Manga-ka: Matsuri Akino
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2009
Synopsis: “Endangered species, mysterious attacks, dangerous mafia assassins and long lost love are wrapped up together in these tales of woe and triumph. This time, Taizuu meets his match. Can he quit smoking and manage to stay alive? Perhaps, but only if he can remember one thing: in Count D’s pet shop, not all animals are friendly… or real!”
With the more retro looking art style and occasionally dated looking styles, it’s often easy to fall into the mindset that Pet Shop of Horrors takes place out of our time. The opening chapter in this book pulls readers into the here however has Count D is introduced to an entirely different kind of mystery – the internet!
When a young girl comes into Count D’s shop looking to purchase what could become the internet’s ‘next big thing’, Count D is given a crash course in technology today but it all seems so unnecessary to him – after all he gets along fine with his rotate-phone and A-track player. Taizuu and his assistant think otherwise and their convincing of Count D to the contrary is as entertaining as the look on his face while being described YouTube and blogging.
The stories in this volume aren’t as dark as most and there’s a refreshing feeling having a book with predominantly positive endings, just for a little change of pace. While there are no harsh lessons learned through Count’s mysterious pets, there’s still plenty of material for brains to chew on.
In the book’s second chapter a yakuza widow mourns the loss of her husband while being both haunted and hunted by another grieving victim. After that Taizuu comes under the attack of an assassin only to be saved by a young girl he meets a top his building’s roof. In return for her inadvertently saving his life, Taizuu undergoes a short-term voluntary transformation in this chapter that will both surprise and entertain readers. Proving more stressful than his life under threat however is a bet he makes with Count D to stop smoking.
The book itself is also pleasantly thick, not only sporting a good-sized page count but also marks a return to a higher quality paper. It’s great picking up the book and feeling substance again after the flimsy previous books and seeing the larger spine next to volume five in particular shows just how substantial the difference is.
Tokyopop’s return to the higher quality is an appreciated gesture along with the sheer fun of getting the next volume in a series so beloved by its fans. My personal adoration for the artwork seems to only grow with each book and the evolving human interactions of Count D, with Taizuu in particular, keep the series ever interesting even when the creepy factor dies down for a while as it did here in the sixth volume. Pet Shop of Horrors remains one of my favourite manga series of all time and each new volume continues reminding me as to why.