This review was originally published on The Fandom Post.
What They Say:
“Soul – Flesh – Bone”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Up till now, Land of the Lustrous has mostly focused on introducing and developing the characters over explaining the world beyond the basic details. Now, though, we finally get a partial explanation for how the gems and Lunarians came to be. Much of it comes from Ventricosus, the slug-like creature that only Phos can understand. She (Ventricosus is confirmed to be female) tells Phos that the gems, the Lunarians, and her people, the Admirabilis, are all species that evolved from humans and inherited different aspects. It’s hinted that the Lunarians inherited the human tendency toward aggression and that their entire goal is to reintegrate with the gems and the Admirabilis to become human again. This reveal adds an interesting twist to the conflict between the gems and the Lunarians since the Lunarians are ironically the most human of the three races. It isn’t completely clear where Land of the Lustrous is going with this, but there’s a lot of potential ideas to explore there.
In addition to the Lunarians, we also learn quite a bit about the gems through minor conversations and offhanded comments. Previous episodes have implied that the gems are long-lived, but this episode confirms that they can live thousands of years and are functionally immortal. Even if they’re captured or broken into pieces, they can still be put back together and be good as new. They’re a fundamentally different life form from humans, a fact which is reinforced by how little Phos understands about animals like Ventricosus. They forget that animals need to eat to survive, and have to actually ask Ventricosus what death is. The gems’ immortality and lack of contact with other intelligent life mean that they don’t even have the concept of ceasing to exist.
The gems’ immortality frames their need for a purpose in a new light. Most beings can find at least some meaning in the basic functions of living, but the gems don’t have that. They don’t need to eat, don’t have to worry about growing old, and don’t even have to worry about Lunarians all the time. This means that they need to find something to care about, some reason to exist. It’s a sad state for Phos and Cinnabar, who both haven’t found that yet. Phos still wants to help Cinnabar, but starts to realize that you can’t help others until you can help yourself. They promised to find a purpose for Cinnabar, but how could Phos do that if they can’t find one for themselves first? This realization, compounded with the revelation that Cinnabar chose to take on the pointless night watch, lead Phos to be somewhat reckless and follow Ventricosus into the ocean, only to be ambushed by Lunarians after Ventricosus betrays Phos in exchange for her brother’s safety. With this setup, it looks like next week’s episode is going to be more action-packed than this transition episode.
This episode may not be as good as last week’s, but that’s a pretty high bar to set. Land of the Lustrous is still one of the most interesting anime of the season, and the next episode is set up to be the most dramatic yet. Even a show as good as this needs the occasional setup episode.