Posted by SuperMario on 14 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Houseki no Kuni

Houseki maintains its impressive streak this week, with Phos learning their new role patronizing, a job once again clearly isn’t suitable for our main character. While you could say Houseki follows the same formula from the very first week: first introduces a huge array of Gems’ cast, then leaves Phos out in some kind of trouble that needed saving, then reverts back to status quo with Phos learning something new; the world-building gets even deeper and more mysterious. And like how others described about Phos – a good-for-nothing, selfish, loud brat – it’s surprising to say that Phos has grown a lot on me. Through many transformations Phos still comes off and behaves exactly like themselves: excited for a chance to wield the sword and go for battle, but too weak to even hold the lightest blade (great touch of comedy here), extremely cautious about the Moon people to the point of straining themselves both physically and mentally. It’s interesting to note about Phos’ growing so far, since they are all the different aspects of changing: first as an emotional bond with Cinnabar, then as a speaking ability to the Admirabilis, the physical transformation of the new leg, could it be this time about their inner spiritual growth? The more I see, the more I come to learn that Phos’ transformation might be one of Houseki’s dominant theme. It makes sense in the long run since I suspect the central conflicts of Houseki will be about the three races and their transformation/ hybrid into a fully-formed human being as a final phase of transformation. Speaking of “human”, it’s the only term that the now-forgotten Phos mutters, and needless to say Kongo-sensei is furious about it. From the look of it Kongo-sensei seems to know exactly what Phos means, and he’s hiding that fact from other gems, for whatever intent (goodwill or ill-will) we have yet to know.

The new cast this week, consist of Yellow Diamond, Amethyst, Zircon and even Obsidian (who I assume as swords’ designer. How cool!) are already a delight. Despite having a relatively short screen time, they all have their own unique voice and personality that I can never get tired of without being too over the top. Not a small feat at all for a show that feature such an extensive cast (and the fact that Houseki keeps introducing handful of new characters every week), but so far every single one of them – except for the Lunarians, which for my money is intentional – is memorable, expressive and bounce off each other very well. Yellow Diamond, in particular, is a big brother of the Jewel people, but Yellow don’t feel they deserve the respect since their partners were all taken to the Moon. Not their fault, but they are the main catch from the Lunarians. Amethyst, moreover, is such fascinating character(s) and their laid-back attitude (even more laid-back than Phos, that says something) makes it fun just to follow them and Phos for their patronizing. When Amethyst eventually get captured, shattered apart by the Moon people, the terror isn’t come from the fact that we sympathize for the character (after all, we just know them for, like, 10 minutes), but come from the realization that those Gems are crushing apart and kidnapped to the Moon is a very real thing (Their last word “Run, Phos” echoed my remark last week. My my). Consider that Bort, and then Kong-sensei come to intercept just in time, Amethyst can count themselves lucky this time.

I haven’t touched much on the CGI and the visual motifs of Houseki so far, so lets me address them a fair bit in this last paragraph. I agree that the full CGI of Houseki can take some time to get used to, but now I’m digging this computer-generated style. The action sequences are stunning, dynamic, breathtaking and overall pleasing to the eyes. The scene where Yellow grabs Phos, for example, astonishes me. But I see another (probably unintentional) quality of the CGI: its physical comedy. The way the characters move (like how Phos’s stumble with their blade, or how the Gems run for their lives when Kongo-sensei’s furious) somehow adds a whimsical sense that normal, traditional art can’t match. Last week I mentioned about the image of Phos losing their legs and one eye to show how pathetic Phos’ current situation was, this time I will address the visual motifs about Phos that we’ve seen from the very beginning: the image of Phos’ lying on the grass field. That image was literally the very first thing we saw when Houseki introduced Phos, whenever they feeling down they would lie on the grass, fast-forward to this episode when the Lunarians attack and Phos remains there entirely during the fight. Another visual motif that I really like is the symmetrical visual, which you can see from Amethyst’s twin design; or whenever the Gems prepare to fight off the coming Moon people. I’m pleased with the overall package so far. Houseki is an exciting, inventive, sometimes emotional wrenching gem but always fascinating in every aspect. Sounds exactly like my kind of anime.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Jjjjj says:

    THANK YOU! Somebody else understands the benefits of CGI! :)

  2. Avatar Exactly says:

    my kind of anime as well.

  3. Avatar Amagi says:

    As a former CGI hater I can’t express how good this fight was and how much better an anime gets when it actually shows movement and this series has a lot of it. Thanks to the CGI they can also do a lot of nice things like camera movement, showing moving crowds (think of the appearance of the Moon People in this episode) and add a ton of expressions to the characters which normal anime couldn’t do, either due to a lack of talent or (even more) a lack of budget.

    The whole Lunarian scene was cinema worthy if you ask me. The music, the falling gem pieces and the moving grass did the rest – and that damn beam of Sensei at the end, man.

    I like what they did here because I was very sceptical at first. You’ve seen the manga, it’s impressing, but in a way anime can’t necessarily emulate, so the director just did something different instead and it works.
    The manga still has a few aspects the anime doesn’t have that I love, but on the other hand so does the anime.

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