Posted by SuperMario on 30 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Houseki no Kuni

It’s incredible how much of a problem-prone Phos is, since almost every episode ends with Phos find themselves in deep shit.  If I go with the logic in Monogatari series it’s because Phos themselves attracts the attention from all kinds of trouble. Nothing much happened this week… is what the plot leads us to think. Underneath its surface, however, there’s a lot going on here. In truth, this episode is incredible. With this episode, they explore what I believe the core concepts of Houseki, and if the first dream sequence hasn’t signalled you clear enough, Houseki is rooted very deeply in Buddhism symbols and ideas. It’s funny to raise comparison between two shows I’m blogging this season: Houseki no Kuni and Girls’ Last Tour, but while this week Girls’ Last Tour explores the idea of God and religion, those themes are far removed from Houseki’s context despite being influenced heavily from Buddhism’s concepts. You see, Houseki is more interested in the separation/ independence between body, mind, and flesh and for me they really take core ideas of Buddhism to heart without relying on religious angle. Pretty awe-inspiring is what I say.

Let’s talk about this week’s title, because it’s important. Flesh, bone and soul. Three elements to form a human being. As the old tale from Ventricosus’s planet suggests, the fifth moon where the human used to live (AKA us) was destroyed, resulting in them split apart into 3 separate kinds of being: Gems, Admirabilis and Lunarians. One important thing to note is that those species are created in their most basic forms: Gems as their most basic elements – the bone, Snail is the one of the most basic type of lifeform – the flesh, and with the soul – symbolized by the religious images. Now that the character designs make so much sense and I’m in awe with the creativeness that the mangaka Haruko Ichikawa has thought up (bravo!). Then the idea that The Lunarians purposely fight off and kidnap the Gems and Admirabilis in order to become human again is seriously blow my mind. This division of beings also brings up one intriguing question: what is Kongo-sensei then? He’s obviously no Gems and based on how the Lunarians bow to him in his dream meditation, he could only be a human. So why does he help the Gems to fight off Lunarians here? My take for now is that he doesn’t want those beings reverse back to human form. Last week I had undermined Phos’ new ability of talking to snail as a silly quirk, but after this episode it’s clear to me that Phos holds the keys to open the that exploration between the three races.

Heavy themes and ideas aside, this week I’m quite surprised myself that the show’s humors hit the marks very well. Those moments like Phos purposely mistranslates or the snail being all bibbidi-doo over Kongo-sensei, or Red Beryl as a costume designer? What a cool job she has. Talking about Ventricosus, just look at the amount of transformation she done this week. From being a giant snail who basically brainwashed, to a little snail with soul (funny how we can see the souls of those gems and snails but those who suppose to be “the Soul” – the Lunarians, are portrayed as soulless) and then transforms into a beautiful being who look not unlike the Gems with big boobs (sorry but it’s kinda important in Houseki). I suspect transformation (or even hybridisation) will serve as another main theme of Houseki going forward. The idea of transformation, again, is rooted in Buddhism’s concept as transformation centers around the concept of death (welp, I think I’m still doing alright here despite being a non-religion myself). With this episode alone, Houseki opens to more thematical deep, and I’m already impressed how original and symbolic Houseki continues to be. Turn out last week I was trying too hard to sell Houseki’s appeal because with this episode 4 I can confidently say that Houseki will become something special. Mark my words.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Monimonika says:

    When Ventricosus was commenting on how cute all the gems are, as well as what a hunk Kongou Sensei is, I was wondering why a slug-creature like that would find humanoids appealing/sexy. This kind of stuff (non-humanoid alien’s sexual attraction standards are the same as humans for no logical reason) occasionally happens in other anime/movies/tv shows/etc. and I find it annoying.

    Thankfully, the whole thing made perfect sense once Ventricosus’s truer form was revealed. :-D Can’t wait to see what the younger brother looks like (in humanoid form).

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      Agree. To be honest I didn’t mind her getting sexually crazy in the first place, but I’m in awe to realize that her kind is the only being who has sexual orientation. The other kinds miss out all the “fun” in that context haha

  2. Avatar Amagi says:

    This is what I am asking for when I watch anime. It’s good when a drama stays down to earth, but IF they choose to make a series taking place in a fictional setting or a fantasy show then please don’t just slap the characters into that generic MMORPG world and call it a day.
    There are so many ideas, concepts and settings (fictional or historical) you could use and this one is doing the right thing. It gives off the vibe of something original and new. Hell even Shuumatsu, although less story focused, is its own thing. It’s completely different from Casshern Sins or Sora no Woto, which both had a similar setting.

    That said, this was the point in the manga at which I went from just being interested to being in love with this series.

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