Before I start this review, I must admit that this is one of my favorite manga, and it might seem a bit biased. Petshop of Horrors tells the story of Count D, the owner of a mysterious petshop that sells strange and oftentimes dangerous animals.
For the vast majority of the series, each chapter serves as a self contained story. Almost each chapter deals with a random person finding D's shop, obtaining an animal that will help them with their life (and I use the term animal very loosely), and then we see the results, good or bad, of their behavior. There is an overarching story line, mostly dealing with a cop, Leon Orcot, investigating Count D and his shop and trying to discover any illegal actions he may be participating in. This story provides a lot of humor along with an extremely interesting story, which improves as the characters' relationships grow.
The art in this manga is usually very good. The pets sold by Count D are all illustrated beautifully, as is Count D himself, who is almost always wearing a kimono in his androgynous glory. There are times, however, when the art can appear a little unpolished. Sometimes, a characters eyes will seem to be a little off, and some of Count D's customers can look very strange. All in all, it has some amazing art, which suffers at the hands of a few little quirks here and there.
The characters in this manga are very well done. Count D has what I feel is a very deep personality. Leon develops in an interesting way, and the change in his view of Count D is one of the things that makes this manga so great. Most of the recurring cast all have original and dynamic personalities. The customers serve their role in the story well, but can sometimes be a little flat (though they are almost never mentioned past a single chapter, so I feel this flatness can be overlooked). As I mentioned earlier, this manga is by far one of my favorites. I feel that everything is beautifully done, and a it deserves a 9.5/10 in my book, with just a few minor flaws keeping it just short of perfection.
Welcome to a shop that makes your wishes a reality… scratch that, this is a shop that will stock the rarest animals in the world that will make your dreams a reality. Sometimes the explanation of this manga and xxxHOLiC sort of mix with each other. The idea is pretty much the same though in that we have the owner of the shop who helps people, a outsider brought into the shop to learn about it, and a by chapter storyline that is new every, I want to say two or three chapters. And then the ending goes into one big storyline at the end, but that would be a spoiler so let’s not worry about that.
Now all through the books, there are times when we would have parts that didn’t feel like any part of the main story or the little people stories. I consider them more like side stories. Even though we have those side stories, they actually work well in this since most of the story is really dark and depressing; we need a little bit of something comedic in order to break it up. The little stories were some of the animals play around with each other or when D is being his fun cute self are actually enjoyable before we go back into the dark depths of peoples hearts and minds.
I love the rather fun style of D although he feels like Yuko from xxxHOLiC a bit. He is always going gaga over sweets and answers questions in a rather whimsical mysterious manner, never giving an actual straight answer to the question. Because of this, most of the time we are left to wonder what he means and makes us think or, in my case, sometimes doing a little soul searching. Leon is like Watanuki without the large amount of whining. Although Leon isn’t there for most of the times people buy pets from D’s shop, he is basicly our inside look to the shop being a newbie himself. He is always asking the questions and although he does get annoying at times with acusing D of selling dangerous animals (and yes, I do believe some of them would never be allowed to be sold if the government knew exactly what was in the shop), he does have his good points in that he is willing to try and learn what is going on.
Another thing I was so happy about was the informational pages that were placed at the end of each book. They explained each mystical animal more thoroughly for those that never heard of them. It helped a lot in being able to find if the animal was made just for the manga or if it truly had a place in myths and legends.
The artwork is very beautiful in many of the areas, showing a lot of details, flowing hair and clothing and the most fantastic clothing designs I have ever seen. Some of which seem almost as though they could be part of the character themselves instead of being just normal clothing. Wings look like wings, fur looks like fur, and many of the humanoid animals look very close to their animal look with none of them looking like any other unless they are supposed to. With that said, sometimes it does lack like when there are funny little moments when D is sort of playing around or when some of the normal creatures we see are doing playful little side stories that really don’t mean anything to the actual story taking place. There are also times when things are very hard to see such as in misty areas and times when a color blends with the background. It is a problem with the rather fine lines this artist gives the manga.