In the distant future, a new immortal and genderless life form called Gems populate the Earth. The 28 Gems must fight against the Lunarians, 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. They want to help to fight the Moon Dwellers, but are too weak and brittle for battle. One day the master of Gems, Kongou (Adamantine), assigns them the task of creating a natural history encyclopedia.
We finally have an anime that we can look at and say “This is how you do CGI right.”
Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous) is whimsical coming of age story that occasionally falls into body horror and maintains a constant feeling of existential dread.
This show has some of the most breathtaking visuals I have ever seen.
A beautiful setting to captivate the eyes and complex themes to captivate the mind. Fields of vibrant green grass blow in the wind with realistic motion and every scene framed with an understanding of negative space to constantly keep you mystified by the show’s world.
There are an
endless amount of shots in Houseki no Kuni that wouldn’t be out of place in an art museum.
In the distant future, Earth has been ravaged by six meteors. The meteors broke off parts of the planet and formed six moons. Earth has been reduced to one single shore and the rest of the planet is the ocean. This single shore is, while beautiful, has entirely unfertile land. However, the only organisms that populate it are suitable for it as they don't eat food from the planet, they photosynthesize. They evolved from creatures in the depths of the ocean and became beautiful gems.
Creatures that live on the moon known as Lunarians travel down to Earth to capture the gems for their own personal desire. The prettier gems being the most desirable. As long as the moon hangs above the characters' heads there is a constant feeling of fear for their lives.
Just imagine that, the moon being your worst fear.
Within a few moments of the first episode, we're taught that the gems are breakable but repairable through a fight that takes a harsh turn at the end. But the catch is, if they lose a piece when being broken they lose a chunk of their memory. A part of their identity is lost. It's a weird sort of body horror that doesn't contain a single drop of blood yet is horrifying nonetheless.
The tougher gems must fight off the moon creatures, referred to as “Lunarians". Through the gems’ discussing each others hardness level on the “Mohs Scale” we learn about who fights in combat and who. 28 gems live on the shore and the majority of them stand watch on the shoreline for Lunarians. This idea of the Mohs Scale applied to characters who are in a growing up phase in life really struck me as a potent theme. If you’re born with a low hardness then you have no choice but to take on a job like "doctor" or "writer", but if you have a high hardness you’re expected to protect the others in combat.
The lack of a defined narrative throughline may put some people off this show's story. While I'd defend that Phos's character progression is the intended throughline to follow, there are some definite issues. Occasionally when the show transitions from one arc to the next, pacing issues crop up and can make the story feel jarring. I only noticed this issue a few times and it was never so potent as to hurt the quality of the story. The show does do a good job of giving the audience time to breathe and take in the abstractness that they just observed, but sometimes that breathe time is just the beautiful and fear-inspiring ending credits. Which isn’t a bad trick to use because it gave me plenty to think about in between episodes.
What makes Land of the Lustrous’ complex and frankly terrifying world so grounded and believable is its recognizable (and really likable) characters. They look very nearly like your average high-school age human, the setup is all there, but they are so distinctly in-human. The black tuxedos they wear seem like they could be a school uniform in some scenes, but in others, they seem perfectly fitting to be funeral attire. Perhaps this normalizing may annoy some viewers and feel like the show is playing its designs too safely, but I assure you, it is all part of the show's plan. Lustrous is a puzzle just waiting for you to put it together, the characters are relatable enough to pull you in and motivate you to analyze it.
Each character has a defined place in the lore and is defined by well-realized world logic. The gems introduce themselves by stating their hardness on the real world “Mohs Scale” which plants the show in the science-fantasy genre. In addition to this, microorganisms are what hold gems’ bodies together and prevent them from ever dying.
As in, they are immortal.
Immortality is one of the many themes that the show uses to analyze the human condition and it doesn’t waste it’s potential. The gems are constantly shattered with a heart-stopping physicality, then they’re put back together by a doctor who uses as much care and consideration as a sculptor. Perhaps you’d think this concept would drain tension, but it’s exactly the opposite. The longer the gems fight the more likely they are to shatter, which means immobility and potentially being stolen by the greedy moon creatures. The gems are people just like me or you; they get tired, feel a wide range of emotions, and they can make their own choices.
The enormous cast might be off-putting at first, but don't worry because the show mainly focuses on Phosphophyllite. In the show, the characters are all non-binary, to respect the author's creative decision I will try to use they/them pronouns to refer to the gems as much as possible.
Being one of the youngest but also the weakest out of the 28 gems, we learn plenty about the world through their experiences. Phos constantly makes jokes and getting themselves and other gems in trouble. The show spares no time in getting establishing Phos as the goofiest of all the gems. Constantly Phos is scolded by the other gems for having no talents and having a low hardness. Phos never really takes the other gems' reprimands seriously and as you've probably seen from the many reaction images. Perhaps this goofiness might be overbearing to some viewers, but beneath their bubbly persona is a multifaceted person complete with jealousy, greed, love, hate. We see Phos grow to hate their body and their limitations and as they fight against who they are in a strange kind of coming of age tale to which anyone can resonate with to a certain extent.
All of the gems (especially Phos) are so expressive with their own quirks and flaws that make them individuals. When you see their similar designs you may think they lack individuality. But keep watching and you’ll learn that even though the show doesn’t have the runtime to thoroughly develop them all, they have their own distinct personalities with individual quirks.
The few supporting characters get the most screentime (and rightfully so given that they’re made into the most interesting supports) are Diamond, Antarcticite, and Cinnabar. They each undergo arcs that play out in the background of the show but are revisited during the important moments.
Each supporting character is in some way a foil to Phos, giving each character a 3D personality to compliment their 3D model. Cinnabar is more so a foil than the rest (I'll be referring to Cinnabar as he/him to distinguish him from Phos). He's a gloomy gem who literally harms anyone who comes to close to the liquid mercury that flows around him, but this ability also makes him one of the best fighters. He's forced to watch the shores alone during the night to avoid intermingling with the other gems. He laments his lonesome state, even undesired by the Lunarians, but then along comes Phos. The gem who has everything he wants. Phos connects to how ostracized he was from the others, so he takes on the job of well... finding a job for Cinnabar. The two characters don't meet often throughout the show, but in the brief times they do, it's always an emotionally heavy moment thanks to the depth and chemistry they have.
Phos goes through the show experiencing relatable emotions we all encounter while growing up. I connected with Phos and how their well-defined peers influenced them enough them to warrant a full score.
Land of the Lustrous is content with showing rather than telling, and it is damn good at that. Telling a story as complex as this one could have been problematic, but the director Takahiko Kyogoku is thankfully talented enough to adapt a story like this. Aside from the dense lore dropped onto us at the beginning of the second episode (which is told with narration and imagery).
The previous works of the director includes another CGI oriented show (Love Live! School Idol Project) and it really shows because he’s improved on that show’s janky dance numbers in just about every way.
The beautiful gem people glisten in the sunlight as they run through lush fields of vibrant green grass, they each wear a tuxedo and possess features that appear both female and male. Every aspect of the visuals in Land of the Lustrous exists in a constant contradiction, everything about the show is in constant conflict. Drawing your attention to the contradictions wherever they appear. Whether it be the graceful way that the gems slice up Lunarians or the concept of immortality clashing with the nerve-racking cracks the gems receive during combat.
Only 28 beings populate the lands of the entire planet of Earth and the director will never let you forget it. Negative space is constantly utilized to show how empty yet vast the world that the gems inhabit is. Many of the other standout shots frame the gems below the giant ominous moons, which really hammers home that constant feeling of fear.
I love the way the characters look. Each very distinct from the other with their varying hair colors and funky styles (looking at you Bort) but all of them wear a black tuxedo which is based on funeral attire. As if they're all in a constant state of mourning. Death is symbolized in the visuals in many places. Whether it be their attire or the black body bags they're carried off in if they shatter. These symbols show even though the gems technically could live forever, they're constantly losing parts of their identity whenever they break and lose a piece. However small, whenever they lose a piece of their body an equal sized memory is lost as well. A piece of their identity is lost.
As long as they have to fight against the ever-present moon, they will be in constant mourning for the loss of themselves. If that isn't visual poetry then I don't know what is. And this is just one part of the show that allows this deep analysis. And that's why I love it. It provides an endless supply of thought-provoking subtle details.
Action scenes are where the director shows us his best abilities, and they only get more complex as the show progresses. The “camera” work during action scenes is so dynamic and smooth that it just pulls you into the show's world.
No quality decreases whatsoever, which is especially surprising considering how unpopular Land of the Lustrous is. I don't doubt studio Orange expertly distributed the budget to maintain such excellent quality.
Unlike how other shows use CGI as a crutch to keep the budget down, Houseki no Kuni uses it creatively and with talent.
Great orchestral music. It gains volume during action scenes and lulls out during quieter ones. It’s good enough to the point I'd buy it and listen to it separately to the show. During scenes the eldritch Lunarians appear, the music perfectly captures a feeling that's something of an amalgamation of terror and beauty.
I love both the OP and ED, the songs and the visuals accompanying them. The ED is the perfect way to end each episode. With fear-inspiring images of the moon, the poison metal alloy that flows around Cinnabar, as well as a few references to the later parts of the story, the ed perfectly encapsulates the darker themes of the show. To contrast this, the song that supports the visuals evokes hope.
The gems are all voiced by female voice actresses despite the characters being non-binary. All of the voice actresses have wonderful performances, especially the actress who voices Phos. Tomoyo Kurosawa is able to get to capture such a wide range of emotion and tone. She maintains superb quality throughout.
Sound effects are so satisfying on the ears; the sheen of a gem being put back together after a tough battle, the airy wisps of the cloudlike Lunarians, the clinking sound that can be heard as gems walk across the stone floor of their home. Lustrous is never harsh on the ears yet it has an intense audible impact.
I love the soft and inviting combination of sound effects, music, and voices. It's just one of the many aspects that makes me want to keep watching it and reflect on my time with the show fondly. Especially when so many other shows don't put the time and consideration into how the show sounds to the audience.
Everything in Lustrous feels as though it was carefully considered to how the viewer would experience it before being set in stone. It's like the show is beckoning people to watch it (even though so many people aren’t!).
This is one of the few shows that I waited for every week and rushed to see it the moment it came out.
I absorbed every minute detail I could in every single episode every week, sometimes rewatching them to quell anticipation for the next episode. Sometimes I just rewatched episodes to simply gawk at the visuals some more. Once I watched it I felt like nothing else during my week could offer anything as impactful as this. Without a doubt, my favorite show of the year and it makes me sad to say that I might never find another show like it.
Rarely is tone is as well balanced as it is in Lustrous. It's funny when it wants to be, but plenty serious during the more dramatic scenes. And believe me, this show has such an incredible range of emotion, captured elegantly through the expressive facial expressions and fantastic voice acting. The show never feels jarring when it swaps between fear, despair, happiness, comedy, sadness, and most importantly, horror on the fly. Any emotion that the show wants to convey will be done so successfully with expert craftsmanship.
Every time a fleet of Lunarians appears in the skies in Land of The Lustrous I immediately feel the same level of fear as the gems who have to fend them off. Keep in mind, there's a fair share of tragedies that occur in this show. Therefore you can never be sure if the gems engaged in combat will make it out safely or if things will take a turn for the worse.
If you choose to look at Lustrous purely for entertainment, it's perfect. While it would be fair to call it a slow burn, it always engaged me. However, when you get right down to it, this is, for the most part, an action series. Beautiful people gracefully fight beautiful beautiful enemies in a beautiful world. That's probably all some people will need, but if you so choose, the show has plenty of depth for you to sort through. Whether it be the complex themes of change, depression, identity, humanity or the characters who experience these themes, you'll always have something to ponder.
[Final Score: 10/10]
Houseki no Kuni is a masterwork. With a mystifying atmosphere, beautiful visuals, an enrapturing world, and emotionally resonant characters. Shots are thoughtfully framed, the camera work is fluid, and incredibly satisfying audio enhances them even more. Truly human themes the show is able to capture what it means to be a person as well as offer some pure existential dread. It truly has everything I could ask for.
For me, it is one of the best shows I've ever seen. Some people may be bothered by the lack of a complete ending, but this is the first season and I wasn't expecting a complete ending. It wraps up some plot lines but opens new ones for the next season to take. The story is not over so I will be patiently awaiting the second season, but until then I’ll be happy to dig through the show’s lore and alternate meanings as there is plenty of rewatch value.
Absolutely beautiful, Houseki no Kuni sadly flew under the radar of a lot of people due to the lack of initial hype, but I hope this changes over time because this anime really deserves a lot of love.
The setting is so interesting and full of mysteries and unknowns to discover, what happened to the world to become like this? Who are the gems, or the moon people that seem to be after them? Houseki knows how to make the events ocurring hooking to watch and it's such an enjoyable experience from start to end.
Along with the intriguing story we also have a fantastic cast
that brings it life, the characters are inmortal humanoid gems with the qualities that represent them (like Diamond being the hardest mineral, but relatively easy to break in comparison), their interactions are interesting, varied, and at the same manage really funny when the situations requires it, this anime handles very well the comedy and it fits nicely without breaking the mood of the scenes. Phosphophyllite (or Phos in short) is the protagonist and goes through fantastic development over the duration of the series, becoming a very memorable character.
Now it's time for the art department and I will be honest here: if every CGI anime has to look like Houseki, god, I want so many more of them! The animation is amazing and had some scenes where I just had to replay them of how good they looked, and the excellent cinematography that goes with it just makes it even more impressive, with some shots that left me speechless. The use of this type of animation is also really fitting considering the constitution of our characters and for details like how they can break depending on the situation, which looks better with this style.
The music is also a strong factor of the series, always fitting with the tone of the scene and improving them, the theme that plays when the Lunarians appears gets an special mention from my part because it never failed to make me shiver, so unsettling. The opening and ending themes are also great in both song and visuals and grew on me as the series progressed, definitely playlist worthy.
Houseki no Kuni was an unique and fantastic experience I really recommend everyone to try out, you won't regret it.
The GRRM Reaper once posited the Furniture Rule: at its core, literature is an exploration of the human condition; the rest is furniture.
Houseki no Kuni begins as a simple story of immortal, genderless life forms, the Gems, 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. Slowly, the story moves on, teasing the layers of mystery of its world and a more intriguing aspect of the entire dynamic unravels, one more conducive to philosophical discourse. The introduction of a third faction, the Admirabilis, elevates the nature
of their conflict and is poised to bring the series higher should its story continue.
The CGI nature of the show doesn't really take away anything from the narrative but rather enhances and prepares it with its CGI portrayal of the three factions telling a story: the Gems, with their janky yet solid movements, aimless and unmotivated beyond mere survival; the Lunarians ethereal and eternal, purposeful in action; and the Admirabilis, frills and bells galore, excess made manifest, seductive and ephemeral.
Underneath the trappings of a fantastical concept, however, Houseki no Kuni is a thesis of how our place in our world is intricately intertwined with our purpose. It's a story about identity.
It's a story of 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.
It's a story of Cinnabar, self-exiled, isolation poisoning the mind, bereft of a shoulder to lean on.
Most of all, it's a story of Phos, aimless slacker, wanting to do more than just making an encyclopedia that has no equivalent value assigned by other Gems. Phos wants to fight, swept up in the idea that Gems prove their worth in the only way their circumstances allow: fighting the Lunarians. Phos' initial value was demonstrated when, devoured and broken to bits and pieces, the grim, though temporary, fate evoked nothing but cruelly nonchalant reactions from fellow gems.
How can someone so brittle prove their value when, to paraphrase Einstein, the fishes are judged by their ability to climb a tree.
Houseki no Kuni’s approach to the problem is a rather straightforward one. Instead of changing the playing field to a pond, our little fish is given an opportunity to be better, losing parts of itself in the process. Part of its identity must give, in the hopes that the best version of itself can be achieved. And that hopefully the best version of itself is its truest self. Whether it’s true or not remains to be seen.
And I must say, this conflict of identity and the show’s solution ties in fully with the larger, grander aspects of the narrative: the three factions, each crucially lacking traits the other two possess. Can the three factions be so much more together much like how Phos had become much more than the Mohs scale of hardness? We'll see.
For now, enjoy one lost little fish trying to scale a tree, struggling to find the right balance lest it loses sight of who it is.
Over the last few years or so, it seems that the discussion regarding the use of CGI in anime has grown all the more prominent, and for perfectly good reason too. It appears that more and more shows are using CGI to greater affect, which is generally brought with much disdain with anime fans. For shows that use CGI in accordance with the use of traditional 2-D animation, the end result is usually one that comes across as jarring, as the two modes of animation juxtaposes awkwardly with one another, with scenes that end up feeling clunky or strange. It usually ends up dragging me
out of my immersion of the show, since it doesn’t make visual coherent sense, and often the CGI sticks out look a sore thumb, with this season’s Inuyashiki being a prime example of that, constantly intermixing both modes of animation haphazardly into its action sequences. With shows that are fully CGI, this jarring contrast is pretty much eliminated, but many suffer from poor production overall since the CGI is often rather ugly looking, with the two recent adaptations of Berserk being the king of this! Both shows feature some of the most poorly produced CGI action sequences I have ever seen, where most of the time it looks like two puppets awkwardly rubbing up against each other instead of them fighting! And there are many other shows like this too, so it’s no wonder why fans look at CGI with such disdain and actively try and avoid any shows that utilise it, which is perhaps why this season’s Houseki no Kuni, or Land of the Lustrous if you will, was so under looked within the community, which is a shame too, since, to make a frankly overused and terrible pun, Houseki no Kuni is the gem of the season!
Much to mine, and many other’s surprise, Houseki was a breath of fresh air, not only from typical CGI oriented anime, but for anime in general, with a wonderfully creative setting, lore and personality-filled characters! While Inuyashiki was a disappointment, Houseki is the salvation to said disappointment, with each passing episode, making me fall in love with this show all the more, and why it certainly is not perfect, provides me with a seasonal show I actively looked forward to watching each week, which hasn’t happened since Dragon Maid earlier this year. But, I’ve babbled on for too long now. Let’s actually dive in!
Set in the distant future, Houseki no Kuni tells the story of a group of genderless Gems, all of whom have differing personalities and characteristics, who, along with their master, a bald monk with insane powers, have to fight off against a race called the Moon Dwellers, who come down from said place to capture the Gems! The series sees our main protagonist, Phosphophyllite, come of age in this world, slowly becoming more independent and stronger as the series progresses. Houseki has this way of immediately immersing me into its atmosphere and world, not only through its wonderful use of music and beautiful looking scenery, but just from all the little details the show provides too. Everything the show presents is insanely fascinating and captivating to me, and the show provides so many little details into the lives of the gems, the way in which they operate, their life cycles and jobs, that it makes the world of Houseki feel more vibrant and alive, which is something that made the show as enjoyable as it was for me. The fact that each Gem has specific characteristics, and are classed in accordance of their strength, the fact that they can be broken into tiny pieces and stuck back together again, that they can lose their memories if certain body parts are missing, that they have to hibernate over winter as they grow weaker and tired, and that they can potentially be combined with other elements for different affects are all things I can appreciate in making the show way more interesting and fascinating to me, and these elements are often used in creative ways for either characterisation or as elements for advancing the narrative. It’s the use of these creative elements that makes Houseki such a wonder to watch for me personally, and helps to differentiate it from much of its ilk; its these elements and ideas that I can’t get anywhere else, but they are not simply played as gimmicks either, but as an integral aspect of the setting and narrative.
Additionally, the show has this overbearing sense of mystery, and almost whimsical sense to it as well. Much like our protagonist, Phos, who knows nothing of this world, so do we as an audience, so we experience the world and learn new things about it as does Phos, which not only helps us grow more attached to this character as well, but the rules and mysteries of this world are dished out to the audience in a consistent pace, keeping the narrative interesting and fresh. Moreover, the show has several mysteries as well, such as what the true nature of the Moon Dwellers actually are or the state of humanity, evident in a scene where Phos is trying to recollect the events that transpired earlier in which she (yes, for the sake of convenience I'm going to be referring to the gems as "she"; I apologise for being a CIS white male and assuming gender) can’t remember as she had lost some of her body parts, but mentions the word “human” which greatly alarms that of the Sensei, the guardian and father figure of the Gems, giving us insight into the seriousness of the memory Phos has, and sliding little hints to the audience about the true nature of the Sensei character himself. The show even dabbles in some philosophical ideas too in the fifth episode, regarding what it means to truly be human and what it truly means for someone to die, as the very concept of death is foreign to the Gems, and while it is not explored to much substantial merit, the show does throw around this idea, making the Gems feel more believable with a greater sense of purpose.
There’s even a genuine sense of narrative stakes and ambiguity too, not only from the idea that we never know when the Moon Dwellers will attack next, but the general sense of uneasiness the narrative presents too. There’s always a sense of danger in the air; a sense of looming dread and fear, which permits itself into much of the narrative, which actually does a good job at making me fearful for each one of the Gems, and there is a genuine sense of sadness and melancholy when one of the Gems is defeated and taken away. You feel the weight of this loss, as the other Gems do, making it all the more powerful when these moments in the show do occur. The show does leave many questions unanswered however, and some plot points haven’t yet been resolved as the manga is still running alongside the show, but what the show does cover manages to provide a solid foundation for a second season to greatly build upon, with enough time in this season devoted to establishing the world and the way in which the gems work in said world, all of which is solid enough to stand by itself I believe.
Perhaps the show’s biggest strength is in its characters and their charming and fun interactions between one another, and, despite not each one receiving development or attention, their unique personalities and characteristics result in some wonderfully funny moments and scenes which makes the characters rather likeable, and these were some of the best moments in the show for me. They all have delightful chemistry, and one of the best examples of this great character dynamic is a scene in which all of the gems freak out at seeing Phos’ newly gained abilities and seeing how each different gem reacted was pretty damn sweet, adding onto their respective characters. All of the characters, in some form or another, is given some level of introspection and time to breath, allowing the audience to understand their perspectives on the world, from Yellow Diamond’s perception as a result of being the eldest, to Antarcticite regarding her unique, and isolated role during the winter, all adding onto our understanding of the world. There are plenty of characters I could talk about, but I’ll just discuss the characters with the most bearing on the plot.
Phos, our main character, is one in which is a representation of a child growing up in harsh world, and learning to mature in that time. Being the youngest of all the gems, and wanting to grow and prove herself, she eagerly jumps into action in order to do so, resulting in many accidents in which she has to either be saved, or put back together. You may find yourself kind of annoyed by how much Phos messes up at first, since it seems that almost every episode she ends up having to repeat this process, but these mistakes end up shaping the person she will become in the future and aiding her development. As the series progresses, and she realises the gravity and danger of fighting against the Moon Dwellers, after seeing one of her friends perish protecting her from them, her character embarks on a change into maturity, with a much more serious demeanour than before. In the final episodes of the show, she even reflects on her past self, stating that she was jealous of her immaturity, reflecting in her change of character as a result of the harsh reality of the world. Phos character, while perhaps coming across as maybe rather obnoxious, especially in the beginning of the series, was still able to make me laugh a numerous amount of times and I could excuse most of it on the grounds of her age and lack of knowledge about the world. Her character is pretty reltable as well, since we too have been in postions where the world seems to treat you like a child, and that feel of wanting to desperately grow into maturity is one Phos manages to encapsulate rather well. She is also pretty damn likeable, I would argue anyway, which helps the audience to become more invested in her character from the get-go, and the mental trauma and hang ups she faces in the latter half of the series is genuinely interesting. Much of Phos’s drive in the narrative, mainly in the earliest parts of it anyway, was her desire to help a fellow gem by the name of Cinncibar, a gem who secluded herself away from the rest since her body secretes a poison. While you may find yourself kind of frustrated at first since this plot point is kind of negated for a while, it does see some kind of resolution in the final episode of the show.
Another character whom gets a nice amount of development is Dia. Aside from being best gem in the series (seriously, I wanna hug her so damn bad) Dia’s development, and character arc in general is all about proving to herself, and to the person whom she loves, that being Bort, that she is more than capable of looking after herself and in the tenth episode of the show, there’s a wonderful moment where indeed she does do so, when fighting off against one of the new Moon Dweller types, cementing her character as one that is grounded in the narrative, and has a lot of emotional weight behind her too, so much so, that I generally care for her whenever she is in danger or feeling melancholic, and many of the characters presented in the show are like this too. Whilst many are fairly simplistic, again, they feel like genuine people in this world, and have enough in the way of distinguishable personalities to carry the emotional weight of the show, while also showcasing different levels of complexity and depth, such as in the case of the Doctor of the gems, who we learn later on pursues the art of the gems in order to help her long lost friend, or in the case of Antarcticite when she hugs the sensei, believing nobody is standing there to see her do so, revealing a softer side to her character than we were led to believe at first. The characters in this show are easily the strongest element and is the main reason why I had so much fun watching this show.
In terms of animation, Houseki is pretty damn solid overall! The CGI in this show looks damn amazing, and move with not only a lot of fluidity, but also quality too. They move gracefully when in combat, and it never comes across as jarring or clunky in the slightest. I also just love the designs for each of the gems too, in particular, their hair. I love the way in which it sparkles, gently illuminating the gems’ uniforms, with perhaps Dia looking the greatest in that regard. The fight sequences are also of a damn great quality, with dynamic and interesting cinematography, and just the way the grass is animated too, and how beautiful it looks, are all small things that I can appreciate, and, again, help the world feel more alive and vibrant. The OST for the show as well does a fantastic job at immersing me into this world, with its often whimsical and mystical tone, complementing the sense of ambiguity the narrative tends to encapsulate. The opening track as well does a great job at capturing the feel of the show, mainly used to represent the loneliness and isolation of Cinncibar to master fall affect.
In conclusion, I loved Houseki quite a fair bit. It’s narrative and world is immediately captivating to me, its characters all feel memorable and have wonderful chemistry between one another, grounding them in a sense of believability, and the animation is some of the best I have seen from a CGI production. Surprisingly, the director of Love Live, actually directed this show too (fucking Love Live will follow me until the day I die, I swear), and he did a good job, especially when we compare the CGI in both respective series, and see how much of a jump Houseki was in overall quality. While certainly not a perfect show, Houseki represents what I love in anime, and that is passion. It feels as if so much love and work was put into this production, and it really does show in many faucets of the show, and I would greatly recommend this. While I didn’t go into as much detail as I usually do when reviewing a show, as I wanted a potential new viewer to watch this show without knowing too much, there is still a lot of potential things to discuss regarding the narrative, with the biggest one being the obvious allusions to that of Buddhism the show seems to have, which I never even touched upon, and a deeper speculation into the sensei character and who he truly may be. Houseki, is truly the gem of the year in my opinion, and sadly one that will be greatly over-looked, but hopefully I may have convinced someone out there to give this show a shot… maybe. (Just remember to say that Dia is best gem or else I'll sleep under your bed at night!)