In the distant future, microscopic organisms have left the planet desolate and given way to a new life form: Houseki. However, all is not peaceful. The 28 Houseki must fight against the Moon Dwellers, beings who attack them without discrimination and use their shattered bodies as decorations. For this reason, each Houseki is assigned a role, whether it be a fighter or a medic. Phosphophyllite, or Phos, is the youngest of their kin, and has not been given an assignment due to a lack of skill. Everything changes when Kongou, the leader of the Houseki, assigns Phos the task of creating an encyclopedia of natural history.
Source: Sentai Filmworks
*spoiler-free review* Expensive ornament people battle cotton balls The immediate thought when you see CG animation on the tags of an upcoming anime is "UGH, goddammit, once again a studio cheaps out and goes to the cheapest form of animation that will undoubtably look terrible and be full of inconsistancies." I'm not going to say that's a wrong thought to have, but Houseki no Kuni must have been the boy who, growing up secretly CG, heard what all the cool kids say about the CG kids and drempt of being the best CG anime ever to prove them wrong. And it is. And it does. Eventually you have to realize that this works in CG just because of its style, you can't come across that sparkly feeling as well with traditional animation and Houseki no Kuni has more sparkles than a goddamn glitter convention at a pride rally. The hair is phenominal. Each main character in this anime is themed around a certain gemstone, that's the whole thing, and their hair is made out of the pure stuff and it looks goddamn great. Of course just because the art is good doesn't mean the animation itself is good right? It's probably choppy, bland, and terribly shot? No. It's not. It's great. Shocking once again, Houseki no Kuni goes above and beyond to create fantastic action sequences in CG unmatched by any of its kind, collecting style points as it goes. There are times where it looks better than several traditional animated sequences i've seen, even. The use of color is so fantastic sometimes the shots look straight out of a professional's canvas. Of course that isn't to say the animation is as solid as the skin of its characters. It's definitely a step in the right direction in terms of how CG can work when implimented well, but sometimes it just looks so awkward it's hard to shrug off, which is a typical CG problem. It doesn't just do CG well, it does it right where all others have failed- but it still has similar, albeit smaller shortcomings. The world it takes place in is unique and complex, constantly being explored, even if it does seem a bit bland on the surface like the characters do. All the characters look very similar besides their eyes and hair, which isn't a problem for most people but it's definitely a pet peeve of mine. They also act a lot alike and none of them aren't particularly likeable until quite a ways into the series when actual character development and growth happens. And when it does happen, oh boy does it happen. Main Character Phos has some of the best character progression and development I've seen in a while; it's incredibly entertaining, sad, and mesmerising to watch. A few other characters are pretty good too but not nearly as good as her. Some of them are pretty poor comparatively. The story is decent, but I wouldn't say it's amazing. The execution of the visual style really works during action sequences and plenty of eyecandy value, but sometimes it makes the pacing seem awkward just due to the storyboarding, affecting the story itself. Not too much as it is still pretty good. Besides the animation and characterizations being the most surprising aspect, the sound is the strongest, constantly running perfectly parallel to what's happening and always feeling appropriate. The theme song is so fitting it's magical. Overall Houseki no Kuni proves CG anime can be good all while establishing itself as one of the most unique anime experiences of the year, despite its shortcomings.
This indeed is an eye-catching anime among the others. Anime fully animated by CG?! Yes. And it does its job well unlike other shitty CG animations. Not only the animation, but the story, characters and the VAs are top notch. This really is a "gem" ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) among the ocean of anime ( Oh god the puns....) And this definitely is my anime of the year 2017 and here's why. Story (9/10)The story setting itself was intriguing. People made of gems? No humans? and there is a lot more. It was just done brilliantly. Your brain will be constantly on the work decrypting the possible paths the story can go and how interesting it would be if it did. And believe me, the story won't fail to amaze you. The first episode will keep you hooked till the last. Every episodes ends in a cliffhanger teasing you to watch the next episode. And the cliffhanger won't be disappointing you in the next episode, since they really matter and bring a lot of change to the story. In overall, the story part was really great and well done. Animation (10/10)Now lets see.... CG animation is not very welcome in the anime world. But some anime has tried and have taken the risk, which mostly ends up in a failure (Talking about berserk here, and any other shitty CGs). It's mostly because that the CG animation was unnecessary for those kind of anime, or else the moments were too stiff and weird for the standard 2D anime audience. But Land of the lustrous has brilliantly used the CG animation for themselves. Taking up the CG animation, in my opinion, a good choice for this anime. It's because a lot of things in this anime cannot be animated normally by 2D animation. There are too much refractions of light in the characters hair (Especially Dia, just wow her hair is awesome) ( and there is Sensi..... One last man). Also, not only the fight scenes, every normal moment is precise and smooth to the extreme. The cameras are angled in such a way that they can cover everything around the scene and not miss even the slightest detail. Not only the necessary characters in the frame, but even the ones not focused for the scene are animated smoothly (they just dont stand there, they move) and this will keep you entertained and not get you bored of the scenes. There is always something to notice, whether it be Dia acting cute or some crucial element related to the story. And the camera moments are just wow... Done to the point that you feel you are actually playing a game on 120 fps. Even the grass is animated beautifully, you can never see such an awesome grass animation in any other anime. The backgrounds are hand drawn, but in such a way that they would suit the CG animation and won't feel out of the place. They were beautifully combined like an alloy ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).There are more to talk about animation and I can go on and go on. There are no mistakes in the animation, and i feel that it was a right choice made by them by choosing CG. TL;DR : you wont be disappointed from the CG of this anime. Sound (8/10)Just like the story and the animation, they did an excellent job on this part too. The BGMs really matched the scenes and the overall settings of the anime. They are sometimes calm when they need to be, humorous, and heart throbbing when they need to be (during the fights). The VAs did an excellent job, and their voices really matched the characters and their personalities. Heck, the way the characters speaks (talking about their tone) changes as some of them go under drastic changes. It was just, great. Characters (8/10)Every characters are unique and always interesting in some point. Some are funny , some are calm and they all have unique characteristics (or should i say, chemical properties?) which can be fun to know about. Some characters also undergo drastic changes which keeps the story on the pace. The characters were really memorable, cute and adorable. (Hugging them would be "hard" ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ). Overall (8.8/10)I would highly suggest you give this a try. If you like something interesting, if you are familiar with CG animation and if you like chemistry of minerals, then you should give this a try. Even if you hate CGs, just give this a try, this is CG animation taken to a whole new level. Everyone should try this anime! You might like it you know! This will really "reflect" on you ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°). I just love the community made puns, they really make me "crack" into laughter ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) .
CG animation gets a bad rap from the anime community as a whole, which I wouldn't regard as wholly unfair. While computer-generated visuals aren't in and of themselves objectionable, the way in which they're implemented often leaves a lot to be desired; shows such as last year's Kado: the Right Answer and Inuyashiki have both suffered from an inconsistent application of CG that undermined their own art directions, while Blame! (another release from last year) had pretty accomplished visual design that was somewhat bogged down by a choppy frame rate. Happily, the best thing that can be said for Land of the Lustrous (which actually won a Crunchyroll award for its CGI) is that it's well-animated and visually interesting. For the record, the show as a whole is fairly interesting, especially when it comes to premise. LotL is set in a future wherein microorganisms have dictated the evolution of the planet, and one of the dominant life-forms (though a life form which, ironically, is as good as immortal) is a race of gemstone people animated and afforded a personality by the very microorganisms that live within their crystalline matter. The protagonist of the show is Phos, or Phosphophyllite (I'll go with the short-hand), the youngest of the 28 beings who aren't currently being used as decorations or war weapons by their only enemies, the Lunarians or Moon Dwellers (depending on translation). Phos, not being suited to fighting due to their comparatively fragile composition, is tasked by the leader of the Houseki with composing an encyclopedia of natural history, but in trying to find new and interesting entries for this document they end up meeting a fellow Houseki, Cinnabar, who is isolated from the rest due to their constantly and automatically secreting poison which has a destructive effect on the world around them. Phos, empathising with Cinnabar, promises to find them a new job which is better than the night watch. And then the series forgets about this overarching story thread for the next 12 episodes. Okay, 'forgets' is probably unfair; Cinnabar and Phos' promise do come up again every few episodes but Cinnabar doesn't get a whole lot of development as a character, never progresses far beyond a basic tsundere archetype but with pretty poison satellites, and the season spends considerably more time charting Phos' independent growth separate from Cinnabar's. LotL covers a lot of ground and introduces many different characters, with different traits and roles among the Houseki, but after a second episode entitled 'Diamond' which seems to suggest a 'one gem per episode' focal structure, the show begins branching out into more overarching plots about personal responsibility and the fate of what was once humanity. Essentially, LotL dips its hands into many honey pots which, because they tend to be briefly interesting when tasted by the audience, leave you all the hungrier when one of the characters you've been introduced to disappears (bar cameos) for five episodes, or when an entire race of preternatural beings gets introduced as world-building but then vanishes. The outcome of all this is that the season's ending establishes basically nothing, multiple plot threads and character arcs are left dangling, and the whole affair seems like sequel-baiting which, given how many promising franchises don't get sequels, strikes me as tempting fate. Even Phos' character development, while existent and, again interesting, is a mixed bag with the character losing some of their adorkable appeal and individual characteristics in favour of a somewhat more drab competence. Phos is still likeable and I did enjoy most of the character interactions (the show has fantastic voice acting and comedic timing which makes you a lot more attached to individuals than the show has any right to) but a lot of their introductions felt fly-by and I'd probably have preferred a little bit more development for the main ones (Diamond, Bort, Jade, etc.) rather than some of the turns that this franchise makes. It's also worth pointing out that while the show does some very interesting things with gender, the use of pronouns is sometimes very inconsistent in the sub that I watched and can often undermine the concept of genderless beings, i.e. characters are inexplicably referred to as 'he' one minute and 'she' the next, or nominated as sisters or brothers for no given reason. Maybe this is some kind of comment on the performativity of gender but, again, this is interesting but inconsistently applied if so. Again, visually speaking, LotL is striking and perfectly in tune with its subject matter; the aesthetic fits the tone and the CG, rather than feeling stop-gap like in other franchises, accentuates the beauty and ethereal otherness of the Houseki. The Lunarians are a perfect mix of celestial grace and a kind of unspeakable threat; their silence and the music that always accompanies them give a definite sense of otherworldliness, and the marrying of rorschach-style imagery with Indian religious iconography actually works bizarrely well as a visual concept. Just watching some of the run animations and sweeping winter scenes almost justifies the (metaphorical) price of entry alone. Tl;DR Land of the Lustrous is a show that I regret not having seen in 2017, because I can tell why some people have chosen to nominate it was one of the year's best. That said, I do think that it has too many flaws insofar as the construction of themes and storylines to be truly great, as opposed to just good, and I'll reiterate that the most prevalent comment coming out of this will most likely be "... well, the ending sucked, but at last it was pretty". If there's a second season then I'll watch it. I'd encourage you to do the same.
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