This was the most anxious I’ve been coming into an episode to see whether or not it might turn on me again or not. Thankfully, it addresses most of my larger concerns from last time, while delivering solid new stuff!
Let’s get down to it cause there’s much more interesting stuff here than the fallout of Amethyst. So of the two things that could have happened, Amethyst not dying was the best. And not just for the characters’ ability to rest easy. In terms of dramatic escalation, it is still a bit of a false flag. Yet another “just kidding that wasn’t as bad as we made you thought it was” on the part of the writers. However, we avoid derailing the story too heavily into a tragedy that didn’t quite feel deserved yet. Also, the next time we see Amethyst they won’t be complete strangers. We do learn that pieces of Sapphire had a part to play in their destruction. In the recovery room was also get a sneak peek at Alexandrite or “Lexi” as she prefers. A bumbling, worrywart big sister type as far as I can tell.
Phos is still racked with guilt. She’s done nothing to be able to help Cinnabar and she couldn’t act to save Amethyst when it mattered. However, after the slightly pointless distraction that was the “Amethyst training episode”, she will soon get a new mentor. It’s time to hibernate soon. As the Lustrous most likely require sun for energy, the darkness of Winter makes it difficult to stay awake. Lunarian attacks a few as well. Despite usually being the longest sleeper, Phos isn’t tired this year. Probably a mixture of guilt and the fact that Cinnabar won’t participate either.
With Phos staying up past her several-month curfew she gets to meet Antarcticite. I had to check on if that was even a gem and apparently it is! An uncommon calcium chloride hexahydrate mineral. First discovered in Antarctica by Japanese geochemists (thanks, Wikipedia). She usually keeps the gems safe with Kongo and as a result, is rarely seen. Despite being a hardness of 3, her body normally exists as a liquid and her “body” forms when it is cold enough.
She is another gem who shares a very close relationship with Kongo. Perhaps because there is so little time she gets to be around and when she is around she is normally the only one alone with him. Of course the ice gem falls into the “ice princess” trope. I do really like how she struggles to be open about her emotions going so far as to call something as simple as a “hug” their “yearly tradition”. This is interrupted when Phos enters the scene to a flustered Ant. I’m gonna call her “Ant” now for brevity’s sake.
Here they begin their training arc and this feels like it actually makes headway. Not only do we see her improve but Ant is a much better mentor. Having someone as competent as her who is also half a hardness level below her shows Phos how she will be able to eventually use her powers smartly and swiftly despite her weakness. Heroes with great potential but start out fragile is a new trend that I can get behind. Among the improvements the animation gives way to subtle faults in her footwork; a nice touch. The two are tasked with silencing the ice floes; Restless, frozen microorganisms that stir beneath the sea. Their “screams” threat to wake up the other gems from their sleep.
They are also tasked with keeping some sleep-walking gems from creating too much destruction. Phos begins to hear very clear words coming from the ice that sound like pleading. Kongo claims these ice floes are merely life from eons ago and their words cannot be understood. He even calls them “sinners” for some reason. This is because of her interaction with King but she’s since forgotten all about that. Kongo and Ant both warn her not to worry. They are simply “Dregs of creatures from the beginning of time” recounting their lives. Then the sounds get worse, speaking words that seem far more specific to her scenario.
As Phos contemplates, if only her arms could match the strength of her legs. She stops once she remembers there’s no shell left to replace her body with. Then, from a scene eerily similar the Dead Marshes from the Lord of the Rings, a voice from the beneath the ice compels her to let it ‘bite them right off’ for her. She also hears “If you wait this out until spring…” “Cinnabar will…” among other ominous things. The only other things so far that seem to have a penchant for tricking others and a desire to eat gems are the Ventricosus. Perhaps Kongo’s line of “sinner” really is referring to them. She isn’t quite tempted by the voice but slips and falls in any way. When she is recovered, Ant finds her with her arms missing.
With so few gems out of commission, I wonder how long the story plans on staying with such a small set of characters to work with. I like the chance of atmosphere but we may get a small time-skip next episode if they haven’t caught up to spring by then. We’re back on track after an underwhelming previous episode. While any semblance of a call to action has still not shown, I’m anxious to see if there will be one this season or just some traditional “arc” for that matter.
- The iced over landscapes are starkly beautiful. The very different scenery matches the haunting quiet of this episode.
- I love how thought out the world is for how simple it is. Always considering new unique jobs for gems to have and how they relate the world and story.
- This show does a great job at creating a tightly knit ensemble cast. While certain important feeling characters have slinked into the background, every time we see them they don’t feel like background characters as is the fate of many large cast anime.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. I’m thankful for this episode which was one of my favorites yet! I may be taking a break for family’s sake but if so check back in a week or two for more Land of the Lustrous!
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