* Warning: While I tried to avoid spoilers, there may still be some. *
A little different than the series I usually talk about, Shadows House is a mix of mystery and supernatural, all wrapped up in a gothic theme. For those who have watched Yakusoku no Neverland, or The Promised Neverland, I got very similar vibes. Very atmospheric, but we’ll get to that later.
This one’s been on my list for a while and only now got around to watching it. Yeah, kind of wish I managed to get it in for Halloween, as the theme is appropriate… But hey, better late than never. Okay, let’s just get to it, shall we?
As I stated before, we’ve got ourselves a supernatural mystery on our hands. Not in the way where an event has happened and we’re uncovering it. More in the long-term sense, with there clearly being something amiss despite the cheerful atmosphere.
The overall story was kind of neat. This idea of the shadows and the living dolls, very cool. They also did a decent job of explaining the events that transpired, such as with the scorches, all while keeping the underlying mystery a secret. I appreciated the periodic comedic moments that would were injected throughout as well. There was just enough so that it didn’t detract from the story also.
The swings between a dark mystery and the lighthearted daily life felt a bit extreme. I get they wanted to hit you with that uneasy dread, and it certainly did hit (still found that scene where Rosemary was attacked by the scorch to be creepy, and their nonchalant attitude after the fact just made it creepier), but the episodes in the middle of the debut seemed like they lacked a lot of the doom entirely.
While, yes, they picked up that creepy aura again immediately following the debut, the episodes during it felt dull. No sense of urgency. No sense of unease. Just kind of them working out puzzles. It did give you an opportunity to get some character building for the dolls, though, so it did serve a purpose. And on that note…
I did enjoy the cast quite a bit. They were all pretty varied and felt like actual characters. And, yes, this includes the dolls. They’re not just faces!
We got to know Emilico and Kate pretty early on, and the story definitely revolves around them as the leads. There’s actually quite a few touching moments between these two. I’m definitely cheering for Kate and her plan.
The other side characters were also good. I particularly liked Shaun and John. Might be because they’re so on board with Kate’s plan, or just because of their closeness with Emilico and Kate, respectively. Either way, I appreciated their characters being there.
I also was happy the rest of the cast was given some depth too. None of them were one dimensional. Even Patrick and Ricky, who appeared pompous and arrogant, did have a less selfish side to their characters, given the right circumstances. Louise and Lou also had their moments, especially in the last episode, but were quite different from the other doll/master pairs.
The adult shadows were handled in a different way, and one you’d expect given the genre. While you do get to meet them, a lot of their character is kept hidden. Their motives and personalities are hinted at, but not explained fully. This is especially so for Lord Grandfather, who you don’t even really get to see clearly. He’s pictured, but making out his face (ha!) or general appearance is difficult at best.
Probably the only one that felt lacking was Edward. As an antagonist, he felt kind of weak. Even after he explained his plan, it felt kind of silly. And the conclusion of the first season had him in a pretty weak position overall. Can’t say I was really intimidated by this pushover shadow wanna-be.
I’m starting to notice I like CloverWorks’… umm… works. Not sure why. Could just be coincidence, but I’ve been a fan of several series they’ve done.
That being said, I liked the animation for Shadows House. The art and character designs were good too. And yeah, I did have a bit of difficulty identifying John versus Patrick, but I won’t pin that on them. They’re shadows.
The voice acting was solid as well. I think the diverse cast was exemplified by the diverse voices and manner of speaking for each character. Really, with characters who are literally just shadows, the voice acting is what fleshed them out. Excellent job there especially.
I enjoyed the music also. The opening song immediately hits you with that gothic vibe that is seen throughout the show, and the ending theme was almost weird. For whatever reason, it struck me as very eerie, and an excellent piece to lead you to the next episode after a cliffhanger ending. The rest of the soundtrack suited the ambience of the show well also.
I feel like I need to discuss and contrast this series with the one I compared it to earlier, Yakusoku no Neverland. Both approach the theme by focusing on building the right atmosphere. There’s something sinister happening behind the scenes in both as well. But, past that, the rest is pretty different.
Yakusoku no Neverland unveiled the dark side of the plot at the end of the very cheerful opening episode. From that point on, it leans heavily on suspense. Knowing that the cast was always under watch, and the looming fate that awaited them if they failed, kept you on edge throughout.
Shadows House, on the other hand, sprinkles bits of distrust in what you’re seeing throughout. They go about their cleaning duties cheerfully, and there’s not a lot of apparent threat past that, aside from the scorches. But between some of the odd things they say or the relationship between characters, there’s that nagging feeling that something is very wrong.
For instance, the way that Mia says “Living dolls must feel nothing but loyalty toward the Shadows house” just feels weird. Paired with the opening scene with the children being presented that drink… Yeah, you can sense something wrong almost immediately. Unlike Yakusoku no Neverland, however, you don’t find out exactly what’s happening until near the end of the series.
Okay, so what is the verdict? I liked it. It was interesting and I liked the gothic aesthetic. The middle was a bit meh, and the ending was anticlimactic. Despite that, the series was still very enjoyable, with likeable characters and creepy atmosphere. I fully expect to watch the second season when it comes out (or, maybe I’ll save it for Halloween this time…).
Okay, that’s it for this post. Let me know what you think of Shadows House down in the comments and I’ll see you in the next one.