Sunday, December 31, 2017

Land Of The Lustrous Vol. 4 Review

After the events of the last volume, Spring has finally come and the Gems are awakened by a more laconic and somber Phosphophyllite with Rutile noticing a certain amount of memory disintegration in Phos. While the other gems are fascinated by the new properties of Phos's new alloy arms. Latter on Phos and Bort temporarily team up testing the bonds between Bort and Diamond while Bort and Phos fight a Lunarian that it seems to have some familiarity with Sensei. Leaving Phos with questions of how much loyalty Phos should show to Sensei. While Phos is also having hallucinations about Antarcticite and establishing anew a connection with Cinnabar. With volume four Land Of The Lustrious feels settled in its world while volume one felt jumbled volume two felt transitional and more about establishing the structure of the world and volume three was all about character growth and establishing stakes in the battle with the Lunarians. This volume mixes humor, solemnity, and almost claustrophobic action in a way that feels organic with no real odd tonal shifts. With a good section of the volume dedicated to tightly cropped fight scenes interspersed with one-page splash pages to give a sense of grand scale to the battle with the Lunarian. In particular, Diamond's battle with it, in fact, Diamond's entire character arc is the strongest in the story showing the Gem's self-sacrificing nature but also a kind of inward melancholy. Showing that Ichikawa-Sensei can give real human emotions to non-human characters and not have it crash directly into the Uncanny Valley. Also, this volume has a better economy of storytelling knowing when to start one story arc and end another feeling less muddled than the story in Volume One. While also being able to equally show the art you can tell Diamond is troubled in one scene, not because of an internal monologue or obvious narration. Simply because of the pained expression on Diamond's face or Alexandrite's transformation at one point hinting at some kind of internal conflict behind the seeming "Lunarian Otaku" exterior. While also continuing to keep the aura of mystery around Sensei while also subtly humanizing him as well. Making for a series that has gotten beyond it's growing pains of the first two volumes and the oppressive emotional heaviness of volume three and instead struck a good balance between humor, heart, and dark oppressive Angst with Phos having all the hallmarks of a trauma case or someone who suffers from PTSD. This is again impressive because the audience is having to believe a sentient rock can feel that deeply and be that emotionally wounded. This is an all another kind of Anthorpomoriphization and it succeeds in spades. Never did I mentally "check out" and think "it's only a rock" about any of the Gems they were happy I was happy sad I was sad. If good art is as I feel a marriage of empathy and beauty this series is an exquisite union of the two.

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