Just taking a look at the cover and seeing that Phos has new limbs with the mysterious new gem was enough to make my stomach churn. I love this series, but that aspect of it makes it difficult to read. Being excited about it means being excited that these characters lose so much of themselves. It’s not a fun feeling.
The ending of the last volume paired Phos up with some Amethyst warriors, who engage in battle pretty much immediately after. This volume opens with that battle, which… doesn’t end well for the Amethysts. The way they get overtaken by the Lunarians was incredibly scary. The good news is that they are saved by the other gems and are completely salvaged.
The rest of the book features chapters in the winter time, at which point the gems all hibernate. Phos is unable to fall asleep during this time, so sensei pairs them with a special gem, Antarcticite, who only appears in the colder months.
Phos, for their part, tries not to be so mischievous in these chapters. I think the battle with the Amethysts humbled them, because they are much more pensive and thoughtful about how to engage in situations. They sadly lose their arms after falling under a glacier, and despite Antarcticite’s efforts, Phos cannot recover their original limbs. They fashion new ones out of gold, but it’s a dubious celebration at best: they have a low hardness, which makes them a poor fit for combat, and these particular gold strands don’t like to keep a solid shape.
The Lunarians ambush Antarcticite and Phos while out on a scouting mission, which sadly ends in defeat for them. Phos is able to escape with Sensei’s help, but Antarcticite is overtaken by the gems.
The story and characters remain as strong here as they were in the last volume, but I can’t say the battles here weren’t horrifying. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this volume; the tension in these chapters is palpable. I’m happy to see Phos grow as a character in these chapters – with all the danger present in their world, Phos’ original nature wasn’t a good fit for their surroundings.
The artwork and panel layouts remain as refined and graceful as they have been. The most striking displays here also happened to be the most gruesome, so I struggle to describe how great it is. The “best” one is when Antarcticite and Phos are talking to one another while Phos is trapped by her gold arms. Just take my word for it when I say that that sequence, as with others, are gorgeous.
The drama is high in this volume, so I wonder where it will go from here. I’m a little scared to see what comes next, if only because I don’t want these gems to get hurt more than they already have.
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 licensed 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.