The first time that I came across this was on a site: www.watchanimeon.com
I remembered browsing through the ‘Horror’ Category when I saw this. I love horror so I thought I would read the plot. Almost immediately, I fell in love with the plot. Moreover, for this anime/manga, the horror is more of subtle rather than shocking (my kind of thing =D)
This anime is slightly different from others which I have watched or come across. Instead of having one main plot with several subplots throughout, this one has different mini stories in each seperate episode. However, there is one main theme which all mini stories revolve around.
A mysterious Pet Shop in Chinatown run by someone who goes by the name of ‘Count D’. Just so you know, that is not his real name and it was never revealed throughout the series. I’d just call him D. He literally has an aura of mystery surrounding him. For starters, he definitely is not human. What he is exactly it’s left open for guesses. Some say vampires (though I don’t quite agree since he doesn’t burn in the sun n he’s vegetarian), incubus? nah…he doesn’t seduce people. He is, however, what you would call a pretty boy. (Believe me, the first time I saw him I thought he was a female! How embarrassing >.<)
Count D’s Pet Shop holds many rare and exotic animals. This shop is special and unique in ways that are both mysterious and creepy, sometimes beyond the comprehension of normal humans. Count D’s pet shop, according to Count D himself, sells not pets but ‘Loves, Dreams and Hope’. In each chapter (sometimes going up to two), Count D sells a pet to a customer. This comes along with a contract where the buyer has to follow 3 rules, which differ according to each pet sold. One common rule i that the pet owner is not allowed to show his or her pet to anyone else. If any of the 3 terms in the contract are breached (usually with strange and disturbing consequences), the shop does not claim any liability.
Not just the pet shop, but the pets themselves are also fairly peculiar. They are humanoid creatures. For every time a buyer enters the shop to purchase a pet, they would see the pet in a human form. In this story, the animals are all able to take on the forms of human according to the buyers’ desires (most of the time being their loved ones). Sometimes, this is the core reason why the buyers breach the contract. They do not see the pets as animals but rather as the ones whom they sorely miss.
This entire story is disturbing and definitely not something you would watch or read as a family gathering. Of course, there are bits and pieces of humour mixed in. Detective Leon Orcot is mostly the running gag in this show and I cannot help but laugh my head off at his antics at times. He is, however, smart at exploiting the weakness of Count D (which happens to be sweet things, sorta’ reminds me of L) to dig out information.
Oh yes…Count D himself has had a treacherous past with humans. He has a grudge against humanity as a whole because of what humans did to his family. Apparently a long time ago, his family was killed by humans for reasons…well…again i do not wish to be a spoiler. Interestingly, he seems to be on all right terms with Leon, even going to the extent of joking around with him and being extremely comfortable in his presence. Man…if I were Leon I would jump for joy! Staying with Count D and his animals *having a wistful look in her eyes*
Differences btwn Manga and Anime
Simply put: The Anime has a whole lot more serious, mysterious and dark as compared to the Manga. It does not have as many humorous bits as compared to the Manga.
Chris Orcot, Leon’s younger brother, exists only in the Manga and not the Anime. Due to a past traumatic experience (read the manga, I shan’t be a spoiler =D) Chris lost his ability to speak and thus his ability to interact with humans. He did, however, gain the ability to see the humanoid animals in their human forms. Chris even made friends with a 3-headed dragon, without knowing as he was the dragon as a Chinese girl clad in ancient Chinese robes (You can imagine what happened when Chris’s parents entered and saw Chris with the 3-headed dragon for what it was)
The Anime is also a lot shorter, spanning only a total of 4 episodes. ‘Daughter’, ‘Delicious’, ‘Despair’, ‘Duel’. Each of these stories have different animals that are bought from the store with different backgrounds. They are, however, all similar in the sense that one of the rules in the contract is broken, with eerie results. If you can get past the gory and disturbing scenes, you will sort of pity the characters. The Manga has all 4 of these stories plus a lot more. Apart from those animals which we are familiar with, you would also see mythical ones like Dragons (as stated in the previous para), Mermaids and even a Qilin.
Personal thoughts and favourite parts
I thought that this story was very well plotted out. It was interesting and intriguing. After reading the manga and watching the anime, I had a whole new perspective on the relationship between humans and animals. (Of course to be dead honest there was a period of time when I wished I could communicate with animals just like Count D himself)
I find it similar to the play Monkey’s Paw in the sense that it portrays the dark side of humanity as well, except there are many more negative traits of humans which are shown here, with two of them being jealousy and vanity.
I would say one of my favourite parts was close to the ending. Count D is shown floating in space on a boat, along with all his animals (it sort of reminded me of Joan’s Arc). Leon, for the first time, managed to see the animals in their humanoid forms. He, however, was not allowed to stay on the boat, as quoted from Count D ‘Humans have not yet gained the right to board this boat’ or something along those lines.
Another story which I find quite touching is the one about the dog called Jasmine. Jasmine first appeared as a human girl. She entered the shop along with her ‘family’. Count D long suspected but chose not to say anything till the end as usual. She did not know that she had actually passed away a long time ago and mistook a new family for her own. Hanging around with them for awhile, Jasmine one day realised that she could not communicate with them. It was during a fire, the same one which killed her previous family. (No it is not arson. It’s actually suicide) That was when she nearly went into hysterics. However, the pet which her new family bought could talk to her in his human form and he explained everything to her. It was at that moment that her real family came, all in the form of spirits. It was then Jasmine reverted back to her true form, a dog, ready to once again join her family and be reunited. I cried when i read that one. It was touching.
Well…that is all for my short little introduction to this story ‘Pet Shop of Horrors’. I strongly recommend those who are interested in subtle horror to read. Guranteed, it will ensnare your senses =) Now…for dinner. I’m starving!!! =D