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Alethea & Athena
Land of the Lustrous volume 3 
22nd-Nov-2017 07:34 pm
We're not quite done with work today, but we are on track to finish before bedtime! Woohoo! We're here anyway because it's Review Rednesday! Double woohoo!! And this week, we bring you the very timely (as it coincides so well with the anime episodes currently showing) review of Land of the Lustrous volume three!


Actually, there was a confusing line in this volume that we Googled to see if any of the Japanese fans offered any insight, and it turns out most of the blogs that reviewed that chapter had pretty much the same reaction as above. But anyway, we just did a review of Complex Age where I expressed my opinion as I summarized, and that seemed to go pretty well, so let's try it again.

First we have the battle with the Amesisters versus the Lunarians. That was pretty bad. Like "I'm so glad people don't bleed in this series" bad. That would have been pretty darn gory. In fact, come to think of it, when you put it that way, this series would be bloodier than Corpse Party. Probably still not as scary, though, because context means a lot. I mean, if you really think about it, brutal death is brutal death no matter how it's depicted, but that doesn't change the fact that the observer can be more or less scared. Nevertheless, I wasn't very happy to see the Amesisters destroyed so thoroughly. But we're glad they weren't captured. On the other hand, if they were, I wonder if we would have gotten to see twin lunarians. Did you notice that the gems in the new type of lunarian always come from inside them? Like they're the lunarians' new skeletons or something? Kind of a freaky skeleton, though.

Incidentally, it's probably not a coincidence that when you slice open a lunarian it looks like the inside of a lotus seed pod. I don't know the details exactly, but I seem to remember learning somewhere that the lotus blossom represents the spirit. We read a lot about that stuff back when we were translating Saiyuki. Not enough to say we really know anything about Buddhism, but we know some trivia.

Incidentally again, the Amesisters say "No, Sensei" as their hands are cut off. That may be significant based on a few things that happen later.

So now it's almost winter and it's time for the gems to go into hibernation. Their hibernation dresses are all super adorable. I'm kind of with Dia on it, though. What's the point if all you're going to do is sleep? Maybe Red just does it because it's the only time she can get Bort to dress up. Bort seemed especially sparkly in the panel before they all went to sleep.

Then we meet Antarcticite, and let me tell you, we had the hardest time figuring out how to spell that name. I mean, once we finally tracked down what mineral it was supposed to be, it was totally obvious. But when we Googled the katakana, all we got were a bunch of sites talking about Land of the Lustrous (we had that same problem with whatsisname Ventricosus's brother). I think we finally got a site about the mineral when we Googled the katakana with the Japanese word for mineral...but there were still a bunch of Land of the Lustrous sites, so from that search, we finally went to the Pixiv site that was kind of like a Land of the Lustrous Wiki, and it gave the English name for Antarcticite, and we were like, "Oh. Duh." It's kind of a fascinating mineral. And I love the character. The design is wonderfully androgynous. I don't usually care about androgynous characters because they're always played by girls, but since almost every character in this series would probably be played by a girl... But I think what I like about Antarc's character design is that he really can look like a really hot guy or a beautiful woman in the same drawing depending on how you look at it. Well done, Ichikawa-sensei! I like Antarc's personality, too. Very serious most of the time, but so clingy when Sensei is around. It's understandable, since Sensei is the only social contact Antarc ever has ever, and who knows how many centuries she's been doing this?

So Phos is feeling guilty about what happened to the Amesisters, and has determined to stay awake and help Antarc with the winter chores. This is where we learn about the ice floes, and the plot thickens. I think it's very key that Antarc points out what Sensei said about them being sinners. Here's the really cool thing about it! We were doing research for another series that we really hope has been announced by now, and we discovered that it is believed that the devil lives in the North Pole. Of course, they never say that they went north to get to the ice floes, but if their planet used to be Earth, it stands to reason, because the North Pole is covered in ice floes. Or it could just be some area with a bunch of ice in the winter, but either way, it resembles the North Pole, at least in winter, so the connection still stands (but it's weak, which is why we didn't note it). The other interesting thing about it is that the Shore of Nascency is in the southwest, which may or may not be where Purgatory is thought to be, depending on the geography of everything.

Anyway, I do hope we get to learn more about the ice floes, because I find them to be very intriguing. So far every volume has come up with a new mystery. Volume two actually answered a few questions, but then it said, "But Sensei heartily dislikes humans...and we won't tell you why!"

So, true to devilish form, the ice floes tempt Phos into almost giving up her arms. I had mixed feelings when Phos decided not to go through with it, so I'm kind of glad that they forced her into it anyway, partly because now it's happening anyway, and because it's now not her fault. Sort of. Of course, we knew she was going to get new arms anyway, because it was in the table of contents and on the cover. And oh my goodness, the cover is so happy and cheerful, but under the slipcover is so sad and OOOOOOOOHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOO! And Antarc tried so hard to get Phos's arms back.

And that's why Phos and Antarc end up going to the Shore of Nascency. This is where we learned something new and interesting. The word we translated to nascency is "o," which does translate to birth (that's what nascency means; we wanted something that wasn't super obvious ("nascent shore" would have sounded better, but would have meant newborn shore, so we decided not to use it)), but it's also the word they use in Noragami to describe Hiyori's tail. Neat!

Anyway, this is where we learn a little about how the Lustrous are born. But there are more questions! In volume one, Phos says they're washed up on shore, but Antarc says they spend centuries in the earth. Oh well. They are found on a shore, either way. I like the earth thing, though, because it's closer to the whole Purgatory thing.

And then there's a big dramatic chain of events where Phos gets new arms. Tadah! It's actually kind of creepy, and I can totally see why Phos is so scared about it. But more importantly, while Phos's inclusions are working out the whole heavy alloy thing, the lunarians appear! Oh no! And the whole thing is rather mysterious, because isn't it awfully convenient that the sun comes out right when Phos and Antarc are so far away from Sensei, and the lunarians know to go to the school and keep Sensei there. There definitely seems to be something going on with them. And every time Sensei uses his powers it makes me wonder more about what they are exactly, and who he is and what he knows. I think he's a good guy, though, because you can see how much it hurts him when any of the Lustrous is suffering for any reason. Oh, he's so sad.

But more importantly! Antarc!!! OOOOOOOOOHHH NOOOOOOOO!!! Incidentally, it's when Antarc's hand gets cut off that he asks what if you made me forget about Sensei. That was clearly foreshadowing. And he tried so hard to make sure they didn't get Phos. Awwwww. This whole series, man. And then they took him! Noooooo!!! And Phos saw it all and tried to stop it and failed and then...

This is the worst. That whole chapter was just so sad. Phos is so much more serious now. It's like she's not Phos anymore. Actually, one of the reviews we read brought up the line about the alloy pushing Phos's hair out and said she (the reviewer) was worried that Phos was going to cease to be Phos, and I'm thinking about it like, "I think that ship has sailed..." It is an interesting point, though, if the alloy is specifically pushing out pieces that are actually phosphophyllite. And she'll definitely need a new name if this keeps up. It's kind of amazing how much the main character of this series has changed in just three volumes. I think that's part of the theme. The gems are skeletons, basically, so they never change, but now here Phos is, changing all the time. I feel like there's some message about what it means to be alive in there or something, but I don't know if it will ever be stated explicitly. The gold/platinum powers are pretty cool, but I miss the old Phos. I don't like her new hair, either.

The scene where Phos cries seems significant, too. I think it's especially interesting that Sensei called it a defect of the ancient lifeforms. I disagree about crying being a bad thing. I think it helps us to be stronger. Maybe he'll learn that, too.

And then! THEN!!! The worst of all! And we should have seen it coming, because it was foreshadowed right there when Antarc said what if you make me forget about Sensei. But you're so distracted by everything that's going on that you don't even think about it! Until! Rutile comes along and says, "Hey, could you talk to Cinnabar?" And Phos says, "Cinnabar..." And I was like, "Oh no." And then we turned the page and sure enough! Phos has forgotten all about Cinnabar!!! OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

So now we have a theory that the memories of those most dear to the gems are kept in their hands. That may be symbolic, too.

But anyway, it's bad. But! Cinnabar has been known to come to Phos's rescue before, so maybe when Phos meets Cinnabar again, Cinnabar will be able to help her overcome her trauma about Antarcticite and go back to being the Phos we all know and love. Or things will get even crazier! Only volume four will tell.

Oh man, this series. I'm a little worried now, because when we wrote the reviews, we kind of assigned gendered pronouns even though they have no gender (although you may notice I didn't really with Antarcticite), and just the other day we were asked to explain why we used the singular they in the manga. (We didn't, actually, but that was the question. Actually it was the two questions. And one of them might have been, "I noticed you don't really use the singular 'they' in the manga," but it was worded so ambiguously that it was hard to tell.) It's my firm opinion that the gems, having no concept of gender, would probably be more confused than offended ("She? What's 'she'?"), but if anybody else is offended, please give us a heads-up and we'll edit accordingly.

Anyway. What a great series. And for this week's releases, we have Corpse Party: Book of Shadows! Yay... (I have seriously mixed feelings about this series. Overall, I don't like it because it's just too gory, but I'm still curious to see if it ever gets all worked out.)

And tune in next week, for our review of Kigurumi Guardians 2!! Triple woohoo!! How exciting! I love that series! Reviewers seem to always not like it, but I won't let them ruin my love of it!!

Today I'm thankful for getting to review Land of the Lustrous, being almost done with work for today, getting to play a liiiittle bit of Kingdom Hearts, having a teensy bit of time to practice the piano, and how cute our meditating chicken, Bananya, and Moogle lamp look together.
23rd-Nov-2017 06:30 am (UTC)
I just read this! (after seeing your review was up and remembering.) What was under the slip cover?! We don't get that content!!!! (unless it was Land of the Lonely Winter but that wasn't that sad so I think it's probably something else.)

I didn't realize about the new Lunarians having gems in their insides. I guess the weapon things they use are all shiny and stuff though so it was just me not realizing why that was. The action scenes are all very interesting and anxious-making and prettily-creepily drawn but I don't always follow what's going on so well. So thank you for explaining a bit in your review!! (I did get the main things going on, no worries there.)

The Shore of Nascency was very interesting!! I want to go rock-collecting there. I had an impression at the beginning of the series that the cast of characters was pretty much set, but now it seems a lot more flexible (given the introduction and demise (ohh noooo) of a new character in just this volume...). The voices from the ice floes also intrigued me. So much to learn about in this world!!

(On the subject of gendered pronouns, there was a "she" in this volume referring to Red Beryl and I couldn't remember if that was a thing previously. Red Beryl does seem pretty girly, but other than Sensei I thought everyone else was officially unspecified...?)
23rd-Nov-2017 09:17 pm (UTC)
Oh! I wonder if whoever's in charge of deciding whether or not to use the under-the-slipcover art saw the volume one version and didn't realize it was any different. Under each of the slipcovers, there's a slightly modified version of the regular cover, only all the gems are completely naked (without even any powder, which is something that wouldn't come across on white paper, as opposed to the colored cardstock or whatever it is the real cover is printed on). I don't remember what was under the slipcover for this volume specifically, but maybe if we're feeling generous with our time, we'll take some pictures.

Yeah, it definitely wasn't obvious at first, but when you have to go over it a few times (and are constantly asking, "Wait, what happened?" and then staring at the art to figure it out), you realize that what always happens is that the lunarians show up, one of the gems slices it open, and then the new jewel-encrusted weapons come out from the lotus-like holes. Usually if it's a gem, as opposed to being just shiny, the Lustrous will say something about who it is.

Well, they did say that it takes many many years for a fully formed gem to be born (Phos is the youngest at 300), so I'm not sure if we can get our hopes up about newborns, but at the rate Ichikawa-sensei introduces the ones that are already alive (28 is kind of a lot, come to think of it), I think there will be plenty to look forward to, newborn or not. But yeah! The world-building in this series is so fascinating!

(!!! It slipped through! We tend to use pronouns as placeholders when we do a first draft, because we save all the hard thinking, like how to write out pronouns, for the edit. It was just a mistake. But don't worry; we emailed our editor about it and she says the internet has already helpfully alerted them to the error, and steps have been taken. The digital version is already fixed, and if there are any reprints, the correction will be included.)
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