Land of the Lustrous #3 – Even in the far post-apocalyptic future, molluscs do not handle excessive concentrations of salt well. Even a giant land snail on an anti-gem rampage can’t handle contact with saltwater, so the Lunarians’ latest gambit fails. It’s too late to save Phos from being completely dissolved, but what comes out of the shell is a most un-snail-like creature which seems to have picked up some trace of eir mind. Even after Phos’s body reconstitutes, e has some kind of link which allows em to understand the creature. Or was this some hidden talent Phos had all along? And what the heck is that thing?
While we have to wait for those answers, this episode does flesh out (no pun intended) the gems’ life and world somewhat. Although they have no concept of gender and no need to reproduce, they do have something like romantic feelings. Bort and Diamond have those feelings for each other, perhaps, and Cinnabar, as much as e doesn’t want to admit it, has at least a flickering of affection for Phos.
In the night scenes, there’s a moon that looks more or less like ours, but with a satellite. Or a much more distant copy. It seems safe to assume that extra thing is one of the “six moons” that caused the destruction of most life on Earth, and the origin of the Lunarians. So whatever brought them there— and could theoretically take them away— is still present.
Magical Circle Guru-Guru #16 – Nike leads the party in doing their best to defend Panfos/Alahabica, but once again they’re a bunch of flailing incompetents without Kukuri. Giri’s forces turn up in a spaceship that looks like a weaponized Poké Ball and rain down monsters and fire and darkness, but the mysterious master of the tower leads our heroes in a musical defense that stops them cold! And then that master turns out to be Kukuri, more powerful than ever since her heart was freed to express itself.
Everything comes back to needing to support Kukuri. Binding Giri again depends on her being able to invoke Guru-Guru, and that depends on her finding the confidence to do so. Nike’s elemental power may look impressive occasionally, but it’s nothing compared to what happens if he manages to validate Kukuri’s feelings.
In other words, his only real role in the plot is as Kukuri’s love interest. I don’t know if this story originally set out to invert a common heroic fantasy trope, but here we are.
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness #3 – The hakutaku (or bái zé in the original Chinese) is a beast representing good luck and knowledge, and associated with medicine in Japan. In this story, it also has a thousand-year running feud with Hōzuki. This provides endless room for reminiscing about the endless petty slights they’ve piled up against each other, as happens when the other auspicious beasts drop by Hakutaku’s shop for their geriatric medicines.
The focus shifts back to the present in the second half as the two kids who’ve been running around in the background the last couple of episodes are finally given a proper introduction. They’re a pair of zashiki warashi, playful household spirits. Though settling in nicely in Hell, they are keen observers of the modern world and its pop culture. (That line about barely being able to defeat a slime is a reference to the weakest monster type in the Dragon Quest series, and I don’t need to explain who Totoro is, do I?)
This is basically half an hour of watercooler talk, and still Hozuki’s Coolheadedness makes it funny, entertaining, and even educational. This is a case where Western viewers may be able to get even more out of it than Japanese ones.
Inuyashiki Last Hero #2 – What about the other person who was on that hill when the alien spaceship crashed? Hiro Shishigami is a high school student, the kind of upstanding guy who’ll go to his friend’s house to convince him to stop playing hooky and come back to school… because Hiro will kill any bullies who try to beat up his friend again. Hiro’s a cool kid who loves to talk about anime and manga… to try and soften up his victim before torturing her. Hiro is a seriously messed-up kid. He’s like an evil, warped version of the chūnibyō stereotype which usually just pops up as a lovable stock character in anime.
Not that every teenager in this story is evil. Hiro’s friend Naoyuki is understandably horrified by Hiro’s revalations. Plus, Naoyuki is a fan of Gantz, a well-known manga which just happens to share an author with… Inuyashiki.
Blatant self-promotion aside, Inuyashiki is settling in for some serious psychological horror. It’s already brutal, likely to get more so (any bets on how long the dog survives?), but with an understanding of human emotion and connections that makes it ruthlessly effective. This definitely merits watching for the rest of the season.
Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series #3 – Kino and Hermès gain passage on a city-state that moves about with the help of a super-advanced power plant, Inverted World-style. For once they decide to stay more than three days, though I guess since the city itself is traveling, they’re technically not violating their rule. Their ulterior motive turns out to be avoiding the toll in the next polity along the way, which would have been one of Kino’s beloved guns.
This city is pacifist, which in Kino’s world means it bothers to warn people before unleashing its death ray, and it tears up crops instead of buildings because causing a famine feels slightly more humane than crushing people directly. And Kino gets to contribute her sniper skills by taking out a targeting scope instead of killing the gunners.
I still have a sense that there are more stories in this world than “guns fix everything”. I’m starting to wonder if we’ll get to see them. The stories to be adapted for this series were selected by a poll of fans, and it seems to have been dominated by a very specific slice of its fandom. This wasn’t a bad story by any means, but a show starting to feel a tad repetitive by episode 3 is a bad sign.