The horror genre is one Ive always shyd away from for years. I often scoffed at the thought that a literary and pictorial medium like manga could even scare me as I reductively equated horror to loud jumpscares. However as I explored more and more horror series over the years such as Dorohedoro Sweet Home Homunculus Parasyte and of course Kuro it slowly lulled me into its murky hands. The sheer dopamine and catharsis I get from the immoral illustrations and themes the steady descent into calamity the succulent mysteries unraveling. The horror genre is one Im still incredibly ignorant of yet deliriously in love with now. And right now I think Shadows House is a lovely and refreshing paradigm. With its genuinely marvelous colored art carefullyconstructed worldbuilding adorable characters and mystifying story its very much a horror series to keep an eye out for. Creepy Cute is the best definitive term Id use to characterize this lovely series. Spoilers ahead. Skip to the end for a short spoilerfree review 520 CGDCT .... or not? Just to clarify right off the bat this is not a fluffy uwu cutegirlsdoingcutethings series. But initially assuming so definitely doesnt warrant a facepalm. The first several chapters coupled with the art radiate a strong sliceoflife comedy tone. The story starts out with a slowpaced exposition anchoring onto the servantmaster relationship between our two adorable main characters Emilyko and Kate. Through the disgustingly cute scope of their conversations and Kate lightly reprimanding clumsy Emilyko the worldbuilding is slowly construed. Emilykos dialogue contains vital information such as the servantmaster relationship and the Shadow House. Its just enough to provide context but to also continue to shroud the world in mystery. Only when other characters are introduced in swarms do the Shadow House rules that Emilyko talks about get clearer and the cheerful tone become rapidly ominous and gloomy. Contrasted to Emilyko and Kates friendly relationship all the other Shadow House residents and their Faces solidify the norms and rules of the House and set in the dystopian setting through their strict cold interactions despite being together almost constantly. Just as how the audience is bewildered by this difference so is Emilyko allowing us to bear witness to the clumsy maid unraveling the secrets of this ghastly castle. 520 4D Chess As the story begins to truly shine and reveal its true colors internal political affairs and conflicts are introduced and enrich the mystifying plot even more. Within the Shadow house exists a hierarchical system of classes between Shadows. The concept of rules and privileges in the House that were initially mentioned by Emilyko are explored in moredepth providing depth to many characters as these often hint at their motives goals and actions. There are multiple conflicts occurring as a result of political struggles between both individuals and groups and as more secrets are unveiled they fan the flame of intensity of these conflicts. The different abilities that Shadows have also play a part in these mental battles making for a fun and interesting battle aspect. Kate frankly shines out almost everyone in this aspect of the story. Her intense drive to unravel the Shadow Houses mystery and challenge the upper echelon class by her own coupled with her cool demeanor and intellect is a spectacle to behold. If this wasnt a firstrate horror and mystery series Id enjoy to see Shadows House as a gambling manga featuring Kate battling the likes of Kaiji at a game of ECard. 520 Emilyko goes BRRRRRRR Emilyko is almost necessary to the story. Her very character allowed for important exposition to unfold. Her childishly innocent and freespirited nature juxtaposed the despairingly closedoff confining nature of the setting. In a world of restriction dullness and secrecy Emilyko serves as an adorable device to break and unravel them. Shes nearly as clueless as the audience in terms of the Houses norms and secrets and coupled with her curious nature Emilyko allows both herself and us to unearth these ghastly mysteries. Whereas all the other Faces are obedient and subordinate to the House Emilyko is a clueless and wonderfully defective product that enriches the story with her cuteness and free spirit. Kate on the other hand is on the opposite spectrum of personality. A lady of brief words strictness and intellect she encompasses everything that Emilyko isnt ... except for a couple things. Compassion and curiosity. Just like Emilyko Kate can be seen as defective and irregular compared to her Shadow peers. She isnt fixated on climbing the House class ranks for her personal standing and doesnt blindly follow the House rules. Due to Emilykos free and curious nature Kate slowly becomes aware that the House holds a mountain of dark secrets. From here on her character is strengthened phenomenally as she utilizes her intellect Emilyko and anything and anyone at her disposal to unravel them. And thanks to the work of both herself and Emilyko a fantastic BIG plot twist is revealed thickening both the story and Kates character. Unlike many of the other Faces and Shadows Emilyko and Kate share a unique and heartwarming relationship. Though the two share a surfacelevel servantmaster balance as Kate often amusingly scolds Emilyko for the consequences of her clumsy actions its transparent how much the two treasure each other and forgo the expected hierarchical standings of a Face and Shadow. If you were to count Emilykos most uttered word in the story thus far itd undoubtedly be KATESAMA. And conversely Kate proves herself to be a secret tsundere at times reprimanding her Face in the fashion of a usual huffy Shadow yet shows empathy and concern towards Emilyko beyond what any other House resident has shown. 520 Draw me like one of your French girls I can confidently say that Shadows House has the best art in all the ongoing manga Im reading by miles and miles. The art does an excellent job of simultaneously serving as aestheticallypleasing enhancing the setting and thickening the horror tone. Ill have to take a deep breath and go over each point before I vomit out a disorganized conglomerate mess of praise. First the cutesy artstyle. It initially bewitched me into thinking I was reading a relaxing sliceoflife comedy with its illegally adorable character designs of Emilyko and Kate. I couldnt name too many individuals whod manage to make a black blob into peak cuteness. The artstyle and character designs serves as a direct juxtaposition when met with the dystopian horrific nature of the series. This is one such refreshing take on horror in the manga medium reminding me of how Dowman Sayman creates a juxtaposition between his comedic goofy art and the gorey horrific nature of his work. However Soumatou knows how to seamlessly distort their trademark cuteness into their intended horror. In crucially dark scenes the otherwise innocently cute babyfaces of unfortunate characters are twisted into horrified sickened expressions. As such this artstyle fantastically both juxtaposes and enhances the horror of this series. Second the attentiontodetail. The artwork is incredibly detailed and sharp I can effortlessly differentiate individual curves to a characters face and the mere whiskers in the crosshatching of background art. Id curse anyone and their descendants for intentionally lowering the resolution of the panels. Besides that however the attentiontodetail comes twofold. The setting is obviously meant to mimic an antique European/Victorian era. Even to a history novice like myself the careful fashion choices architecture of the Shadow House and character designs are clearly that of. I truly wouldnt be fazed in the least if Soumatou said that they went to actual Victorian era historical buildings and sites and took hundreds of photos there to draw as reference because thats what the process to illustrate these breathtaking scenes may very well be. The scenes never fail to encapsulate the royalty and refinement of the Shadow House and its residents with its expensive interior and furniture and high class clothing of the Shadows and the traditional servant uniforms of the Faces. However the art also adds a speck of fantasy in the setting as well. Theres often bizarre devices and technology that radiate a steampunk tone and of course the Soot and bewildering abilities of the Shadows. 720 Third and finally the colored art. To reiterate myself again its not only aestheticallypleasing but also massively enhances the horrific tone. The color does a great job at reinforcing scene tones from lively and fun to mystifying to horror with its cautious shading and the choice between vivid and dull colors. While the art certainly wouldnt be sorely lacking as a typical monochrome style the coloring enriches many things the art itself the mystifying and horrific tone the emotional states of characters in addition to existing as a real showstopper. 720 520 Conclusion Shadows House is a wonderful horror series. From its slow steady exposition and divulgence of its dark worldbuilding a refreshing juxtaposition is created with Soumatous cute characters. The art is a spectacle that any and all art lovers should bear sight to. The elaborate buildings dresses and background sets in stone an interesting Victorian era and steampunk setting. In addition to the intoxicating mysteries comes a complex series of internal political affairs and mental battles guaranteed to leave your brain stimulated and drooling for more. With the anime adaptation announced Id be more than elated if the fanbase for this upandcoming gem grew larger and cheer for the freespirited blonde maid. 420
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