Manga-ka: Matsuri Akino
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: September 2008
Synopsis: “When the dath of a bird ignites a great crisis that threatens to destroy all of Japan, will Count D be part of the solution – or the problem? Later, it will fall on Count D to help a wife who is treated like a servant and a girl who is imprisioned by her family. But when the Count helps, it usually comes at a steep price…”
Dreams and reality walk a thin line here in the third volume of Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo. Count D’s business continues to thrive in the lively Chinatown centre and people from all around look to him for the perfect pet. This time a long girl seeks the truth about her past, a cat yearns for acceptance, a young woman struggles to survive in a world that seems to hate her and a dead bird means much more than a simple hole in Count D’s heart.
One of the episodic story’s spotlight characters is a sad little hairless cat. Insulted, ridiculed and ignored by everyone, humans and other cats alike, he hides himself away in the back of Count D’s shop. A likeably energetic cat-Pharoh isn’t happy with the young cat’s take on his life and the two of them are whisked away into a dreamland by Count D. I felt so bad for the little guy, especially with his appearance drawn so grotesquely when compared to the otherworldly beauty of the other animal’s humanoid forms. The ending of the story itself was rather bittersweet, as the line between dreams and reality is blurred (much like some other of the stories) and I’m not completely sure if it was a happy ending or not. Still, I was happy for any good times the cat outcast got to have (even if I’m really not a cat person myself).
One of the most powerful stories in this third volume is a story involving the avian flu which sweeps across Kokubo town. When people begin falling ill, the government seals off the area and traps all those inside to contain the outbreak. Suddenly pushed aside by their government and fellow man, the people trapped in Kabuki-Cho town learn just how little their individual worth becomes when compared to the well-being of millions. Taizuu watches on, seeing what could’ve first been a situation to his advantage, go horribly wrong in ways he couldn’t even imagine, ways that of course Count D sees a dark irony in.
My favourite story in this book however was undoubtedly a depressing tale of a woman’s struggle to care for her child and disability-struck husband. Her husband’s family works her to bone, look down at her and want nothing more than to see her cast out of their lives. Despite the trials, the woman is bound by love to her husband and child and sacrifices her happiness to take care of them. Count D’s role in her story is limited but a helping hand arrives from his shop to keep light in the woman’s life until a beautifully executed finish leads all to get exactly what they deserved. It was a very satisfying finish; that much I can say for sure.
All in all, another enjoyable volume. The humor, social commentary and beautiful artwork continues to make new volumes of Pet Shop of Horrors my most anticipated releases. After so many years between the original series and this sequel, Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, it’s great having new stories to look forward to. But where’s Leon? Hopefully that’s a returning story for another volume!