Emilico joins her new friends in a class where they teach her more about the mansion and her role. But with each piece of information Emilico learns about the Shadows and the way they live, only more questions come up. The day’s lesson is cut short when a phantom appears, a collection of soot that has gained form and becomes violent. All the living dolls gather to battle it, and Rosemary, one of Emilico’s friends is hurt during the encounter contracting ‘soot sickness’ from the soot entering her body. The mystery of the soot is ever pervasive in this series, and the plot only thickens when Kate discovers her own strange ability to manipulate the soot.
I’m not a stranger to writing weekly reviews of anime episodes and I have to admit when I do them I find them a bit of a struggle to start. How do I write a decent sized review/ discussion of a twenty minute episode when my head is usually just thinking “that was a sweet episode”. So often it’s a bit painful to try and get my word count over 500. But I think of all the series I’ve looked at, Shadows House is the one where I am struggling to actually keep my word count down!I could honestly ramble on and on about all the various information dropped and my theories about it. In this episode, we learn about veiled dolls, Phantoms, soot sickness, the debut (and useless dolls being discarded), dolls ranks going up with their shadows’, the Creator of the Dolls etc.
Even just Mia provides so much interesting food for thought. When she first meets Emilico after their encounter in the last episode, she brushes off the event saying she was just ‘acting out’ Sarah’s emotions. It’s interesting that not only is she able to completely imitate and express Sarah but she’s also able to mentally separate ‘her’ emotions /thoughts and Sarah’s emotions/ thoughts. The dolls physically are able to emulate the Shadows, but they still have their own thoughts and feelings when they are by themselves. Even if they are have cult-like reverence for the Shadow family. Additionally, we learn that Mia could could read when she was ‘born’ (whereas Emilico cannot) and has scars on her back, perhaps once again leading credence to the idea that the ‘dolls’ may be humans. Perhaps their memories have been wiped, but basic functions and abilities remain.
This week’s big event was the encounter with the soot phantom. As hinted at in last week’s episode with the Kate’s spiked soot, soot can be incredibly dangerous. But in this week’s episode it was not only dangerous but it came alive and had a mind of its own. When the soot attacked Rosemary, it was like a scene from a horror movie. She was pulled around and up the walls, like she was demonically possessed and when the soot was finally banished she was no longer herself. Instead she was hitting her head against the walls and mumbling. And yet despite such a traumatic experience when she returned to the group, all healed, she was bright smiles and could brush the incident off.
Later in the episode we learn that Kate is able to control soot. Which does in a way make sense, the soot comes from the Shadows (their negative emotions). So they should be able to control a part of them. And yet Kate says she’s never heard of this in Shadow lore. It will be interesting to see how Kate’s abilities develop, especially with that ominous post credits scene making it sound like the characters have something rather frightening in store. Kate’s abilities may be needed to save the day!
I think perhaps my only complaint so far in this series is I find characters tend to take a bit too long to act. For example, when Rosemary’s face was covered in the soot phantom the other three girls were standing around in shock. Mia is the first to snap into actions and instructs Lou to hit the soot. But Lou instead hits Rosemary!? It was so silly I almost wonder if it was on purpose. Lou says to Emilico later that she doesn’t want to (or can’t) decide who to save (Mia or Rosemary) and instead leaves the decision to Emilico. Even though the characters think of themselves as dolls, they still view each other as friends or at the very least colleagues. It just seemed really odd that no one would spring into action.
Actually that entire scene was a particularly interesting segment. When Mia is trying to hold Rosemary up to stop her from choking, Rosemary begins flailing. Mia asks her to stop, worried that Rosemary will hurt her face. It gets to the point that Mia actually tells Rosemary that she’ll need to let her go as she can’t get her face scarred. It goes back to the point I was discussing last week about how important the appearance of the dolls are. Mia’s fear is, I suppose, that if there’s any damage to her face, that is, Sarah (her mistress’s face) she won’t be able to represent Sarah any longer and will be ‘discarded’. But why then, do the Shadows family get the dolls to do so much cleaning and fighting the Phantoms? It just seems contradictory.
It’s just episode three and the show is already creating such a rich world, but at the same time (and almost paradoxically) not really giving anything away. We get small breadcrumbs of information, that spark our imagination and as the audience we begin to build up our idea of the world. We are almost going on the same journey as Emilico, piecing together the information. There’s a real careful control to the way the story is being told, and it almost makes me feel like the nefarious impressions I have of the Shadows and the mansion may almost be too simple. Like there’s something much bigger going on, and I’ve only scratched the surface.