Now that volume 1 has established the world and taken some time to build it, it seems volume 2 gives us hints of where the series is going from there. A lot seems to happen here.
In the last volume, Phos got swallowed whole by a sea slug-like creature that attacked the gems’ home. Cinnabar and co. went through a great effort to piece Phos back together, and afterwards, Phos starts communicating with the slug.
Kongō-sensei is not pleased with Phos’ decisions that lead up to her capture by the slug, so he instructs them to stay close to their base and collect information for their natural history from a safe distance.
Phos gets to talking to the slug, who calls herself Ventricosus, and follows her deep into the ocean to visit her home. Here, we gain some lore from her, including that Lunarians, the Admirabilis (the in-universe name for sea creatures like Ventricosus), and the gems are all descended from humans, who roamed the earth in the past within their world. In a twist, we find out that Ventricosus lured them into a trap as a bargaining tool to get her brother back from the Lunarians. Phos loses their legs in this altercation and has to get new ones from the gems’ medic.
From there, Phos has to get used to their new limbs, which provide them with new speed capabilities. Their job of recording natural history is angrily revoked by Kongō-sensei, and instead, they finally get an opportunity to fight by being paired with the Amethyst twins. But before they get much time to train, Lunarians start to attack.
The action in this volume hit the spot for me! The cunning of Ventricosus really came out of left field, but not in a moon logic kind of way. I was genuinely shocked and scared for Phos in that moment. The way the artwork portrayed this moment with a two-page spread felt really appropriate and added to the surprise.
The way Phos has to adjust to their new limbs and the consequences of it – that they have lost a lot of their memories – was also unsettling. Ichikawa doesn’t make light of the fact that the Lunarians are vicious, nor does she downplay Phos’ own aloofness that gets them in danger so often. Some people have jokingly compared Land of the Lustrous to Madoka Magica or NieR: Automata, as seen in memes like this:
That was the moment where I felt the comparison was apt. I was legitimately scared for Phos in that moment.
Though it does make me uneasy, I have greatly enjoyed this series so far. The artwork is still as gorgeous as ever, and the plot seems to be moving much more quickly than people gave it credit for. This may be my favorite manga running; it could be too early to tell. Either way, I’m excited to check out the next volume!
Land of the Lustrous is written and illustrated by Ichikawa Haruko. It has been serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon since October 2012, and it has been collected in eight volumes as of November 2017. It has been licsened for release in North America by Kodansha Comics, which has released five volumes as of March 2018. Check out Kodansha Comics’ page on the manga here.