[Review] SHADOWS HOUSE 2nd Season – New Faces, Same Emilico

The second season of SHADOWS HOUSE couldn’t have come sooner, and it wasn’t too long into it that I was reminded of all that I loved in the first season. Character interactions like those between Emilico and Kate, a dark Victorian-esque setting blanketing the scenery with shadows and lace, and a mystery that carries on still unsolved–these all balanced together to create a story that continues to enthrall. If, however, you hoped for resolution to our children’s fears, then you’ll be disappointed to know that this sequel does not wrap up the mysteries, but rather sets the stage for even more curiosities as they step closer to adulthood.

It’s interesting looking at seasons 1 and 2 side by side, as they are both similar and dissimilar in their tone and focus. Where the original felt more uneasy in the still largely unknown world that is this sprawling mansion, the continuation feels less threatening with the revelations presented at the end of the first season. We already know that our dolls, the faces to the shadows, are human children stolen away from the nearby village with drugs and lies of a better future. The children themselves aren’t even aware of their pasts, waking up with their memories wiped and everything in their immediate surroundings set up to convince them of their inferiority and subservience to the Shadow Family.

The coffee is just THAT good

What does continue to disturb me is the willful ignorance certain shadow members have towards abduction and brainwashing. Using Emilico and Kate as examples of a healthy relationship of peers, many other pairings show a clear power shift towards the shadow side, and often a complete disregard for the personality of the doll. When we later find out about the merge that comes with adulthood, the careful control of relationships makes sense–while closeness is expected for a successful takeover, too much self-awareness may very well result in failure, or more specifically, death. We see this in pairings like Christopher and Anthony, as well as Maryrose and Rosemary. I imagine should a merge be attempted on Emilico and Kate or Shaun and John, failure would also be unavoidable.

Another change that I appreciated despite the unfortunate circumstances that allows it is the shift in characters. Friendships with Lou and Louise, and Ricky and Patrick, still exist but on a smaller scale given their shadow coffee use, and Rum and Shirley are considered lost after failing their debut. Instead, we get to know older members a bit more, like Research Group’s Ollie and Oliver, Ben and Benjamin, and Suzy and Suzanna. One of the more surprising tidbits learned this season came with the look into the pasts of Barbara, Maryrose, and Christopher. While their closeness wasn’t expected, even more shocking was the difference between the Barbara of the past and the present; once energetic in a style reminiscent of Emilico, she now leads the Star Bearers with a permanent scowl. I don’t know why this scared me just as much as if not more than the loss of Rum and Shirley…perhaps because it displayed more explicitly the changes the house can have on a single person. Whereas Rum and Shirley disappear off screen giving us little detail into their true ending, we see Barbie’s happier self essentially die along with her knowledge of Anthony and Christopher.

Despite only covering a single season with 12 episodes, it still feels like this second season tread a lot of ground since the end of the first. Kate and Emilico hold even more knowledge about their origins and abilities, and have formed allies within the children’s wing who are sympathetic, if not enlightened, to their pursuit for more information. Right now the future is unclear. Should Kate aim to become a Star Bearer and carry on Maryrose and Anthony’s mission to reshape training among the children, or can they somehow survive the rite of adulthood and get access to the head of their household, Grandfather? Since I am unfamiliar with the source material, I really don’t know how many levels there are within the adult wing, nor how much further Kate, Emilico, and the others have to go before being invited to become adults in the first place.

If subsequent seasons are announced, then I will 100% be there to see where these kids go from here. I’m still hoping for Lou and Ricky to join Emilico and Shaun in their mission fully cleared from the coffee’s influence, and now also hope to see Barbie smile again free from her worries…all after a ton more suspense and thrills, of course.

Rating: 1 dango

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

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