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review 2018-03-15 17:18
Land of the Lustrous (manga, vol. 3) by Haruko Ichikawa, translation by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley
Land of the Lustrous 3 - Haruko Ichikawa

In this volume we get a bit more world-building and a new character. Winter is starting, which means less sunlight and therefore less energy for most of the Lustrous. While almost all of them go into hibernation, Kongo-sensei and Antarcticite become everyone's guardians. Antarcticite spends most of the year in a liquid form, but every winter they solidify and gradually grow stronger as temperatures get colder.

Phos is usually the first of the Lustrous to begin hibernation and the last to wake up, but this time around they can't seem to stay asleep, a possible side effect of their new legs. Kongo-sensei assigns Phos to Antarcticite as their new partner. Phos isn't sure they're up to the task, especially after the disastrous incident with the Amethyst twins, and then there's the issue of the talking ice floes that prey on Phos's anxieties.

Although the first volume made this series look like it was going to be a "natural discovery or Lunarian attack of the week" kind of thing, in the last couple volumes it's become more focused on Phos's desire to become stronger and more useful and eventually able to help Cinnabar. There are also hints that Kongo-sensei knows more about the Lunarians than he's told the younger Lustrous.

I wasn't expecting this volume to be as tragic as it was. The panels in which Lustrous (I won't say which ones) were broken into pieces were brutal, and this time around there was more explicit recognition of the horror inherent in the Lustrous's tendency to lose memories whenever they permanently lost a body part.

It'll be interesting to see where Ichikawa goes after this.

Will Phos be able to get their memories back, or will they just make new ones? Are they going to lose more? And I wonder, has anyone ever retrieved kidnapped Lustrous from the Lunarians before?

(spoiler show)


Although I'm very much enjoying the story and world-building details, I do still have some issues with this series. First, I'm just going to say it: the action scenes in this series aren't always very good. They're pretty, and the composition of individual panels and pages is great, but the action often requires a lot of effort to follow and doesn't always make sense. For example, at the beginning of the volume the Amethyst twins cut open another weird pod-like Lunarian. In the first volume, when a similar Lunarian was cut open there was a sequence of panels that showed arrows made out of Lustrous pieces emerging from the Lunarian's...pore things.

In this volume, it wasn't nearly as easy to tell what had happened and how. In one panel, the Lunarian's pore things were just empty holes. In the next panel, giant spiky blade-things has already fully emerged, which no obvious indication of how something so big could have fit inside the Lunarian and emerged from those holes. After staring at the image for a while, I eventually figured out what might have happened, but those pages were really jarring and confusing the first time I saw them.

After the fun I had looking up the properties of real-life cinnabar after reading volume 1, I decided to see if Ichikawa had based Antarcticite off of the properties of real antarcticite. From what I can tell, although antarcticite is just as brittle as the manga said it was, Ichikawa made up most of the character's abilities. A bit disappointing.

All in all, this volume contributed a few more interesting world-building details and continued Phos's transformation into...something. It's definitely looking like this series is going to end in tragedy, at least where Phos is concerned. I plan to continue on with Land of the Lustrous, although limited library availability may mean that I'll have to switch to buying it.

Extras:

Two pages of 4-panel comics - the humor felt a little weird and out-of-place after the events of this volume. Also, a page with two translator's notes.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-03-14 12:03
Reading progress update: I've read 192 out of 192 pages.
Land of the Lustrous 3 - Haruko Ichikawa

Well hell, this was sadder than I expected it to be. And I continue to be torn on this series. I'm enjoying the characters and world, but the action scenes are incredibly hard to decipher. I feel sorry for the animators who, for the anime adaptation, had to somehow turn the action into something that makes sense.

 

How the heck did the giant blade thing come out of those tiny Lunarian pores? It literally wouldn't fit, and I couldn't see a way it might have been folded up. One panel was empty Lunarian pores, and in the next panel there was suddenly an enormous spikey weapon thing.

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review 2018-01-26 06:04
Land of the Lustrous (manga, vol. 2) by Haruko Ichikawa, translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
Land of the Lustrous 2 - Haruko Ichikawa

Phos talks to Kongo-sensei about Cinnabar and ends up feeling useless. No one can figure out how to help Cinnabar, not even Kongo-sensei. That's when Ventricosus, the little snail creature that no one but Phos seems to be able to hear, makes a suggestion: if there's no help for Cinnabar to be found on land, then why not go into the ocean? Phos is hesitant at first, because going into the ocean generally isn't allowed, but changes their mind as Ventricosus begins to die of starvation.

The first volume didn't completely sell me on this series. It was beautiful, but also occasionally confusing, and I wasn't sure where Ichikawa was planning to go with any of it. I expected volume 2 to feature a few more relatively self-contained efforts on Phos's part to work on Kongo's natural history project and find something to free Cinnabar from their self-imposed isolation. Which I suppose is partly what I got, but volume 2 also included some really unexpected and interesting information about the planet on which the gem beings live, the Lunarians, and the Lunarians' attacks.

I'm really glad I continued on with this series. The artwork was still gorgeous. The second half of the volume was excellent, and there were a couple somewhat horrifying revelations that I can't wait for Ichikawa to explore some more, although I'm a little worried that one of them might lead to large amounts of tragedy. The gem beings are technically immortal but not, as it turns out, eternal. I found it a little strange that this didn't seem to freak them out more. Maybe they just hadn't had much experience with it?

Come to think of it, the thing with Phos in this volume may open up a bit of plot hole concerning the incident with Dia's arm in the previous volume. I wonder if Ichikawa is going to go back to that at all?

At any rate, I'm really looking forward to seeing what Ichikawa does with this series, and I'm happy I already have a copy of volume 3 in via interlibrary loan. I enjoyed volume 2 enough that I'm considering adding this series to my "to buy" list. The biggest complaint I had about it, aside from a few possible inconsistencies it introduced, was that the action scenes were incredibly confusing. Even after rereading them I still wasn't 100% sure what happened.

Extras:

  • A couple full-color pages of character introductions for all the gem beings, or at least the ones that are still free: their names, hardness, and a small amount of information about them.
  • A couple pages of 4-koma comics in which several of the gem beings act as fashion models.
  • A page of translation notes.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-01-23 07:34
Reading progress update: I've read 192 out of 192 pages.
Land of the Lustrous 2 - Haruko Ichikawa

I was iffy about the first volume. It was beautiful, but it seemed like Ichikawa wasn't sure about what kind of tone/audience to aim for, and it was a little confusing and unfocused. It seemed likely that the series would become a variety of natural history discoveries on Phos's part, with occasional beautiful but confusing battles against the Lunarians.

 

Yeah, I didn't expect what happened in this volume at all. The action scenes were ridiculously confusing (seriously, I looked over some of them multiple times and still couldn't figure out exactly what happened, even though I knew the end result), but the additional world-building info made up for it. This volume reveals some absolutely horrifying details. I'm still debating how I'm going to rate this, and writing a review without having to plaster it with spoiler tags is going to be hard.

 

I'm even happier now that I just got volume 3 in via interlibrary loan.

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text 2018-01-21 17:58
Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 192 pages.
Land of the Lustrous 2 - Haruko Ichikawa

Ichikawa managed to work in a boob joke:

 

 

The artwork is, for the most part, still beautiful and still sometimes confusing. I couldn't get my phone to cooperate with me for the full-page stuff, but I really like how Ichikawa used screentones to create the water effects. This isn't really an example of what I'm talking about, but it's still good-looking:

 

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