[12 Days of Anime] Day 2: Space and the Loneliness It Brings in Land of the Lustrous

You didn’t think I was going to write 12 Days without referencing one of the best series of the year, did you? There is no participating in the event without Land of the Lustrous (Houseki no Kuni), which from the opening scenes established itself as a classic in the making. Everything from writing to visuals somehow improves with each episode, building upon the canvas in a steady and masterful manner. There are countless ways to discuss Land of the Lustrous, but one that has stood out to me from the beginning is the massive space occupying the frames of this show.

I’m no art critic or interior designer, but I still can’t help but notice that much of the setting presents itself in wide, and at many times bleak, angles. I feel like a far off viewer, and the cast members miniatures in the distance. They often follow photography’s rule of thirds, drawing in your gaze and turning each frame into screenshot material. The figures standing at points on the screen can be so tiny, so exact, that everything else around them—the grasslands, the water, the white columns and walls—seems massive in comparison.

With that emptiness also comes loneliness. I realize that’s an odd thing to say given the earlier tone of the show. Phos’ nature made life and those of the other Jewel people seem playful and resilient. They face off fearlessly against those who would farm them for goods. They taunt each other for their differences in hardness. They vie for their leader’s attention and affection. Yet underneath all of that lie unavoidable truths. They are hunted. They are few in number. Some of them are ill suited to the lifestyle that protects them. They have zero knowledge of their origin and connection to the other races.

As Phos retains less and less of her original material, uneasiness grows. The Jewels’ existence in their environment becomes more fragile, more prone to attack and even, in Phos’ case, assimilation. The agate and gold that join with Phos’ body, and the subsequent change in personality and appearance, accentuate the danger drawing ever nearer with the end of the story. By the time this post comes out, the last episode should have just aired. We may have our answers to the mysteries that lurk in the peripheral. Or, we may still be struggling to survive along with the Jewels and the home they protect.


Watch Land of the Lustrous on Anime Strike.

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6 thoughts on “[12 Days of Anime] Day 2: Space and the Loneliness It Brings in Land of the Lustrous

  1. It was difficult to get into the mindset with this show that “the ‘good guys’ don’t really win”. They fight to a draw, they fight to a retreat, they barely fight off another attack. They actually lose a person. They’ve lost plenty of others. And their enemy feels insubstantial, ephemeral, and as if they are expending no energy or life to mount these attacks one after another. It gives a feeling of, if not hopelessness or despair, then at least unease.

    I liked where they were going at the end, but I wonder if we will see any followup to this show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They better follow up on it! That would be too much a travesty to not, as happy as I am with the story overall. Ending the way they did felt like a tease for something more.

      I’m having a hard time actually considering the Lunarians “bad guys” with the Gem People as the obvious “good guys.” I was pretty disappointed that Phos’ attempt at a conversation didn’t go through. I felt the strangest sense of foreboding when that Lunarian’s eyes rolled forward. What if their attacks are completely justified?

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      • It’s hard to conceive of a reason that their attacks would be justified, year after year for centuries. I would think of it more of a “power imbalance” thing, much like humans “attacking” oysters for pearls, or “attacking” mountains for minerals, or “attacking” schools of fish for food. It might be a situation where Phos’ attempt at communication surprised the Lunarian just the way we’d be surprised if a cow or a tree suddenly talked to us with volition and apparent sentience.

        But even that would be difficult for me to accept as a justification, because you have beings that are clothing themselves in changing outfits, that repair and evolve, that construct tools. But then the Lunarians might not be as sophisticated themselves. Perhaps the justification is that the Lunarians are the non-sentient ones? I don’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s an interesting thought, that the Lunarians are non-sentient, which would make sense paired with what Ventricosus told Phos about their connection to humans. Lunarians seem driven by hunger, an instinctual need to gather the parts of their missing selves. Season 2, please!

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