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File:Psoh vol9.jpg
"Welcome to my pet shop. Tonight, you will find something you desire."
Count D

Pet Shop of Horrors is a Horror/Fantasy manga by Matsuri Akino, which was later developed into a four episode anime. Its demographic is Josei. Despite the title, the manga rarely focuses on horror, instead slowly building up the relationships between its characters in a magical setting. It has the occasional gore scene, though, and whole lot of terrifying monsters. Despite having some Early Installment Weirdness, the manga is generally considered to be much deeper than the anime, which mainly focused on the horror aspects.

Pet Shop of Horrors (PSOH for short) is the story of a peculiar shop in Chinatown — or more accurately, the story of the clients that visit this particular shop. The store's proprietor is an effeminate and sinister man only known as "Count D". He sells both normal animals and mythical creatures, as well as a selection of "special pets"--more specifically, animals that appear human to their often-dysfunctional owners. This particular type of pet appears in a shape that will grant people their deepest wishes and desires: a daughter who died, the perfect girlfriend, and so on — but only to their owner. Almost anyone else will see an animal. Count D uses these shapeshifting creatures to teach their human caretaker a lesson, making them sign a contract stating they'll take good care of their new pets. Almost inevitably, they don't. The outcome is rarely pleasant, although some stories (especially those involving pets given to children) have very heartwarming endings.

Enter Leon Orcot, a young and inexperienced LAPD detective, who has noticed the correlation between some very messy deaths and the victims' visit to the titular Petshop. Leon takes to spending more and more time at the pet shop as the series progresses, developing a peculiar yet close relationship with the guy he's supposed to be investigating for murder. As Leon starts to realize (to his utter horror) that he may have feelings for a man, D realizes (with equal abhorrence) that he may be developing feelings for a human.

When Leon's traumatized and mute little brother Chris arrives to stay with his sibling, D becomes the boy's babysitter. Along with the animals of the pet shop, Leon and D become the boy's new family, and they gradually open up to each other. The cast additionally consists of Jill (Leon's partner), Tetsu (a Tao Tieh goat-demon with a crush on D), Pon-chan (a little raccoon girl), Hon Long (a three-headed dragon girl) and Q-chan (D's familiar, who is much more than he seems to be). However, D's affection for Leon and Chris doesn't stop the pet shop's body count from increasing — and when D's Evilutionary Biologist father turns up after many years, Leon finds himself drawn into a desperate attempt to save all of humanity.

Tokyo Pop's translation of the first few volumes was widely disliked by the fans. It added swears, mistranslated many names and sound effects, and generally seemed disrespectful towards the source material. After four volumes, a new translator was hired, who immediately asked the manga's fan translation community on Yahoo Groups for help. As a result, the remaining six volumes of the series have a much more accurate translation. Sadly, however, much of the manga's text is full of untranslatable jokes: D's speech in Japanese often states one thing in hiragana (ex. "innocent bystanders"), but something quite different in kanji (ex. "mere mortals"). Finding an annotated fan translation is still highly recommended to fully enjoy the series.

The manga currently has a sequel in the works, Shin Pet Shop of Horrors (New PSOH, or PSOH:Tokyo, in English), with the action moved over to Shinjuku's Red Light District in Tokyo. Although it isn't as well-loved as the original series, it stays true to the story's roots.

Not to be confused with Little Shop of Horrors. Nor Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop toys. Nor the Pet Shop Boys. Nor Dr. Zitbags Transylvania Pet Shop. Though Google will kindly do it for you anyways.

Pet Shop of Horrors provides examples of:

  • Almost Kiss: D loves getting a bit too close to Leon's face.
  • Anti-Hero: Count D
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Chris' guilt over "killing" his mother (she died in childbirth) is a major part of his characterization, and he becomes a bit of a woobie as a result. Leon, however, who was actually raised by the late Ms. Orcot until he was 18 or 19, never really goes in to his reaction to her death.
  • Agent Peacock: Count D
  • Agent Scully: In spite of the steadily increasing volume of evidence, Leon simply refuses to believe that there are supernatural forces at work, instead trying to come up with "realistic" explanations
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Alas poor man from OVA 2, whose head we see cradled lovingly by the mermaid replacement of his dead bride.
  • All Myths Are True: Unicorns, Kitsune, Phoenixes, and Vampires all exist in the P So H universe, not to mention the fact that the pet shop's animals appear and talk as humans.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Leon is aware that D is dangerous, but he seriously underestimates how dangerous. Good thing the Count likes him... Chris, however, is totally unaware of the darker side of D's nature, but if anything, his innocence protects him.
    • Wu-fei knows, though... and falls victim to D's cases often. Far too often. To the point of death, even. But, of course, it's always an illusion
  • Asexuality: Count D (and most possibly his entire race) are strongly implied to be asexual in both the biological and the socio-psychological sense. Although D gets fairly sexual with Tetsu, it's ambiguous whether or not it was just to capture the creature.
  • Attempted Rape: Count D is saved by his pets.
    • Xiao Fua fights back against her Boss/attacker. She doesn't get raped, but she dies.
  • Audience Surrogate: Jill.
  • Character Focus: Leon, in Doom.
    • Wu-fei, in either volume 4 or 5 of Shin PSOH.
    • T-chan, in a sidestory that didn't appear in the Tokyopop version of PSOH.
      • Chris in the other sidestory, as well as the first chapter he appeared in and the second Christmas chapter...; he's popular!
  • Character Overlap: Count D turns up to have tea with the lead character and his posse of animals in Genju No Seiza, Petshop's sister series.
    • And in Shin PSOH (PSOH Tokyo), we have this guy from some other series that takes care of the petshop for a while.
    • Femto-kun, all over both Petshop mangas.
  • Celibate Hero: Count D, for obvious reasons.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Happens once, with the painting of a blooming cherry tree on a kimono.
  • Christmas in Japan: Alluded to in chapter 5, Dragon where D (correctly) guesses that Leon is loitering in the petshop on Christmas Eve because he has no girlfriend to spend Christmas with.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Don't get D started, whatever you do. You'll be there for years.
    • Leon gets a serious case of this illness at the end of the manga.
  • Cool Pet: D has Q, and arguably every single pet in the series is a Cool Pet of some sort.
    • Q is not his pet. Q is his grandfather. But he doesn't know that. Neither do we, until the end.
  • Death by Childbirth: Leon's and Chris' mother dies during childbirth. The story justifies this by mentioning that not only was she pregnant very late in life, but she wasn't in the best of health to begin with.
  • Development Hell: The mythical live-action movie...; considering other anime/manga-to-Western-movie transformations, though, this might be for the best.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Actually, Akino was very thorough with most of her research, but a few minor details that slipped through are standing jokes in the fandom. Example: Leon reading Playgirl instead of Playboy--an understandable mistake, really.
    • An error on the translators' part: Taizu is not a title of respect, neither in China nor in Japan; Taiso COULD be ("founder" or "emperor"), in Japanese, as either Taisu or Taishu (roughly "great lord"). D actually calls him taishi in the Japanese original which means "prince" (as he is the son of the man in charge of Neo Chinatown--this is a bit of sarcasm on D's part).
    • "太子" is usually used to refer to the Prince.
      • It could logically be a misread if it was rendered in katakana at any point (シ shi and ヅ dzu are quite similar), but for a Japanese word it would be unlikely.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Count D, though it might be a mask — case in point, Dynasty.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Nyu Er, "Sister". Played for Drama. She turns out to be a modified ape, created by D's father and raised to believe that she was a genuine person.
  • Downer Ending: The series consists mainly of vignettes about the pet shop's clients. Not many have happy endings. The conclusion of the series, in which D leaves Leon forever, isn't exactly what you'd call a happy ending either.
    • It was expected by fans to be retconned in the second series, what with the first two volumes ending with a short vignette about how Leon is chasing D ALL OVER THE WORLD. But Akino left it hanging again.
  • Dramatic Irony: PSOH thrives on this, but the most obvious example is when Leon reassures himself that vampires don't exist... while the reader, through D's perspective, sees that the vampire in question is sitting on the couch behind Leon, in bat form.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: D is constantly being mistaken for a woman.
  • Early Installment Weirdness
  • Hair Decorations: Xiao Fua. Lao-Tai Wei makes her put a flower in her hair for her visit to Count D so she wouldn't "look like a damn street urchin" when she went to bribe him. It worked.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: The Count's shop.
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Tetsu goes from a being a cunning murderer to being a cute, child-like comic relief after his first appearance. In one of the final volumes, however, he's briefly shows as a bloodthirsty demon again, when the situation calls for it.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: D lets a mermaid switch bodies with him for a while, so that she can go to the shore to contact her human boyfriend again. Hilarity Ensues when Leon, who doesn't know what's going on, finds a seemingly amnesiac D and a hot naked mermaid.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: Averted.
  • Generation Xerox: D's whole family, with some pretty grim implications. Chris eventually falls into this trope too.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Even if Chris hadn't regained his voice when he did, he would still have lost the ability to see the pet shop's true form as he grew up.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: An early chapter (and the first episode of the OVA) has a rich couple who lost a daughter visiting Count D's shop and taking home a very rare species of rabbit that looks exactly like said daughter. Unfortunately, their love for their daughter leads them to break one of the rules of Count D's contract, and much rabbit-horror ensues.
  • Has Two Mommies: Sorta; Leon's been promoted to parent in regards to Chris, and D is Chris's babysitter with an ambiguous relationship with Leon.
  • Heroic BSOD: Volume 10, D suffers from it after getting shot by Vesca Howell and falling into a river; grandpa saves him by summoning visions of extinct species to motivate him once more to fight against humankind.
  • Historical In-Joke: One kirin owner was Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's lady; they name him Blondie.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Leon and D, or alternatively...
  • Ho Yay: Leon and D, subject to interpretation.
    • Both of the above tropes apply also to D's dad and FBI agent Vesca/Weskar Howell, rubbing off on readers on an almost Generation Xerox level.
    • In the original manga series, D almost gets raped three times by men; Leon prevents two of them. One of those rape attempts included a kiss and getting to second base. Leon tries to feel up D's identical twin sister and proclaims that she's beautiful because boobs make all the difference. D gets five marriage requests from five different men. In an extra chapter, Leon admits that D looks better in "dresses" than western men's clothing. D gets really pissy if Leon is near women. Leon spies on D's date with a girl. Jill insists that Leon was jealous when D went out with Wong. Jill and other coworkers tease Leon about D, assuming Leon blames everything on D as an excuse to see him as often as possible. Leon eventually ends up eating most meals at D's. Leon is easily flustered by D and often blushes. Leon and D go to the beach together for a picnic, where Leon tries to convince D to strip down. Leon brings D sweets even when he's not trying to interrogate him. D once said to himself that he enjoyed Leon's company and didn't know if he'd be able to let him go, and cried when he parted from Leon for the last time. Leon then abandoned his friends/home/family/work and spent 20 years chasing D.
  • Masquerade: Count D and his family, along with the animals.
  • Humanity on Trial: The pet shop clients And, friendship with Leon notwithstanding, D's the prosecution...
    • Humans Are Bastards: As far as Count D's concerned...
    • Humans Are Special: ...But this is where Leon would beg to differ.
      • The Humans Are Bastards is approaching infinity as we speak in Shin PSOH; it's more pointedly seen in human-human interactions, including the bird flu chapter.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Chef Wong, from Dessert. Of course, it's because he's actually a totetsu in a human's body, but that doesn't make it any less creepy.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All chapter names begin with the letter "D".
  • Interspecies Romance: Robin Hendrix and Medusa to the point where even the Count is surprised when Medusa takes her own life after Robin's suicide.
    • Also from the first manga: the fisherman and the mermaid, Pon-chan and Hon Long for Chris, T-chan and Mary (sidestory not in the Tokyopop version) as well as T-chan and D, the vampire Marquis Alexander and Isabelle, etc.; and it gets worse in the new manga.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: D and his family acknowledge this; however, they want to accelerate the process...
  • It Was Here, I Swear: When the police and the FBI raid the petshop after D has left, Leon is shocked at finding only a small storage room instead of the vast underground maze.
    • In that same chapter, Chris calls Leon and confesses what he saw as well, probably still in unbelieving shock that the petshop is gone.
  • Josei
  • Karmic Death: And how!
  • Karma Houdini: A phoenix, oddly enough, who makes a human suffer through several lifetimes, allows her to fall for each and every member of D's family time and again, has her die alone thanks to love ignorance, and then goes back over to D and his family to gloat about it.
    • The phoenix was a gift to that human in her earlier lifetimes, when she was a princess in a foreign country. Count D's grandfather gave it to her as a wedding present, to grant her a wish. All the girl wished for though was the heart of D's grandfather. Since the phoenix couldn't grant that wish, she was stuck reincarnating and dying until her wish was granted. Still doesn't excuse it for not telling D about the early death clause though.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty
  • Killer Rabbit: With actual flesh-eating bunnies.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: The pet shop, which can make a labyrinth out of a tiny building and that can be packed up and moved on remarkably quickly.
    • Wu Fei, in Shin PSOH, lampshades this at some point in one of the first two volumes.
  • Lost in Translation: A very special case, this one: Tokyopop's English version seems to be a rather loose adaptation of the Japanese original, with dialogs often completely rewritten for apparently no good reason. An example: in "Discovery" there's a scene when D treats Leon's wound and Leon remembers him doing it before in what he assumes was a dream. The fact that Leon believes that his earlier experience was a dream is somewhat important, as realizing it wasn't a dream is part of Leon's final acceptance that D is not exactly human. Nevertheless, in the English version of the scene Leon calls D as weird as a tattoo artist he once shacked up with--something the "translator" seems to have pulled out of his ass. Along with D apparently not remembering the "dream" in question, which is just ridiculous.
    • Thanks to the fantranslators of the first two volumes of Shin PSOH chickening out of continuing, this is bound to happen to this new manga too; starting off with the title, which is a relatively tame change.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: The pets are the living embodiments of this, though they quickly become a means of creating a Self-Inflicted Hell.
  • The Mafia: Let's generalize; however, notorious flavors are Italian, Japanese, Peruvian, and (of course) Chinese.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: D is able to fully recover from mortal injuries, but he can't cure minor ones. When he hears that the "blood of a God" is needed at one point, he calmly slits his own wrist to provide it. But when he breaks a nail...
  • Mascot: Q-chan, Pon-chan and T-chan.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Count D. It's sometimes hard to tell because his hair usually covers it, but his right eye is gold.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: A chapter in SPSOH tells the story of some swallow eggs that make women pregnant with a girl upon eating them, Wu-fei health-checks all of his employees (trying to catch D with diabetes or the like), D's results get switched with another person's, and....
  • Mysterious Parent: D's dad and grandfather.
  • Obfuscating Disability
  • Odd Couple: Leon and D.
  • Older Sidekick: Chin to Wu-Fei, in SPSOH; arguably also a potential Battle Butler.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Offered to D's dad and Vesca Howell; this trope was abused thoroughly this one time, much like Mistaken for Pregnant above.
  • Parental Abandonment: Leon's mother died giving birth to Chris and their father(s) is/are never mentioned. D has daddy issues of his own.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Both Leon and Chris are blond-haired, blue eyed, all-American boys.
    • Doesn't stop with the Orcot brothers, though: their aunt, uncle, two cousins, and their mom. Arguably, Jill is there too, and Agent Howell, and... well... Nearly anyone in the first manga, period.
  • Promotion to Parent: Leon, to Chris.
  • Prophetic Names: Possibly unintentional, but "Leon" pretty obviously means "lion," and the character shares a lot of traits with the king of the beasts. In a sidestory, he even reflects that it'd be great to be a male lion, lazing around all day and having a harem of lionesses...
    • It's intentional--the author even writes in one author's notes that her image of Leon is a skinny male lion who is separated from his pride. Also, in "Dragon" D goes starry-eyed at hearing his name, and later refers to him as a lion he's taming.
      • This "taming" reference is lost for anybody with the Tokyo Pop version of the manga; it's simply not there.
    • Don't search up the meanings of the characters that make up Wu-Fei's name. Don't link his surname to the history of China. Call him Taizu instead, and forget everything else!
  • Psychotic Smirk: D, and he does it with style.
  • Replacement Goldfish: "Daughter", the first animated story, involves a rich family taking a very rare species of rabbit home that looks just like their lost daughter. Things go well, but then they break one of the rules...
  • Rule of Three: The pet contracts.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kelly Vincent, in a rare subversion of the prevalent Downer Endings in the series, passes with flying colors when he asks the Kirin to ensure the happiness of his best friend's wife over ambition. His reward? He wins the girl AND gets to be President of the United States.
    • The tiger scroll chapter. Ends badly for all. Including D and the tiger cub.
    • Pandora and the Eye of Persia.
  • Sex by Proxy: Leon is tricked into sleeping with two girls in one night, unaware that they're plant spirits who use him to spread their pollen. Basically, they had plant-sex through him.
  • Shout-Out: To Gremlins, at the very start of the manga.
  • Shown Their Work: All those animals, mythical and otherwise! ...and the fact that Akino has not yet run out of one-word titles beginning with D.
    • Taking the animals and folklore one step farther, Akino also dedicates a portion of the back of each manga to explaining about the creatures used and how they fit into folklore or the story.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": What was his name in the end? Vesca/Wescar/Iesca/Uesca Howell? Or did Akino all along intend to tell us his name is Howell Wesker? After all, Americans introduce each other first-name first, and translators could have gone along with the Japanese convention instead...
    • Woo-Fei, aka Taizu, is his last name Rau/Lau/Liu? And isn't Wu more appropriate either way than Woo?
    • Leon and Chris: Orcot or Alcott?
    • T-chan, or Tetsu or Tet-chan...? (Gender-blending because, in "toutetsu", "tou" and not "tetsu" is the male kanji and term.)
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The mole teenagers that are heirs of two Yakuza gangs.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The first series epilogue.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Count D. Although it's never explicitly stated whether he genuinely doesn't understand it, or whether he doesn't want to admit he understands it. Evidence points to the latter.
  • What Now? Ending
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In SPSOH, what happened to Leon after the two sidestories?
  • Yandere: Norma Langley, the very jealous vampire who attempts to kill D in volume 4; arguably, also D's father over D.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Hammered home incessantly.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Most obviously in Delicious, and it's a really convoluted example.