: their aunt, uncle, two cousins, and their mom. Arguably, Jill is there too, and Agent Howell, and... well... Nearly anyone in the first manga, period.
  • Promotion to Parent: Leon, to Chris.
  • Prophetic Names: Possibly unintentional, but "Leon" pretty obviously means "lion," and the character shares a lot of traits with the king of the beasts. In a sidestory, he even reflects that it'd be great to be a male lion, lazing around all day and having a harem of lionesses...
    • It's intentional—the author even writes in one author's notes that her image of Leon is a skinny male lion who is separated from his pride. Also, in "Dragon" D goes starry-eyed at hearing his name, and later refers to him as a lion he's taming.
      • This "taming" reference is lost for anybody with the Tokyo Pop version of the manga; it's simply not there.
    • Don't search up the meanings of the characters that make up Wu-Fei's name. Don't link his surname to the history of China. Call him Taizu instead, and forget everything else!
  • Psychotic Smirk: D, and he does it with style.
  • Replacement Goldfish: "Daughter", the first animated story, involves a rich family taking a very rare species of rabbit home that looks just like their lost daughter. Things go well, but then they break one of the rules...
  • Rule of Three: The pet contracts.
  • Sanity Slippage: It's safe to assume that Jason was slowly losing it when he was spending time with his mermaid.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kelly Vincent, in a rare subversion of the prevalent Downer Endings in the series, passes with flying colors when he asks the Kirin to ensure the happiness of his best friend's wife over ambition. His reward? He wins the girl AND gets to be President of the United States.
    • The tiger scroll chapter. Ends badly for all. Including D and the tiger cub.
    • Pandora and the Eye of Persia.
  • Sex by Proxy: Leon is tricked into sleeping with two girls in one night, unaware that they're plant spirits who use him to spread their pollen. Basically, they had plant-sex through him.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: All those animals, mythical and otherwise! ...and the fact that Akino has not yet run out of one-word titles beginning with D. Taking the animals and folklore one step farther, Akino also dedicates a portion of the back of each manga to explaining about the creatures used and how they fit into folklore or the story.
  • Somebody Else's Problem: If you violate your contract, then have fun dealing with your pet.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": What was his name in the end? Vesca/Wescar/Iesca/Uesca Howell? Or did Akino all along intend to tell us his name is Howell Wesker? After all, Americans introduce each other first-name first, and translators could have gone along with the Japanese convention instead...
    • Woo-Fei, aka Taizu, is his last name Rau/Lau/Liu? And isn't Wu more appropriate either way than Woo?
    • Leon and Chris: Orcot or Alcott?
    • T-chan, or Tetsu or Tet-chan...? (Gender-blending because, in "toutetsu", "tou" and not "tetsu" is the male kanji and term.)
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The mole teenagers that are heirs of two Yakuza gangs.
  • Sweet Tooth: Count D has this. Leon often uses brings over sweets in order to get information out of D.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The first series epilogue.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Played for both comedy and drama with D's sister in "Donor" - she looks so much like him that Leon mistakes her for D at first. She turns out to be a modified ape, created by D's father as a heart donor for D, and raised to believe that she was a genuine person.
  • We All Live in America: The setting is in Chinatown of Los Angeles, but the original manga and anime has people speaking Japanese.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: D. Although it's never explicitly stated whether he genuinely doesn't understand it, or whether he doesn't want to admit he understands it. Evidence points to the latter.
  • "What Now?" Ending
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In SPSOH, what happened to Leon after the two sidestories?
  • Yandere: Norma Langley, the very jealous vampire who attempts to kill D in volume 4; arguably, also D's father over D.
  • Will They or Won't They?: D and Leon. They won't.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Hammered home incessantly.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Most obviously in Delicious, and it's a really convoluted example.

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alternative title(s): Pet Shop Of Horrors
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