In the distant future, a new immortal and genderless life form called Gems populate the Earth. The 28 Gems must fight against the Moon Dwellers, who attack them regularly to abduct them and to turn them into decorations. Each Gem is assigned a role, such as a fighter or a medic.
Being only 300 years old, Phosphophyllite is the youngest of the Gems and has no assignment yet. He wants to help to fight the Moon Dwellers, but is too weak and brittle for battle. One day the master of Gems, Kongou (Adamantine), assigns him the task of creating a natural history encyclopedia.
It’s unfortunate that many people overlook and under rate CGI based series, me included. But after reading the synopsis and watching 4 episodes, I’m glad I made the decision to watch Land of the Lustrous. I guess you can say this is the…Hidden gem of the season \(\~_~)
Out of all the anime that aired this Fall, Houseki no Kuni caught my attention the most. With its oddly intriguing story along with the setting and characters. The characters of this series are gems. You know, Diamond, Jade, Alexandrite, and the other ones. Each gem has a certain hardness, how easy they can break. One of the
very weak gems are our main characters, Phos and Cinnabar. I did not do any research so I have no idea about how each gem acts and their exact information. But the anime does well to explain enough the characteristics of each one.
Basically the Gems or Jewels task is to fend off against like, Moon Dwellers? They constantly fight the gems to kidnap them for the purpose of decoration. Of course, being gems, it’s understandable. With this, Land of the Lustrous does well to present an action packed, scenic filled, colourful, atmospheric anime for us to enjoy.
Unfortunately for Phos, her task doesn't come with badass fighting scenes, her (I know they’re genderless, so i’m just gonna refer to these as girls cuz they're more feminine than anything else) job is to write down notes for an encyclopaedia and make history. Not so fun is it. Being an easily breakable gem, Phos had it coming.
The soundtrack is quite amazing with its catchy opening and insert songs. The sfx used as well is amazing and the overall music just fits perfectly.
The animation is definitely a strong point, despite the CGI that it has. It flows nicely and the action scenes and cinematography is spot on.
I am pretty tempted to read the original source to see how it differs, but I do hear that the adaptation is pretty well made, so no complaints there.
The voice acting performance of course is very good as well, each character has an appropriate voice for those characters. It fits and it makes me feel for them more.
My enjoyment for this series is beyond the roof. To the calm, SOL feeling situations, to the action packed and serious scenes as well. Although the tone shifts could make people see this series differently, I do believe it has a more positive impact than a negative one. I enjoy each character and the different types of jewels and the use of their “hardness” rank. I love how some gems are fragile and some aren't and they use that nicely in this anime.
Overall this anime needs more attention, just because something is cgi, does not mean it can’t present a good story driven anime with good characters within a good setting. Houseki no Kuni deserves a lot more. If you have time at all, I really do recommend watching this anime, because It won't be a waste of time.
At the time of writing this review, four episodes have aired.
I've finished catching up to the manga (60 chapters) and will be purchasing them shortly.
STORY: Gems in humanoid form fight unknown entities known as the "Moon-People", their hardness and gem type dictating their overall strength and ability to fight. The story has a very distinct feel to it, but I'm not surprised only about 20k people have this show currently listed. Although great in my opinion, it's rather niche. If you're into sci-fi type stories, this is for you. Don’t just write it off as some “Steven Universe” rip off, because 1) it was
made before S.U., 2) it’s a worthwhile view/read. Later on in the series it will get a but off the rails and the feel of everything is turned on its head. Needless to say, dark. Despite the drastic shift in tone, I still would highly recommend watching until the end. The pacing is about one or two chapters per episode, and I find it fitting. It doesn't seem drawn out or too fast, which is great, especially for a twelve episode series. The tone shift that will occur in later episodes will without a doubt ruin it for some viewers. It all feels very left field for some, which is understandable. Just a point I wanted to bring up.
ART: Similarly to the manga, it has a very cool, stylish, and clean-cut art style that is very appealing right off the bat. Although not extremely detailed like other manga in the current market, the style has such a unique atmosphere that others lack. I feel like a lot of people dislike the 3D, as they look back to the ONA's 2D animation and find it better than what we received. However, I find it rather fitting. The ONA showcased lackluster animation, which, though most likely would have stayed more true to the manga (and allowed for more expressive animation), looked relatively odd. In the new artstyle, the hair's shine and the facial expressions are actually gorgeous, and the character mannerisms are cute and energetic. I can't wait to see how they adapt the more..."exciting" parts of the manga.
SOUND: The sounds of clanking and cracking that the gems produce are VERY nice, as it, well, sounds like gems. The voice acting is very relaxing, smooth, and high quality. Phos' voice is rather irritating, but it's fitting for their character. I’m a native Japanese speaker and I have to say that the actors are really into their role, and their emphasis on certain phrases or lines just makes the character acting so much more effective in my opinion. Especially Phos, as they have a very childish way of speaking and the VA does an amazing job of portraying this. The others aren't as noteworthy, but are stellar performances nonetheless. In terms of music, gorgeous. The OP and ED weren't favorites at first, but now they've grown on me and I LOVE them both. The OST used in the series is really nice, especially the battle theme. I can't wait to hear what other songs come out of it.
CHARACTER: Staying true to the manga. Some characters' colors are being changed from the originals to better reflect the gem they're based off, and personally, I find these versions much more appealing. (Diamond, Morganite.)
ENJOYMENT/OVERALL: Recently, I finally got around to binge-reading the manga, as I had started a while ago but never finished. Of course, I can't say much on that (spoilers and such), but I can't wait to see how they adapt some characters and their designs, as well as more exciting action scenes later on. I love Phos, I love the story, I love the sound...But Houseki No Kuni will only be receiving a 8/10 for now, as it has yet to display to me the peak of what it can accomplish with this adaptation. I hope to see a season 2, as I'm sure the 12 episodes that will be airing cannot cover most of the manga as it is.
TLDR; If you don’t like the CG or aren’t intrigued by the plot so far, you might as well skip as it’s very niche.
The GRRM Reaper once posited the Furniture Rule: the idea that, at its core, literature is an exploration of the human condition; the rest is furniture.
Houseki no Kuni purports to be a story of immortal, genderless life forms with each individual based around a gemstone from which they take their physical characteristics. They are being hunted down by Lunarians for what seems to be collector’s fancy. But as the story moves on, a more intriguing aspect of the entire dynamic unravels and expands the story to one more conducive to philosophical discourse: the “bone”, the “soul”, and the “flesh”.
At its core however, underneath the trappings
of a fantastical concept, Houseki no Kuni is a thesis of how our place in our world is intricately intertwined with our perceived purpose. It does away with most of the sheer scope and details of the culture, society, and mythos genderless immortals entails. One should not expect a powerful, living breathing world that sweeps you with imagery, scenery, and grandeur. It instead delves into the human psyche.
It's Phos, aimless slacker, devoured and broken to bits and pieces, grim fate evoking nothing but cruelly nonchalant reactions from fellow gems.
It's Cinnabar, self-exiled, isolation poisoning the mind, bereft of a shoulder to lean on.
It's Dia, valued, vaunted, a tier above other gems, yet struggling to find a moment in the light under the vast, dark shadow of a peer better and stronger.
The series can be unsubtle with its cues and tells, especially to those well-versed in the intricacies of philosophy in motion pictures, yet it’s never to point where it beats you in the head with it. It is shaping up to be a gem (sue me) despite an abysmal first episode which focuses so much on assuring the viewers that it’s more than it looks like.