PET SHOP OF HORRORS: TOKYO, vol. 8 by Matsuri Akino
Tokyopop, 2011, 208 pages, 978-1-4278-3259-7, Paperback, $10.99
To bring the focus back to the Pet Shop story after yesterday’s diatribe on this volume’s technical errors, I decided to post the review now rather than later. Matsuri Akino gives us another great collection of Count D tales with volume eight and, production issues aside, I really enjoyed them.
When it comes to Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, I feel as though this second series isn’t quite as dire as the original. The violence hasn’t lessened, and the themes aren’t necessarily lighter, but I’ve noticed a greater number of happy endings (well, I say happy, but I really mean non-mortifying). The stories in this volume in particular end without the sense of futility that was prevalent in the first PSoH series.
I don’t know how to feel about this. At times I wonder if something is being lost by removing the pall of dismay that lingered over the original series. On the other hand, I’m glad for the repreive because, let’s be honest, some of those stories could be truly unsettling.
Take “Dissemble,” for instance, which is the last of the four stories in volume eight. It focuses on Taizuu’s assistant, Chin, who ends up meeting an “acquaintance” of the Count’s. If this were the original series, I don’t think Chin would have made it to the end, but, here, everything turns out better than it began.
It’s a curious change in the series, but I’m not sorry about it. And don’t get me wrong–there are plenty of other dark moments to enjoy. Volume seven had several as I recall, and even in this volume there are a few. Femuto’s wish in “Dislocation” is both sad and disquieting (and I wish I knew more about Femuto’s backstory, but that’s an unpublished series in the States), but he later changes it and prevents the story from having a potentially depressing outcome. “Dead Stock,” on the other hand, is classic Pet Shop of Horrors. There are a lot of questions about what really happened, and, despite the humor of several of the scenes, the implications are disturbing.
Of course, it’s the humor that has always prevented Pet Shop of Horrors from being overwhelming. Volume eight is replete with amusing moments, particularly between Count D and Woo Fei (Taizuu)–a hilarious duo if ever there was one. Their snarky arguments amuse me to no end (I’ve provided an example that I particularly liked from “Dead Stock”), though I begin to wonder about Taizuu’s motivations for spending so much time in D’s shop. Earlier in the series his feelings about D were openly antagonistic. Now, however, he seems to come by just to relax and “hang out.” Not that he’d ever admit it.
I don’t know how long this series will run, or if it’s been completed yet in Japan, but I’m curious as to whether or not D will end up doing something for Taizuu in the future. I know that Taizuu’s father and D’s grandfather had some dealings in the past, and I wonder whether or not there will be a similar relationship between members of the current generation.
But speaking of Taizuu’s family, we get a little glimpse into that in “Dissemble.”It seems there are a few responsibilities that Taizuu is dodging back in China, and this should prove interesting fodder for future stories.
One of my favorite aspects of this volume is that Chin is featured more than in previous books. In “Dormant” he was quite hilarious and apparently able to pull search gear from thin air. Then, in “Dissemble,” he gets to be the focus of the story, which provides us with a little background on him as well as a more complete picture of his feelings and sense of responsibility toward Taizuu. His recollections of a young Woo Fei were a bonus, though I have a hard time imagining Taizuu as a shy, quiet boy.
Overall, a great volume. It featured Count D more than volume seven, which I liked very much. Plus, we get to see his lovely Christmas outfit (and a kimono with snowmen if you’re paying attention), while also getting a visit from Femuto, who is always quite adorable.
I’ll leave you with this clip from “Dead Stock.” I would love an excuse to use this line one day.