Thursday, January 25, 2018

REVIEW: Land of the Lustrous (manga, vol. 2) by Haruko Ichikawa, translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley

Land of the Lustrous is SFF manga. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.

I somehow managed to avoid including spoilers in this review. It was very hard - I wanted to write about this volume's revelations so badly.


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.

  • 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.

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