Posted by SuperMario on 19 December 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Houseki no Kuni

With “Secrets”, Phos’ now in the middle of “loss of innocence” personal crisis. Well, they did reach that stage when Phos’ suffering over Antarc’s loss (in which he still hallucinates about Antarc’s present even now. Good job, Houseki), but in this episode, it comes to full force. Phos starts to break their trust towards Kongou-sensei, their teacher plus father figure (“breaking” in both metaphorical sense and visual motif). Not without a good reason though as the formidable beast (turns into fluffy harmless puppies this week, but that’s for later paragraph), as soon as he meets Kongou-sensei, he comes and greets him like a dog meets his old master. Kongou-sensei even plays several tricks and calls him by his name, with a manner that even closer and sincerer than with the Gems himself. Only Phos overhears his conversation. And only Phos, and Cinnabar to an extend (great choice of costumes there as only Phos and Cinnabar still wear the same old uniform instead of the new Spring uniform like the rest of the Gems, signify that they are different than the rest of the Gems), have that real suspicion about their Sensei. For others, that suspicion is like a moral code they don’t dare to cross, but Phos’ willing to cross it as their next move is to willingly be taken to the Moon so that they can learn about the Moon’s side of the coin. A promising adventure that will become a central plot thread for the second season, if one ever comes at all.

For me, it all makes sense regarding how Kongou-sensei has established a long history with the Lunarians from way, way back. I have tackled this before but Kongou remains an exception of the rules about the Houseki’s world so far. He’s the closest to “Human” to that world, the combination of both Flesh (gender-specific), Bone (he can crush everything) and Soul (all the Gems and what-seem-like all the Lunarians worship him). He obviously has something in mind to run things the way it is now, and that might not for the benefits of the Gems. The way he withholds many information about the Lunarians and the way he knows almost everything all suggest that he’s the mastermind behind this world, and at this rate I suspect that he will be the last person standing when Phos continues to transform themselves and learn all the answers.

Leave aside all the seriousness, never in my wildest dream that I could anticipate Shiro, the scary beast last week, turns out to be so cute, kawaii and fluffy like this. Or even the Gems steal their scenes by comedically stay true/ break a bit of their characters. Tale Alex/Lexa for example, who would’ve thought as soon as they look at the Lunarians, they turn into a maniac killing machine? Or Bort who enjoyed fighting so much couldn’t dare to hit those puppies? Or the first reaction Dia has when they wake up was upset because they didn’t have a chance to play with those puppies? I tell ya, they will fall head over heel if they ever watch a moe anime. How Houseki fuse seamlessly between thrilling action from last week and screwball misadventure this week without losing a hair of their identity is beyond me. For all the comedic tone this episode establishes, most of them work very well. What doesn’t work well, however, is the unnecessary Rutile – Padparadscha story that feel way too abrupted and way too late in the game. I admit I mildly interested in Rutile’s obsession of bringing the old Gem back to life, and the visuals are striking, but for the character that we haven’t heard once before, at the second last episode of this cour, in addition with Phos’ ongoing conflict on top of it, that shift is a total whiplash. It might work better in the manga version since there will be a progression to this Papparadscha character, but as the one-cour anime I would look for a tighter story because simply we don’t have much time to tell everything. Houseki, learn to cut off some parts of your body and patch it up somewhere more useful.

8 Responses

  1. Avatar Strength says:

    First there was punipuni. Then there was fuafua. Then Houseki was born. What is next? Flying buddhists, talking snails, booby octopuses, screaming ice floes, Pretty-Cure, sleepwalking & hibernation, punipuni golden arms and fuafua Moon doggies, this show has it all, body horror, body humor, you name it.

    Even when it is so over the top, Houseki no Kuni remains very streamlined and in character, never calling for attention. It firmly established itself as a show of unlimited surprises. It manages to glue together fairly disparate genres/tones and I think we can conclude by now that this is in essence the personality of the show. Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio comes to my mind again.

    Anyway, awesome episode. So much good stuff. My favorite moments were:

    1 serious: Phos meeting Antark in the super-dimensional geometry space-time. Such multi-faceted scene!
    – it starts with Phos’ conflict depicted through hesitation to ask the one question, which runs deep into Phos’ identity crysis, fueled by Antark’s death
    – continues with stopped time, which symbolizes its introspective and self-reflective purpose
    – the scene transition is perfect. Because everything is still, camera movement is emphasized as it does 180 around Phos in the center, confused, in the middle of it all, distant from everyone, drowned in own desparation, trying to reach out. The colors change between warmth of the coziness of everyone sleeping together and cold of alien geometrical spiral of pain, at the end of which
    – there is Antark standing, a silent reminder, badass and lonely, observing Phos’ struggle
    – Antark offers but a single hint. Uses the exact same gesture as before in completely different context, very effectively connecting his (its) strict personality, the moment of death, the lingering effect on Phos, and his answer regarding the question of sensei’s loyalty
    – Antark crumbles again! Its devastating each and every time…
    – Phos drops the boots, perhaps symbolizes how Phos keeps chasing ghosts instead of reality?
    – musiiiiiiic

    “Returning to Moon?” “No, it appears it has found its peace” Phos asks bluntly, no hesitation. And sensei answers honestly. Very powerful. Phos’ reaction to this appears incredibly sad to me, translating to “how can death ever be a good thing?”. I surmise death to be the ultimate theme of the show and that Lunarians are souls, i.e. dead remains of people that can not find peace so they chase gems to attain/maintain life instead of accepting their fate and vanish. This juxtaposes the immortal Gems that miss something integral, living, but not nearly enough and treating death lightly.

    2 humorous: Jade stuck under Shiro’s feet, reaching for help. Jade is my most favorite (side-)character for me – the ultimate amalgamation of taking itself seriously and utterly failing – nicely impersonating the nature of the show. Jade is the ultimate moe…

    Dia’s reaction to missing out on fuafua indeed does deserve a special mention. She is such a treasure, expressive and cute, hugging the fluffy imitation to death in eternal joy.

    anime_is_saved/10

    “Houseki, learn to cut off some parts of your body and patch it up somewhere more useful.”
    I disagree. I dont care about the 12-ep format. i’d rather have a non-existent ending than inconsistencies. S2 can always be made, inconsistencies will always remain and I hate ending for the sake of having an ending or shifting arcs around. The show should have the balls to not compromise even at the cost. Like Aku no Hana, screw the haters, its great. People expecting proper 1st episode, proper fanservice episode, proper ending and proper whatever from even shows that clearly were not made for it are only putting more pressure on the creators that then bend their creations into mainstream rubbish. I never expected big reveals about gem identity in S1 and am not terribly interested in this Kongo sensei lied to us plot thread. Id rather this be continued in S2 (or never) and see dazzling Padparadscha, jealous Dia or competitive Borth instead.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      You said it. Body horror, body humor, body comfort. Let’s not forget Super Saiyan hair color-changing too and 101 Dalmoonarians. One thing I just noticed just now is that the total number of those Moon puppies was 108, which has long been considered a sacred number in Buddhism.

      I love that scene where Phos hallucinates about Antarc as well. In the manga it’s a striking panel, but in the anime it works by panning around Phos. Yep the music, color and Antarc’s gesture are too on point that it’s devastating.

      For humorous choice, I love the whole sequence. From Phos’ alloy decoy, Jade under Shiro’s feet like you mentioned, and especially the Gem with black hair who try to cover their skirt and said “ecchi”, because obviously Gems don’t have genital part or even wear any underwear so why bother covering!!

      Well, I share your sentiments about being consistent but in truth, 70% shows out there that just end in the middle of desert road and never see the day of light for sequel, and that frustrate me to no end. I’m the dude who believe every work should have conclusive ending (and that’s why I’m willing to watch shows till the end) so I care about the ending point that could make me feel satisfied.

      Another Flowers of Evil’s supporter? I read the whole story and the more I read, the more I was impressed at the decision to stop the first cour right there. But its biggest crime lies in the fact that (again) we never see more of the story in anime form and we have no one but ourselves to blame for. READ ON THE MANGA GUYS!!!!!!!

      • Avatar Strength says:

        Didn’t catch the number 108. interesting. I also didn’t notice how Phos and Cinnabar were the only ones in standard uniforms (until I read your post).

        Yeah shows nowadays tend to simply not end and disappear, but I don’t know. Just trying to get your perspective here: Is the ending some magical part which determines how good all the previous episodes were? I never understood how the ending can ‘ruin’ a show either. Why does Aku no Hana anime need an ending (when it is only a part of the story) If they split Naruto into cours, would you want ending for each of them?

        So the way I approach this is to see the anime (adapting part of something) as a projection of that part, where ending would become an artificial change detracting from the continuity. If the anime does not continue, its sad, but better than have it changed only to fit some arbitrary number of episodes. Just pick up the manga or something? Latest offender for me is Gintama, its current arc adapts (I hear) chapters from before an already adapted arc. They switched the order and it immediately caused tonal problems (too many serious arcs in a row). For me, this is a grave sin, not lack of an ending that wasn’t supposed to be there to begin with. I feel like I’m in a minority though.

        PS:
        Yeah Aku no Hana manga is great, I’m definitely rereading it soon. I love the anime too though, its great, including the last ep. I rewatched it just few days ago! ++ for the authors having the balls… They literally wanted to make an impact, screw the sales.
        Aku no Hana is one of those rare works where both source material and adaptation leverage their respective medium and reach a great height, each on their own, despite being the same on paper. I have yet to read Houseki, but I guess its the same there, right?

        • SuperMario SuperMario says:

          Let me put it this way, every work should have a proper ending planned out right when they start it. It is because every story need a direction, thus knowing your destination, you can pave the road with plot points, foreshadowing, visual motifs, whatever. I’m much more used to the cinema medium where “having a proper ending planned out” is pretty much the norm. But in TV shows, manga and anime medium this is not always the case, usually it’s more about having an interesting premise that hook the audience and they only have vague sense of what the ending will be like. Anime medium is the worse since most of the time it is the way to promote the franchise, the manga and we have to wait for years for a sequel with lesser shows, so at least as in customer’s point of view I’d want something conclusive to ease my mind when it ends abruptly.

          But think about it: when adapting a manga or whatever source it’s still in anime medium, and sometimes they need to make change and take artistic liberty to make it more appropriate in anime form. And I happen to consider condensing the material in order to best tell the story in 12 episodes a part of it. I would rather prefer the staff mixing the content a bit (like in Haruhi’s case) rather than adapting chapter by chapter (like 3-gatsu) because sometimes it doesn’t work in anime form. Houseki fortunately doesn’t have this issues though.

          And of course, this is just my perspective on the issues and not a jab against your points because I can totally see where you come from.

          I wrote a 4000 words essay rambling about the universe of Flowers of Evil before (http://psgels.net/2016/09/21/closer-look-flowers-evil/) so you know I’m madly addicted to the show and the manga. If I have to choose which version I prefer I’d go with the manga, with all due respect to the anime version. I have yet to watch Houseki’s manga either apart from comparing some parts from manga and anime but yeah I would definitely think it’s the same case there.

          • Avatar Strength says:

            We have a different approach to the problem with seasons and cours with anime adaptations, but it’s fine. I take no issue with this, no need to get defensive.

            I’ll read your post. I’m glad to meet fellow AnH fan! I’d also go with manga, but manga almost always wins for me, as the detailed art captures many nuances that anime can not. But I love the anime too!

          • Avatar Strength says:

            PS: Excuse my brevity, but clearly there is not enough room for continuing our exchange…

  2. Avatar Amagi says:

    Regarding Padparadscha: it’s like you said, it ties in seamlessly into the ongoing manga story and the anime is just adapting everything pretty faithfully. Maybe including Pad suggest that they’re at least considering the possibility of a second season so they rather choose to include everything, even if it might seem weird as a season’s end, over skipping things to make a better anime finale but getting problems afterward, in case that there might be a second season. Who knows.

    The problem is that the manga is very condensed regarding story and progress. So skipping Padparadscha now would lead to a lot of problems, since Phos is supposed to talk to them next chapter/episode and, like everything Phos does, it influences their future behavior. So skipping this would only work if they’d make the last episode fully original with some one-episode adventure I guess.

    tl;dr Just give us season 2 please

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