This volume, unlike past ones, is relatively light on action sequences. Instead, we’re treated to some new character introductions.
First up, we meet Padparadscha, a gem who’s been in slumber for several hundred years. They have empty holes in their body that must be filled before they can awaken. Rutile finds some material they can use to fill in the gaps, and so Pad awakens. The caveat is that Pad may still fall back asleep at any moment, without warning. Phos wants to ask Pad some questions about the olden days of gems, but alas, they fall asleep in the grass before Phos can get around to it.
Next, we meet Ghost, another gem who runs the library. Phos has come to the library to find some info on Lunarians – since they and gems ultimately come from the same source, Phos is wondering if there’s a way that they can communicate. Ghost takes a liking to Phos, as they are reminded of their former library cohort, Lapis Lazuli, in Phos’ presence.
The next time Phos is able to battle a Lunarian, they try not to kill them, instead attempting to communicate. The Lunarians are only able to elicit what we’d call groans (“Ah,” “Ngh”) before the other gems are able to take them out for good. Phos explains her idea to the other gems, but they don’t take much interest in it.
The last chapters see the gems engage with a new kind of Lunarian, one that’s able to manipulate their presence in space. It gets to be pretty harrowing when Ghost, in an attempt to retire this Lunarian, is actually swept away from their comrades as the Lunarian reappears from behind. Ghost is able to be reclaimed, so they end up being safe.
However, Phos discovers that one of Kongō-sensei’s key attacks is breaking parts of their body off to use as weapons against the Lunarians, which freaks Phos out. This further spurs Phos’ intent to get to the bottom of Kongō’s connection with the Lunarians. There’s some interaction with Cinnabar towards the end, but it’s pretty muted by the time the volume ends.
Though this volume is light on action, the series’ core strengths are still on display. The battles that are present are expertly laid out, so they’re easy to follow and excellent at conveying the tension and drama in each fight. The characters introduced here are quite melancholy, and the scenes are heightened by expanded space within those particular panels. Character designs remain elegant and graceful throughout. It’s also great to see Phos come into their own here. Some of it is still bittersweet – it’s made plain that their memory loss has compromised some of their sense of past self – but their determination and levelheadedness are great to see, especially after all they’ve been through.
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.