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.