Indie Corner: Episode 5 - Cool Concepts with Old School Brilliance
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After the raspy failure of The Promised Neverland Season 2, CloverWorks brings us the mighty Shadows House! A show similar to The Promised Neverland in a few aspects with the potential to be anime of the year if everything goes fine. After other big shows like Tokyo Revengers and To Your Eternity seized their place as the highest-rated shows as well as the most popular ones, Shadows House got a lukewarm response from the viewers this spring season, and in my opinion, it’s definitely one of the top anime aired the spring season. Let’s talk about Shadows House, its ups and downs, and why you should watch this highly slept-on anime.
Shadows House is an anime adapted from Somato’s manga that goes by the same name, Shadows House. The anime is produced by ClowerWorks and directed by Kazuki Ōhashi, with Kenichiro Suehiro composing the music. A total of 13 episodes aired this spring season, while 8 volumes(ongoing) of the manga have been serialized through Weekly Young Jump, so we can expect it to be a big series in the near future. Shadows House has not yet been renewed for a second season, but looking at the pace it’s progressing and getting recognized, we can expect it to be aired soon in 2022, with its 9th volume dropping by the end of 2021.
PLOT – 8/10
Shadows House follows the story of the Shadow Family, a dynasty of faceless and featureless human-like shadows and their living dolls in an eerie environment. In this mansion of shadows, the shadow masters, because they are faceless, express their emotions through their identical living dolls that serve them and clean the soot that the shadows emit whenever they experience strong emotions, mostly negative. The show mainly focuses on the relationship between the shadow named Kate and her living doll Emilico. Their interactions and engagements are truly what fuels the show. Of course, Shadows House is similar to The Promised Neverland in terms of base storyline like children trapped at a mysterious place, but after that is where Shadows House set itself apart from The Promised Neverland. Let’s not compare both show’s storylines because of the spoiling elements. While the pilot of the show sounds promising in the long run, there’s not too much going on, and there’s nothing much to anticipate to get you fully into the show in the starting. Even though some instances are taken humorously, don’t think of Shadows House as another light-hearted anime. It has a very dark and wicked world with some secrets. The gloomy setting and world-building open up many possibilities for story development, and it’s amusing to imagine how the world of Shadows House would really be like. The show’s a bit boring and slow-paced in the beginning but gets bizarrely interesting in the later episodes, mainly because of the word building and setting.
CHARACTERS – 7/10
Characterwise, I won’t say the characters of Shadows House are on the rise. It’s just okay-okay with some ups and downs. Character building and character development were noteworthy, but the thing I found off is the character’s nature, especially the main character. The main character, Emilico’s the cliched optimistic, naive, and clumsy type of character, just like the main character in the anime 86 that aired the same season. And not only the main character but other side characters too are stereotyped one way or another. I felt the characters were stupid and duped out of some old animated family movie, but as the story progressed and characters interacted with each other, my judgment changed regarding them. I stopped thinking about the wrongs in the characters, and as soon as I overlook them, I starting enjoying the show very much. The characters may still feel senseless, but you can overlook the cons and enjoy the story. Talking about the positive things, Shadows House has a variety of characters. The show focuses on the 5 living dolls along with their shadow masters, and I am starting to like them all after some character development. In the beginning, the overall character count must feel less, but there’s a lot more to come in later episodes. The character development had a salient role in the story and kept the story from falling apart. Characters developed, matured, and… it was lovely. If you’re planning to watch Shadows House, I would say watch it for entertainment and don’t look for any more depth in characters like in some strong character-driven anime out there.
ANIMATION – 10/10
Visually, Shadows House is beautiful. Everything’s dynamic, gentle, good looking, and I don’t think there are such quality drops in the animation throughout. I personally love the color saturation with that nice shading. The background’s finely detailed, and it perfectly fits the theme of the show. The art style sheerly portraits the world of Shadows House. The art style gives the vibe of a dim, shadowy world where everything’s going fine on the surface, but something horrific is hidden beneath the surface. That’s precisely the world-building of Shadows House is, and the animation gives the show an aura of something dreadful.
SOUND DESIGN – 10/10
Along with the animation, the music is what I adore about this show. The ost is what brings charm to the show. Shadows House has a superb use of gentle and elegant OSTs to soothe your mind. I love the OP and ED, and they stand out very much wholly. The soundtracks are neither too fancy nor too serious. They are sober and simple yet lovely and peaceful to hear. ‘A hollow shadow,’ the opening by Suehiro Kenichiro, the music composer of the series, is an absolute comfort of an instrumental track. The voice acting is decently good and suits their characters captivatingly. Overall, the high production surprisingly stands out along with the animation.
VERDICT – 8.5/10
Shadows House is surprisingly good in every aspect. The characters and slow-paced beginning might be some hurdles for watchers, but it has enough other elements like the story and the world-building and high production value to keep them going on. And if you’re a The Promised Neverland fan, Shadows House’s perfect to watch for you. If everything goes fine, without a doubt, the series will be as big and respected as other big shows. Although it had many sublime elements, Shadows House was more of an amusing expedition than an intellectual one for me, and I loved it.