341st G-View: Houseki no Kuni

Were it not for a fan of mine drawing my attention to this anime then it may have slipped my radar until it got big…meaning I may have picked this show up eventually but thankfully I jumped in early. Question is whether it was worth following to the very end. Let us find out as we take a look at Houseki no Kuni.

Notes before contemplating picking this show up or reading the review:

  1. Should the viewer/reader find the Gems’ character designs unappealing then, being blunt here, do not bother picking this show up.
  2. The Gems are all androgynous (meaning they are partly male and female in appearance) though most look like ladies thus justifying the show being reviewed on this blog. If the viewer/reader can get past the first part but not the second then, again, do not bother picking this show up.
  3. Viewers/readers with sensitive stomachs are advised to skip this show as well as the Gems experience very, very brutal beatings in battle.
  4. The reader/viewer must be cool with Japanese TV anime quality CG.
  5. Please do not flood the comments section with “I couldn’t get into this show because I didn’t like the character designs or Japanese TV anime CG“. Nothing would be gained from it. Should the visitors have other reasons for disliking the show, fine.

Houseki no Kuni Cover.png

Alternate Title: Land of the Lustrous (English)

Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mystery

Number of Episodes: 12

Objectionable content: High. Expect to see the Gems shattered…often.

G-Rating: 9/10

Plot Summary: In the distant future, a new immortal and androgynous/genderless life form called Gems (Jewel People) populate the Earth. The 28 Gems must fight against the Lunarians (Moon Dwellers), who attack them regularly to abduct them and to turn them into decorations. Each Gem is assigned a role, such as a fighter or a medic.

The story follows Phos (Phosphophyllite), one of the youngest and weakest in terms of “hardness”. Annoyed by this Phos consistently sought to be a fighter so they could be of use/have a purpose. Unfortunately they were not strong enough to put up much of a fight so the Gems’ master/father figure Master Kongo (Adamantine) assigned them to write a natural history encyclopedia of the world around them.

Master Kongo and other Gems

Master Kongo (Adamantine) and most of the 28 Gems.

Let us first go over the presentation where we discuss the main selling point of the show, the character designs and the animation, though as mentioned above these are ironically the same reasons some would turn away from it. Each Gem has very shiny hair with colors based on their respective gem like amethyst being purple, Cinnabar being fiery red, Jade being dark green and watermelon tourmaline being bright green with a pinch of watermelon pink on top to name a few examples. As far as the Gems’ uniforms go I have no issue with them especially during booty shots.

Lunarians

The Lunarians. The Gems’ main foes.

Even the Lunarians are a sight to behold with their dazzling designs and varied forms though the most common are the archer types with their headhunters leading the troops. Keep your eyes peeled for other very interesting sights while watching.

Gem slashing Lunarian General

The battles between the Gems and the Lunarians are pretty awesome.

This leads me to discussing the animation. I stand by the following statement that HnK/LotL has some of, if not the BEST looking TV anime computer animation I have ever seen. It starts off straightforward when the Gems are moving about doing their thing…but as soon as the Lunarians attack or the Gems are required to run and/or leap…prepare to be left in awe. Now do not expect anything close to Pixar quality but again as far as CG TV anime goes this is top tier stuff. The soundtrack is also very fitting of the show with some familiar Japanese sounding tunes here and there, some “iyashikei” worthy calm tunes and heart-pounding intense beats. The OP and ED are both solid.

With the presentation done let us go over the show as a whole. It is one part world-building and one part combating emptiness and loneliness. The world itself reminds me of the “Land of the Colossi” from Shadow of the Colossus. It is very beautiful and chock full of mystery and wonder viewers will uncover along with Phos. In each episode viewers learned more about the nature of the world in its current state after many millennia and the Gems themselves, specifically how their bodies work, what they do based on their assigned roles and how they interact with themselves and other creatures. Alongside the world building there is also the Gems, especially Phos, dealing with a sense of emptiness and loneliness. Phos, for example, started off having nothing they could do due to their frailty and thus began their long, perilous and painful quest to find a purpose by any means necessary. Said quest has many times where Phos would wonder if there was a point to it all despite having given themselves reasons to reach a set goal. Other Gems, while being stronger than Phos, also have similar voids they strive to overcome. It is this intriguing battle against an inexplicably inescapable emptiness that greatly intrigued me, seeing the Gems find different ways to combat the emptiness inside and out. Now the main story itself is not so complicated, meaning the meat of the story is Phos and some other Gems’ struggles. Put simply this show is ripe with editorial writing material. In fact I will share some interesting ones down below that go in-depth into the exploration of the emotional battle of the Gems to find meaning and a sense of belonging…when not fighting for their lives against Lunarians of course.

Phos regenerating

As mentioned above expect to see Phos and other Gems get shattered…often.

While there is no bloodshed at all on the show this gave the mangaka and animators to depict various brutal beat downs. Expect to see the Gems lose their limbs, get their eyes torn from their sockets, their faces smashed/crushed or simply get shattered to many pieces very often throughout the show. Like I said this show is not for the sensitive.

As far as the cast goes do not be surprised that with over twenty Gems and more some of them do not get much screen time like the aforementioned Watermelon Tourmaline. The Gems who do get enough time in the spotlight are all interesting and entertaining.

Bort attacking the giant snailBright DiaCinnabar not too impressed

My top 3 Gems: Bort, Dia and Cinnabar.

Happy Phos

Phosphophyllite, aka Phos.

Before getting to the main event let us briefly talk about the lead Gem Phos. They are a fast-talker Skywalker with lots of sass. At first glance one would think Phos would be the classic Shounen archetype who starts off weak but quickly becomes a powerhouse…no. Not exactly. Can they at least take on the small fry initially? No. Like I said their journey is a hard and perilous one where the amount of change they experience is astronomical.

Now on to the main event. As mentioned above most of the Gems are androgynous with a select few like Master Kongo having defined genders. The 28 Gems are all technically “genderless” though most of them look close enough to be female while one or two are kind of bishounen in appearance but still feminine. HOWEVER, it still counts as yuri, or yaoi depending on the viewer because neither side is wrong. Basically Phos X Cinnabar (the driving force of Phos’ journey for the most part) and Dia X Bort are Yuri OTPs no problem. There are other pairings among the Gems but those two are the highlights and both are equally interesting to see develop.

My one gripe with the show that kept it from being a 10/10 was the “season finale”. So I initially referred to the finale as “manga-lure-y” but I was corrected in that it was more of a cliffhanger. Even so my point stands. THIS SHOW NEEDS A SECOND SEASON!

Overall Houseki no Kuni is a very interesting and engaging show whose appeal is difficult to explain but should it grab a viewer’s interest then there is a chance they will see a show with somewhat familiar ideas here and the execution is original. Think of this show as a “Slice of Life written by Yoko Taro”…if that makes any sense. The Japanese TV computer animation is some of/if not the best by far, the battles are top notch thanks to the stellar presentation, the cast (the ones that get enough screen time) are all delightful and interesting, the main plot is not hard to follow but the world-building and character development has many layers. Apart from the cliffhanger finale this was one of my top shows of not only Fall 2017 but 2017 as a whole. PLEASE GIVE US A 2ND SEASON!

Here are the editorials I promised to share that go into more detail on the show’s themes. Spoiler Warning!

  1. Blue Variance
  2. Zeria
  3. AnimeB&B

 

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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34 Responses to 341st G-View: Houseki no Kuni

  1. Shinryu says:

    Pretty much in complete agreement here. It’s a gorgeous show, even more so in motion, that deserves to be seen. And it’s not just visually impressive as the characters, story, world design, etc. are all also top notch stuff. There have been a number of really strong shows this season but this is probably my favourite show of the season, and I’m someone who’s usually more turned off by CG than interested in it.

    I have to agree about the “ending” though. It was the one weakness of the show given that while we are clearly at the start of a new chapter there was very little conclusiveness. It’s even more problematic in this case a, while we could always read the manga, the visual elements here are such a huge part of the experience that it would legitimately seem like a beggars choice. But it’s either that or just pray we eventually get a Season 2.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mauron says:

    The shiny hair was wonderful and shiny and magic.

    I didn’t like the initial change in Phos, but by the end they were more at a point I liked.

    The ending would have been an annoying “See you next week” and made for one of the worst ending points for an anime in general, but not even the worst of the season for me.

    Like

    • OG-Man says:

      It’s all part of “growing up”. Thankfully they kept their more enjoyable traits.

      It left us wanting more and only that rather than end in a satisfactory manner.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mauron says:

        I think their “child” and “adult” phases were both likable for different reasons, but “grumpy teen” didn’t hold me as much as the protagonist.

        Just cutting the last scene with sensei would have greatly improved the ending.

        Like

  3. Dominik Cerny says:

    I really hope we’ll get another season of this show, will have to read it if not, but this show deserves ending, I really don’t like cliffhangers in shows where we don’t know if there will be another season, anime or not. The CGI, in normal anime it sometimes feels disturbing, like it doesn’t belong there, but because this show is done in CGI only and I would in great quality, I really enjoyed it and I also think that for this show, this was a better choice. If it also is cheaper than normal way, then we might get another season, but I don’t know a thing about cost of animation in both cases, so I am not going to even guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. OtakuGamerGirlT says:

    This was def an amazing show and likely the best of the season as well. It’s probably in the top 5 of the year and absolutely takes first place in CG animation. I loved the androgynous nature of the gems and this aspect of the story def gave it an originality not seen often and added to the many things that make it so great. My top 3 gems would def be Cinnabar, Antarcticite, and Red Alex. I agree that the finale left a lot to be desired, making it seem like a 2nd season is almost guaranteed, but we know in reality that may not be the case, so it’s a bit baity for sure. I’m praying for a season 2 though, because if any show needs it and deserves it, it’s this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. One of my AOTS for this season. (Yes, I have several this season, including this, Konohana Kitan, YuYuYu S2, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, and maybe another.) That’s all I can really say. It’s rare to see a show that just needs to be animated to really “shine”, but this is certainly one of them.

    That ending was certainly a bit eh, conclusion-wise. Definitely not the best part of the series. 2nd season next year, pretty pretty please?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nick says:

    I usually give shows 3 eps but I just wasn’t feeling it after 1. It seems like I made a grave mistake as over the weeks I’ve heard this show is excellent. Maybe I should go back and give it another shot. And no, I wasn’t turned off by the CG. I always like giving CG shows a chance so my reason for dropping it after 1 was not that.

    Like

  7. elkat4 says:

    My only complaint about this anime is that it ended at all. The fact it ends with so many questions unanswered screams of sequel baiting and I’m all in for a second season!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Ren says:

    Can’t agree more with your review. Indeed, the ending makes you scream “Second Season!”. My other two favourites of this season, “Konohana Kitan” and “Girls’ Last Tour”, ended in a much more fulfilling note, while “Houseki no Kuni” ended just as things really got started. Also agreed with your picks for favourite gems. It’s a bit unfortunate that Dia and Cinnabar didn’t get that much screen time. Would’ve loved to see more of them. Well, here is to hope that we will really get a second season, hopefully not too far into the future. The anime was enjoyable while it lasted.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. LuzeriP says:

    I’m a positive person, I believe that we’ll get another season. If not that would be a waste for this masterpiece show. I would’ve understand if the show gave us a manga baity story. But it didn’t feel like baiting at all. Just a cliffhanger. It ruined it. Well, despite the ending it’s still one of my anime of the year.

    My top 3 just like your top 3 at that order. Bort x Dia is love. Phos x Cinnabar also love. Only if we got that second season.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Karandi says:

    This show was absolutely gorgeous which is what drew me in initially. However, the story and character work end up equally compelling. It is just a well done show. My only wish would be a second season announcement.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. B-M says:

    This wasn’t just my show of the season; this was my show of the year, and one of my all time favourites. It reminded me a lot of Simoun, and that’s a really good thing. The story’s development touching on lots of deeper meanings but low-key like, and the character development from start-to-finish being, as you quite rightly put, astronomical!… Phenomenal show.

    The visuals were gorgeous, too. Even in the scenes without action, the shot composition in almost every single scene was a work of art, and the latter series scenes focusing on Phos’ sad moments were epic. The terrains and range of seasons also added a lot of unique flavour, too.

    The voice recording and OST were done before the series, and the series was uniquely animated to these rather than the other way around. This is what drove a lot of the charm, I think – the music was on-point, and the characters were rightfully hilarious. Well, Phos = Kumiko+ in that regard.

    Before I go on, did you know this was directed by the director of Love Live? As soon as I found out, everything just sort of clicked. The physical and facial comedy was almost exactly the same as my favourite bits from Love Live. And I don’t think any other anime has really had that same kind of snarky excellence as these shows, either.

    I disagree with what you thought of the ending. It is showing that there is still a lot more story to tell, but it rounded it out as well as it could have done. YES, I would love a 2nd season, but I think the finale was conclusive rather than some other manga-lure endings I’ve seen eg Aoi Hana.

    Judging from what I’ve seen of the sales, a 2nd season isn’t even that unlikely. And you can bet I’m gonna be right in there as soon as it happens!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG-Man says:

      Yes. Simoun is a good show to compare this one with.

      So much detail in every single frame.

      Yes. Not only was it amusing that Phos and Kumiko have the same seiyuu but they have similar mannerisms too.

      Ohoho. Interesting fact there. That would explain the effectiveness of the funny bits.

      I changed it to a cliffhanger ending. What didn’t change is it leaving me wanting more rather than fulfilled. So much more.

      Hopefully. It NEEDS TO HAPPEN!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. kitsu260 says:

    HnK and RE Creator are the most important series of the year for me. I like a lot Phos to end up her development be a bit painful since her changes doesn’t really make her happy, her interaction with all the character are so good to see specially with Shinsha with the strong chemistry between them.

    Like

  13. ineedyuri says:

    Diamond is best gem.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: OG’s Top 15 Favorite Anime of 2017 | The Yuri Nation

  15. YayaSamuko says:

    Yay! Finishing this show, I had a bittersweet smile on my face. Mostly because of the ending. I really need more. It was such awesome show, I was glad to watch, but too much mysteries were left unresolved.

    Though the biggest critic I could give is the sudden change of plot from time to time. They introduced something (bait) like that sea creature thing and quickly forgot about it the next episode, never getting mentioned again.

    However, that didn’t stop me from liking the show.

    (Spoiler) I don’t really like Phos’ mew appearence. I think HE was better with his long “hair” and childish appearance. (Yes, I considered this a yaoi while watching it since the subs called everyone male, even Dia)

    As for the pairings, I so loved former/ancient Phos and Dia together. However, I would rather see new Phos with Antarc or Bort or Cinnabar.

    Overall, it was a nice anime and I want more!

    P.S: I couldn’t help imaginating everyone being male, even the girliest members and it was funnier to watch, especially that fashion maniac and Dia (who is my favorite character of the year).

    Like

  16. How can anyone say they didn’t like this show because of the CG? The CGI was, dare I say, revolutionary. Anime CG has never been done this well, Land of the Lustrous should stand as a monument showing how a fully-CGI anime should be done. The fact that it uses 3D it really the animation’s greatest strength. It’s been explained to death how 2D would simply not work with this show.

    Liked by 1 person

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