chomiji: Crazed Oda Nobunaga from SDK, with the caption Manga saved my sanity! (manga sanity)
[personal profile] chomiji

In an anonymous U.S. city, there is a neighborhood called Chinatown, and in Chinatown, there is an exotic pet shop. The proprietor is Count D, a beautifully androgynous young Asian man with mismatched eyes - who might well be Yuuko of xxxHolic's long-lost cousin. Because, of course, this is one of those unusual establishments that include not only Yuuko's store, but also the Department Store of Heart's Desire in the science fiction classic Norstrilia. According to its proprietor, it actually sells love and dreams - to a clientele of the mentally disturbed and the emotionally wounded. Like Yuuko, Count D does his best to make sure each customer gets exactly what he or she needs - or, sometimes, deserves.

The series is categorized as horror, but only one out of every half a dozen stories is especially horrifying. Mostly, the tales are odd or whimsical, and as in the first several volumes of xxxHolic, there's no real continuity from story to story except for a few principal characters. There's the Count, of course, and also his would-be nemesis, a young blond police detective named Leon Orcot. Later on, Leon's sweet but disturbed baby brother Chris shows up to live with him - giving the Count a continuing additional role as the world's most unlikely babysitter - and there are also several continuing animal characters.

Did I mention that none of these "animals" is quite what he or she seems? I imagine you've guessed as much ... .

Anyway, the series is quite a lot of fun - creepy fun, in most cases. Much amusement is derived from the apparent cat-and-mouse game between Leon and the Count, whom Leon suspects of drug smuggling, white slavery, and every other crime stereotypically associated with Chinatown ... because the Count is also playing cat-and-mouse, but he has a different idea of who is in which role.


Pet Shop of Horrors, vols. 1-9 (review)

I feel rather silly, blogging this with only one volume (apparently) to go, but I'm not sure when I'm going to get hold of volume 10, so ... Certainly I've read enough at this point to appreciate the several Springkink fics involving Count D, who really is a character to warm the heart of any slightly kinky fantasy fan, what with his appetite for sweets and Officer Orcot - of whom he says quite plainly, early on, "I do enjoy your company. One of these days, I may not let you leave." (Not to mention the Count's willingness to sacrifice body parts, if necessary, if it means obtaining the rarest creatures ... .)

A lot of the stories cover roughly the same ground, with a greedy or rapacious character getting his or her comeuppance, or a shy or defenseless character coming into his or her own. The fun is in seeing how the different animals - many of them mythological - are worked into the modern-day scenarios. The mangaka is much better at constructing a plausible U.S. city than is the author of Fake - and coincidentally, the drawing style is very similar to that series. Leon, in particular, would looks right at home in the squad room with Ryo and Dee.

I think my favorite story is the one about the bossy younger sister who gets tired of her doggie. This story also later gives rise to one of my favorite Count D lines: remembering this child, the Count remarks that she was "a little hellion who deserved to eat her own feces." I'm also fond of Ten-Chan, the young male nine-tailed fox spirit who manages, very diplomatically, to be all things to all people when he's with the various members of the very argumentative family who buy him, but who's always very sassy with the Count. (And yes, I like the little monster Tetsu ... but so does everyone, right?)

I've now got an urge to fic something involving all these strange shop owners ... perhaps Kisuke Urahara (Bleach) and Dr. Kou (Wild Adapter) should come along as well!

Date: 2008-03-01 04:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, in volume 10 you only have...every revelation ever...

And the sequel is out now.

I have to say that Leon having D babysit Chris, while still accusing him of every crime he could think of, is probably one of my favorite things ever.

Anytime I read anything int his shop owner sub-genre(such as when I was reading the first Nightmares for Sale) last week I start imagining them all meeting each other and there's all this tea and politeness and "fu-fu" handwaving and secretive backstabbing. (actually, I think sanada and I discussed that in my latest Slayers post...) Except I can't bring Yuuko in...I somehow think she'd think the competition needed to be disposed of.

Date: 2008-03-01 05:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As Kou is drawn by Kazuya Minekura, I doubt D objects to you're slashing him. Esp. if Kou has any interesting pets. (Sadly, I couldn't get into Wild crossed the line to where I felt like I have having my face rubbed into the dark and moody too much...)

Does C'William make gods in his spare time? I figure anyone who takes a couple days off to create gods can get rid of any competition she wants, no matter how well connected he/she is.

It's been a while since I read Petshop(it was only a couple volumes in when I started reading manga, and I was reading it as it came out) but I remember that one of the few problems I had was that I wasn't always sure what human-looking character was what animal.
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Date: 2008-03-03 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I seem to vaguely recall the stray kitten line from the little bit that I read. sounds like C'William knows people who are on Yuuko's level. It would probably come down to who's meaner.
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Date: 2008-03-01 05:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hehehe, but volume 10 is when the shit really hits the fan... It's not D's inhumanity that comes as a surprise, it's his humanity... he does stupid, reckless, emotional things sometimes, and that's why I love him as much as I do. ^_^;

I think the mangaka actually went to L.A. at some point for research, so it generally does feel authentically American. (The sequel is set in Tokyo and I miss the silly skewering of my culture!) Leon is like an affectionate play on the gun-toting, loud-mouthed "American" stereotype that you see in 90s manga. I like how well the series can go from slapstick to philosophical, and how Leon and D can be bitching about eachother one minute and then risking their lives for eachother the next, or giving subtly significant little hints of something more to the relationship... *heart*

Oooh, creepy shopkeeper crossover!

Date: 2008-03-01 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oooh, creepy shopkeeper crossover!"

That is probably the only crossover fic I'd ever really read...

(Since it's going on in my head anytime I read one of these, anyway.)

Date: 2008-03-01 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You'd need to add Mr. Yang from The Antique Gift Shop to the crossover mix. :D Alas, the company that was translating and publishing them vanished and we only have four volumes of the series translated, so all we have are his mysteries and the actual store owner's issues starting to be revealed.

It's the same sort of thing as Petshop, only with antiques. And the store is owned by a young woman who is the granddaughter of a shaman but who doesn't want to be one herself and who will be outta there as soon as she sells all the stuff. (If the spirit world will let her, that is...) The tall, longhaired Mr Yang shows up one day and is hired to work as a salesman in the store. He is, of course, more than he seems.

GAH I want to know who has the rights to it now! Are they langushing somewhere, or will someone else pick it up? ARG

Date: 2008-03-02 05:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The mysterious Mr Yang, from a post wherein I was doing inking tests. :)

Date: 2008-03-02 05:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heck, I think there needs to be a [ profile] bish_a_day post on 'em all. XD Seeing as how I keep not getting around to posting the contest there and all... :/
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