The Shadows House manga has its own atmosphere and aesthetics. The main characters, Kate and Emilico, live together in their own room, like their own little world. Kate Shadow has no discernible features and gives off soot when she’s having negative emotions. Emilico is a “living doll” who serves as Kate’s face. It’s unclear if either one is human.
Emilico spends a lot of her time cleaning soot from Kate’s room and is ever the happy-go-lucky character. Readers discern quickly how odd this whole scenario is, even if Emilico doesn’t. Eventually Emilico makes it out of the room she was born in and discovers the largeness of the mansion where she lives.
The first volume of the series sets up characters and mysteries. Nothing is very clear, and while Emilico lives in a happy world, there is a sense that this cannot last and she’ll have to confront something, but we don’t know what.
The artwork shows us an older time, before internet or TV, and while the exact time period isn’t given, the artwork does a good job of showing us a world gone by. The world of Shadows House might not really exist, but it’s created with such detail that it feels as though it should. The older clothing and living styles give it a wholesome feeling, as do the two main characters, while at the same time there is something sinister and creepy about the whole premise. The manga does a good job of blending these two seemingly contradictory feelings into its own unique blend. The first volume is off to an interesting start, and unlike so many manga out there that feel full of tropes and cliches, this feels like something individual and different, which is nice. There are also a few color pages at the end.
Shadows House has also been adapted into a successful anime.
Story & Art: Somato
Publisher: Yen Press
Translator: Taylor Engel
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.