- Release Date
- Winter 1999
- No. of Episodes
Life can be scary, but I believe Stephen King said it best “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” This idea could be why children have an innate sense of fear for the dark because what we can’t see is usually the scariest. Then there is the simple mind-numbing terror that’s right in front of us, and we don’t see it before it’s too late. Though not everyone enjoys horror stories, it’s important to note that there are different horror types.
For information on our star rating system please click here.
Pet Shop of Horrors is a 1999 Gothic Horror anime series from powerhouse studio Madhouse, who has created some of the most famous pop culture series. Although the studio’s popularity has been skyrocketing within the last two decades, could their backlog of creations be worth watching? While the series is only four episodes long, the entire anthology storyline is somewhat unusual since it has ten manga volumes. Though no real big names within this series’s staff, it has a few who’ve worked on other spin-offs of more popular series. Hopefully, their run-of-the-mill team can muster up to the level that the studio has outlined in the present generations.
As stated, before Pet Shop of Horrors is an anthology series, all consisting of different themes and tones. In the heart of Los Angeles, Chinatown, lies an exotic pet shop. “Count D” is the strange shop’s mysterious caretaker, though he claims to be the interim caretaker. While each of D’s pets is exotic and interesting, they all come with a contract with three major points. While the details vary depending upon the animal, Count D does warn each purchaser that breaking these points will potentially dire consequences, and the pet shop will no longer be held liable.
The story has multiple stories within itself, and for the casual spectator, this will surely disinterest the lesser. However, this story’s biggest plus is a wonderfully executed example of what Gothic Fiction truly is. That’s a style of writing characterized by the elements of fear, horror, death, and of course, gloom. Though on the outside looking in, one may miss this entirely and focus on the “horror” genre and miss the series’s point. Another positive of this series is that it shows off the negative within humans without going overboard, meaning we love too much, hate too much, etc.
Although this series isn’t entirely horror, it does have its moments where it reaches its threshold. While some may enjoy the violent portions of the series, it is best to know that they will be either hit or miss. Although watching something within the “horror” genre, they must be open to anything that comes their way.
The negatives within this story are rather interesting and somewhat problematic for some. One could be that it’s most significant benefit is also its biggest weakness. Gothic Horror isn’t for everyone, though if one is open-minded and willing to see a different side of the horror genre, this may not be a problem. Another is that since this was from the late nineties, it does have some offensively implicit dialog, especially towards homosexuality. Outside of these two main negatives, there are a few more, but they don’t detract from the story itself, but if one is also not interested in a simple to follow series, then you’ll most likely dislike this adaptation.
While the art style is rather impressive and very modern of the times, it has shown a little age since it’s premiere. Though where the artwork matters, it has stood the test of time, and that’s where it truly matters with the superb artwork within the character’s expressions, the animals’ designs, and even the Counts magnificent wardrobe. All have been crafted to show the unique skill towards the Count’s closet and even to deliver the high level of attention to detail this series put forth. Though if one is not used to older anime series, this art style may be problematic. The most casual viewer can admit that this series’s color tones are splendid and appealing to keep anyone interested.
However, one of the more surprising aspects of this series is the production—the voice actors within this series project real emotion, within either the subtitled or the dubbed versions. The musical score within this series will be either hit or miss, but overall they’ll be pleasant and intriguing. While the production was grand, it wasn’t perfect, and it was evident in certain areas than others. For instance, certain parts of the character’s mouths will be talking, and the audio won’t keep up, and that’s for both versions. However, outside distinct production errors like this are infrequent and won’t take anyone out of entertainment.
As mentioned above, this series has multiple stories within itself; thus, there are only really two consistent characters within this series. First is “Count D,” though he denies the name – claiming that the title belongs to his grandfather, the shop’s actual owner – though everyone refers to him by this name. His motto suggests that he doesn’t sell pets but rather “love, dreams, and hope” with a three-term contract.
He does appear to be fonder of animals than humans and displays nothing but love towards the natural world. He usually seems calm and soft-spoken and is usually sipping tea of some sort. But what makes him stand out the most is his flamboyant persona and attire, which is somewhat a positive within this horror tale. Though one may not enjoy the overtly gay stereotype perceived, it truly adds more depth to the character.
The other main character in this series is Leon Orcot, the hot-headed young detective who attempts to connect the pet shop and the mysterious deaths in the region. Though he believes that “Count D” is the criminal and proceeds to investigate him with an iron will, determined to be the one to arrest him. Outside of these few defining aspects, there isn’t much known about the character.
Upon finishing this series, a notion came into my mind, and that was to watch it again. Pet Shop of Horrors is one of those anime series that can easily get overlooked due to time. If one is looking for an exciting semi-medium level horror anime series, this would be an excellent choice. With it’s easy to follow premise and simple structure, it would be a no brainer for any anime lover to view, though one must be willing to submerge oneself in this gothic tale’s atmosphere.
Reading the reviews online, I’ve noticed that this series receives many negative reviews due to people wanting a blockbuster production within a four-episode series. While that would be amazing, one must understand that you can’t enter any series with an agenda – especially one with such a few episodes. However, if this series does somehow – though very unlikely – gets a remake, this could become a massive franchise and easily be loved by all. Though at the end of the day, this short original video animation series is splendid all on its own for the small groups of people who wish to watch it.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.