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Houseki no Kuni – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「鏡面の波」 (Kyoumen no Nami) by YURIKA

「フォスフォフィライト」 (Fosufofiraito)
“Phosphophyllite”
Initial Expectations

Houseki no Kuni is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans seem to no longer exist. A small number of humanoid jewel creatures take their stead, exhibiting high durability as well as a lifespan that can technically be considered immortal. However, they risk being spirited away by Lunarians, creatures of the moon who systematically hunt them down. To begin with, I went and read the first chapter of Houseki no Kuni, to see what all the fuss was about. In spite of the high praise it has garnered, I failed to see anything special. As a result, I went into the series with some rather low expectations.

General Impressions

The youngest out of their brethren, Phosphophyllite (Kurasawa Tomoyo), or Phos for short, is our precocious protagonist. Weak in constitution, but keen to find a purpose in life, fate assigns them a quest for knowledge – the role of compiling an encyclopaedia. Despite the importance of such a task, it’s easy to see why Phos is not satisfied – everyone else gets to fight and kick ass. Not to mention, a free-spirited individual would find it difficult to do such a repetitive and mundane task. However, even fighting is not all fun and games, since lives are being put on the line. A risk entailed is the danger of being incapacitated by the Lunarians, and taken away to the moon. No one knows what truly happens to the victims, but anyone can guess it can’t be nice. After being saved by Cinnabar (Komatsu Mikako) from a Lunarian attack, Phos receives new inspiration and conviction. In addition to faithfully carrying out Encyclopaedic duties, Phos has a new goal of helping Cinnabar find a better life.

We can see that these beings are prone to feeling extreme emotions, in the way one would expect from humans. Cinnabar despairs at unconsciously harming nearby creatures through naturally secreted poison, and is forced into solitude for the sake of everybody else. As a result, Cinnabar actively seeks death by the hands of Lunarians, and it’s so sad to see how this is the culmination of their suffering. Consequently, the weight of these raw emotions feel so human, that I can’t help but sympathise with Cinnabar.

However, there comes a point of disassociation. These characters look like humans and experience emotions on the same spectrum, except anything in relation to the concept of physical pain. They don’t fear situations that a rational human would – getting crushed and grounded up. If they did experience that pain, then they would exhibit some form of reluctance or trauma, as opposed to confronting the Lunarians with reckless abandon. Instead, we can see that they lack a sense of self-preservation, which for me throws their sense of humanity into question. I would eve go as far as saying that they are incomplete beings. It’s hard to relate with creatures that struggle to see the value of their own life, because that then begs the question, what is the meaning of their existence? It may be a Land of the Lustrous, denoting how gems are shiny on surface value. But there’s much to be discovered about what’s on the inside.

Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately, Houseki no Kuni clashes with a show that I want to devote all my spare attention and energy towards. I have never been a fan of shows that predominantly depend upon CGI, and Houseki no Kuni hasn’t changed my mind. However, I’d be lying if I claimed the episode was devoid of beauty. Not only was the art gorgeous, but the soundtrack also brought some heavy atmosphere to the table. When the sunspot appeared, and the Lunarians descended upon Morganite (Tamura Mutsumi) and Goshe (Hayami Saori), you could really feel how tense the situation was.

While I won’t be picking it up for coverage, I will be keeping tabs on how the anime progresses. In particular, I really want to see if Phos can succeed in saving Cinnabar from leading such a tragic existence. Anyway, I’ll be darned. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong about my initial expectations. After finishing the episode, I went straight back to the manga, and voraciously marathoned everything down to the latest chapter. I can finally see what all the hype was about, considering how the story only gets better and better. For those who are currently enjoying the manga To You, The Immortal, expect a similar spiritual journey of self-discovery driven by character interactions, full of philosophical questions and deeply rooted mysteries about how the world came to be this way.

Preview

End Card

P.S. – Despite their feminine appearance, the manga seems to suggest that all the characters are non-binary. As such, I request that people use names or gender neutral pronouns at their discretion in the comment section below.

October 9, 2017 at 10:01 am
45 comments »
  • October 9, 2017 at 10:27 amPanino Manino

    “As such, I request that people use names or gender neutral pronouns at their discretion in the comment section below.”
    This discussion should be irrelevant.
    If there are no genres, as a “fan”, each one is the genre I wish they be.
    Love express itself in different ways.

    About reading the manga…
    This episode was so cool that I made the decision to stay away from it.

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:19 pmZaiden

      I did say ‘At your discretion’, so it’s entirely your choice whether to comply or not. Mainly brought it up, because I have a close friend irl who identifies as non-binary.

      What else can I say? I asked politely, and tried to make it as much of a non-issue as possible.

      • October 9, 2017 at 5:00 pmA noun

        To be honest they are not humans. Also it does not look like they reproduce at all, and aside from sensei, they might be all the same… “gender” or whatever people want to call it, but does it matter at all in this case?
        P.S. The only way to make it a non-issue those days is to not bring it up at all.

      • October 9, 2017 at 5:22 pmZaiden

        I felt that it did matter because I assumed their gender at first, and reckoned that way of thinking was wrong after giving the manga a read. Also, I imagine there’s a non-binary segment within the community that reads my writing, and this is one of my ways to say that I value their readership.

        If you really want to use a gender specific pronoun, I think ‘he’ is closer to describing them judging by pronouns used in the manga, contrary to their feminine appearances.

      • October 9, 2017 at 8:55 pmPanino Manino

        I heard that the author prefers to use masculine pronouns, thus this should be the way preferred?
        But, they have no gender, and I don’t read the manga nor speak moonrunes, so I don’t think this should be a problem. I kinda understand your concern, with you friend also, but he/she isn’t a character in this anime. If these characters don’t fall in one category or another and if they don’t explicitly say they prefer to be addressed in a specific way, everyone will see them differently in their own eyes. So why bother?
        I don’t want to fight (and see others fight) about this, as one of the things I interested in seeing is how this androgeny actually plays in the story and interactions (if this ends to be relevant at all).

      • October 11, 2017 at 7:52 pmAlice

        You’re making it an issue by making it an issue. I don’t come to RandomC for politics, and I find it incredibly tacky to bring this up in this manner.

    • October 13, 2017 at 9:41 amCHYRA HARRELL

      Actually this comment is for Alice. I think that it is fair to use the pronouns the author intended and based on them being non binary it is fine to do so. I am sorry that you feel that being respectful to the feelings of others can be considered tacky. Calling someone by a preferred name is not “political” it is done out of respect. Discussing the validity of what they are would be political. One can discuss how the politics plays within this world and also with the author without choosing sides. But moving right along when I heard about the show

      • October 22, 2017 at 2:21 pmZL

        “Calling someone by a preferred name is not “political” it is done out of respect.”

        What has said person done to earn my respect? Exactly… (and don’t confuse respect with courtesy)

        The whole thing is a political issue. You shouldn’t down play it.

  • October 9, 2017 at 10:31 amzztop

    I’m looking forward to Diamond’s intro, if only so I can imagine Diamonds are Forever (ie. old James Bond) as their theme song.
    m.youtube.com/watch?v=QFSAWiTJsjc

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:21 pmZaiden

      I also can’t wait for Diamond’s intro! But most of all, I can’t wait for Antarc to show up.

  • October 9, 2017 at 10:54 amEnan84

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:53 pmZaiden

      that grass

      • October 9, 2017 at 4:16 pmAlhazred23

        I’d say something about it being always greener on the other side, especially in the case of Cinnabar and Phosphophyllite (since it actually is green), but if they try to follow the manga art at all i think Bortz is probably going to be our go-to character on this front… or rear, or whatever.

  • October 9, 2017 at 10:58 amEnan84

    http://randomc.net/image/Houseki%20no%20Kuni/Houseki%20no%20Kuni%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2007.jpg

    Quite symbolic scene. After being damaged the Lunarians obtain the ability to overcome the resistance of the gems.

  • October 9, 2017 at 11:20 amWorldwidedepp

    I dunno.. an Anime Version of something similar to Nier: Automata?

  • October 9, 2017 at 12:06 pmAizen

    “I request that people use names or gender neutral pronouns at their discretion in the comment section below.”

    Names is good, but you want us to address them all by “it”? OK…

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:55 pmZaiden

      They/Their/Them/etc. I would prefer it, but you don’t have to follow on. But I mean, since they’re all made of gems, can they even have a gender anyway?

      • October 12, 2017 at 7:51 amDas Waltzerchen

        since they’re all made of gems, can they even have a gender anyway?

        I think what you mean is that there is nothing to pinpoint as a clear sex indicator. but judging by their appearance, behaviour and voices they fulfil the social criteria of a female gender

  • October 9, 2017 at 12:43 pmTarragonthedragon

    Yas for raising awareness of gender neutral pronouns.xx

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:56 pmZaiden

      No problem, the pleasure is mine :)

  • October 9, 2017 at 12:51 pmqwert

    This seems like the kind of show that was made for the current level of CG animation. These characters are supposed to be humanoid but not human, so that uncanny valley feeling that you see in other CG shows like Sidonia or Ajin doesn’t really kick in on a subconscious level or something.

    • October 9, 2017 at 1:08 pmWorldwidedepp

      They are just this Wood Doll figure for the Animators

      Also an way to keep the budget low

      • October 9, 2017 at 1:10 pmEnan84

        A way to shift the budget to the grass.

      • October 9, 2017 at 1:16 pmWorldwidedepp

        also these “moon” folk..

        Princess Kaguya leftovers?

  • October 9, 2017 at 3:03 pmornehx

    Am I the only one who feels a strong presence of Buddhism and Taoism.
    The Lunarian troop leader look very much like Kuan Yin. And furthermore when she/he/it was cut, it looks like a lotus root, which I think references to Nezha, who was born/made from a lotus root.

    Other that than, the animation and art too a bit of getting used, but beyond that it was just pure beauty.

    • October 9, 2017 at 4:46 pmZaiden

      You definitely aren’t the only one. Not only the Lunarians, the mysterious monk looks like a priest of sorts.

      It ties into why I referred to it as something that would follow a spiritual trajectory within my conclusion. After all, religion and spiritualism are somewhat related.

      Anyway, yeah. I’m still not used to the CGI, but am definitely enjoying what I’m seeing.

  • October 9, 2017 at 4:08 pmNaweGR

    SO… Steven Universe the anime, eh?

  • October 9, 2017 at 4:53 pmpancake

    avoid reader of your posts though don’t usually comment, however wanted to say thanks for the spreading of awareness of nb pronouns.

    • October 9, 2017 at 5:18 pmZaiden

      No problem. Really don’t get why some people are totally against the idea of using gender neutral pronouns, since people aren’t getting hurt by it.

      Not to mention a lack of gender is technically correct, considering these are humanoid gem constructs that don’t reproduce.

      • October 12, 2017 at 7:42 amsmish

        It’s all to do with the multi-gender vs two-gender “discussion”. It’s a very touchy subject and even toeing the line of not 100% agreeing with either side can make you receive scorn from both. People on the two genders side of the argument believe that gender-neutral language shouldn’t be a thing because people should conform to the standardised world view and pick a side. It’s so heated that even fictional characters which look a bit feminine are dragged into it.

        IMO ignore anyone who says that you shouldn’t allow those views here. In the majority of cases they are not like that because they are hateful at heart it’s all to do with how we were taught at school and by our families.

        If they don’t like that you in particular have a view then try your best to ignore them it’s a small tagline at the bottom of the review it didn’t factor into the review it was just there for consideration.

  • October 10, 2017 at 4:25 amFirenWithLime

    Imagine the gender fluidity lunatics jumping on something entirely fictional to defend their mental disorder.

  • October 11, 2017 at 2:56 amVelvet Scarlantina

    Finally got round to watching this and yes I’ll be watching this till the end.

    http://randomc.net/image/Houseki%20no%20Kuni/Houseki%20no%20Kuni%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2038.jpg
    http://randomc.net/image/Houseki%20no%20Kuni/Houseki%20no%20Kuni%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2037.jpg
    Phosphate is cute and bubbly but Mercury is more lovable. I had a feeling that Cinnabar is a mercury based, mercury(II) sulfide to be exact aka HgS, crystal. I’m not sure about the rest but I pretty much deduced that Cinnabar was Mercury based when the other characters mentioned that she had silvery liquid emanating from her. Not to worry HgS, there is a use for HgS, mostly for refining elemental mercury

    http://randomc.net/image/Houseki%20no%20Kuni/Houseki%20no%20Kuni%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2026.jpg
    That’s some serious mercury poisoning symptom there

    Anyway,

    Rutile is titanium oxide TiO2
    Goshenite and Morganite are beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate Be3Al2(SiO3)6. The former’s colourless while the latter rose tinted

    • October 11, 2017 at 2:57 amZaiden

      Watch out! We’ve got a mad scientist in the house.

  • October 11, 2017 at 2:58 amVelvet Scarlantina

    P.S. – Despite their feminine appearance, the manga seems to suggest that all the characters are non-binary. As such, I request that people use names or gender neutral pronouns at their discretion in the comment section below.

    I refuse. We should use their chemical formula to refer to them!

    • October 11, 2017 at 2:59 amZaiden

      Chemical formula are for the most part. gender neutral, so I’m cool with that :P

  • October 11, 2017 at 6:17 amKaineng

    Well if Zaiden has read ahead on the manga and it’s getting better, I’m glad I picked up this show.

    If it’s a mystery to how this world came to be about, I’d like to guess, but I want the show to tell me. That’s why I’m going to watch this. The animation is beautiful given 3DCG, I must say. Some Passerby here convinced me that this level of animation will work, so I’m here.

    (Also, I’m going to enjoy the cast. I immediately recognised Kayanon as Dia and it’ll be the first time listening to Mikakoshi on an action show. The last time I rejected Taboo Tattoo. Sorry to the fans lol)

  • October 22, 2017 at 3:44 amRedjuice Fan

    I am disappointed that no one is covering this anime. I havent been watching a lot of anime lately and this is so far the only one i watch this season (theres another I wanted to watch but havent get to it). This has to potential to be best of the season, and it is within top 10 of my favourite anime of all time, and I am super picky with that.

    I skimmed through the manga and it goes to crazy stuff, and already want to see more of it being animated.

  • October 28, 2017 at 3:09 pmWorldwidedepp

    Ep 04:

    I try to get into this Anime.

    It has good animations, flow if motions is also okay. Expresions is also okay

    but…
    They move and behave like these Wood Dolls that some Animators have on their desk.

    the CGI is good, well nearly the entire Anime is made out of CGI. So there are not uncandy valley effect

    But… Well… the World is to “vast and empty”, its surly to save Budget, but it also show us an cold world. Sure, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is nearly the same setting. But the main focus is their bonding and interaction. i dont find now the right words. but Houseki no Kuni world and Lifeforms are cold. Even if Diamond and the others show Human expressions

    It do not light my flame. i am so sorry.

    • October 28, 2017 at 3:16 pmWorldwidedepp

      Humans are made of Bones and muscles, if the Jump you see how the mucles get a bit bigger to build up the energy to Jump. And the landing is the opposite effect, the mucles get bigger to dampen the landing shock for not breaking their Bones

      but here, they Jump with their “tiny body” without any visual feedback…

      Thats is perhaps my base definition of them behaving like “Wooden Dolls”. my Eye tell my subconsciousness they are fake or not real… Sorry

      I hope i could now find the right words to explain it a bit

      • October 30, 2017 at 11:37 pmelior1

        what do you think about the explaining about the 3 races? i pretty much understood most of it but there was few bits which were a little hard to understend

    • November 4, 2017 at 3:29 amRedjuice Fan

      They are gems, not bone and muscle. Think of wood dolls with a soul embeded in them. Episode 1 already showed them what they are and one of them already explained why they are able to move. Your basis of what you don’t like is basically what make this show special, so if it doesn’t tickle your interest then it’s ok. It gets crazy good later in the story though, as I just blast through the manga til the latest chapter.

  • December 2, 2017 at 1:55 pmWorldwidedepp

    Ep 09:

    A little spar out of curiosity from Episode 08, turned into more bigger thing, and now i am watching it, too

    Gome-ne for being that late. But your “magic” with the expressing emotions trough the face and Body talk has gone way better

    See, what made the CGI Figures in “Show by Rock” cute? They do not have an nose, no mouth. But you still get the Kawaii vibes? …It’s their movement of their eyes and “body talk”

    Welcome on my watch list. i swear i will marathon the previous episodes, when i have more time at hand

    Houseki no Kuni is an late bloomer for me

    • December 2, 2017 at 2:27 pmWorldwidedepp

      Ep 01:

      I began to marathon it from the start.

      Well the running animations in the fight, have wood doll vibes for me. But the other scenes are okay

      I am sorry, for being late. Now let us enjoy the “show” together

  • December 2, 2017 at 5:03 pmWorldwidedepp

    Yes, after Marathon it from beginning, i began to see what this is all about

    it is an Spirituel Trip.. in some Episode an “Mermaid” said the 3 points that define this Anime

    Flesh, Bones and Soul

    This is some kind of afterworld or after life.. Well not really, because seems like Sensei is Human… no. Sensei is even someone that even Lunaries would jump into the bed with him…

    i also have my speculation and conclusion about Sensei’s role and place in this world…

    The jokes are very good, “stand up joke” also flawless. Yes the Seiyuu here are on the “The Girl that leap through time” level. Very Good

    But seriously Phos is really an bad luck magnet or some sort of “cat mint” for the Lunaries

    my recommendation:

    - you loved the Voice acting in “the Girl that leap through time!”? Then this Anime is for you
    - you have an gist for spirituel things, then this could be your game…
    - Phobs get slowly upgraded with other parts on her Body, but on cost of memories.. like some “Claire” of Claymore… Well only the “spare parts” idea
    - with the introduction of the King and their “jellyfish best part” was funny, they took themselves not very serious :)
    - why did i not found this here earlier? Well while running and and in fast action scenes, the movements still not “fluid” enough for left Uncanny veal. But they get better..
    - nice move to send the others into hibernation, so their seiyuu Budget also got put on Ice :) Nice idea
    - i am rooting for Phos, since i catch up with the present

    Well, this are my thoughts out of my mind

    Ad again. I am sorry, for not found you earlier. But this is an “Spirit tour” kind of Anime, even if its well hidden

    conclusion:
    If you have a hole in your Time slot, and want something funny “jokes” but a bit serious touch, and do not be afraid of Spirituel trips, then this could be for you

    • December 4, 2017 at 2:49 pmWorldwidedepp

      Notice:

      I began to search in Wikipedia about their Names to get an gist in how Cinna could be “saved”.

      See what this Anime has done to me? :)

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