Posted by SuperMario on 22 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Houseki no Kuni

Ho boy, I know Houseki’s world-building is unique but the idea of gems’ hibernation in winter due to the lack of sunlight? What a creative idea it is. This winter landscape makes a nice contrast to the lively green field of grass we’ve encountered in previous episodes. The new world that feels both empty, vast and alien. Like how the color fillers in Houseki adjust depending on which Gems taking a spotlight, this white icy winter represents the new centre character this week: Antarctictite. A lone-wolf germ by design more than by choice, while the other gems fall asleep during winter, Antarc hardens their solid form and carries on the duty to protect the sleeping gems along with Kongou-sensei. Antarc might become one of my favorite Jewel people out of just this episode, the way they’re attentive to their duty, carry out many lines of job, from chopping down ice foes, clearing the icy paths, to more bizarre jobs like babysit and protect the other gems (putting the blanket onto them and they will fall back asleep, what a quirk!) and even Kongou-sensei himself. I also like the way Antarc behaves towards our Phos: wary at first, but once they hear the frustrating of Phos, Antarc assists Phos to all their ability.

The two prominent themes of Houseki so far has again developed greatly in this episode. First is the struggling for their own roles in the eyes of Phos and Cinnabar and second is the theme of transformation. Phos feels utterly frustrated because they couldn’t do anything to help their partners, yet receives almost no trouble from their peers, as if the other gems have no expectation whatsoever toward Phos. That moment and the one earlier when Phos just runs and meets Cinnabar in their night patrol, unable to talk to Cinnabar ring hollowly true. These might be gems, but they feel more humane than most characters I have encountered this season. Secondly, after having their legs repaired (and for the better), this episode suggests the idea of Phos need to repair their hands (and that might be for the better as well), the hands from supposedly the Lunarians to begin with. And that exactly what happened in the end. Phos’s stumbling into the icy pool; and lost both of their forearms. This leads to two interesting implications. First, it’s pretty much intended that this story is the journey of Phos who transform by replacing parts of their body to make them stronger. First the limbs, and I suspect the next one would be their body and their head and what I found the most interesting is the desire of Phos to cut off their limbs. If so, what happened to Phos’ own memory? When they lose their own gems their memory is fade away as well, will Phos remain as Phos as they attach the new materials into their body? Moreover, what happened if the remains of Phos’ fragments joined into the new whole body? Will that be Phos as well and carry the same personality with this current Phos? Man, this is going to be intriguing.

And of course I can’t pass this review without mentioning the most important new character in this episode: the ice floes. What exactly are they? They share the same appearance with the Lunarians, have a harrowing voice and sometimes whispers uncharacterised words, except that Phos clearly understands what they said. Kongou-sensei regards them as “sinners”, which sound eerily similar to the human race, but consider that it’s Christian, not necessary Buddhism, context that regards human as such, my guess is that the ice floes don’t represent the human race. More like they are an incomplete state of the Lunarians, which we all know is representing the “Soul”. The ice floes call out for Phos, but it might be that Phos’ current state of mind who do the talking, since they have a knowledge of Cinnabar, whose Phos’ desire the most to help out. Until next episode should we know more about Phos’ new forearms and what those ice floes really are, but this episode might be the best episode of Houseki so far: striking landscape with memorable new characters and the world-building that both deeper, more fascinating but strangely beautiful at the same time. Houseki is building up to be one of my favorite anime this year has to offer.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar philippeo says:

    wouldn’t ice floes is hungry ghosts left behind ? base emotion and feeling abandoned below when Soul ascends to Heaven/Hell.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      “base emotion and feeling abandoned below when Soul ascends to Heaven/Hell.”

      That sounds about right to me, although it’s more like “ascends to the Moon” than “Heaven/Hell”. I guess that’s why Kongou-sensei also regarded them as sinners.

  2. Avatar Amagi says:

    I feel like the Floes are remains of dead Sea Beings or incomplete Gems. Like the inclusions the Gems have these watery and loose inclusions might get a temporary semi-“body” when the water freezes and becomes hard.
    Remember that the humans “went into the sea” and that the Gems seem to come from the sea or be related to it. And that Phos understands the languate of the Sea Beings, unlike other Gems.
    Not sure if this is true though it’s just that I think it might be something along these lines.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      Yep, your theories make sense as well. I guess the more we learn about the world, the more we’d learn what the ice floes really are. I have a feeling Kongou-sensei knows all the answers but for whatever reasons he desires to leave things this way.

  3. Avatar Strength says:

    I keep watching and it keeps getting better.

    I always say anime is in a sorry state of affairs, taking the worst from the west in an attempt to hasten its ultimate doom in sea of mediocrity, but again and again a rare gem pops up to say a thing or two about that. Ping Pong The Animation, Flip Flap, now this…

    This is exactly the kind of series I always wanted. In no particular order:
    – heavy on aesthetics
    – Sailor Moon anatomy enamored with its own leg fetish
    – Mushishi type of storytelling in love with expressive naturalism
    – overly abstract and alien settings
    – philosophical (existential themes)
    – psychological (body horror* is a plus)
    – large cast +- no MC

    But Houseki no Kuni is pretty novel. The only conceptually similar work I can think of is Black Rock Shooter* – that one also has this chilly aloofness with which it embraces its characters. Unfortunately, BRS has yet to tap into its incredible potential (the movie was grounded in the boring (real) world instead of investigating the abstract one and the series had Mari Okada’s stigma to deal with).

    * some scenes remind me of Claymore, I love it

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      Except for the Sailor moon leg-fetish, which I can totally see where you come from, I agree with EVERYTHING you said there. Well said, man.

      I always feel amused when others use the term “body horror” for Houseki, simply because there’s no real horror when the Gems losing their parts or broken apart. Not to say it isn’t body horror bu I regard it more as a fresh take on that term.

      • Avatar Strength says:

        I see. I’m thinking… True, there is no horror on the part of the characters, but there definitely is on the part of the viewer.

        When characters in Houseki lose body parts, on some level it has even more pronounced effect, because apart from the terror, the viewer also feels for the characters, in their stead! Because they are not human, but (very obviously) innately seek humanity, they come off as pitiful little creatures one would cherish to no end. They must not face death so eagerly and casually!

        When a human loses an arm (in media), I feel sorry for him (depending on how I care) and wish him to get over it, but when Houseki character loses a leg, I want to shake it until it understands how it should feel about it!

        The inhumanity of the characters is a big win here, because it doesn’t derive the reaction from the characters, but the viewer himself.

        It’s perhaps similar with the gender. We all know androgynous is the new sexy, and while gender-less characters can be thought of as yet another form of pandering to multiple demographics, there is undisputable purity in such form. The best example would be Hatsune Miku, whose popularity sure as hell does not stem from the fact that she is not a real human, but more from the fact that she is formless, an idol that can morph into any(one’s) wish, or even all at once.

        About the leg thing. There is always some form of fanservice applied. Should I choose from iseikai, hentai, ecchi, occasional panty shot or leg shots making up 90% of the screen time, I take the leg shots every time. It’s pervasive but non-invasive and has an actual aesthetic value.

        Well, it’s all about the exposure. I showed Shelter (music video by A-1 Pictures) to some guys at work, who had no idea about anime, and they were massively weirded out, complaining about intimate angles, short skirt and just the ‘right’ close up at just the right time. I did not even see it anymore…

        But! At the same time, these people would accept violence or porn level service in a standard Hollywood movie without noticing the problem at all. Double standard much?

Leave a Reply

Star Crossed Anime Blog

4 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

Vinland Saga – 7 [Normanni]

Welcome to the true start of Vinland Saga, as this week adapts what was originally the 1st Chapter of the manga. This week Thorfinn hits puberty, Askeladd makes bank and the French get laughed at. Lets jump in! Starting off, this week was a series of highs and lows for Vinland’s production. I said it […]

DanMachi2 – 6 [City of Lust (Ishtar Familia)]

DanMachi, as an anime, grew up this week. From the show that brought you the cosplaying mechanic of the “Hestia ribbon” comes an episode dealing with largest taboo in hero anime, and in some ways, Japanese conservative culture as a whole. Watching DanMachi this week is like this: you have a friend who you hang […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 20 [Pretend Family]

After last week’s episode, I had high hopes for Kimetsu no Yaiba this week. Sadly, I think I came away from it with more criticisms than complements. Perhaps natural, since living up to last week was nigh impossible. But I wasn’t prepared for Yaiba to undercut its best episode either. Welcome to Yaiba, episode 20, […]

Dr.STONE – 7 [Where Two Million Years Have Gone]

Ah today is a good day. The day where Dr.STONE reinforces what I loved about it when I first read it. You see this week Science takes center stage, we meet the ancient sorcerer Chrome, and the legendary Kinro gets his fabled weapon. Enough with the preamble though, welcome to this weeks Dr.STONE and lets […]

Mononoke – 2 [Zashikiwarashi – Part 2] – Throwback Thursday

There really isn’t a good way to introduce this episode. Nothing is really going to soften the madness of what I just watched. As this week Mononoke has given us one of the darkest/creepiest yet most endearing episodes I have seen in a long time. So let’s just get on with it. Starting off, a […]

Cop Craft – 06 [Need For Speed]

Cop Craft mixes up many unusual elements such as porno magazines, gay policeman, car chases and even romance into its trip this week. The result is that while it’s light in content, it proves to be more entertaining than when it deals with serious plot. While at this point I still prefer the relationship between […]

Kanata no Astra – 08 [Past]

There sure is a lot to unpack in Kanata no Astra this week. Kanata no Astra loves to give clues, and with every reveal it opens up more questions and make it think how all these puzzles fit in a big narrative frame. I must say that I am enjoying the ride so far, it’s […]

Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note – 6 [A Girl, a Department Store, and a Gift ]

It turns out that next week will be the beginning of the adaption of the source material of volume four and five and this episode marks the end of original anime content. I rather like this episode as it breaks away from Waver solving cases and has a fun little shopping adventure with the three […]

Vinland Saga – 6 [The Journey Begins]

Another week, another dose of Viking murder, courtesy of Vinland Saga. This week we watch our baby boy grow up, learn a bit about Viking history, and get into the series proper. Let’s dive in! Starting off, as always, the production aspect. This week showed us some of the cracks in Vinland’s production. For while […]

Latest Reviews

Serial Experiments Lain Anime Review – 78/100 – Throwback Thursday

Serial Experiments Lain is weird. It is a series unlike any other, wholly unique in anime, both modern and historical. Every aspect of it, from presentation to narrative, is best described as an experience. It is because of this that I believe Lain is a must watch, if only to experience a piece of anime […]

Penguin Highway (2018) Movie Review – 89/100

You’re walking along in your neighborhood, going about your daily routine. It’s a fine morning. The sun is shining brightly. But suddenly, you see something strange. You squint your eyes; even rub them, to make sure it isn’t a mirage before exclaiming with excitement, “Oh, look. It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane! No no. […]

One Punch Man Season 2 Anime Review – 34/100

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch […]

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]

[Star Crossed Anime Exclusive] Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection Review – 80/100

I was lucky enough to be at Sakura-con in Seattle on 20 April 2019 for the Funimation’s movie premiere of Code Geass’ third movie with the Director himself, Gorō Taniguchi, along with his senior staff in attendance inside a room full of raving fans. Was it was worth the decade-long wait to have a worthy […]

Paranoia Agent Anime Review – 67/100

In an era of the mundane, where every series is the same moe blob, the weird sticks out. Even the most mediocre series can get attention just by being weird. Paranoia Agent is not mediocre, and it is far beyond simply “weird”. Written and Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent is one of his last […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]