Of the myriad of shows I watched this past year, only a few stand out as particularly unique–one of them is SHADOWS HOUSE. Everything from Emilico’s narrative to the setting and atmosphere worked together to create a compelling story I’m glad to include among my 2021 favorites.
I remember how taken aback I was in the first episode of SHADOWS HOUSE at the character design. I was afraid it indicated a couple of things, one that the animation budget was low hence the overall dark setting and many of the characters portrayed as shadows, and two that we were in for some pale copy of a classic I love, Rozen Maiden. Both of these fears were completely unfounded, happily, and I’m actually ashamed for even drawing such shallow assumptions.
Of course the design of the Shadow family is intentional as part of the story and mystery that drives us forward. It didn’t take long for the oddness of their lack of facial features to fade away; the Shadows express their emotions plenty through their postures and interactions with those around them including family members and their living dolls. This coupled with their elaborate costumes and settings gave all the details we needed and more.
My initial comparison to Rozen Maiden also proved to be tenuous at best. Other than the notion of dolls and the Victorian-esque art style, the two are world’s apart in narrative and tone. It’s been a number of years since I saw the aforementioned series through its multiple seasons, but I still get an altogether different vibe from Emilico, Kate, and the other characters than from Jun and Shinku. They do share a wonderful sense of mystery and darkness that I love and hope to see more of in SHADOWS HOUSE’s already announce second season.