This review is special because usually we wait to write reviews until we've turned in the translation, but this time, we haven't! Tadah! The translation is allllllmost finalized, but we want to read over it one last time before we turn it in, and we didn't want to do that last night when we finished the edit, and we didn't want to do it today because it's Saturday, where time goes like *BLINK!*
And I keep forgetting where this volume starts, and then remembering and being like, "Oooohhh yeeeeaah." Phos was just smashed. She was trying to talk to the lunarians, but that fact is only brought up once and later. So the end of the last volume was like, "What!? Oooohhhh noooooo!" And then this one starts with Phos being all, "What!? Oh no! ...Psych!" In fact, I kind of wanted to have Phos say psych, but last time we tried to use psych, it didn't go over so well, and this is a different set of editors so it might be okay, but since the world is so much different than our world, I wasn't sure if they would use that kind of slang. That's the really tricky thing about fantasy series. On the other hand, we do have them saying things like "okay," which, if okay is okay, then psych should be okay. You don't have to know the origins of a word to be able to use it. (We're careful not to use "okay" in Princess Principal, because we think it hadn't entered the vernacular yet by then.)
Anyway, Phos was all, "Psych!" because she was convinced her almighty alloy could pull her back together and she'd be back in action...only then it didn't work and she was decidedly not back in action. So now it was all up to Ghost Quartz to make sure nobody got taken to the moon. This is where we have a very interesting scene that, if people were confused about how to read this series before, is almost sure to exacerbate the problem. Ghost talks to herself. Or himself? I think of inner ghost as being more masculine...but also being very androgynous, like Antarcticite. But he does use "ore." Anyway, I think that if the Ame-sisters are like identical twins, then Ghost Quartz is like fraternal twins. But maybe they're more like conjoined twins? They are fraternal, though, because I think the phantoms inside real ghost quartz are generally different minerals. I'm sure I knew at one point when we were looking it up, but since we didn't have to look it up again, I don't remember. Anyway, it was kind of like the scene where Diamond and Bort are finally able to talk to each other about the issues they had with each other and work them out, just before they stopped being partners. This scene was not an exception in that regard, either, because the outer Ghost Quartz got all torn away and taken to the moon, leaving the inner Ghost Quartz all alone. I admit, I didn't quite know what was going on the first time we translated it, but when we edited it, it was pretty clear. (Mostly I'm referring to the part where inner Ghost says, "What are you talking about? See, help's already here!" It was a little confusing, because it wasn't the "inner" font anymore. For the edit, I knew for sure that the outer Ghost was gone, so duh, inner Ghost isn't inner anymore.) And then it was all sad and dramatic, how inner Ghost was all, "Hey, answer me!" Awwww, poor inner Ghost.
So Phos wakes up in the infirmary and goes off to find Ghost Quartz, then gets her face punched off by a new gem wearing Ghost Quartz's socks. This part was done in a weird way, because it could be a dream, or it could not be a dream. Obviously at least one of the encounters was not a dream, but my guess is that neither of them were a dream. It's kind of interesting to think about, because to me, it comes across as kind of a gag, but when you think about how inner Ghost is feeling, it suddenly becomes very dramatic. I can see both sides of the argument. Inner Ghost is justified in at least wanting to punch Phos's face off, but on the other hand, Kongo is right, and they shouldn't be punching each other. And man, can you imagine how tough it all was for Rutile? The poor, busy, sleep-deprived doctor.
Well, Phos and Ghost are still partners, so off they go being partners until the lunarians show up again and Phos totally loses it. Seeing much of Antarcticite in Inner Ghost, she is determined not to lose Antarc again, and traps Ghost in a metal cage to keep him safe. Watermelon Tourmaline came along and starts asking what the deal is, and Phos is forced to think about why she's doing what she's doing, she realizes that she's helpless in every one of her endeavors, and then her head explodes. No, really, it pretty much explodes. It was kind of a, "That's not right..." sort of scene. The fun thing about using gem people is you can do stuff like that. But anyway, the whole thing leads to everyone admitting that none of them really has any idea what they're doing. So Rutile asks Phos to stop exploding, and Ghost says okay you're clearly under a whole lot of stress here, so if you have to called me Antarcticite, fine, whatever.
But because Phos has finally put a finger on exactly what her issues are, now she's feeling better about life in general, and this is the best part of this volume! Because now we're starting to get the old Phos back, and while the story and characters have been pretty awesome all along, I really did like the old Phos better than the new angsty Phos. And as part of her old, happy-go-lucky persona, she decides that what Inner Ghost really needs is a new name! Tadah!
Now this was an interesting part for us, because our editor sent along a style guide before we got to this volume and specifically asked about this new name, Cairngorm. She was wondering if we should use Smoky Quartz or Morion instead. We weren't sure why she would ask that, unless other people were suggesting it. Maybe she looked it up at Wikipedia and found out that, when you look up cairngorm at Wikipedia, it takes you to the page for smoky quartz (which also lists another name for the mineral as morion). Or maybe it's because there's a character named Smoky Quartz in Steven Universe. At any rate, a bit of Googling revealed that cairngorm is specifically the gemstone quality version of smoky quartz, so we all decided to trust Ichikawa-sensei, and then, because Ghost Quartz had lost a hand, it turned out that Rutile had replaced it with *drumroll* smoky quartz! And Rutile talked about it like it was a different thing, so we were glad we didn't use the same name. (For those of you who are like, "But cairngorm is just a different name for smoky quartz!", I will remind you that cairngorm is the gemstone quality version, so there must be some differences.)
The other reason we're really glad we decided to trust Ichikawa-sensei is that Cairngorm says later that, when he hears that new name, it feels like Ghost Quartz really is gone. If Cairngorm's new name had quartz in it, there would probably still be some lingering attachment.
Anyway, now that the new team of Phosphophyllite (trying saying that with the emphasis on the second syllable--it's fun!) and Cairngorm is born! they all go off patrolling with the Watermelon Tourmaline x Hemimorphite team and the Peridot x Sphene team. First, we were glad to see Peridot, because when we told Gaston and Alice about a series we were translating that's all about gemstones, Alice's first question was what about peridot? (Her birthday is in August.) Then it turned out that Peridot's old partner was Blue Zoisite, which is another name for tanzanite, which is especially funny to us because Gaston and Alice have a whole saga about a tanzanite stone they bought and tried to get set into a ring. So the fact that Blue Zoisite was connected to Peridot was amusing to us. It's also amusing because peridot is also Tuxedo Masks' birthstone, and I hope everybody knows about the connection between Tuxedo Mask and Zoisite.
So Peridot and Sphene tell about how they lost their partners many many years ago, and when they worried that they were heartless for forgetting (...considering the fact that the Lustrous don't have internal organs, "heartless" may not be the best term to use, so we might revisit that on our final readthrough, but I would like to refer you all to T.H. White's Sword in the Stone, where he talks about "translating" the names of alcoholic drinks from the dark ages into names that are more relatable to a modern audience, and also the passages about the ants) about them. It's a very brief story, but I think it's an important one. I think Kongo is right about not forcing yourself to feel a certain way--if you want to grieve or if you end up forgetting, just let it be natural and be yourself, and that way you won't be too warped to notice when the miracle of closure comes around.
And the next part is especially interesting. Some lunarians appear! Gasp! But this time, they have yet another new strategy. First of all, the lunarians have been trying all kinds of new strategies lately, which makes me wonder if they suddenly had a new person join their ranks, like Ni Jianyi joining Gyokumen Koushu in Saiyuki--some kind of evil genius mastermind type. (Athena: Maybe...Ventricosus!?) But more importantly, their strategy was to use a decoy to get the gems' guard down, and the especially interesting thing about it is that they happened to know that Topaz would be the perfect decoy for Sphene. The Lustrous know next to nothing about what or who the lunarians are, but the lunarians know enough about the Lustrous to use Topaz as a decoy for Sphene. Verrrrrry interesting. I feel like they used a similarly interesting strategy earlier in the series, but I don't remember what.
Anyway, now the decoys are exploding, breaking off pieces of the gems, and sending little nanobot type guys into the cracks to break off even more pieces. This is a kind of scary situation. There's a big battle, and thanks to some quick thinking on Phos's part, and the eventual arrival of Deus ex Machina Bort, they manage to fend the lunarians off and save everybody. It should also be mentioned that this lunarian gave Phos a glimpse of a scene inside what appeared to be a cabin, with a table and a chair and a curtain. I think we all think it's safe to assume that this cabin is somewhere that Sensei spent a great deal of time in another life. The nanobots seemed to be made of the game pieces of some board game that we're guessing only Sensei is really familiar with. We did some Googling to see if any of the Japanese readers identified the game in a blog post for us, but they seemed to be just as ignorant about it as we were. Right before the game and its board disappear, Sensei seems to address someone. I think it might be the game itself, but we probably won't know for a while. (That reminds me of Sensei's character description. "You won't get the important parts that easily!")
Now that that's resolved, Phos and Cairngorm are getting ready for winter duty, whenever hibernation actually happens (it's been postponed several times due to unstable atmospheric conditions), and in the meantime, they've been assigned to patrol the Shore of Nascency. What could possibly go wrong? (Surely we're not the only ones who read "Shore of Nascency" and think something big is going to happen, right? I was kind of hoping a new gem would be born, but there are so many characters to keep track of anyway that it's probably for the best.)
Well, there's a quick battle that didn't seem to result in too many casualties, except for one very important one: Phos's head. That's where you start to think it's well and truly over for Phos, or that maybe we'll get to follow Phos's head to the moon(s?) and see what's going on up there. But I think the theme of this manga has other ideas, so instead, Cairngorm makes a very difficult call and suggests, since Lapis Lazuli's body has been gone for so long, maybe they could use her head for Phos. By the time the volume ends, they haven't said for sure that they're going to do it, but based on the cover of volume seven, I think it's a safe bet that Kongo is going to authorize it. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out, but in the meantime, all I can do is comment on how much I love Lapis's hair, with its sparkly crown thingie.
I also have to wonder, since volume one makes a very loud point of telling us that nobody cares about Phos, why do people suddenly care so much now? It's not that weird, since Phos has been pretty helpful to everyone since the whole Antarcticite thing, but I feel like it's still just an average level of help. I guess whatever it was that got Ghost Quartz to pair up with Phos to begin with was pretty big. Athena reminds me that it was partially because Phos reminded her of Lapis Lazuli, so in that case, Lapis's head seems like it wouldn't be too far out of place, but it's still kind of...weird, I guess. I mean, with all the changes Phos has been going through, she's already been questioning her identity, and whether or not any of the original Phosphophyllite still exists. Now we're putting an entirely new head on her, so physically, at least, it's going to seem like the original Phos is no more. I guess you can't get much more into the "am I really who I think I am?" thing than that. So like I said, it will be very interesting to see how that plays out. I'm still hoping that they do eventually go to the moon and learn something about the lunarians...
Oh my goodness, this series, you guys!! I hope people are reading it and enjoying it! We're probably finally going to get to volume eight soon! How exciting!
This week, unless the Yen Press release dates have changed, we have two new releases! Hatsu*Haru 2 and Forbidden Scrollery 4! And tune in on Thursday for our review of Wake Up Sleeping Beauty 5! Oh my goodness, you guys, that series is so good!
Today I'm thankful for a quick reminder about what kind of stuff happened in Land of the Lustrous (I think I can remember what happened in volume seven), finally getting to see Yuki Kaji's character in Ace of Diamond (he's like the main villain! woohoo!), finishing our work quota today, finally knowing what Gaston's Disneyland plans are, and having exciting things to work on tomorrow.