Petshop of Horrors
A man known as Count D runs a pet store in Chinatown. The pets he offers are one of a kind and can't be found anywhere else. Often they even look like humans. With a fee, and signing of a contract, people can obtain pets that satisfy their deepest desires. Those who don't follow the rules often end up dead however. That's where a detective named Leon comes in. He keeps encountering strange circumstances surrounding cases he's working on, and the victims always have ties to the pet store. Is Count D evil? Leon intends to find out.
Pet Shop of Horrors had my name written all over it. This was probably my kind of anime... but the title kept me at bay (sounds too much like Little Shop of Horrors). Petshop of Horrors is the kind of show that got me into anime in the first place. It's unusual, it's exotic, and it's got a great story with some nice artwork.
This one comes from the twilight of the horror anime days. Early horror titles were marked by over the top violence and carnage. By the late 90s they had become more sophisticated, and less gory. The premise isn't complicated. If you've seen the movie Gremlins, it's about the same thing. Mysterious Count D owns a shop in Chinatown and will sell you an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS yet alluring pet you can call your own. You only have to follow three rules. Rule #1 is that you don't show it to anyone. Rule #2 is a mundane rule about pet care. Rule #3 is unusual, seemingly insignificant, and the one that's tempting to skip, but will have really bad consequences if you don't do it. Products from China often having safety issues, you'd think people would be more careful with this stuff. The results are totally messed up. The first episode left me in awe with bloodthirsty evil rabbits. It's great stuff!
The stories and unusual nature of the "pets" are good, but the characters are shallow. They're functional, but not the sort you'll get attached to. At only four episodes, even starting down the path of proper character development wouldn't have gotten that far anyway. The other things vary in their levels of success. Designs are nice. Animation is fair but not great. The music gets in the way of setting the mood as much as properly supporting it.
The dub is hilariously bad. Most characters are poorly done, but attempting to give Count D an androgynous Chinese accent is a disaster. Obviously I recommend the subtitled version, but I'd try the dub for the sheer comedy.
The moral of the story? If there's a guy in Chinatown who's hotter than any girl you know, and he wants to sell you something: don't buy it. The other moral of the story is that while having a bad name for a title, Petshop of Horrors is a great anime in the horror vein. And for gods sake don't give that rabbit "people food"! Can't you follow directions?!
Count D: You know our merchandise is love and dreams detective. And I always tell you the truth.
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