Land of the Lustrous (Hōseki no Kuni)

Land of the Lustrous (Hōseki no Kuni) 2017

Land of the Lustrous seems to be cited fairly often as a show that can change minds when it comes to anime and CGI.

I guess I’m fairly hard on CGI that I feel isn’t integrated all that well with trad techniques in the anime world, but I wouldn’t consider myself as the sort that would instantly dismiss a text due to its use of CGI either.

All of which is to say that I didn’t need convincing 🙂

The blend is great and so visually Land of the Lustrous is beautiful – the colours are vibrant and the ‘shatter’ effect is heaps of fun. Having comparatively less detailed backgrounds and settings really added to the contrast too, from the grass, to the sea and the snow. I felt bad kinda looking forward to how (visually at least) each stroke of misfortune might end up looking for the characters.

Others have said more interesting things about the visuals than I have and I doubt I’ll add anything ground-breaking about the story or characters either, but while the anime features lots of action-sequences, Land of the Lustrous is definitely character-driven.

Everything revolves around Phos and her struggle to find purpose. Many of the disasters that strike her community (generally a cyclical war between three cultures) come from her failures, choices and desire to do what’s right.

Creator Haruko Ichikawa has also given Phos plenty of great lines when it comes to injecting the comedic element, which definitely kept me smiling.

There’s also clear development for our lead character too – actually, let me pause for a sec. I’ve said ‘her’ before but in fact, Ichikawa describes the gems as being genderless and suggested as much to the translator for the English release, so it’s they for Phos and co, and maybe sometimes in the original some masculine pronouns are used too – but my Japanese is non-existent, really, so I can’t be sure.

If you like a mystery woven in around an interesting and (for now?) narrow setting, then Land of the Lustrous should also satisfy on that level. I don’t want to go into too much detail now, due to my usual fear of spoilers, but I’m keen for a second season so I can learn more!

And not just about the main storyline and the history of the gems, or the master’s connection with the invading Lunarians, but also folks like Padparadscha who I hope has a main role in the future.

Not sure whether Orange have more Land of the Lustrous on their plate for the near future, but I’m definitely keeping an eye out.

5 Stars

Cool hair – so much of anime is about hair, I think.
I guess (visually at least) ‘LotL’ has some fanservice re: costume and framing, but it’s not really the focus overall.

Dimension W (Dimenshon Daburyū)

Dimension W (Dimenshon Daburyū) 2016

Dimension W only just finished its run as a manga late last month, so I thought I’d do a review on the anime today, which I really enjoyed except for two aspects – but more on those two issues below.

If you’ve read any of my short reviews here, you’ll know I don’t often bother with a plot summary (as they’re available elsewhere) and maybe that’s lazy of me… so in honour of not being lazy this time… I’ll copy one from wiki 😀

“Dimension W” follows an auto mechanic hobbyist named Kyouma Mabuchi and a robot girl named Mira Yurizaki, both of whom are “Collectors”, bounty hunters tasked with confiscating illegal Coils, dangerous devices which can harness the power of another dimension.

So with that out of the way, what did I like about this anime?

Lots, basically.

In many ways the series is a great action/technology-based science-fiction show that follows the classic narrative structure of slowly escalating stakes and tension, intercut with character back-story. And it definitely did those things well enough for me to enjoy it, especially the pacing of some of the central mysteries and how characters were actually connected.

But what I found just as engaging were other elements the series incorporated – there were obvious critiques of society’s celebrity-worship via supporting character ‘Loser’ and his storyline, metaphysical elements (these seemed a bit shaky, perhaps) and also some horror aspects, especially with the gothic-influence of episodes set in the ‘haunted’ hotel.

Now, I’m painting a bit of a disparate picture here perhaps, but Dimension W is more cohesive than it sounds, though it does miss a few opportunities to explore the main casts’ relationship, especially the curt and troubled Kyouma and his ‘side-kick’ Mira.

This is one bit that, considering plot points that are later revealed and which I won’t spoil, I would have liked to see more of. (That’s not to say any development between them is absent, just that more would have been welcome).

Okay, so on to the two elements that didn’t gel for me – first, a few moments that went beyond ‘fan-service’ and directly to ‘gratuitous’ and it just didn’t fit. This isn’t to claim all fan-service is terrible but yeah, this time it didn’t work, I reckon. The other aspect is more important as a flaw, if you’ve ever heard the phrase “a hero is only as good as the villain” then sadly, it fits Dimension W fairly well.

However, the show still has a satisfying finish, partly because by the end you’re given those final few secrets and some loose ends are wrapped up.

Knowing this series was based on a long running manga, I’m sure studios 3HZ and Orange (who also did the Norn9 adaptation) would have liked Dimension W to continue when they greenlit this a few years ago now, and I would have too but I guess it wasn’t popular enough.

4 Stars