Houseki No Kuni

March 25, 2018

This is going to be a gem. Literally. Somebody had this bright shiny idea to take several gemstones and give them human personalities. Hence you get this anime Houseki No Kuni. Oh, you bet these characters made out of precious stones are going to be very precious and priceless. As a matter of fact they are. Because aliens from another world constantly invade their peaceful land and try to kidnap them to be brought back to their planet where they serve as decorations! Holy cow! It sounds as ridiculous as it is interesting. So these jewel people have to fight and stave off the invaders before they end up as someone’s ornament. Is this the price to be paid for freedom? I guess this is even more valuable than all the gemstones you can find and collect.

Episode 1
Phosphophyllite AKA Phos is frolicking around when she is called by Master Kongou for a job. Meanwhile the Lunarians begin their attack as Morganite AKA Morga and Goshenite AKA Goshe intercept them. Kongou explains the enemy often come here to harvest them as jewellery as decoration on the moon. There are only 28 of them but the Lunarians are infinite. As many of them work in pairs and different jobs, there was none whom he could rely Phos on. Kongou goes down to the field to see Morga and Goshe defeated and their gems being harvested. One power voice shatters the enemies away. Phos is also shattered. Therefore he brushes off Phos’ idea of wanting to join in battle since her hardness level is only 3 and the job she is most suited for is compiling their encyclopaedia. It is a job that requires creativity and intelligence. Phos is not happy about it but it is this honesty that Kongou has her for this job. Rutile the doctor puts the pieces back on them. As long as they have enough pieces, they won’t lose memories as their bodies are home to microscopic organisms. Phos tries to get the duo to help her get out of this boring job. So Goshe suggests swapping places. In her rashness, Phos takes her sword but quickly tumbles. Thankfully she didn’t break. They suggests asking Cinnabar if she wants to know more. However she has not met her before as she is always on night patrol. It seems that she is the only one who can see at night and unlike the rest of them, she doesn’t need to feed off the sun. Also her silvery poison can destroy anything it touches. It seems like the perfect fighting machine but only 1 problem: Lunarians never invade at night. So a meaningless night patrol?

Phos decides to make Cinnabar her helper but she needs to find her first. She keeps looking until dusk and when she sees her, she is in the midst of fighting off Lunarians. Despite in a dilemma of not wanting to kill her surroundings, she continues fighting them to protect Phos. Phos tries to save her when she falls off the cliff but her hands break. Later Cinnabar reveals she is the weakest of the lot and has only a hardness level of 2. While getting fixed up by Rutile, she further explains to her how gifted Cinnabar is but because of this flaw, they are forced to put her in the night. At least in a way it gives meaning to her existence since all of them cannot die, they have to face these problems till they find an answer. Later Phos returns to that spot and Cinnabar isn’t amused she hasn’t learnt her lesson of how dangerous this area is. Phos hear her wish to be taken by the Lunarians. At least she will be of use as decoration. They never showed up until Phos did. Cinnabar helps a little in Phos’ compilation as Phos vows to find something better for Cinnabar to do. So stop saying she wants to go to the moon. Later Cinnabar notices Phos has dropped her notebook. She sees her own hand mark on it when Phos tried to save her. It makes her emotional.

Episode 2
As narrated, a shooting star visited this world and fractured into 6 moons. All life forms fled to the sea or shores but those who were late sunk to the depths of the ocean. They were consumed by microorganisms and over time became gemstones before rising to the surface once more. Phos is now bugging Jade and Euclase for some ideas when Rutile interrupts to give an unwanted impact test on Jade to test her hardness. In tip top condition as always. Phos volunteers to have one but Rutile shoots her down. She knows she is one of the weakest. Bummer. To get her off her back, Jade tells Phos to find Diamond AKA Dia since she might have some new fighting moves. Indeed she goes to bug her as Phos plays out her sob story of being stuck in this job. But then the Lunarians arrive. Dia goes on the offensive. She looks impressive swinging back those arrows. However Phos feels something isn’t right. What is that cracking sound? To her worst fears, it looks like Dia is cracking. Luckily Bort is here to save the day and easily destroy the enemy. Dia explains 10 is the maximum hardness level as all of them in the diamond class are. Dia might be tough but is fragile under impact. Unlike a monocrystal like her, Bort is some sort of microcrystal synthetic and no impact will shake her. Thus the hardest of them all and the one true diamond. A weak diamond is not a real diamond. Sometimes Dia has this thought if only Bort wasn’t around…

Bort then angrily approaches Dia and rips off her arm! It makes that cracking sound. Bort is mad she told her not to fight because of her body condition and yet she did. Dia doesn’t want to always be protected. Phos foolishly tries to vouch for Dia but Bort doesn’t appreciate her antics. Calling her a nuisance, she is going to get rid of her when a new enemy appears. However it passes them and hovers across the school. Say, isn’t Kongou in the midst of meditation now? A giant shell crashes near Jade and Euclase. Bort attacks the enemy and tells Dia to stay out. Because there is nothing she can do. Bort easily cuts down the enemy. Jade and Euclase leave Phos to research on this shell and of course she tries to weasel her way out of it but fails. Suddenly the shell springs to life and devours Phos. She feels hot and cannot move. As the others try to save her, it seems whatever touches this snail causes them the melt. Not even Bort can get close. They think this might be a new weapon sent from the moon. Bort tries to call out to Phos but she isn’t answering. Phos is gradually melting and dissolving into nothing as she laments for someone to save her or else Cinnabar will never be free. Worry about yourself first than others, please.

Episode 3
Dia notices that the some parts of the shell has turned in Phos’ colour. She believes Phos was trying to show the snail’s weakness. She slides down to tear out its guts. In the aftermath, a little docile snail appears in its place. The rest go dive underwater where the shell has fallen to find traces of Phos but to no avail. Where has she gone to? Noticing how annoying this little snail is, could this be Phos?! They had to break Rutile’s break to get help but eventually Dia can’t leave it with her because she wants to dissect it! Dia begins to wonder if Phos’ transformation was she took her advice literally about changing from within. Yeah, looks like it. Dia shows the new Phos to everyone but nobody really cares about turning her back. Maybe she is better this way? Dia also starts to wonder if she is better off like this because she will not have to worry and bother anyone anymore. Cinnabar does her night patrol and thinks Lunarians are here. But all that bright is just Dia as she has fallen asleep. Do diamonds shine this bright in darkness? Dia introduces Cinnabar to this snail and hopes she can find a way to turn Phos back. But like the others, she too believes she is better off like this. Dia remains positive (or perhaps she took it all the wrong way) thinking Cinnabar is in love with Phos or something. As Cinnabar explains the various snails around the land, it then dawned to Dia on a way to save Phos. Could it be that Phos has turned partly into the shell? So she runs back and gathers her comrades to pull the shell out of the water. Then for every piece of that coloured pieces they chip it out for Rutile to put them back together again. Voila! Phos is back! However she is not happy with the snail and tries to attack it! She is so comical that everyone laughs and believes the snail is smarter than her! Phos seems to be arguing with the snail while everyone else wonders who she is talking to.

Episode 4
Kongou finally wakes up from his sleep meditation. Jade reports what happened but since Bort took care of it all, everything else is fine. At first I thought Phos was having so much time adlibbing the snail. Turns out she is the only one who can telepathically communicate with Ventricosus. Because of that, everyone thinks Phos is having a mental breakdown talking to herself. Even Rutile wants to tear Phos apart and rebuild her to regain her sanity! After Kongou learns about Ventricosus, Phos misinterprets what she says to him. Ventricosus wants to date this hunk but she translates that as wanting to be his slave! Kongou feels the need to maintain equal amiable relations and since Phos is the only one who can understand, she is made to look after it. Phos then asks about Cinnabar’s pointless job. Kongou reveals that she was the one who suggested doing the night job. He is still finding a way to solve her problem. Ventricosus suggests coming with her back to her home in the sea as there is a creature that looks a lot like them and might offer hints. Hence Phos steals some powder from Rutile and Red Beryl (who needs it to finish her new uniform) so as to go underwater. She is caught in the act and Kongou forbids her to go there. She argues it is for the encyclopaedia but he tells her to finish the hills first. He has not gotten a single report from her since.

Ventricosus grows weaker seeing it needs food instead of sunlight to replenish itself. They talk about life and death and with her wish to see her home one last time, Phos decides to go against Kongou’s warning and venture into the sea with Ventricosus. She then turns into her beautiful almost humanoid form. If this is The Little Mermaid’s Ursula and how she looks like if she was hot? Well, almost. Ventricosus talks about the legends of her people. Once this world were inhabited by creatures called humans. Everything endured for 5 moons until the sixth one came. They took to the sea and split into soul, flesh and bones. What she meant was they split themselves into 3 species to survive. Ventricosus’ people, the Admirabilis are said to have come from their flesh. The bones are said to have struck a deal with other life forms, gained longer lifespans and returned above water. The soul is said to have found ‘new lands’ and now they seek the flesh and bones to bring about a revival of humans. The soul could be what we know as Lunarians. Because the soul have no other enemies and lust for battles, it may speak volumes of what humans once were. If that is the case, the rest of them have changed for the better. After almost a day, they arrive at supposedly Ventricosus’ home. Nothing. Barren. Tired Phos lies down to rest when Ventricosus apologizes she has someone important to her as Cinnabar is to Phos. Lunarians’ arrows attack and shatter Phos. It seems Ventricosus has made a deal with them to offer Phos in exchange for her brother, Aculeatus.

Episode 5
A search party is held for Phos. They believe she went to the sea and true enough there are footsteps leading there. Phos is fished out by the Lunarians. Ventricosus is not happy they want her to lure more before they return her brother. When she refuses, they attack her. A large Pokemon-like creature pops up. The Lunarians attack it and in pain it attacks them and cause their entire ship to crash. It turns out to be Aculeatus as he turns into his humanoid form. Dark tentacle prince? He notes they must escape now as word of this would have reach the moon. He praises Ventricosus for using Phos to rescue her and pulled it off without handing her over. After hearing that, Phos can’t feel mad at them. She agrees to be used as a negotiation tool in exchange Cinnabar is kept out of this. Kongou sees off this girls as they head into the sea. Cinnabar watching from afar is trying to convince herself she is not part of this. Then a weakened and repentant Phos washes up behind her. For some reason she doesn’t tell the rest and drags her back to the school. Because of that the others are still out there looking for Phos. They tire easily as they are not used to underwater. As Rutile heads back to get more materials, she trips on Phos. Oh dear. Looks like everyone is trying to help put her back together and quick because they hear the thunderous steps of Kongou! Be fearful! Then they all go hide as Kongou’s scolding is enough to shatter some bits. However he has her rest and will hear the rest of her report tomorrow. And with that report he calls off her encyclopaedia research. As Phos lie motionless, most of her parts are recovered except her legs. There is a couple of bones from the Lunarians’ ship that was washed up with her. It is some sort of quartz called agate. Rutile is unsure to use this as her legs. She tries it out but Phos cannot still walk. A bit of bad news as Phos cannot remember some of her comrades like Jade. Don’t take it too personally… As Phos struggles by herself, thoughts of Cinnabar flashes across her mind. Suddenly she stands up and vows she cannot be weak. Well what do you know? Now she can walk! Even better, run faster than Sonic!

Episode 6
Yellow Diamond and Zircon are being chased by the Lunarians. Zircon protects the former and shatters. Yellow takes her back to Rutile to be fixed as they talk about Zircon being the second youngest after Phos and Yellow as the oldest of the lot, they don’t even know what they’re fighting for anymore. Yellow notices Phos is gone and goes look for her. She finds her but is she running away from her? Actually, her legs are so fast she can’t control where she wants to stop. Yellow challenges her to bump into her. This allows Yellow to catch her. Phos thinks her true potential has awakened and wants to join the battle. I believe everyone has their doubts so Kongou has Obsidian hand him the smallest sword. Phos can’t even carry it. Looks like only her legs powered up. He asks why she is so eager to help. Simple. She wants to help because he is special to her. Don’t blush now. Kongou has her team up with Amethyst for the lookout job. He wants her sea report. Wide and big… Can’t blame her. She doesn’t remember much. But when she mentions humans, Kongou becomes shocked. End of report. Yellow introduces Phos to Amethyst. Seems she can split herself into twins called 33 and 84. Phos is eager to go on a patrol with them for the first time. Too bad her first day has exerted so much energy trying to wield the sword. Let’s hope she can keep up the next day. On the third day, she is just tired and slacking. Too tired to move. When the twins suggest practising her sword fight, she springs to life. Too bad she will have to learn on the spot because Lunarians are here. The twins show how adept they are as they easily slice through the Lunarians, even the big boss. Unfortunately they let their guard down as they get devoured by a trap. Phos could only watch helplessly and in shock as they crumble. Luckily Bort arrives in a flash to take out the ship and it is ultimately Kongou’s super gem shot skill that destroys it. Bort angrily confronts Phos and demands an explanation.

Episode 7
Though the twins are pieced back together, Phos prostates herself before them. She was scared that she couldn’t move. But they apologize too as they got careless and were trying to set an example. Alexandrite AKA Alex barges in and wants the twins to tell if the enemy’s blades were made from Sapphire. They can’t remember much and think Phos would as she saw everything. But looks like she has run away to do some reflection time. She sees Cinnabar on her patrol but dare not face her. As winter is near, the ladies setup the place for hibernation. Light is weak and it will only tire them. If Lunarians attack, Kongou and Antarcticite will help protect the place. The latter exists in liquid form but when the temperature drops, her body crystalizes. Once Antarcticite is up, she goes to get her annual hug from Kongou. Only, Phos is watching! Can’t sleep. Kongou decides to pair them up, much to Antarcticite’s dismay. Even she knows how useless Phos is. Halfway trekking, Phos is already tiring out. So crawling the rest of the way there? She is shown a huge ice floe. When the sea freezes, segments with microorganisms from the sea floor will wind up like that. After it sinks, it pops up again and makes a shrieking sound. This eerie sound is when the icebergs collide and it is their job to cut it down to avoid disturbing their sleeping comrades. They are once called sinners by Kongou. See how Antarcticite easily break them apart. Phos whines but also tries. Most of the time she breaks herself. And she already tires about doing the same thing every day. Why not just leave the disposing of ice floes entirely to Antarcticite? She is doing fine on her own, right? One day while cutting icebergs, she thought she is going crazy when the iceberg talks to her. Although they do ‘talk’ but it is in a language they can’t understand. Plus, they don’t speak on their own will. Gee, Phos can understand them now? Antarcticite reports Phos helping out nicely. Her only complaint is that her arms should have matched her legs. Phos has this weird idea of cutting her arms but backs off. Then she hears the iceberg trying to convince her to do so, even bringing Cinnabar’s name into it. Phos accidentally slips into the water and when Antarcticite pulls her out, both her arms are gone.

Episode 8
Antarcticite dives in to find them but it’s like those icebergs have this conspiracy to crush her. In the end, she couldn’t find her arms and she blames herself for being careless and not used to working as a pair. Kongou doesn’t blame her but Antarcticite still feels at a lost over this huge blunder. He tells them to head to the Chord Shore. It is a place where all of them were born. At this place is a huge rock where deposits from the sea work their way up over millions of years to be born here again. Currently there are only gold and platinum all around but they are extreme soft but heavy. No harm trying. It seems Phos’ body accepts it but she is having trouble pulling around all that weight. Suddenly it goes berserk and starts engulfing her. At this time, the Lunarians attack. Antarcticite fights them. Back at the school, the Lunarians are trying to impede Kongou with traps. Antarcticite continues fighting a new type of Lunarian as reported by Alex. She is slowly breaking up from its hook traps. Eventually she manages to use enough might to overcome and destroy it. She is still alive but chipped from head to toe. Also, Phos is now trapped in her own gold box cell. Antarcticite tries to break her out and Phos is complaining how rough she is? Yeah, gold can be quite hard… Suddenly Antarcticite shatters from a Lunarian attack. Phos’ screams are muted by the gold (forming hands to cover her mouth). Antarcticite’s last words are to take over her winter duties and not make Kongou lonely. The Lunarians pick up pieces of Antarcticite. Phos becomes so mad as she commands the gold to do her bidding. She breaks out and the gold now forms part of her body. They look like replacement arms and extended parts of her body. The gold also automatically protects her from attacks (like as though it is now part of her blood stream) as Phos races to rescue Antarcticite. But they are all in vain as she falters and chips off in the end. Kongou catches her. Phos is sad Antarcticite suffered for her. Kongou says the blame is his to bear.

Episode 9
Spring is looming. What’s this? Phos has a makeover? New hands. New hairstyle. New serious personality. New abilities. Super kickass?! OMG! Is this really Phos! She could easily take out the Lunarians herself! Although the weight of the alloy is straining her body, Phos refuses to rest as Kongou suggests, she continues to work on Antarcticite’s behalf. She goes to ‘talk’ to Antarcticite (all that is left of her) about her day. She has fears sleeping in which she would see visions of her. A trauma she is still reeling from. Phos even sews Kongou’s new robe. When spring arrives, the other ladies awake from their slumber. At their usual meeting, everyone is shocked that Phos is now different. Phos uses her new abilities to describe the events that day. At first it freaks out everyone but soon everyone is so awed with her that they want to touch her, experiment with her and if you’re like Bort, want to cut her up! However with all the amazement, there seems to be one minor flaw: Phos doesn’t remember who Cinnabar is. Phos’ popularity rises as the others start chasing her down like a super idol star while she expends energy to run away. Even Kongou is telling them to line up for a piece of her! OMG! Can this monk joke?! Must be some sort of lesson about great power comes a sense of solitude. You mean not responsibility? Just kidding. But is Kongou also referring to himself? Phos stumbles into Cinnabar. Doesn’t remember much but not like the latter cares anyway. Phos ponders she used to dream fighting out here but now realizes it is really dangerous work. When Lunarians show up, it is Phos’ turn to show the Amethyst twins how easily she could kick ass. While they are so amazed with the new Phos, not everyone is because Bort certainly doesn’t look impressed. No longer the strongest, eh?

Episode 10
Phos is sure in demand. She explains in detail to Alex the Lunarian she fought. Then Bort wants to team up with her so they could cover each other’s weaknesses. Phos thinks for a while and eventually agrees to that. She tells Dia about it and she looks shocked. But Dia accepts it since she was the one who asked her to change so she can’t complain. As news of Bort and Phos’ teaming up spreads, Dia is the hardest hit. She might say she is okay but from the looks of her dejection… A new massive Lunarian appears. It seems to be stuck in the rift it is trying to break through. Bort and Phos attack it but its multi-hands and very hard impenetrable skin makes it all the more difficult. Bort then takes Phos to retreat as the Lunarian chases after them. Bort has Phos ring the bell 6 times. This is not to call for reinforcements but to signal to everyone to hold their positions. Her plan is to draw that Lunarian their way as they go and wake Kongou up. As it starts chasing them inside the school, it then disappears. Because this plan hinges on everyone to be outside school, if somebody is still in here, the plan is screwed. And the Lunarian’s ‘disappearance’ could be it found one of them inside. And that one of them is Dia. Shocked at the new Lunarian, she makes a run and hides from it. I don’t know why she just couldn’t run outside but running around inside while barely trying to avoid being caught. Bort and Phos are checking if there are any others inside. Alex is but she tells them she saw Dia being chased by a Lunarian. Through with running, Dia thinks she has to settle this herself and faces the enemy. It didn’t take long before she realizes it is a bad idea. She is smacked and struck, each time bits of her body pieces breaking off. Bort arrives too late to the rescue as she is now gravely incapacitated. Bort and Dia realize how important they are to each other. Bort prepares to face the Lunarian who has now split itself into two.

Episode 11
The Lunarian splits itself up. One attacks Phos and Alex. When Phos is restrained by it, Alex turns into some berserk Tarzan and slashes it apart! Split personality? Phos then helps Bort with the rest but the more they cut up, the more it revives… Into cute little puppies???!!! WTF???!!! Too cute to kill! Then it runs all over the place bugging the other girls. So cute!!! Eventually everyone picks all of them up and puts them in a cage. Then it turns into that original Lunarian. It starts attacking them but in a playful manner. Phos tries to lead it to Kongou but gets caught. When Kongou appears and the Lunarian attacks, Kongou gives a series of dog commands like sit and roll. It obeys! Its name is Shirou?! When everything calms down, Phos asks Kongou if he knew about Shirou. Not really. Huh? Phos thinks hard about the possibility of Kongou and a Lunarian when she bumps into Cinnabar. Oh, there’s a little pup with her too. When Phos notes Kongou might be hiding something, Cinnabar says everyone knows about it. Well, at least they have their suspicions but they choose to believe in him no matter what as their unspoken agreement. Phos feels the need to know the truth but dreads the courage she needs to go ask him. When she returns, she sees Shirou cuddling up to Kongou before vanishing. Returning to the moon? Not quite. Just found its peace. Phos sees visions of Antarcticite and to her worst fear, it hints that she too might know about Kongou’s secret. Kongou asks Phos about her partnership with Bort. Excellent. Everyone should team up with her once. Phos needs answers so what better way than to wait for the Lunarians to show up. For 10 days they never did. Heh. It’s like they’re trolling. Rutile informs her the Dia is back to normal but is jealous she didn’t get to cuddle a puppy but Beryl made a replica for her so all is well. When Rutile mentions she is still looking parts for Padparadscha, Phos is glad she still remembers her. She used to be Rutile’s partner and second strongest after Bort. But with holes in her body, she is now in comatose state. Rutile kept modifying her body in hopes of waking her up and this is how she became a skilled doctor. After they find more parts of her popping up on Chord Shore, the moment of truth… Padparadscha opens her eyes.

Episode 12
Padparadscha is feeling fine. After 231 years and 300,000 operations? Phos talks with her about her wish to talk to a Lunarian so Padparadscha tells her she wants Rutile to stop treating her and take that burden off. That would provoke some kind of reaction in ways one will never imagine. So for the truth to reveal itself, be calm and be mindful of your actions. Right after that, she collapses and goes back into slumber. Zircon is being partner with Bort. She feels so scared? Even when ignored, she feels scared in fear of doing something wrong. Hence she goes to ‘harass’ Phos for answers! The next time Zircon talks to Bort, the latter tells her that her weakness is Yellow because she is trying to protect her and utilize her full potential. She needs not concern herself when with her and should give all she’s got. Phos sees the old notes that Kongou once taught her. Too bad she can’t remember much of them. Not sure if she goes to have some trivia quiz with Alex about Lunarians because the latter looks worn out after that. Phos asks if it is possible to talk to Lunarians. Not sure. Not enough info. Asked if Alex likes Lunarians as she keeps thinking about them every day, researching is the only way to overcome her condition because Chrysoberyl was taken from her before Phos was born. So she thinks about them so as to never forget that hatred. As it is dusk, Lunarians start appearing. Phos engages them and tries to make one of them talk. Well, if she didn’t strangle it. When it looks like it is eking out something, Cinnabar destroys them all. Later that night when Phos looks for Cinnabar, the latter runs away! Phos is always a foreboding of something bad! Since when did this turn into a comical chase? Anyway, Phos has got a new job for her. A job that she can only do. Oh Cinnabar, don’t get picky and technical with the words she used now. Anyway, that job is to help uncover the truth about Kongou and the Lunarians. The more Phos tries to get closer to the truth, the more off things seemed. She can’t tell if she is looking the right way anymore. Cinnabar won’t help if she has not thought out what she’ll do if Kongou turns out the opposite. This is why Phos needs her for she is prudent and smart. She’ll come again to ask but Cinnabar hints that if it is just teaming up, it’s okay. Eh? Why acting so shy? Phos gets called by Kongou as she reminisces her old and simple spoilt self that she is now envious. She sees Kongou and remembers Padparadscha’s words to be calm and mindful.

May The Phos Be With You
It sucks. I mean, when you have so many questions at this point and this is how it ends, it sure really sucks to not have that satisfied feeling when the series ends. Sure, you can tell me to go read the original works which are chapters ahead and there could be more revelations but then again, they could have adapted it to 2 cours? Right. Who am I to order people around when I don’t have money, precious stones or gold to my name? All I am saying is that the mystery and plot thickens late in the series (when Phos became more mature and responsible) but it piles up so much and things don’t go everywhere (plus the fact the other jewel girls aren’t even bothered to look further into this despite knowing because status quo in life is the best), it sounds interesting as it is giving the series a direction to where it is heading but all comes to a grinding halt because a season we can only have a dozen episodes. In short, too many questions and potentials but no answers.

Not sure if I am missing the plot here because despite the synopsis saying about these jewel girls protecting and fighting off the Lunarians as the basic setting, all I can see the rest of the series is about Phos trying to find her reason for existence. While that is not entirely a bad thing, it feels like the plot isn’t going anywhere. As though this entire series is about Phos’ transformation from someone immature into someone with responsibilities but still retaining some of the quirks that will always make Phos as Phos. The other aspects aren’t too clear like the origins of the world (which was briefly touched about by Ventricosus) and the island that they are currently occupying. We have only heard from one point of view and assume the Lunarians are the villains but what actually goes on the other side? What does their world look like? Is the setting we are initially told the truth then? There is more than meets the eyes to this. At least those are the sentiments I feel and thoughts meandered while trying to watch and understand what is happening. There are parts which are supposed to be funny like Kongou’s interaction with Shirou and how he jokingly told the girls to line up to ‘harass’ all-new Phos but somehow these just pass off as odd. Because Kongou doesn’t look like the kind of person who can joke. Seriously.

The characters are a hit and miss. Phos gets the big bulk of the screen time and as I have said, the entire series is about her trying to find what she is suitable for and then her slow transformation from just a completely pure gemstone into an amalgamation of various other alloys. Always the carefree and my-pace character among the group, she is like the joker and comic relief character compared to the rest. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is annoying. She wants to go into battle so much but is always side-lined but it took the death of just one of her comrades to wake her up. Suddenly she became so responsible and matured overnight. A totally different character. Like as though she had some sort of personal bonding with Antarcticite. Maybe. There wasn’t anyone else to keep her company during those cold winter days when she just couldn’t sleep. I suppose that is a good thing since we get to look at the new Phos with new powers. Literally from zero to hero. I’m not sure if there is something being hinted that gems change under pressure. Heck, I know nothing about them. Then there is this personal of mission of hers to help Cinnabar. It seems to get side-tracked every time. As though it is never going to happen. They keep trolling us each time they meet just to somewhat remind us but nothing comes out of it. Even right till the end, it just hints to us they may team up but nothing more. After all, Cinnabar has grown tired of her night patrol and needs to escape this ‘hell’.

Kongou is the mysterious of the lot as he is the leader among the gemstone ladies. Funny, I always have this thought that he is human just because he is male (I believe everyone is genderless but since the gemstone girls look so feminine…) and dresses like a monk. He acts differently from the rest as he needs to sleep and meditate. However I don’t see him eating… He could have very well be a gemstone too because his name too already suggests it. Adamantite, the hardest gemstone around. There is always an air of mystery that makes you suspect if Kongou is more than what he seems to be. He might look like he is defending the girls from Lunarians. But in the hints peppered throughout the series, could it be that he has some connections to the Lunarians? Could he be one of them and defected? Worse, this conspiracy theory that Kongou may be the real villain who kidnapped the gemstone girls and the Lunarians are just trying to take them back to their rightful place! Horror! After all, why is he the only one alone on this planet? The reason he treats his precious girls with care is because, well, which idiot would abuse and roughly treat their precious stones?! Treat them with care… ‘Coz you girls are looking so beautiful…

As for the rest of the other characters, only a handful receives their due screen time. Like Bort who is the strongest is often using her brute strength and a little boorish and uncouth as compared to the kind and gentle Dia. Then we have Rutile the mad scientist who likes to break things apart as her experiment, Beryl who loves designing their team’s uniform (not sure if I can consider those as hot pants they’re always wearing) as well as Alex who has this knack for sketching Lunarians and now we see she has some sort of a berserk personality. Then there are Jade, Euclase and Amethyst who stick around more often but can’t find any reason to remember them. There are other gemstones too but they make their appearance so miniscule that they are just forgettable. Heck, I don’t even know their names. As for Cinnabar, it’s like she is going through some brooding phase as she is always trying to be the lone wolf type. Every time you see her, it’s like “Oh, it’s her. She’s not going to join in anything else as usual”. It’s like they can do without this character but need her from time to time to prop up some drama for Phos.

You may be wondering if the series was going to use gemstones as their theme, why are they naming many of their characters after gemstones that we have never heard of and are hard to pronounce? Yeah, try pronouncing and even spell Phos’ full name the first time you see it. It was once stated that the likes such as sapphire, ruby and opal did once exist but were taken away by Lunarians. So when a gemstone is taken away by the Lunarians, it will never rebirth again on Chord Shore? Not really sure how this works too. Too complicated for my simpleton mind. Hence on this planet we are stuck with gemstones we never probably heard of in our lifetime like Phos and Bort because the popular ones were taken away and introduced to us on a commercial scale. Oh wait. There’s diamond who still isn’t captured… So unless you are a gemstone enthusiast, such names won’t ring a bell. Heck, if you love gemstones, I’m sure you’ll find the mid-intermission eye catch screen a little informative as it lists a few details of some of the gems like its category, formula, crystal system and Mohs scale. Yikes. Too technical for me. Not going to bother.

Ventricosus and Aculeatus are perhaps the only original organic living organisms on this planet. They are another bunch of interesting characters with their own ulterior motive but sadly after the end of Phos’ kidnapping, they have gone to parts unknown and are mostly forgotten. It gives the possibility of other living creatures in the depths of the ocean. Because from what I can see, the island is just a pretty small place. The ocean is vast an endless and there might be other islands and countries with other lifeforms out there. You may never know. There might be another island filled with other gemstone ladies living their life in this similar fashion.

The obvious factor which catches your attention at first is the visuals. It is entirely done using CGI. This isn’t the first anime using such animation style as it was previously done in Sidonia No Kishi and Ajin. Though I didn’t see both those titles thus this series is considered my first. It won’t be the same high level quality as Pixar or Disney but it is pretty decent. After all, at this age of modern computer technology, there is no excuse for putting up crappy CGI effects. Also, when you have characters in the form of gemstones, CGI sounds like the best option to make them shine and have those shiny effects. The animation might look a bit odd especially the movement of the characters but keep in mind that the characters aren’t really humans themselves. They are more like the shinier versions of golems. One of the mind boggling ones is the hair of the characters. Sure, they are made out of the same gemstone material but yet they wave in the wind like as though they are soft like real hair? Doesn’t make sense. But still, the overall feel of the animation is smooth and fluid enough that only nit-pickers would see faults in them. Otherwise newbies may be awed and casual viewers like me won’t really bother going into the high specs of the quality.

One thing I would like to note about the designs of the Lunarians. It looks like their designs are mainly taken after deities or gods of the eastern culture especially of the Buddhism and Hinduism side. Seeing that I come from such cultures, hence the looks of those Lunarians sometimes looks a bit scary to me. I guess back when I was a child, you get scared and traumatized for life after hearing ghost stories from your grandmother. Even more so when you visit such temples that often houses such deities and statues everywhere so as a kid it could be quite creepy. It gets even creepier when the BGM when they appear is played. Oh, those traditional bells really do give me the creeps still even if they aren’t that scary in the first place.

Action wise, it is pretty decent. After all, when you’re bored with all the drama and the shenanigans of Phos, the fights with the Lunarians are pretty okay. Thanks to the fluid animations and some of the camera angles, it makes the fights a little more enjoyable. You get to see the girls slicing the Lunarians in half and it is like the former is on some semi-god mode on because even if they sustain heavy damage, they can’t really die unless you have every piece of you taken away and not pieced back together. Phos having new powers and being a gemstone version of Mr Fantastic (stretchable limbs thanks to her gold alloy), it is fun to see what kind of creative ways she’ll fight the enemy.

There are quite a number of veteran seiyuus lending their talents here. The most notable ones I recognized are Jouji Nakata as Kongou, Saori Hayami as Goshe, Mikako Komatsu as Cinnabar, Rie Kugimiya as Alex, Chiwa Saito as Ventricosus and of course to my utter delight who else but Mamiko Noto as Euclase. Ayane Sakura was unrecognizable as Bort since she was doing her angry low voice instead of that stereotyped bratty high pitched voice that I am so used to. At first I thought Satomi Satou was behind Dia but was actually Ai Kayano (Inori in Guilty Crown). Tomoyo Kurosawa did quite a versatile job as Phos from her naughty and carefree days into someone who is serious with bits of sarcasm. If her character sounds all too familiar somewhere because Kumiko from Hibike! Euphonium also sounded somewhat in this fashion. Just without all the initial hype.

The other casts are Yumi Uchiyama as Rutile (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Ayahi Takagi as Jade (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear), Kanae Itou as Amethyst (Sanae in Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Maaya Uchida as Beryl (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Mariya Ise as Antarcticite (Levi in Fairy Tail), Junko Minagawa as Yellow (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis), Mutsumi Tamura as Morganite (Sonya in Kill Me Baby), Romi Paku as Padparadscha (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist) and Yuko Sanpei as Aculeatus (Sasha in Seikon No Qwaser).

Personally, I find the opening theme, Kyoumen No Nami by Yurika to be a little weird. Maybe it is the little effects of the song. Plus, when you have the animation in CGI style, all those gemstones floating about in the screen sometimes it feels a bit trippy. The kaleidoscope of gems… But it is not as weird as the ending theme, Kirameku Hamabe by Yuiko Oohara. Is it me or does the singer is singing in such a way that makes the song sound flat? Also, it sounds like she is trying to hold her note a little longer than it should, hence it sounds like she is trying to sing her lines without resting and in a continuous seamless manner. I don’t know, I just feel that way. The special ending for episode 8, Liquescimus by Tomoyo Kurosawa is quite a sad piece as it is very fitting for the demise of Antarcticite. There is one BGM that attracted my attention and also ‘scares’ me a little. The one that uses the traditional Chinese string instrument like the erhu. It is calming and different to hear a piece that is Chinese-like but at the time sending a little shiver down my spine because this is the kind of song back in my younger days I heard watching some sad Chinese period soap drama.

Overall, this series is visually beautiful and stylish in terms of CGI. The plot and story might not be sufficient for this season and some might feel it leaves a lot more to be desired. Like yours truly. Perhaps the slow and careful build-up of the characters and outline this season might leave some unsatisfied and some yearning for another season. But I suppose it is better than rushing and squeezing everything into a dozen episodes and ruin the overall sentiments. After all, if you want to do this series, better do it right from the start. I believe the cost in using CGI for this series must be costing an arm and a leg. Figuratively speaking. They’ve put in so much effort to make this series so it would be a blow if it was severely underrated. I mean, people love shiny things, right? Like gamers love that pseudo-gambling loot boxes thingy, right? Guys love their shiny new sports car, right? The age-old idiom of diamonds are a girl’s best friend still rings true, right? After all, do you not see how happy a woman’s face lights up when you give her something shiny like a diamond ring? Oh wait. Somebody has to fork out the money… Sometimes all that glitter is not gold…

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