Posted by SuperMario on 29 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Houseki no Kuni

Houseki’s just getting better and better huh? This episode is a knock-out, this series is truly a knock-out. It must be Houseki’s most devastating episode, leaving Phos, Antarc and Kongou-sensei the deep wound that won’t easily be healed. Let’s get to the main turn of event upfront: Antarc is taken away by the Moon people. This result, in a way, is a paid price for Phos getting their new arms. Just two episodes since their first appearance, Antarc has earned more than enough to become a reliable, yet surprisingly poignant and humane character and they’re undoubtedly one of my favorite characters in Houseki. Just two episodes since their first appearance, but the loss of Antarc feels profoundly impactful, not only with us viewers (since Antarc was the very first gem from our point of view to be taken by the Lunarians), but also with both Phos and Kongou-sensei, the only two beings who share a deep connection with Antarc. But boy, the Iced Gem does put up a good fight. In a way, it’s more like Antarc is unlucky when they encounter a string of bad luck all by their own: Phos’s in the situation where they can’t help (another instance where Phos being useless when it counts the most), the sky is unexpectedly clear, Kongou-sensei being hold up and most of all, the Lunarians attack them TWICE. They’re a persistent bunch, to put it very mildly.

But Antarc’s character strength shines through all over this episode with many, many great character moments. From the very early on, where we can clearly see their frustration towards Phos’ losing the forearms. Diving deep into the sea of ice, risking their own safety and nearly losing their hand, all we can hear was “they’re gone”. It’s more like the far cry from Antarc that they blame the loss of Phos’ forearms as their own lack of teamwork experience. Or their furious later on when they wanted to take their hand back because they don’t want to lose any memories with the sensei. Or even later when they literally breaking apart, they do their best to take care of Phos and tells Phos to take care of sensei and carry on the winter job in their place. Antarc sure will be missed; an unsung hero who exits the field almost too soon, leaves a big impact to those remaining players, especially Phos.

Like how we expected last week (and frankly this was the only plot development that comes as expected, the rest is fairly unpredictable), Phos’ getting a new pair of hands and they’re much stronger, albeit much harder to control, than Phos’ previous arms. This is a true “body-horror” element if you ask me, unfamiliar limbs attached to the host and then grow accustomed and spread all over the body and go out of control. At first, these golden arms take completely out of hands, building themselves up into the golden jelly, then golden solid cage which completely “swallow Phos whole”. However, with the devastating feeling of watching Antarc broken apart, then being taken away by the Lunarians, Phos goes pass their own limits to control those freak arms and manage to make them a useful, powerful weapon. This is the first time, however, that we witness the desperation in the eyes of Phos. The laid-back, why-so-serious character becomes angry, distraught, and later, deeply disappointed about themselves that they can’t do anything to bring their friend back. Big part of why Phos is still very likable despite their seemingly-annoying attitude lies in the dynamic voice acting work from Tomoyo Kurosawa, who did a marvellous job voicing Kumiko in Sound Eupho last year. In an interview, the staff comment that they build Phos’s body acting based mostly on the nuance of Miss Kurosawa’s voice (which is not a common practice by all mean since usually the voicing session comes much later in the production phase), and here we can see the easy dynamic from Phos that made them click like a stick.

Houseki again drops another crucial setting: A Chord Shore where supposedly all the Gems are born in, and for my money, where it all begins. We get the see the brief part of an incomplete crystal who washed up, drop into the ground and become nothing. Only in rare occasions, the complete Gems are born, and they were taken immediately into the swings of Kongou-sensei, who teach them about the world and assign them to their jobs. All I’m getting at is that Kongou-sensei definitely controls their income of knowledge and he obviously hides something underneath the surface. Even Yellow Diamond, the oldest gem, admits that they already forget the reasons they fight the Lunarians. All other gems don’t know either the reasons they fight except that they were told to fight. I guess the main reason here has to do with Kongou-sensei, in the sense that those gems fight the Moon people to protect himself from the Lunarians. Just looking at the way the Lunarians “ambush” the Monk: for me their actions all hint towards to “worshipping” Kongou-sensei, and I suspect that they gather the Gems in order to make the best material to submit him. But what intrigue in the settings doesn’t lessen the fact that Houseki has delivered some of its most emotional-wrenching moments to date. I have a strong feeling that Houseki keeps building itself up to an epic drive, both in terms of emotion, as well as its narrative scope.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar Incompenence says:

    I haven’t seen more incompetent harem protagonist in my life! His playthings are getting killed off one by one and he keeps the same nonchalant attitude? Do you even Antaarku? Sensei! Get a grip!

    Antaarkuuuuuuuuuuuuu! You’ll be missed!

    Fantastic episode, even if a little too focused compared to the rest. What I like here especially is how the power-up has been handled – power-ups like these always come at the point of greatest despair only to turn the tables and save the day, but not here. It’s the opposite, it’s almost like Antarc paid the price for this to happen and the hero only got to experience a triumphant defeat. It shifts focus from Phos’ new shiny body. Who cares? When the important thing has been lost!

    The whole time I was getting serious Claymore vibes, chapter 96 was it? When Clair finally met Priscilla, raged, awakened and then got herself gloriously massacred. It’s just that here it was two characters playing the role: Antarc was the one who got needlessly agitated and rushed to its demise and Phos the one who awakened in his stead.
    I’m rambling, but, the tears in this show taste exactly like those in Claymore – soaked with hopelessness and regret.*

    Anyway, once again, I was there expecting for the show to dip, but instead it soars in new heights. This makes it 8 stellar episodes in a row!

    * Actually, Phos is very similar to Clare. In how they were both weaklings at the beginning, but quickly gained strength and friends and respect (albeit at a cost). They also both assimilate, rather than learn, and it leads to loss for them and their peers. And they both readily discard parts of selves or even force the change upon themselves in their obsessive ambition, without care in the world as to what effect this will have on others.

    Clare never gave the deserved attention to her friends and I hope Antarc is not the new Teresa, shooting Phos on an orbit to become even more reckless at the illusion, that with more strength it will become easier to grasp the things that matter.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      As I’m unfamiliar with Claymore, I will leave the Clare – Phos comparison to those who know more than me. But I absolutely agree on the “power-up” aspect, Phos did upgrade their own body, but with a cost. A cost that far more valuable than what Phos has gained.

      About the harem, I can understand his attitude all to well. He still has 27 other gems around so why freak out when one is lost, right? Especially that one can only appear during wintertime

      • Avatar Incompetence says:

        In that case, I recommend (anyone) to read Claymore (manga). It’s a provocative work about monsters’ humanity in a world that offers none.

        I see, that angle would never occur to me, I appear to not have enough of an elite harem protagonist mentality.

        Some notes:

        How Phos assimilates, rather than improves – I think this (deliberately) fits into the whole gem theme, see metamorphose – name of episode 3 – which means to transform. Minerals can actually turn to other ones, preserving some characteristics (shape, texture, …) and inheriting new ones. This way it is possible for a mineral to exist in shape that is not normally allowed by its chemical make-up. Such mineral is called pseudomorph. Phos here would be called an infiltration pseudomorph. More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudomorph

        I have found reports on Phosphophyllite pseudomorphing after Fossilized Mollusk (actually the giant snail that devoured Phos).

        Phos’ legs are from Agate – a mineral that can be found (among other) in fossilized remains or/of shells. Remember who gave Phos the legs… Turitella (type of snail) Agate seems quite similar in appearance to what we see in Houseki (I encourage reader to search for pictures).

        “Phosphophyllite is an extremely rare mineral that has unique and beautifully delicate bluish-green color. As a testament to its rarity, it has been called the holy grail of minerals”. Welp, that confirms any doubt about who the main character is. Source: http://www.classicgems.net/gem_phosphophyllite.htm

        • SuperMario SuperMario says:

          Took notes on those. Thank you. Yeah the reason Phos is so sarcred is because of its rarity, which actually fits Phos’ character in Houseki. Their body parts have been scattered all along, makes me wonder what remains of the original Phos when their assimilation is completed.

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