Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)
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6. Petshop of Horrors
… + XXXHolic
I was torn about which manga to spotlight here. I knew I wanted to showcase some kind of horror story anthology, but up until the last minute I couldn’t decide between Pet Shop of Horrors or CLAMP’s xxxHolic. Even now as I type this I have to resist the urge to switch back yet again.
What makes it hard is that the two are both extremely similar and at the same time very different. Both share a basic central plot: a mysterious store owner (Count D in Pet Shop of Horrors, Yuko in xxxHolic) gives customers magical items/creatures, often with a cryptic ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind of warning. But do the customers listen? Is a mecha a mecha if it doesn’t have a human pilot controlling it from within? No, of course not.
The stories in both series are basically morality plays. While there are often monsters and ghosts in the stories, the danger to the characters isn’t from some outer force but from within: it’s their own bad habits that lead to their downfall. The characters who survive are the ones who manage to finally become self-aware and see the flaws in their character (though even that isn’t always enough if it comes to late). In xxxHolic especially a lot of customers never even make the connection between their own bad behaviour and all the things wrong in their life, and suffer all the more for it.
Both series have their strong points: I love the art in xxxHolic and think that it’s one of CLAMP’s most striking series style-wise, but Pet shop of Horrors’ old-fashioned shojo art style has its own charms. In the end I’m going with Pet Shop of Horrors, though like I said before xxxHolic could also easily fit into this slot.