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?
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.
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.)