The world in Haruko Ichikawa’s 2012 manga “Land of the Lustrous” is void of human life, but its successors defend their existence.

Readers follow Phosphophyllite (Phos) a Lustrous or humanoid crystal who is the youngest within the community, being almost 300 years old. While also being the youngest, they are also one of the most fragile members with a hardness 3.5 on the Mohs scale. Still the minty green being tries to find their place that would benefit the group as they fight their sworn enemies, the Lunarians. Their foes relentlessly attack them in order to gain ground, even using shards of fellow Lustrous as weapons. The Lustrous leader, Sensei gives Phos the task to compile a report on the land’s natural history wanting to keep the gem away from the battlefield. However, little did anyone realize how much Phos will uncover that will change the tide of the conflict.

Kodansha Comics recommends this manga for those who like the hit Cartoon Network “Steven Universe” (SU) and it is easy to see how it appeals to some. They both share themes of growth and development for their protagonists as they learn about themselves and why they need to fight. Unlike SU’s gems, the Lustrous all have the same type of thin, androgynous body structure in which Ichikawa plays with the gems’ characteristics to create distinctions. Her art style is like a blend between CLAMP’s “xxxHOLIC” and shoujo manga of the late 80’s and 90’s without heavy amounts of detail. It is very different to some of the current popular titles so it might take readers a bit to adjust to the art. It doesn’t stand as a hindrance compared to Phos’s determination as both readers and they want to know more.

Before releasing this project, Ichikawa received the 2010 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Award, New Artist Prize for her early oneshot work “Mushi to Uta” (Insect and Song). It is unknown if her first set of stories will be picked up by an English publisher, but check out Kodansha Comics’ site for news on “Land of the Lustrous”.

 

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