"Welcome to my pet shop. Tonight, you will find something you desire."
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 (PSOH for short) is the story of a peculiar shop in Chinatown — or more accurately, the story of the clients that visit this particular shop. The store's proprietor is an effeminate and sinister man only known as "Count D". He sells both normal animals and mythical creatures, as well as a selection of "special pets"—more specifically, animals that appear human to their often-dysfunctional owners. This particular type of pet appears in a shape that will grant people their deepest wishes and desires: a daughter who died, the perfect girlfriend, and so on — but only to their owner. Almost anyone else will see an animal. Count D uses these shapeshifting creatures to teach their human caretaker a lesson, making them sign a contract stating they'll take good care of their new pets. Almost inevitably, they don't. The outcome is rarely pleasant, although some stories (especially those involving pets given to children) 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 Petshop. Leon takes to spending more and more time at the pet shop as the series progresses, developing a peculiar yet close relationship with the guy he's supposed to be investigating for murder. As Leon starts to realize (to his utter horror) that he may have feelings for a man, D realizes (with equal abhorrence) that he may be developing feelings for a human.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 partner), Tetsu (a 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 immediatelyasked 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. Although it isn't as well-loved as the original series, it stays true to the story's roots.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.
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.
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 the Count 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.
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.
Development Hell: The mythical live-action movie...; considering other anime/manga-to-Western-movie transformations, though, this might be for the best.
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.
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.
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.
Generation Xerox: D's whole family, with some pretty grim implications. 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 Count D's contract, and much rabbit-horror ensues.
Interspecies Romance: Robin Hendrix and Medusa to the point where even the Count 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.
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. Count D's grandfather 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.
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...
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 shop is full of "mythical" creatures masquerading as pets. It also helps Count D gain more faith in humanity in general which is a good thing because Count D himself is 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".
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.
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!
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...
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: To Gremlins, at the very start of the manga.
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.
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.)
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.
What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Count 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.