Shadow’s House: Emilico Discovers the Nobles’ Creepy Cult of Conformity

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 2 of Shadow's House, now streaming on Funimation.

The Noble home of Shadow's House is a sprawling, isolated Victorian mansion full of sinister shadows beyond the likes of its aristocratic inhabitants. Because of their soot bodies, the Nobles' Living Dolls are forced to spend their days constantly cleaning whenever they're not attending to their masters.

In Episode 1, Emilico, a newly awakened Living Doll, spent all of her cleaning time tending the rooms of her mistress, Kate. The first episode took place entirely within Kate's and Emilico's rooms, but Episode 2 introduces the other Living Dolls, their Sisyphean daily tasks and their creepy level of adoration towards the Noble family, which Emilico shares.

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Episode 2 of Shadow's House introduces Emilico to the other Living Dolls of the house, as well as to her new tasks: cleaning soot all over the manor. Her new friends seem upbeat and helpful. Mia, an extroverted older girl, picks Emilico up from her room and guides her through the labyrinthine manor until they reach a great hall that all of the other children are cleaning. There she meets Lou, a reserved but kind redhead, and Rosemary, the leader of her cleaning group, who is as knowledgeable about cleaning as she is encouraging.

Emilico is delighted to work with Mia, Lou and Rosemary to clean the soot, so much so that she almost faints, and her joy at receiving her very own cleaning kit, soot suit and mask is only matched by her eagerness to join an impromptu musical number about how great it is to clean the ever-falling soot and serve the Noble family. Her excitement is so potent that she doesn't even blink at the possibility of climbing atop an incredibly high beam to scrub the ceiling clean.

The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one. This the moment it becomes abundantly clear that all of the Living Dolls are human -- because they can age into a position of leadership -- also makes it obvious that they're all brainwashed. This is not a classic Victorian job arrangement, where children worked to support their families and learn a trade; no mention is made of their families, and the kids' only goal in life is to clean soot. The language they use includes "blessed" and "for the sake of the Nobles" and nobody expresses any negative feelings, even mild tiredness or boredom, at their task. In fact, any thoughts about "minor details" are discouraged with a smile.

Later on, Kate and Emilico meet another Shadow, Sarah, walking with her Doll, Mia — one of the girls who had been kind to Emilico that very morning. However, Mia's behavior is off. Instead of her naturally outgoing personality, Mia mimicks Sarah's movements and presumed facial expressions, the two moving in creepy unison as Sarah berates Kate and Emilico for independently they act from each other. So, not only do the Living Dolls have to take care of the Shadow's every need, real or imaginary, without compensation -- but they are also asked to internalize their emotions, values and expressions -- until they literally become their puppets.

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