Shadows House follows a mansion filled with living dolls who serve expressionless masters of shadow and soot. These shadow masters appear dressed in Victorian clothes and they each possess their own special abilities. Their living dolls, on the other hand, are completely normal and are referred to as the “faces” of their masters. Over time, the servants must learn to represent the emotions of their masters. If they fail to do so, it won’t end well for either party.
The protagonist of this story is the innocent, sunshine child Emilico. She doesn’t match the disposition of her master, Kate, but the two girls quickly form a bond as the house and the fates of the dolls begin to unravel. Eventually, each group is tested during their “debut” as noble shadows privately watch them. The children must succeed or suffer an irreversible fate.
The original gothic fantasy manga was created by Soumatou, while this anime adaptation was directed by Kazuki Oohashi and developed by studio CloverWorks. It features theme songs by Kenishiro Suehiro and ReoNa, which add to the anime’s gothic aesthetic.
At first, Emilico may make the anime difficult to get into, but her sweet and endearing nature grows on you over time. Meanwhile, Kate is practical and complex, with a compelling backstory. Yet this enigmatic mansion is what really sucks the viewer in. We are left to learn about the trials of surviving in this house and the dark secrets locked behind its doors.
Shadows House is an intriguing dark fantasy that develops well, yet it also struggles with too much exposition. Forced dialogue immediately answers some of its thought-provoking mysteries. The show presents unique concepts that hook you in, but it would benefit from more gradual reveals. Still, the dynamic characters and twisting narrative make this a solid experience. The first season neatly wraps up its main thread while leaving us with many questions.
With the second season of the anime finally finished, now is a great time to start the series. If you like gothic mysteries and entertaining storytelling, Shadows House is the perfect series for you.
Have you seen Shadows House? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter!
Director: Kazuki Oohashi
Original Creator: Soumatou