Manga-ka: Matsuri Akino
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: Febuary 2008
Synopsis: “It’s been several years since the bizarre Chinese count known only as D left L.A.’s Chinatown. In that time, life has returned to normal in the world, and the nightmares associated with Count D’s pet shop of horrors have ceased. But across the Pacific, amidst the bright lights of Tokyo, a mysterious Chinese man has been spotted, and he seems to be opening a new shop…”
Three years after the final volume of Petshop of Horrors was released in English by Tokyopop, comes its sequel series, Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo. After the events of the parent series, Count D has fled around the world, settling now in Neo Chinatown, Tokyo where he’s opened the same mysterious shop that promises rare animals and fulfilled dreams.
One of the first things that fans of Petshop of Horrors may realize with this follow-up is the change of feeling towards the end of the first. What was once an inconclusive ending soaked in mystery is now brought back down to Earth as readers learn that Count D has been travelling the world, setting up his shop where he can until he’s forced to leave. The driving force behind D’s need to flee? It’s none other than Leon, hunting the Count around the globe until he can finally prove the guilt of the seemingly innocent pet shop owner. It’s a fun slipped in fact that makes volumes to come all the more anticipated. The fluster on the Count’s face from his annoyance at the cop’s persistence, coupled with Leon’s determination and ferocity, makes their (hopefully) impending second meeting one worth waiting for.
The stories themselves continue on as readers have come to expect. People go to the shop for their own reasons and are given pets that D specially chooses for them (or in some cases the animals choose their owners). When the new owners get the animals home, they’re often in for a big surprise, one that will see to it that their true desires are fulfilled, at whatever cost. It’s the same familiar formula, but one that’s no less chilling as the Count deals out his special brand of punishment to the ignorant. A new character, who will become recurring, is Woo Fei, the owner of the building that Count D’s shop currently resides in.
The final chapter in this first volume is a side story that follows Count D’s grandfather (who looks exactly the same as Count D. See Petshop of Horrors for explanation.) It’s an interesting story, if not a gusty one, that puts the shop in Berlin, 60 years ago. One of the supporting characters in the story is Hitler himself and the tale not only follows him to his death, but puts Count D in a position of instigating the war. All is bared in this tweaked historical telling of one of the world’s darkest periods, including Hitler’s anti-Jew bellows, Nazi death camps and city bombings. Due to this subject matter, the story was drawn in the time of the original Petshop of Horrors but not printed until recently.
The artwork is consistent with Matsuri Akino’s usual fares with very delicate features and lots of detail. The Count especially is often extravagantly dressed and there is a lot of fine detail work put into the backgrounds. Some of the same pratfalls of the style remain, such as a few moments of shoddy line work at times that looks a little lazy and the occasional overlooked mistake (Count D’s hand is backwards in one panel). Things such as character profiles also look a little odd at times and don’t seem to match the appearance of character’s faces from the front. Overall, however, it’s a beautifully visual style that brings a lot to the story, filling the pages with a fine balance of detail and clarity.
In the end, Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo is a good start to this follow up series and fans of the first won’t be disappointed.