Oh I liked this episode. I really liked this episode. It wasn’t without its flaws mind you. And Shadows House does have a tendency to prioritize style, but what a style it is.

I rarely give spoiler warnings on my episode reiews. I think it’s pretty obvious I’m going to talk about the episode. Still, just to be clear, there’s a fairly important reveal this week so if you haven’t watched Shadows House 2 episode 8 yet, you might want to do so before reading this post!

The episode started out with another meeting of the junior detective friends and it’s nice to see how comfortable they have gotten with each other. They really aren’t putting on many airs anymore.

One of the weaknesses in this season of Shadows House is that moving the genre closer to a mystery also exposes you to the weaknesses of the genre. Kate and friends were making a heck of a lot of assumptions this week, some of which I had made myself in previous posts ad my readers were quick to point out that I was jumping to conclusions and there were other explanations to explore. And normally, I would call that a flaw in a show like this. But Shadows House already takes place in a Universe with uncertain rules, having the characters make intuitive leaps may not be the best mystery writing but it doesn’t feel out of place and I found it easy to go along with. Besides, they’re kids after all. And kids assume things all the time.

All this said the two main impressions I had of the first act were that although Sarah was quite detestable, I didn’t think she was Master Robe for some reason and that John really livens up a scene. For a second I was afraid the star bearers had locked him away but as soon as he barged in, the atmosphere completely changed. I might have cheered.

One thing I’m not quite clear on is: why is everyone surprised that Barbara and Maryrose are from the same year? Are they supposed to look different ages? I’m bad a judging these things and I don’t know if I missed something but the repeated joke of having someone freak out when they find out left me scratching my head a bit.

The middle part of the episode was the short action portion where they found the bottle. It was a good move not to reveal the identity of the robed figure yet. I started going through the list of suspects in y head and was just completely into the episode by then.

And then we find out about Morphs. Now, this isn’t exactly a big shock. We knew the shadows were fairies and obviously, they could change shape. I think I even had a reader use the exact term Morph. But the details were always vague. The Shadows themselves seemed largely unaware of what was happening. And this was confirmed. The Shadows are indeed in the dark (!) but not Kate. And I admit I didn’t see that coming and I love it.

Kate, precious Kate. Paragon of virtue and good sense. The reasonable one! Kate was lying to everyone all along. Even to us the audience. Kate knew everything! She knew from day one that Emilico is human. That does explain why she always treated her that way. Still, the idea that Kate cannot be fully trusted and might up to a certain point be an unreasonable narrator is fantastic.

I have mentioned many times how stylish Shadows House is. Did you notice the sudden onslaught of dutch angles during the morph speech? Here are a few to refresh your memory.

Using dutch angles to make a scene unsettling. How delightfully old school. So Hitchcockian. I checked and the only dutch angle used before the final act is when John threatens to fight Parick. And that was just one. There are at least half a dozen in the last part. This was a very deliberate and blunt cinematic language choice.

I suspected just about every one of being Master Robe. At one point I was hoping it was the twins on each other’s shoulders! But somehow, I never thought of Maryrose. I should have. Hindsight is 20/20 but she has been suspicious all season. Yet they kept her both present and somehow out of mind. At least for me. And I’m liking her as the antagonist. The only thing that would have made the episode better, is if it would have ended on a Maryrose dance number!

here is a lot about Maryrose’s philosophy and excuses that I could talk about but think I’ll leave it for next week when we find out more!

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Season 1

Season 2

10 thoughts

  1. Maryrose was the prime suspect early on, for me. Not to repeat an earlier comment, but her living doll set off the whole incident, in suspect circumstances. She was once a peer to Barbara & Christopher, the biggest players the children’s wing has known in recent memory. Kate kept wondering about whether she had soot powers. There were big question marks around her from the start. What’s more, her comment to Louise last episode felt very loaded, considering Rosemary’s repeated “unlucky” stints in the infirmary.

    Then, there’s the flashbacks. They suggest once joyous days turning sour, as shown by the huge shift in Barbie’s facial expressions, or her terrible treatment of Rosemary. (Safe to assume the fall-out is linked to Christopher’s invitation in some way.) The ED mourns the loss of these happier times, as it positions Maryrose opposite Barbara — the character who most epitomizes order / the system in the children’s wing. I’m quite curious to find out what drives her, what she plans to achieve & how.

    Regarding the cast’s surprise at finding out Rosemary & Barbara were peers… The dolls have seen how much vitriol Rosemary takes from Barbie. Not an interaction goes by, without her being called “bonkura” / “dimwitted”. And the thing is, Maryrose always accepts it, without any complaints! You’d expect such a submissive reaction from a kouhai, maybe — but not from a peer. At least that’s my read.

    Mad respect to Emilico. I totally missed the lack of soot on Rosemary’s face. Such a brilliant observation. She can be so perceptive sometimes.

    The conjecture around the Douglas – Sarah marriage petition took me by surprise. What an interesting recontextualization of earlier scenes. Something to keep an eye on.

    1. Damn it, I keep mixing up Rosemary & Maryrose’s names. The last couple “Rosemary” should read “Maryrose”, in case that wasn’t clear. As in, the doll not the shadow.

    2. I also missed the sooth detail. But they also mentioned that Rosemary gets sooth sickness all the time, so I figured she might have been less prone to resist because she gets afflicted much quicker than the average. Also she was taken by surprise.

      1. I’d have to double-check, but I don’t remember her surprise. I think Maryrose was already soot-sick when we first saw her. She slowly made her way into the hall, dozens of scorches cleverly hidden under her dress. She waited first to reach the center of the room, surrounded by living dolls on every side — before unleashing the scorches all around her. We’d seen scorches before. We knew them as chaotic little creatures, driven purely by id, lacking any impulse control. But here, the disguise & timing hinted at a level of calculation well beyond their ability. The whole incident seemed deliberately designed to wreck maximum havoc. I’m probably being flippant, and I’m sorry, but it reminded me of the Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka.

        On another note, and not to be even more of an asshole, but you misspelled “soot” as “sooth”. Which, as strange as it sounds, I remember reading somewhere. After a little research, it appears to be an archaic word, with the below definitions:

        (adjective) 1. true
        (adjective) 2. soft, sweet
        (noun) 3. truth
        (noun) 4. blandishment (when you try to sweet-talk someone)

        Cool word, already love it. I suppose it is sooth, to say that your typos are always enjoyable & instructive.

        (Okay, asshole parenthesis over!)

        1. Yes she was already sooth sick. She was attacked alone in the corridor and her walking into the chamber alerted everyone else. As in soothsayer.

  2. To be honest, I didn’t speculate much about Robe-sama’s identity, except thinking it might be Christopher.

    I’ve often wondered what Kate’s motivation was. Since the first season, we knew she had some sort of agenda, and the reveal was interesting. She remembers life before imitation. This has interesting implications: morphs (have we heard that name before? It feels vaguely familiar in the context, but I might be imagining stuff) are sentient before imitating people, and imitating people usually erases their memories from before. That makes things… interesting: do morphs want to imitate stuff? Are they forced to imitate stuff? What’s that soot? I imagine that little soot fairy I assume is Shirley is in her morph form? That’s how they naturally look? So do they gain soot volume through imitation? This opened up the setting so much, without giving much away. For me, the setting mystery is more compelling than the plot mystery.

    However, I really love the characters. They all have such great chemistry.

    1. Speaking of the setting mystery, I wonder when we’ll be granted our next look at the adults’ wing. Between marriages & unifications, there’s a lot of detail to be filled out. Not to mention, the house politics!

    2. The setting is in my opinion Shadows House’s greatest strength since episode 1. And the pacing at which we get more information is downright brilliant

  3. Manga and anime have different strengths. Anime has advantages for action and atmosphere; manga can provide a lot of information quickly without bogging gown. The manga had a bit more information about the investigation but it would have made the anime drag more. On the other hand, I think the anime did a GREAT job in its very first two episodes setting up a lot of atmospheric ideas that the manga couldn’t have given page space to without becoming almost unreadable.

    Not to spoil anything but I think we’re all going to be VERY happy with the next couple of of anime episodes.

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