Land of the Lustrous
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Land of the Lustrous ?
Six episodes into Land of the Lustrous, so many new aspects of its world have been revealed, but still the mystery only gets deeper. By “First Battle,” it's tempting to preemptively name Land of the Lustrous my favorite show of the season. From its expressive, personable characters to the beautiful CGI art and dynamic camera angles to an emotional and enigmatic plot that keeps me helplessly hooked—this episode was Land of the Lustrous at its finest.
Other shows with enormous casts could stand to learn from Land of the Lustrous. Nearly every episode has introduced a new gem, but this gradual cast expansion—and the gems' varied and expressive personalities—keeps me wanting to meet more. At 3,597 years old, Yellow Diamond is the eldest sibling of all the gems with an increased feeling of responsibility toward their brethren—many of whom have ended up on the moon on their watch. It's a futile battle of attrition, as the gems continue to defend against the Lunarians for centuries, even as their numbers continue to dwindle. It's no wonder Yellow Diamond forgot what they were fighting for, and it took the silly forthright Phos to remind them: “Because you have a special place in my heart, Sensei!” As awkward as it was for everyone when Phos said this out loud so directly, it's clear that the gems all adore Kongo.
But who or what is Kongo? Having lost all of the memories ingrained in their legs, Phos remembers little more than three words about their ocean adventure: “wide,” “big,” and “humans.” It's that final word that causes Kongo to quietly crack a fault line in the table. Kongo's anger is the most terrifying kind, because he's obviously trying to conceal it in order to hide something from the gems. More than anything else, this made me worry that the gems' trust in him is misplaced. Perhaps it's better that Phos doesn't remember Ventricosus' origin story.
Phos wants to fight to help Kongo, and they get their wish before they're even able to hold up the lightest possible sword, when they begin going on patrol with Amethyst, a twin crystal. (I was so curious about this that I did some research: amethyst is a purple variety of quartz, and quartz is a gemstone especially susceptible to twinning, especially a type of twinning called the Japan Law Twin, in which both identical crystals are visible side by side on the same crystal colony. What an extremely satisfying fantasy take on real-world gem principles!) The duality of Amethyst leads to a lot of beautiful symmetrical visuals—and a lot of tough lessons for Phos. What makes Phos such a great protagonist despite being so vain and ridiculous is their willingness to learn and improve. Even though they've wanted to fight for so long, they quickly acknowledge the physical and emotional stress that comes with this role.
At the end, Phos still has so much to learn, and they can only watch frozen in place as the Amethyst twins fight for their lives, crunched together in a vise that looks like it may be constructed from another lost gem. When Kongo says “you poor thing,” who does he mean? The amethyst twins, Phos, or maybe even the Lunarians he's personally slated for destruction? I'll have to keep waiting as this beautiful, devastating story doles out the answers one gorgeous visual at a time.
Land of the Lustrous is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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