As the series continues, the stories get more complex and the morals even murkier; though D seems to always have the last word, there are never any easy solutions. In Digital, a man is found murdered in his apartment with no leads except hundreds of rare fish housed in tanks stacked floor to ceiling. Orcot is stumped, but he knows at least one person who might be able to talk to fish. The short and sweet vignette Flowers and the Detective see Orcot learning that the gift of a plant from D is not to be taken lightly and can be just what the doctor ordered. The second vignette later in the volume shows that sometimes Orcot should just leave well enough alone, not to mention some hilarious asides about the pets’ behavior including raccoon Pon-chan washing her food and the always ravenous T-chan’s threats to munch on Orcot. Dark Horse follows the needs of a horse trainer and her thoroughbred horse, 1000 Deaths, and as occasionally happens, D decides to help those who deserve it rather than punish the careless. Finally, in Dracula, the series takes on the classic horror character of the vampire. A “vampire” serial killer arrives in LA with the FBI hot on his heels, but the number one suspect seems to be Marquis Alexander, an old (and undead) friend of D’s. Orcot struggles with being outranked by the fiery female FBI agent put in charge of the case. When Orcot is challenged to a duel for D’s affection by the temptestuous Alexander, the two men find unexpected common ground that leads Orcot to discover the true culprit. This series, while always maintaining the flashes of humor that make it delicious fun, excels at using it’s fantastical base to address issues as weighty as transgenderism and lost love with a deft and caring touch. Akino expertly sprinkles every volume with more hints about D’s past, and though occasionally readers may want to shake D by his collar like Orcot, the clues are always worth the wait.

Pet Shop of Horrors, vol. 4
ISBN: 1591825016
By Matsuri Akino
Tokyopop, 2004

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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