Sometimes hideous animation and character design, incredibly weird, and highly episodic, but for some reason, Pet Shop of Horrors kept me completely captivated throughout its ridiculously short (4 episode) run. It's not one of my favourite series, no, but it did make a firm impression.
Also, it really made me want to read the manga, since the art is rather pretty. I'm just hoping the volumes will be somewhat easy to find now that Tokyopop has bit the dust.
Pet Shop of Horrors is set in a strange town with a sprawling Chinese district. The smooth-tongued eccentric Count D owns a pet shop here, but this is no ordinary pet shop - Count D sells 'love and happiness', usually tied to an 'exotic' pet of some kind, so long as you keep to a rigid three-term contract. If you don't, well, bad things happen...
Naturally, due to all of these mysterious happenstances, a homicide detective by the name of Leon Orcot is assigned to investigate him, but he is always foiled by Count D's impeccable talents for wriggling out of any implications that may arise.
OVA are strange little beings, and are basically the straight-to-DVD movies of Japanese animation, whether they are sold in a bundle, with a series, with a manga volume, etcetera, they are usually low budget but generally of an okay quality, unless it's an extremely long production such as Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
Pet Shop of Horrors fits perfectly into the 'low budget but okay' category. The anime art doesn't really replicate the manga art, using dark, muted colours, less-is-more animation, and fairly unappealing character designs, with the exception of Count D and his adorable pet, Q-chan. It's a very 1980s-1990s-style anime, and yet I didn't really care, because I was awed yet frightened into paying attention to these stories about how miracles are often worse than you'd hoped for.
Take episode one and two, for example. In episode one, this poor family loses their daughter, but D tricks into buying a rabbit that, to them, appears to be their daughter. The rules in D's contract state that the parents can only feed this rabbit vegetables and water. So what happens when they give her some sweets...? Night of the lepus! No, seriously.
The second episode focuses on a love rat who was about to get married, but was caught by his jealous lover, who immediately threw herself overboard. Count D sells the poor lothario a giant fish, that to him looks like a mermaid version of his betrothed, and this mermaid is not a happy-go-lucky Disney songstress, using her wiles to get him obsessively in love with her only for them both to meet a rather sticky end.
Maybe my threshold for horror is quite low, but all four episodes were enough to give me a bit of a chill working its way up and down my spine. They're very simple stories of how obtaining the impossible becomes a living hell, and all glued together by their compelling storylines and the otherworldly Count himself, even if he isn't in much of the episodes - often, he'll be seen at the beginning and the end, selling the poor schmucks who come into his shop their hopes and desires, then a fleeting appearance in the middle and narrating how he can't be seen as guilty at the end.
Toshihiko Seki does a wonderful job as the Count, an incredibly androgynous role that was very pleasant on the ears, and Masaya Onosaka voicing Leon and doing a pretty good job. Unfortunately I have not seen it dubbed, but I have heard it's a fairly listenable dub.
Now, PSOH does have its flaws that I have gone into. However, you can't really blame it for its low production values or for its episodic elements - it's a set of 4 OVAs that has to adapt a 10 volume manga series. It can't pack everything in, so it just goes for the episodic approach, which serves it well. It's still just as creepy, reminding me of (yes I know PSOH came before) the episodes of Hell Girl I watched out of order that often gave me the heebie-jeebies.
What I Liked: Toshihiko Seki is perfect as Count D. The soundtrack, which is equal parts pulpy goodness and soft ambience. The show does a good job of building a dark, unnerving atmosphere through its use of colour and imagery. The design for the Kirin is hands-down beautiful. There's some really nice scenery throughout, with nice attention to detail where it counts.
What I Didn't: The soundtrack firmly keeps this show in the 90's, and can feel a bit melodramatic at times. YMMV on the episodic format of the show - it's very much a collection of horror-themed moral tales with a very loose subplot connecting the two. The whole "eye showing through the hair" thing can get a bit annoying.
Final Verdict: Horror stories with morals might be a dime-a-dozen these days, but Petshop of Horrors carries out its four thrilling lessons with style and flair. It might be woefully short but its pulpy (albeit dated) soundtrack, interesting cast of characters and dark atmosphere make it a great watch for any horror movie night.
"FEED ME SEYMOUR!"
There are no musical numbers and Skid Road its not, but Pet Shop of Horrors still manages to be an interesting and engaging series. This series is essentially a four-part Horror Anthology series. If you like Japanese folklore, you will love Pet Shop of Horrors. Its far superior to Requiem from the Darkness -- though unfortunately much shorter.
STORY: Each episode is a-stand-alone story exploring the darker side of human desperation and temptation intertwined traditional Japanese folklore (albeit reinvisioned for a modern audience). It is a little bit of a shame that they only made four-episodes because they had a good formula for the show and I felt like the series still had a lot of life in it.
ANIMATION: The animation style is very steeped in the 90s and not much to my liking, but I would be remiss if I said there was nothing about it I liked. The monster and creature designs in the series are quite good.
SOUND: Nothing remarkable or terrible here. 5/10. The voice acting is what you'd expect from 90's horror anime. Silky and slick.
CHARACTERS: The series revolves around an enigmatic person at a pet shop that offers dark solutions to people's problems. Most of the stories revolve around his clintel, so it would be difficult to go into the characters without spoiling the experience for you. I will say that the focus of the stories do hinge on the personalities and/or flaws of the protagonist and each episode has a different protagonist. Some you may like, others you might not.
The reason why I gave this a 6 is because there was in every episode another story. But the Main plot was the same, somebody gets a pet, breaks the rules and dies. They just made the main plot return good every episode.
The sound was good, in the creepy moments they gave creepy sounds, in the sad moments they gave sad sounds.
I know how to describd Count D, but in the meanwhile, I just don't know. That's the weird thing, but I think if you have that feeling he is builded good. The Main characters from each episode were builded correctly too, the reason why they came to Count D, who they are and they broke the rules, are enough to describe the characters good.
Overall: It's a good anime, you are scared while there isn't that much blood or scary moments in the anime. I would recommend this to people who like creepy feelings while there is nothing to have the creepy feelings for.
For any fans of Tales from the Crypt, this is most definitely the anime for you. Each episode follows a different character who has visited the pet shop. This 4 episode OVA is filled with creepy and spooky tales, and at the end of the episode, you may just learn a lesson or moral from each story.
Pet Shop of Horrors is about a strange gothic young man named Count D who manages a pet shop. However, this is no average pet shop. At this pet shop you can find a wide variety of 'rare' and 'exotic' animals. All you need to do is sign a contract with this man, and it's yours. However, you may find these rules hard to abide with, and end up with a disaster in which even death may occur.
I'm a big fan of episodic series, so this anime was definitely a hit for me. Each stroy ws creepy and interesting, and the animal the characters ordered corresponded with the owners inner demons and troubles.What really got me interested was that at the end of each episode, a very interesting moral was taught. That was probably my favorite aspect of the show, besides the spooky ominous feel to it.
I also found the concept of this series very unique. The idea of a creepy 'animal' from a pet shop to move a long an entire story really intrigued me. I love animals, and like to learn about mystical creatures, so when I saw the title, I was automatically drawn in. This series definitely did not dissapoint. Even with my high expectations, Pet Shop of Horrors exceeded them with its eerie tales of the characters dark pasts and their new pet which may in the end teach them a lesson.
Pet Shop of Horrors was released in 1999, so the animation is quite dated. I went into the story with low expectations of the art, but I was actually suprised. Yes, the animation was definitely not the best, but it was fitting, and was actually very well done for its time. It was also very unique in a way as well. There was no set style or pattern I could find. For example Count D and the detective Leon, have a totally different style. With the Count, his features were very pointed while Leon's were much more realistic and better shaded. This goes for not only these two, but for many other characters as well.
The character designs were pretty interesting as well, especially the Count. His tall, yet feminine figure added to his mysterious personality, along with his painted long nails, dark lips always in a small smile, and his hetereochromic eyes narrowed at you. The creature designs were interestng and haunting as well. This anime would have been a flop without the creepy and spooky animation.
There's not to much music in this anime, but nothing felt out of place or unfitting. When there was music, it only added to the dark atmosphere. No music needed to be added or deleted, and it felt as if everything was in order.
As for voice acting, it was very well done. I personally watched the dub, and each voice matched the character perfectly. I especially liked the Count's voice actor, as he sounded very calm and collected even while delivering disturbing lines, which built up the Count's character even more, and added to his eerie aura. Considering the importance and amount of dialogue the Count has, it was very important to have an excellent voice actor, which is another thing Pet Shop of Horrors did very well
Since Pet Shop of Horrors is episodic, there is a large variety of characters, but does not feel overcrowded since each set is different in each episode. The only characters which remained throughout was Count D, the tall dark mysterious pet shop owner, and Leon Orcot, the hot headed detective suspects the Count for the recent string of murders, and is determined to expose Count D for his crimes.Leon acts as an extra viewpoint, and as a piece to help dig up the other characters backgrounds.
As for the customers and main characters of an episode, they all seem to have a dark past or secret which indirectly causes them to end up at the Count's shop to fufill their desires through their new pet. As each episode progresses we learn more and more about each character, and finally discover who they really are. At the end of each episode, these characters' backstories and mistakes serve as a lesson or moral to the story.
Overall, Pet Shop of Horrors gets a solid 9 out of 10. This short series was a psychological horror masterpiece, and deserves to be appraised for its thought provoking spooky stories. This show is definitely one of my favorites and is a must watch for any psychological or horror fan.