WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Shadows House, now streaming on Funimation.
After seven episodes, Funimation has finally added the English subtitles to Shadows House's extremely catchy J-Pop ending song, which might shed some light on the secrets of the series. The Shadows House closing theme, "Nai Nai," was composed by ReoNa, a J-Pop singer who also produced and released a special live-action music video that matches the shadowy themes of the anime.
The imagery of the music video is as creepy and powerful as that in the anime, featuring dark and light characters that mimic Kate and Emilico. However, it's the lyrics and the detailed sound design that might make fans of Shadows House perk up their ears and declare open season on speculation.
No ash, no, just shadow
A no- "I" body, like a dolly
I'm hollow, where did I go?
A murky "I" with black-hole eyes
A mimic, oh my! I'm in disguise?
"Thank you"? Thank who?
Every answer is true.
If I am no one
And I can do nothing
Is it a waste to keep living?
Is it wrong to go on?
What's missing here is me, me, me
Without a self
Swept away before anyone see, see, sees
Like dust from the shelf
Neither happy nor sad
Don't feel good or bad
Not up to snuff
I can't even bluff
Would you believe this stuff?
At first, it seems like the song's protagonist should be Emilico, but she's too extroverted and optimistic to even come close to these dark, existential thoughts. Instead, a better fit would be the more introspective and studious Kate, Emilico's master, who is starting to figure out the real nature of her life at the House.
The lyrics allude to three key aspects of the Shadows' existence: their shadow bodies, which prevent people from seeing their expressions; their dependence on their Living Dolls to understand and participate in the world around them, and, if they are decent, their eventual life crisis, where they cannot figure out what they are and what they're meant to do.
Even if they wind up being some sort of non-human creatures, are the Shadows even real people? Or are they just, as the song seems to suggest, mimics of specific humans? And, the song's lyrics elaborate, if they don't have a proper "I"/self or even real emotions, is their independent existence meaningful -- or deserved? Is a stolen existence one worth living?
The lyrics more or less answer themselves. Whoever is thinking these thoughts compares themselves to the same stuff that Living Dolls routinely clean in Shadows House: dust and soot. In Shadows House, these substances can coalesce into bug-like creatures that will try to dominate any Living Doll in their path, usually poisoning the host or causing them great harm. It might be that the Shadow Nobles are just an evolved version of these soot bugs, sophisticated enough to enslave an entire corps of Living Dolls.
But regardless of their evolutionary stage, the gnawing question at the heart of the song remains: If a Shadow exists only in relation to a Living Doll, do they have a proper conscience at all? Or are they worse off than a mirror image, dissolving to nothing if their mimicked Doll should die? We'll just have to keep watching to try and find out.
Shadows House, based on the manga of the same name by the duo Somato, is currently available on Funimation.