Pet was Disappointing
I don’t think that stating this should come to a surprise to anyone who’s watched it. What looked to be a show that was going to borrow on ideas present in Inception and Paprika was instead a fairly muddy story about interpersonal drama and abusive relationships. While Pet ultimately has some interesting things to say, it simply doesn’t deliver on expectations for a variety of reasons. However, one place it doesn’t compromise on is in its presentation, and the reason I stuck with the anime for all 13 episodes.
Since this was an Amazon exclusive title, let’s do a brief overview about what the story is because that’s fairly important to understanding how and why things are presented in the way they are. In Pet’s world there are people who are able to dive into people’s memories and alter them, much like the aforementioned Inception. However, some of these people are unable to form memories without the aid of others, which is where the term “pet” comes from within the show.
It’s not hard to see why the anime is so bent on exploring abusive relationships with the inherent issues this obviously presents. However, it is further complicated by the fact that all of these characters work for a criminal organization that uses these abilities to achieve various ends. Furthermore, there’s a lot of in fighting within the group because everyone has something else they are striving for outside of the company’s goals.
To Pet’s credit, this does lead to a story with its twists and turns but something about it just didn’t sit right. Instead I was more interested in its unwavering commitment to some of its more bizarre presentation. There were exactly four things that stood out to me in that regard and those are what I’d like to discuss today.
1. Peaks & Valleys
A concept that is introduced fairly on in the show is the importance of “peaks” and “valleys”, which are what they sound like; emotion high and low points for people’s lives that fundamentally shape who we are as people. Often the peaks are shown with this magical, almost ethereal look to them which emphasize their romanticized dream-like qualities. Contrasting the valleys are always shown as dark, twisted nightmares that distort and play with the animation in interesting ways.
Seeing these locations throughout the anime’s run was a compelling reason to stick around. These moments offered insights into the characters but also provided a level of humanizing they desperately needed. As a result, a lot of the story is actually told through these scenes, which is a fairly bold choice given the fact that the drama outside of this concept is ultimately the focus of the story.
2. Accuracy in Hypnosis Techniques
While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to this topic, I have studied it a fair bit. That’s why when I caught real techniques employed by hypnotists I was pretty excited. Outside of the obviously fantastical element of literally entering a subject’s memory, it really felt like this story was well-researched in this regard.
One technique you’ll see over and over again as Pet progresses is a character going to do a mundane task but making an “unexpected” mistake in the process. This “mistake” acts as a catalyst and is a common trigger to employ when attempting to induce hypnosis on targets unexpectedly. If you’ve ever watched a live performance of a hypnotist, you have undoubtedly witnessed this.
3. Multi-Lingual Characters
This isn’t exactly new for anime, we see anime characters speak English and Japanese all the time. What’s more rare is when the other language, or languages is something else. In Pet’s case that’s Chinese. While I can’t speak to the quality of the vocal performances, they felt like flawless transitions from one language to another, often mid-conversation.
What made this all the more interesting was that not all the characters could speak Chinese, which allowed the story to do some fun things with the scheming and twists that it spends so much time focusing on. I’ve noticed that this kind of thing is actually more common outside of Japanese animation and I find it odd that it isn’t utilized that much in the industry.
An example of this was the Chinese anime, Uncharted Waters. While that series didn’t have tons of moments of characters speaking other languages, and even in those cases some were pretty bad, but the attempt was there. When your setting has characters with more diverse backgrounds and language abilities it’s really cool to see this implemented and something I’d love to see a lot more of, especially in dubs where these elements are often dropped.
4. Character’s Inner Monologue
While this may be overwhelming for some viewers, especially coupled with the visuals and shifting narrative in regards to what’s real, and what isn’t, the inner monologue for characters was easily my favorite aspect of the show. You can really see this with Tsukasa, one of the leads, who spirals rapidly into a crazed state.
When he talks you can hear what he’s thinking inside his head alongside what he’s saying out loud. Both are played and subtitled with the emphasis being placed on the inner speech. This creates an almost disorienting effect that is enhanced by the visuals. Often Tsukasa is drooling like a raving mad man in these scenes and it helps sell the desperation the story reaches as it goes on.
Is Pet Worth it?
Is this enough to make Pet a worthwhile watch? Not quite. The series ends in a way that offers a glimmer of hope and promise for more to come but isn’t exactly satisfying on its own either. The author of this story has a sequel in the works titled Fish, but who’s to say if this will see an adaptation in the future or not. If it does, then this may be worth picking up in the future but as it stands it’s difficult to recommend for this reason.
No subs for the trailer… but enjoy the music by TK I guess
Still, I was obviously impressed with how the show chose to present many of its elements and if you are like me this may be enough to warrant a look. At times it can almost be sensory overload as the previously mentioned elements merge and play off of each other. If you have access to Prime on Amazon and what I said sounded interesting, it’s worth at least looking into.
That’s it for my thoughts on Pet. I’m playing with my review format a bit so please be sure to tell me if you liked this article or not. I know this one might have made for a better video where I could more clearly show the examples in motion, but if the point got through be sure to let me know. Also consider becoming a patron or making a one-time donation as every bit helps me keep producing content for you folks, so just hit the corresponding button below if that sounds good to you. Thanks for reading and see ya next time!