Original Run: July 9, 2022 - September 24, 2022 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Mystery, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Soumatou
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Shadows House Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.***
Since their eventful but successful debut, the young Kate (voiced by Akari Kitou) and her Living Doll, Emilico (voiced by Yuu Sasahara), have become members of Shadows House. With that done, Kate and Emilico continue their quest to uncover the horrifying truth behind the Shadows and their Dolls.
However, the pair are under the constant watch of the fanatical star bears. With their every move monitored, there is no room for Kate and Emilico to make mistakes. Should someone uncover their schemes, they could be looking at severe, if not the ultimate, punishment.
Nevertheless, Kate and Emilico are slowly gathering allies for their cause. But as they are making progress, a mysterious figure appears and throws the house into chaos. To secure a more favorable standing with the star bears, Kate volunteers to get to the bottom of these recent events.
Have you ever encountered a series where you know it’s good but can’t get into it? You recognize that the story works, the characters are fine, and everything about the whole production is an overall success. Except, you can’t find it in you to care. Then you need to review why said series is worth recommending even though your indifference is out in the open.
Okay, that last bit might just be me. The point is, Shadows House Season 2 (Shadows House 2) was decent, but its extremely hard to focus on what was going on.
I pretty much hit the nail on the head with what I said in the season one review. To recap:
“What is more concerning is how little I care about any continuation. Please don’t misunderstand; I don’t dread a sequel to this show. When Shadows House 2 arrives, I will go into it with high hopes. Be that as it may, season one didn’t have much of a wow factor.”
We’ll expand on this notion later. For now, what were the positive aspects of Shadows House 2? Well, as I’ve hinted, this season – and this series in general – does have plenty of things in its favor.
Easily the most successful thing about this show is its look. Call it solid design or fortunate happenstance, but the fact is that Shadows House is visually unique. The living dolls and the Shadows – especially the Shadows – are unlike anything else. You know precisely what show they are from.
Naturally, it is possible to be unmistakable for the wrong reasons, but that’s not what happened here.
Despite its more down-to-earth surroundings, Shadows House 2 found plenty of ways to exemplify its animation. There were many scenes where the color balance took full advantage of the pitch-blackness of the Shadows and their respective powers. Or, in other words, every color that wasn’t texture-less black popped and stood out – Kate and her crimson red dress.
By contrast, livings dolls such as Emilico were much blander and failed to leave much of a visual impact. To make up for that, characters like Emilico had far more enduring personalities than their Shadows counterparts – or, at least, more often than not, that was the case.
And actually, it was this series’ characters that kept things interesting. In particular, Kate and Emilico were this season’s most enjoyable elements, followed closely by John and Shaun (both voiced by Koudai Sakai). When either pair or, better yet, all four were on screen, this show was at its most fun. Should this series get a third season, these four would be why I might have some interest in it.
Granted, the keyword in that last sentence was “might.”
The biggest problem with Shadows House 2 was that it spent twelve episodes to convey very little information. Granted, what information we got was massive, and I’m sure this show will explore it more in season three. Now, there are two issues with what I just wrote:
- I said something similar at the end of season one, and continually saying “we’ll wait until next time” is untenable because of;
- As of October 2022, there has been no announcement of said season three.
Allow me to make an assumption. Given what I saw in season two and remember in season one, I suspect the Shadows House manga is a bit of a slow burn. That is an observation, not a criticism. I am not insinuating that slow-burn narratives are inherently flawed. Like every other storytelling style, slow burns can have fantastic results when done well.
However, I am saying that Shadows House and, more to the point, Shadows House 2 don’t have a guarantee of continuation. And in this anime format, this series’s pacing has not done it any favors.
There were plenty of backstory episodes in this season. While this did give us plenty of information and insight into the thought processes of certain characters, it only gave us, the audience, that insight.
For example, without giving too much away, a character in the past (one who never interacted with Kate or Emilico) chose to do an action that had broad-spreading consequences for some of this season’s most critical players. Except, this revelation came when one of those critical players was reminiscing; there was no one around to hear it. Therefore, Shadows House 2 broke a fundamental rule when telling a mystery story:
The audience should never know more than the main character.
How could Shadows House 2 have avoided this situation? Either Kate or Emilico could have been in the room to hear the story, or they could have discovered (or deduced) it on their own. Instead, this season elected to spend a good chunk of its limited runtime to reveal details that may (emphasis on “may”) come into play in a future installment that might never come.
Assuming Shadows House 2 was faithful to the pacing of its source material, should it have rushed through the plot to better accommodate what time it had? Not necessarily. There does need to be a balancing act when doing an adaptation. Pacing in written form and pacing in visual form are not always compatible. Shadows House 2 dropped the ball in this respect.
Granted, Shadows House 2’s studio, CloverWorks, although brilliant with animation, doesn’t have the cleanest record when it comes to respecting a source material’s pacing. The travesty of The Promised Neverland Season 2 still sits with me.
Luckily, Shadows House 2 doesn’t come anywhere close to that low point. And yet, I’m not going to act as though this season didn’t take a gamble with how long it took to tell us so little.
This show is visually unique and has characters worth caring about. Plus, it is a welcomed reprieve from the endless supply of isekai and romantic comedy anime that come out each year.
However, just because something is different doesn’t mean it is flawless.
This season moved at a snail’s pace and left behind little to show for it. This series is banking on the hope that a continuation is inevitable. If one comes, great. Except just like last time, I am finding it hard to care.
Provided a third installment doesn’t utterly upend my expectations, I am going to say Shadows House Season 2, as well as the whole Shadows House series is one you can skip.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Shadows House Season 2? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you’ve read, follow Anime Hajime on our social media to never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
If you wish to add your voice to Anime Hajime, why not consider writing for us? Check out our Write For Anime Hajime page if you want to contribute. We welcome your style.
For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.