This review was originally published on The Fandom Post.
What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the title suggests, this episode was Antarcticite’s big chance to shine. Now that Phos has lost their arms, Antarc is at a loss for what to do. They try to retrieve Phos’ arms in a wonderfully animated diving sequence, but ultimately can’t find them. In spite of their somewhat distant attitude, Antarc actually does care about Phos. They struggle to save Phos and even blame themself for not looking after Phos well enough. In spite of their bickering, the gems really are like a family, and it’s kind of heartwarming to see that Antarc cares for Phos like a younger sibling.
Because they didn’t have enough materials to repair Phos’ arms, Kongo sends Antarc and Phos to the Chord Shore, the place where all the gems are born. The Chord Shore is a massive rock that slowly absorbs minerals and microorganisms that might become gems. Most end up as inanimate rocks, but Antarc says that Kongo takes in the ones that end up sentient and teaches them about the world. This raises quite a few questions about the gems’ origins and how that relates to their connection with humans, as well as Kongo’s origins. Those questions are put on hold, however, as the Lunarians attack right after Antarc attaches some gold to Phos’ arms, which then envelops Phos as it fuses with them.
As Antarc defends Phos, we get to see how they fare in a real battle. All of the gems so far have had slightly different styles, from Amethyst’s perfect synergy to Bort’s raw power, and Antarc is no exception. They clearly fight with their own fragility in mind, and compensate for that with speed and skill. Their fight with the Lunarians is quick, but as thrilling and well animated as ever. It also lets us see just how much Antarc cares about Kongo, as their first reaction upon losing a hand is rage at the possibility of losing any memories of Kongo. Antarc eventually repels the Lunarians, but not without cost; they’ve quite literally pushed themself to the breaking point and are covered in cracks.
Antarc tries to rescue Phos who has (amusingly) been trapped in a gold box. As they’re trying, however, Antarc completely shatters, leaving them easy prey for the Lunarians. Even though Antarc’s only been around for two episodes and we know the gems can’t die, watching Antarc fall to pieces like that is still disturbing and hard to watch. They’ve gotten so much characterization in these two episodes that I was still hoping for them to escape somehow. Unfortunately, the Lunarians carried them off in spite of Phos’ best efforts to stop them. Phos finally gains control over the gold and uses it’s malleable nature to their advantage against the Lunarians in yet another excellent fight, the Lunarians ultimately escape with Antarc before Kongo arrives, leaving Phos to try and fulfill Antarc’s last words and keep Kongo from getting lonely in the winter. Trying to fight like that comes at a cost, as most of Phos’ body is still fragile phosphophyllite, and their body starts to crack and fall to pieces. What’s even more disturbing is the way the gold almost seems to take over their body and fill in the cracks, giving Phos an almost Frankenstein-esque appearance. Phos and Kongo are both upset at Antarc’s loss, and both blame themselves for it. The final scene of them mourning Antarc’s loss is one of the most heartbreaking moments yet, especially with Phos’ missing arms and memories. Whether this shared grief will lead to Kongo opening up about his origins and connection to the Lunarians is yet to be seen, but now both Phos and Kongo will have to deal with the consequences of Antarc’s loss together
Every week I think Phos has hit rock bottom, Land of the Lustrous gives them even more to regret. With the show’s gift for creating instantly likable characters, it only gets harder to watch as things get worse and worse for them. With so much going on, this episode didn’t even get to the topic of what memories Phos lost with their arms, something I’m assuming next week’s episode will cover. After all the pain they’ve gone through, I’m still hoping that Phos and Cinnabar eventually get their happy ending. They deserve it