Emilico has settled into her life at Shadows House, and now joins the other living dolls in cleaning the rest of the mansion. The other dolls greet her warmly, and Emilico is shocked at the size of the mansio almost fainting on the spot. But nevertheless, they all get to work singing a tune. Later Emilico and Kate encounter one of the living dolls (Mia) who taught Emilico cleaning, and her mistress (Sarah). But Mia is acting completely different, there’s no smiles or friendliness from her end as she acts out and mimics her mistress’s disdain for Kate and Emilico. The episode ends with Emilico questioning what really is Shadows House?
Soot defines Emilico’s life in Shadows House, and each day she’s tasked with cleaning it. But with each episode, we’re starting to learn that soot isn’t just harmless ‘dust’. In episode one we learnt that soot is created mostly from negative emotions / anxieties. But in the opening of this week’s episode we learn from Kate, shadows even produce soot in their sleep, and that Kate views the soot as ‘dirty’. Perhaps most interesting is that, when Kate becomes incredibly angry at Emilico it hardens and clumps together into a patch of dangerous spikes. Emilico is unable to remove it until her and Kate reach a resolution. It’ll be interesting to learn more about how soot plays into the larger world in the coming episode.
But more pressing is that this week’s episode has provided a bit more context on the actual roles of the living dolls. From Kate and Emilico’s encounter with Mia and Sarah we see that the dolls are expected to perfectly act out and mimic their master’s emotions and actions. It’s truly an unnerving sequence to see Mia, who appeared to bright and friendly a scene ago suddenly become so cold. The idea of the dolls being the shadows face is repeated again, with Emilico being dubbed a failure for being unable to express Kate’s emotions rather expressing her own fear and sadness when acted by Mia and Sarah.
This ties into a previous idea that came up in the episode – that the dolls don’t have to think of trivial things. When meeting the other living dolls, Emilico is told that the doll’s greatest joy is to serve the Shadows House and the dolls don’t need to worry about things. The implication behind this, is that they don’t need to think at all. I believe the Shadows House want the ‘living dolls’ to be a blank slate that they can imprint their own personality and characteristics onto. Thus Sarah chastises Emilico for not suppressing her own emotions and reactions to express Kate’s. But that begs the question, if they wanted these perfect copies why were the dolls created with personalities – unless they’re not dolls at all. Seeing Emilico, get hurt, and feel emotions only adds to the idea that these ‘dolls’ are actually human.
I have to admit, I do find it interesting that the Shadow family put so much emphasis on the appearance of dolls (as they are physical representations of themselves) and yet have them do such hard labor. Especially when Emilico was outside cleaning the windows, surely you wouldn’t want your ‘face’ to be doing something so dangerous? Unless, the Shadows Family have a way to ‘rotate’ out dolls if they become broken (if they’re not actually human like I suspect)? Lots to think about!
As I said in my episode one review, Shadows House may be a series that is overlooked by a lot of viewers this season. But I think it’s a show that will pleasantly surprise us as it slowly builds to a twisty finale. Of course, that’s just my hopes for how the show will go, I haven’t actually read the manga. But however it does go, I am keen to uncover the mystery of Shadows House!