Sometimes playful. Sometimes filled with wrath. Shadows are no joke. When I think of shadows, I actually think of doppelganger legends. Meaning, I really think about those legends of when you see your doppelganger you die. However the next thing I think of is Peter pan and his shadow which is like hella playful. So…there’s two extremes there. But you know something I’ve noticed? The playful shadow trope isn’t really a thing in anime. At least that I have noticed. Which maybe I just did because there were two anime last season that were focused on shadows but both were pretty different.
On one side of shadows, we have Shadows House. I would categorize this anime as a mystery “horror. Actually not even horror but maybe more gothic? It’s not very scary at all. In this show, shadows are essentially the dominating species — at least as far as we can tell. The shadows of the house have their living dolls that need to act as their faces — creating expression and emotion since shadows are just, well shadows. Without features. We do learn that the living dolls aren’t animated but human, and while there are some horror elements like soot sickness and brainwashing, most shadows aren’t scary. They are actually very quirky and friendly for the most part — at least the ones we’re following. We also see a lot of shadows genuinely caring about their living dolls, with little animosity.
On the flip side, we had Summer Time Rendering where shadows were absolutely a thing straight out of a horror novel. These shadows were much closer to the doppleganger legends, where it was bad to see yourself as it was considered your “shadow”. These shadows actually did take a snapshot of you, take your form and essentially then go to kill the original you. It’s very creepy, and even though one of the characters in it is a “shadow” for the good side, the shadows are the antagonists and monsters of the show. And they are truly terrifying. Not only can the become shadows on the ground and move through shadow, they literally take your place as your perfect image. The only way you can tell if you’re talking to a human or a shadow creature is if someone casts a shadow or not (obviously a shadow will not have their own shadow).
The difference between the two shows and their shadows is HUGE. Honestly I was surprised we had two shadow shows in a season, and both were good despite depicting these creatures vastly different. It certainly made me curious what other shows depict shadows, so I feel like I’ll be on the search still. In the meantime, do you have a favorite shadow show I should watch? Let me know! And stayed tuned for more Otakutober content soon.