Land of the Lustrous, vol. 4

9781632365293_manga-land-of-the-lustrous-volume-4-primary.jpgAfter the high drama of the previous volume, this one is just slightly more pensive, with a healthy dose of action. Not only that, but the battles here lead to a new twist in the story.

Spring has dawned in the land of the Lustrous, and as they awake, they learn not only of Antarcticite’s demise, but also of Phos’ new limbs and demeanor. Phos seems to struggle with the newfound attention, perhaps in part due to the enormity of the events in winter and in part due to their memory loss.

Despite Phos’ mixed emotions, the other gems are enthralled with Phos’ new limbs. Bort even wants to take them on as a partner, teaching them new skills. Phos is a passive player in this development, but eventually does accept Bort’s offer.

As Bort and Phos begin to train, they encounter a new type of Lunarian with a look reminiscent of a Shiisa. This one has a strange ability to break into multiple bodies at once, and it terrorizes the gems throughout the book. Before it splits apart, it confronts Dia at the top of the gems’ base, and here we get a great glimpse at their self-sacrificing nature. They eventually are overtaken by the Lunarians, but their comrades are able to retrieve the pieces needed to bring her back. The gems don’t seem pleased with Dia’s fate, but after the last volume, I’ll take it!

Kongō-sensei is able to stop the new Lunarian from getting out of hand, but the gems feel that he’s a little too friendly with the enemy type. The gears start to turn in their heads, and Phos in particular comes to Cinnabar to talk. This sets the wheels in motion for a new conflict to come later, though it hasn’t quite gotten started as of this volume.

Though there was a great balance of worldbuilding, drama, and action in this volume, it was slightly more muted compared to the last two volumes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s less intense, but as a result it’s a little easier to read this time around. The artwork is as graceful and effective as ever, certainly among the most consistently great of any manga I’m reading right now. Even in its slower moments, there’s something really compelling about this series that keeps me coming back. The only sadness I feel is that I’m just about caught up with the English language release, which has slowed to quarterly as of this year. I don’t know if I can wait until summer for 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.

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