Shadows House

Shadows House

Shadows House anime series cover art
Shadows House

Welcome to Shadows House

Shadows House (シャドーハウス) is a fantasy mystery series animated by CloverWorks. It follows a “living doll” named Emilico as she begins working as a servant at the Shadows House. The Shadows family is a noble family of shadow beings — they’re living shadows.

Each living doll is assigned a shadow master or mistress who looks exactly like them. The only difference is that the Shadows are silhouettes. And, this is the first mystery of Shadows House. Why are the Shadows and their living dolls identical? And why is it that the Shadows are the masters?

Normally, you’d think of yourself as the master of your shadow. So, why is the opposite true here? And is there even a connection between the Shadows and their living dolls? Surprisingly, Emilico doesn’t worry about such things. She’s happy to work for the Shadows family and doesn’t question her situation.

Emilico from the anime series Shadows House
Emilico

The same can’t be said for Kate, Emilico’s shadow mistress. Despite being a member of the Shadows family, Kate is suspicious of what’s happening. There are a lot of rules for both Shadows and living dolls to follow in the house. And Kate’s interested in figuring out the family’s secrets.

Something else about the Shadows is that they have a connection to soot. They constantly give off soot, which the living dolls spend most of their time cleaning. And pretty early on, we learn that at least some Shadows family members can control soot.

Cleaning soot isn’t the only thing living dolls do, though. Their most important job is actually to serve as the face of their master. Since Shadows are silhouettes, you can’t see their facial expressions. To fix this, they train their living dolls to mimic their emotions and rely on their dolls to present how they feel.

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Shadows and Dolls

There are 5 main pairs of Shadows and living dolls. The first pair is Kate and Emilico. This pair is unique (sort of) in that their names aren’t similar. It’s customary for Shadows to give their living dolls names similar to their own. But, Kate wanted Emilico to be her own person.

John and Shaun are the next pair. John is one of the more adventurous and carefree Shadows and likes to go on walks. It’s not uncommon for Shaun to be the one telling John what he should or shouldn’t do. Shaun also wears glasses, while John does not.

Patrick and Ricky are the third pair. These two are the bullies of the group. They feel superior to the other Shadows and living dolls in their cohort. And they tend to prefer using underhanded tactics over cooperation with the others. At least, that’s how they are at first.

Kate from the anime series Shadows House
Kate

Louise and Lou are my favorite pair. Like Patrick, Louise believes she’s better than everyone else. But, the difference between them is Louise is right. She’s also obsessed with Lou. And for good reason. Lou has the best character design of all the living dolls and her kuudere personality is cute.

The final pair is Shirley and Rum. Something you may notice about them is that their names aren’t similar. There’s a reason for this, which we find out later on in the season. But, both Shirley and Rum are quiet girls who don’t talk much.

In the second half of the season, the child Shadows and their living dolls make their debut. The debut is a test to determine which Shadows and living dolls have adequately bonded. If a living doll can’t understand their shadow master’s emotions and serve as their face, they fail. Will everyone pass the debut?

Mystery of the Shadows

It’s time to get into some spoiler territory. And the first thing I want to spoil is the living doll situation. From the very start of the series, I assumed the living dolls were just normal humans. That turned out to be the case.

The Shadows family brainwashed the humans they took in to make them believe they were dolls. Why? Because it makes it easier to control them and convince them to give everything to the family. The “living dolls” believe they were created by the Shadows family to serve the Shadows family.

Next, let’s go over some of the mysteries surrounding the Shadows themselves. The first of these is why the Shadows and their living dolls look the same. It turns out that the Shadows take the form of the living doll they choose. Before that, they’re little soot creatures.

Lou with a pair of sheers from the anime series Shadows House
Lou with a pair of sheers

Okay, but why do the Shadows take the form of their living dolls? The end goal of the Shadows is actually to merge with their living dolls. Once a shadow and doll become emotionally compatible enough, the shadow can take over. They effectively become the human they were mimicking.

While we know all this by the end of the first season, there are still plenty of mysteries to solve. How did the Shadows come to be in the first place? What’s their end goal? Are they only after power? And, is there a lesson the series is trying to teach us?

Not every anime has to teach its viewers a lesson. And I’m not sure if Shadows House is. But, the focus on soot seems like it’s intentional. We see that even outside Shadows House, soot pollution is everywhere. And it seems to be how the Shadows control the civilians.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d say Shadows House is a 7/10. I was very invested in it for the first three-quarters of the season. But, I didn’t like the ending that much. It was pretty lackluster and didn’t amount to much. Hopefully, the second season has more of the mystery feel the start of this season had.

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