In a land where most people are the embodiment of gemstones, Phos (short for Phosphophyllite) is not well-suited for anything. Not only are they clumsy, but with a Mohs hardness scale rating of only 3.5, they’re fragile enough that they shatter easily. To give them something to do, the monkish Master Kongo assigns them to create an encyclopedia, though Phos would much rather be joining others in fighting off the Lunarians who attack them to harvest their bodies for their stones. As Phos reluctantly starts their research, they discovers that another of their kind – Cinnabar – may have it even worse, since they poison everything they breath or touch, and Cinnabar is even more fragile than Phos.
I never thought I would say this, but this CGI is gorgeous. Land of the Lustrous is almost entirely CG, but it’s still one of the best looking anime of the season. The way the CG brings out the colors in the gemstones (especially their hair) is surprisingly effective, and it’s used to great effect during action scenes by letting the camera move dynamically during the fight. This style can easily go awry in the wrong hands (Berserk) but it’s restrained enough here that it doesn’t become distracting and even enhances the action. Of course, Land of the Lustrous has more to offer than great aesthetics. This first episode was primarily about introducing Phos and Cinnabar and establishing their relationship. Both are outcasts: Phos for their (the gems don’t have any apparent gender) fragility, and Cinnabar for their poison. They’re both trying to find a purpose in a world where every other gemstone has a role that they value. It’s an instantly engaging story that’s aided by Phos’ inherent likability. Phos is a screwup and a goof, but they’re also eager and energetic in the most charming way possible. They’re a lot like Akko from Little Witch Academia: clueless and mostly incompetent, but also kind and excited. Phos is charming throughout and complements Cinnabar’s more distant attitude well. It’s not completely clear if the show if going to prioritize the conflict with the mysterious Lunarians or Phos and Cinnabar’s relationship, but I’m sold either way. Land of the Lustrous was easily one of the strongest premieres of the season, and I’m looking forward to more.