Try This: The Land of the Lustrous
While going through a back catalog of shows I overlooked in 2017, I still feel like kicking myself for ever passing up on Houseki no Kuni, otherwise known as The Land of the Lustrous. The first official animated series by Studio Orange, The Land of the Lustrous is not only an impressive step towards three-dimensional computer animation as a serious medium for storytelling, but also an impressive observation of Buddhist themes wrapped in a Steven Universe-esque setting.
Written originally by Haruko Ichikawa, The Land of the Lustrous is set in a desolate future where an island inhabited by anthropomorphic gems fight for their lives against mystical beings known as the Lunarians. The show centers around the character Phosphorite (or “Phos” for short), and her inability to be useful to fight against the Lunarians as she is too frail, passive, and immature to be an effective teammate.
Unable to handle her faults, the 13 episode arc revolves around Phos’ development at the expense of losing portions of herself (figuratively and not so figuratively). The show has a very pointed observation to make about acceptance, imperfection, religion, and mysticism in a way that took me completely off-guard and makes the unorthodox animation style feel appropriate. I’m hopeful for a possible second season as the show left me clamoring for information. The Land of the Lustrous has much to tell and only scratches the surface in this immediate run.
The Land of the Lustrous is licensed by Sentai Filmworks and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.