“Dreams, love, and hope…” are what this pet shop sells. So says Count D, the mysterious owner of a outwardly unassuming but inwardly cavernous pet shop in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. The pet shop and its pets are connected to an inordinate number of unsolved murders and mysteries, and hotheaded Detective Leon Orcot is convinced that Count D is providing something a little more dangerous, and probably illegal, to his clients than pets. The problem is he never seems to be able to pin down any sort of evidence, and as his life gets more and more intertwined with the shop and its owner, Orcot finds it more and more difficult to separate dreams from reality. The pets from the shop are certainly powerful for their owners, but each should remember that getting what you deserve and getting what you want can be two very different things. This series is a cross between “The Twilight Zone” and mythology, each tale an observation and often incrimination of callous human behavior at the same time as drawing on mythological animals from around the world for inspiration. Each volume features a handy section at the finish that explains the sources for each installments creature, whether real or fantastic. Count D’s motives are obscure even to the very end, but his combative friendship with Orcot always lends each tale laughs and, in the end, empathy.
The artwork is elegant, like the Count himself, and though the gory points of customers’ demises can be gruesome, the horror aspect of these titles is more in the mind than in the flesh. Count D starts out as a bit of a joke, with his fine manners, sweet tooth, and obscure origins, but he evolves into an impressively nuanced figure, both good and bad, human and inhuman. Leon Orcot is, as his foil, a perfect match: brash, persistent, sharper than he seems, and attracts unexpected sympathy from D. Orcot has a pretty foul mouth when he gets going, so the language is a bit more colorful than your usual manga. The pets, when seen in human form, also appear in rather sexy outfits, but what little actual nudity there is in the series, while sensual, is not excessive or out of place in a teen collection.