Manga / Houseki no Kuni

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Beautiful and strong... they are the Lustrous.

Houseki no Kuni (translated as Kingdom of Gems) is an Action/Fantasy Seinen manga series created by Haruko Ichikawa and published by Kodansha. It is currently being released under the title Land of the Lustrous in the west by Kodansha USA, with a CGI anime series by Orange premiering in October for the Fall 2017 season.

In a world inhabited by crystalline lifeforms called The Lustrous, every unique gem must fight for their way of life against the threat of Lunarians who would turn them into decorations. Phosphophyllite, the most fragile and brittle of gems, longs to join the battle. When Phos is instead assigned to complete a natural history of their world, it sounds like a dull and pointless task. But this new job brings Phos into contact with Cinnabar, a gem forced to live in isolation. Can Phos’s seemingly mundane assignment lead both Phos and Cinnabar to the fulfillment they desire?


Tropes in this series include:

  • 108: When Shiro is cut into several "pieces" and the gems finally wrangle them all, it's noted that there's 107 of them. Pho later finds #108 with Cinnabar.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Alex wants Bort and Phos to capture a new type of Moon dweller alive. Bortz tells him off on this.
  • After the End: Takes place on an Earth that's been pummeled by meteors repeatedly. The gem people, the sea slug people, and the moon people are all distant evolutionary descendants of the remains of humanity, greatly changed to adapt to the new environment.
  • The Ageless: The gems don't age and don't have a lifespan. The oldest, Yellow Diamond, is over 3000 years old, and the youngest, Phosphophyllite is around 300 years old. They look about the same age.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: The animated series. The manga's PV was in 2D. However, it's done more in a similar fashion to Transformers: Robots in Disguise or Berserk (2016) by also having 2D elements blended in.
  • Ambiguous Gender/No Biological Sex: The gems. While they refer to themselves using male pronouns (earlier translations mistakenly used female ones) and they refer to each other as "Brother", the concept of gender is never brought up once. They are all androgynous in appearance, although their personal speech pattern differs from masculine to feminine. Phos in particular is confused when seeing Wentricosus's "water bags".
  • And Then What?: As soon as Phos tells Cinnabar his plan to investigate Adamant-Sensei, Cinnabar immediately shoots back that they need to have an idea of what to do after they find out the truth.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Happens fairly often, especially to the gems with a lower hardness rating; fortunately, limbs and other broken-off bits can be reattached easily. In cases where the broken-off bits are not recoverable, they can use materials similar in composition to replace them.
  • Anatomy of the Soul: The soul ("spirit") is treated as a separate element of particular properties. Along with the bone and the flesh (implied to be the mind), the three formed the Humans who inhabited the land before the Gems. Souls left behind by humans also conglomerate and form the Moon People.
  • Apocalypse How: According to Sensei and the history of the Admirabilis by Ventricosus, a very long time ago, the land "broke" five times before a meteor strike did it in for the sixth and final time. The humans and other life were forced to flee to the oceans, as only "a single beach" had remained—now known as the Beach of Beginnings—while six moons formed from the debris of the meteor crashing into the Earth. From there, the Admirabilis, the Gems, and the Lunarians were born, though so far, we only know how the Gems are formed: lifeforms that couldn't escape to the ocean in time when there was still one moon ended up dying, with their sinking corpses being decomposed to the bone and being crystallized over time before gaining sentience and rising from the Beach of Beginnings.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Most of Cairngorm's scolding to Phos falls on deaf ears, but when he calls him out on his constant projecting of lost partners on him, that's the one thing that prompts Phos to follow him.
    "At any rate, when you're hurting... Antarc or Ghost, call me what you want."
  • Artificial Limbs: Whenever a gem loses their body parts, they can use something similar to replace it. Materials similar to Phos are rare, but in exchange his body is very receptive to other materials.
    • When Phos' legs are lost, they're replaced with agate, which grants them Super Speed.
    • When Phos' arms are lost, they're replaced with gold and platinum alloy, which he can shape at will.
    • Even later, Phos' head is lost, which is then later replaced by the head of Lapis Lazuli, another gem.
    • Phos gets a Pearl eye as a camera after deciding to work for the Lunarians.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Implied to be Shiro and the Pieces' demise after Sensei deals with them. Later pretty much confirmed, and stated that this is the goal for every Lunarian still stuck in this world.
  • Asleep for Days: The gems work on sunlight, so, during winter where the skies get cloudy they all go into hibernation. Sensei, Antarcticite and later Phos can however avoid that.
  • As You Know: The entire introductory chapter is just various Lustrous and Adamant explaining to each other what their focus and purpose is. In context, they talk about how amazing their body structure is and why Phos can't land a job respectively.
  • Author Appeal: Just looking at Ichikawa's previous works makes one realize that Houseki is a combination on many of her favorite themes. Buddhist imagery, humanoid evolution, beings rising up from the sea, and the complexity of Man come unsurprisingly regularly here.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While many gems' relationships with one another are complicated in a very human-like way, thus leading some of them to come off crass, cold or severe (such as dismissive attitudes towards Phos, or Dia and Bort's Hidden Depths regard for the other), when push comes to shove they're constantly shown to go through great lengths to protect and save one another. They'll often express concern for each other, whether outright (say, Dia), or subtly (say, Cinna or Bort).
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Phos, for the longest time, wished to be useful and strong enough to fight instead of being incompetent. He get his wish in the most tragic way possible, with his old personality chipping away before getting alloy upgrades and people dear him getting taken away to the Moon in the process of becoming stronger.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The day Phos turns three hundred years old is also the day the gem's legs get destroyed, and the day he learns about the three races and how they evolved from humans.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Lunarians' base is probably made from bismuth. It also melts at night, creating an ocean of structures and transforming the buddhist imagery into a more modern, western like fancy imagery.
  • Bloodless Carnage: On the virtue of being made from gemstones (The Lustrous) and clouds (The Lunarians) respectively, this series can get away with showing a lot of injuries that would have been incredibly graphic otherwise.
  • Blunt "Yes": Sensei gives a rather short, affirmative answer when asked if he was created by Humans, much to Phos' surprise.
  • Body Horror: When the gems break or crack, which happens quite frequently among the gems of lower hardness when the Lunarians attack. However, due to the gems being rocks, its less gory and hard to look at, as it is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Broken Bird: Cinnabar. Due to being a Poisonous Person with uncontrollable powers, the gem lives alone apart from everyone else. Understandably, he is extremely gloomy most of the time.
  • Butt-Monkey: Phos starts the story like this. He is weak, clumsy, and generally bad at anything, ending up as the butt of jokes of other gems. He later Took a Level in Badass as the story goes on though.
    • Benito seems to fill this role once Phos starts becoming better at things.
  • Call-Back:
    • All the way back in Chapter 2, Phos tells Cinnabar that he'll find a job for him that only Cinnbar can do, and one that's at least fun. When Phos remembers to give Cinnabar a job in Chapter 36 and tells him about it, allhe replies with at first is "You forgot fun."
    • Chapter 46's image of the gems running is a direct mirror of the first chapter's cover image, only with a different set of Gems and set one hundred two years later.
    • The last time the viewers see the original Morganite and Goshe in the manga is in the same poses they were in when we see them leave Phos in the first chapter.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: It is eventually revealed that this is how the Lunarians approach the Land, as the vessels work like ships with a layer of camouflage on them. An arrow breaking the stealth shield is what creates the Sunspots the gems see when they are attacked. The multiple Sunspots are probably the result of more than one layer of camouflage shield.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For Phos, as he learns about the world surrounding him and how to accept it.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: After becoming strong, Phos becomes somewhat insensitive to the feelings of others and tries to look out for themself. Rutile warns him against this after Jade becomes traumatized from punching Phos.
  • Complete Immortality: The closest you can get to killing a gem is breaking them into pieces and not putting them back together. As long as the parts can be recovered, anyone can come back to life.
  • Custom Uniform: Whichever gem is serving as the Winter Guard (Antarctcite, and later, Cairngorm) wears an all-white uniform and black high-heeled boots.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Moon People grind captured gems down into a luminescent dust that gets spread across the moon's surface. They hope that the constant reminder of his pupils' fates will break Sensei's spirit and force him to send them to the afterlife.
  • Death Seeker:
    • Padsparadscha is a non lethal version. He would prefer to be left sleeping forever as to not worry Rutile anymore.
    • Cinnabar is also a non lethal version, since he wants to be taken to the moon.
    • Then we have the Lunarians. Technically, they're already dead, but they just wish to finally pass on to the afterlife and want their souls purified.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The ending theme of Episode 8 is done by Tomoyo Kurosawa, Phos' seiyuu.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Episode 8. After spending the episode being encouraged by Antarcticite, Antarcticite is killed by the Lunarians, causing Phos to attempt to avenge him, but fails miserably. A special ending theme plays, heavily implied to be Phos mourning Antarc's death.
  • Easter Egg: As it turns out, every cover of the manga has Cinnabar hidden somewhere in it. He's usually on the inside flap.
  • Evolutionary Stasis: It takes millions of years for a Gem to form, and yet after that they and their culture remain stagnant for thousands of years.
  • Fanservice: It's not very blatant, but they do have some scenes of the Gems in various sensual poses. Euclase also gets a nude scene in the story, with generous attention to their backside. In general, fanservice tends to be focused on the gems backsides, with Bortz being a primary offender primarily in his summer uniform.
  • The Fashionista: Red Beryl. The gem insists on sewing new uniforms for everyone every time the season changes. He also tend to go on a rant about his pursuit of passion whenever asked.
  • The Fog of Ages: Some Gems have been around for so long that they can't remember exactly what their original aspirations were or what their goals were, as Yellow Diamond shows us.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Cairngorm is taken to Sensei to be given a new identity, Sensei stares strangely at him and examines him in order to give him his new name. Much attention is paid to Sensei's eye as this is happening, as it glints unlike the other Gems. A robot gathering information might do that as well.
    • The name itself is a dead giveaway. Adamant is the hardest substance in the world, but it does not refer to a specific gem or mineral.
    • When Ventricosus is leading Phos to her home, she tells him to toss the bowl he used to carry her, only for Phos to reply that he'd certainly get in trouble if he didn't bring it home. There's then a silent panel of Ventricosus smiling oddly, most likely in a pitying way, knowing that her plan doesn't involve Phos going home.
  • HAHAHA–No: After Adamant-sensei lies about his connection to the being in the labcoat, Phos lets out a long laugh before yelling at him to quit lying to his face.
  • Heaven: the Other World. Its actually more similar to depictions of Nirvana, keeping up with the Buddhist motif the series has.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Antarcticite lets the Lunarians abduct him in order to save Phos. This hits Phos deeply.
    • Ghost lets himself get chipped away and taken by the Lunarians, leaving Cairngorm left to look out for Phos.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Phos is 300 years old, yet the gem's attitude is far from mature. Subverted in that the Gems are different from humans (who are explicity stated to learn and pass knowledge) and in that Phos ends up maturing a lot after some difficult experiences.
  • Important Haircut: Phosphophyllite cuts his hair after Antarcticite gets taken to the moon. After this, the gem began to act much more serious.
  • Insistent Terminology: Sensei doesn't take naps, the gem only meditates.
  • Immortals Fear Death: After listening about humanity and death Phos comments on this, and about how does death give life value or not.
  • Ironic Echo: "Don't go to the Moon". First said by Phos to Cinnabar because he's desperate to feel wanted after years of being a danger and liability to his peers, and then vice-versa because Phos wants to seek the truth about the Lunarians and Cinnabar knows that anyone who's gone to the Moon doesn't return.
  • It's All My Fault: Said word by word by Antarcticite after Phos' arms are lost, and before that by the Amethyst twins after they lose in battle and Phos is too scared to run away.
  • Kick the Dog: The first Gem shard that Prince shows to Phos while explaining what happens to Gems taken to the Moon? Antarcticite. More specifically, his eye, which Prince proceeds to grind into powder in front of Phos' own eyes. And he knows that the Gem meant dear to them.
  • Killed Offscreen: To highlight the change more than a century can make, Morganite and Goshenite were taken to the Moon, replaced with a newer, younger set of the same material.
  • Know When To Fold Them: Bort's first lecture to Phos: a warrior that doesn't know when to quit is not useful to anyone.
  • Line in the Sand: Before going to the Moon a second time, Phos warns the other Lustrous with him that they (with the exception of Cairngorm) still have one last chance to object. None of them turn him down.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: 28 gem people. On the other hand, there's few characters outside that group.
  • Lunarians: The bad guys. They're trying to take the gems to the moon and turn them into jewelry. Later they are stated to be another descendants of humanity, alongside the gems and the Admirabilis. Wentricosus ponders whether they want to reunite to become humans again. They don't. They just want to pass on to the afterlife.
  • Me's a Crowd: Shiro, a male-like Lunarian its able to do this.
  • Multiarmed And Dangerous: One of the Lunarians has six arms.
  • Neglectful Precursors: Prince suggests the humans who built Sensei were this, given that they put special effort into assuring that he wouldn't damage on the outside but didn't account on him breaking on the inside. Ultimately according to his story this is what started the whole problem, since none of the Lunarians know how to fix him or can even attempt to since he is utterly indestructible.
  • New Content Countdown Clock: The anime's website had a countdown for a specific event in the series. By the time it ended, it revealed that it was for the start of the Winter arc and the first appearance of Antarcticite.
  • "No" Means "Yes": Unlike Cinnabar, who genuinely didn't want to go to the moon, Cairngorm was the most vocal protestor and even says he don't want to go, right before the next couple of panels show him reluctantly going.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Once Prince Aechmea shatters Phos on the Moon, he invites the Gem for a tour and later a fancy dinner, as he plans to negotiate with him.
  • Noodle People: The gems. Possibly justified, given that they evolved from the "bones" of humanity, depending on how literally you want to take that legend.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Adamant-sensei gives a real shocked expression when Phos mentions Humans. In general, anything connecting itself to that topic, such as Professor, will crack his facade. Phos getting taken to the Moon gives off this reaction as well.
    • Gems will regulalrly have this reaction when a particularly unusual Lunarian enemy comes to fight.
    • Rutile certainly is shocked when Padparascha's case is taken to the moon, enough to start cracking himself in its mere absence.
  • One Steve Limit: Broken. There's Diamond, Yellow Diamond and Green Diamond.
    • Then there are Amethyst 84 and 33, the twin crystals of the group.
    • During the Time Skip, Morganite and Goshenite were taken to the moon. Shortly after, a new Morganite and Goshenite were born.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Red Beryl makes the gems wear these during their hibernation.
  • Posthumous Character: Phos reminding Ghost of his taken partner,Lapis Lazuli is a driving factor behind the gem teaming up with Phos. Later Lapis's head is used to replace Phos's after his get taken to the moon, bringing him back.
    • The various gems, Blue Zoisite, Topaz, Chrysoberyl, Green Diamond and etc. had been taken to the moon prior to the start of the Manga events and can be seen as this as it is likely that they're long gone.
  • Poisonous Person: Cinnabar emits a toxic substance (probably mercury) that's quite useful in fighting the moon people. Unfortunately, he can't control it, so he has to stay away from the other gems to avoid harming them.
  • Power Levels: Based on Mohs scale of mineral hardness. As expected, Diamond, Yellow Diamond and Bortz are the hardest at 10, but Adamant-sensei, whose exact hardness is unknown, is apparently even harder than that.
  • Psychological Combat: Chapter 41 has the Lunarians' tactics evolve to include more personal attacks on the Gems. They bait in the Gems with shards of Gems they've already taken to the Moon, and once they're close enough they start chipping away at them. This is especially noticeable in that the shards they use to take the advantage are of Gems with partners that were with Phos at the time.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The gems are able to do this, even with different materials.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Bortz has long black hair that's longer than his height. Phosphophyllite asks him to cut his hair when they fight together when Adamant is asleep. Padparadscha and Sphene also qualify.
  • Reality Ensues: Regarding Ventricosus. Phos expects to talk to her when remembering their encounter. The problem is, over a hundred years had passed since, so Phos quickly learns that Ventricosus died long ago.
  • Revolving Door Casting: The main focus of certain arcs changes constantly in size and in characters, with Phos being at the center of it all.
  • Rock Theme Naming
  • Rule of Symbolism: A huge amount of it regarding Buddhist concepts and teachings.
    • When cut down, Shiro divides into 108 smaller creatures. 108 is a very important number in Buddhism.
    • Phos' upgrades so far follow the Seven Treasures of Buddhism— crystal (body), gold, platinum (arms), agate (legs), lapislazuli (head), pearl (left eye). Time will tell if they will obtain carmelian and ruby.
    • Nirvana is mentioned and plays a role in the story. Essentially, the Moon People are revealed to be human souls, seeking for release from their earthly desires via achieving Nirvana, which explains their Bodhitsava-like attires.
    • Phos spends 49 days in the Moon. 49 is the number of days one spends in the afterlife before being reborn again. given that the Lunarians are the souls of dead humans...
    • When Phos and the other Lustrous in his party prepare to go to the Moon, they sit in Cicadas lap in a manner reminiscent to a Buddha statue.
    • The Lustrous' culture do have a lot of death symbolism in it. Their uniforms are described as being based off of funeral attire, they sometimes carry each other in body bags when they're broken, Kongou is dressed as a Buddhist monk that ritually prays for the dead to pass on which is supposed to be his role for the Lunarians, and their Winter robes are tied with the frontmost lapel pointing towards the left, which usually is done for the dead.
  • Run or Die: The Amethysts warn Phos about this once a particularly strong group of Moon-People come down and make quick work of them in the beginning of Volume 3.
  • Sanity Slippage: After the Winter, Phos starts hallucinating about Antarcticite and starts growing suspicious of Sensei, to the point of trying to leave to contact the Moon People alone .
  • Secret Keeper: Padparadscha knows about Sensei´s relationship with the Moon People. Unfortunately for Phos, the gem falls asleep before revealing any relevant information.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: In more than one way during Chapter 44, "A Short Path". Phos trying to take a shortcut via sliding over the frozen lake ends up with both him and Cairngorm crashing on the ice and being scolded by Rutile. Cairngorm himself acknowledges this trope. Later on the chapter, Cairngorm tries to take a "shortcut" towards waiting for Phos to recover his lost head, and he uses Lapis head instead. Then in the next chapter, we see that 100 years have passed and Phos still hasn't awakened, referencing the trope again.
  • Shout-Out: The Latin lyrics to "liquescimus", odi et amo, often translated as "I hate and I love.", is lifted from Catullus 85, one of Catullus's most well-known poems to his mistress, Lesbia. In this poem, Catullus details his conflicting feelings about his deteriorating relationship with Lesbia. When applied to "liquescimus", it is presumably referring to Phos' self-loathing for being unable to save someone who loved him like no one else did.
  • Shown Their Work: The method Antarcticite uses to break apart the floes is very similar to how people harvest ice in real life via ice cutting. (That is, using a pickaxe (the high heels) to mark how the ice will break apart, then using a saw (the serrated sword) to cleave the ice apart.) And it's kinda amazing how much research Haruko did with the gems:
    • Cinnabar is an ore of mercury, the same metal that floats around the gem.
    • Watermelon Tourmaline has electricity powers and their gem is piezoelectric.
    • Antarcticite is a mineral that only forms in Antarctica, when it gets cold enough. The character is only solid during winter.
    • Alexandrite changes color based the amount of sunlight it gets and in the manga the character changes color too.
    • The Amethyst Twins are called sometimes called 84 and 33. The reason for the nicknames might be confusing until you realize that Japan Law Twinning, a crystal formation law, requires the two gems to meet at an angle of 84*33'.
    • Ghost Quartz forms over already created gems. Makes sense the character has another gem inside of them.
    • Obsidian is a stone used by blacksmiths in the production of weaponry.
  • Single-Minded Twins: The Amethyst twins.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: The ending to Episode 8 plays "liquescimus", sung by Phos's voice actor. It is about Phos mourning Antarc's death.
  • Spoiler Opening: The very first scene of Phos waking up in fetus position while underwater hints at how gems are born.
  • Suicide Mission: Phos' idea of going to the Moon to retrieve everyone who got captured is treated as this.
  • Super Speed: Yellow Diamond, the oldest of the gems. Later Phos manages to be as fast as him, if only for a while.
  • Take Up My Sword: In the last few hundred years, the Winter duties keep getting passed around. Antarcticite had them originally, but following his being taken to the Moon the duty gets pushed to Phos. Then, Cairngorm gets the job from Phos after Phos gets his head torn off.
  • Tell Me Again: In the beginning of the story, Kongou-sensei asks Phos to recite the Lustrous' origin tale, which also tells the audience about how the land came to be and how they were formed.
  • Time Skip: One happens after Phos' head is lost. A hundred and two years pass before Phos finally wakes up.
  • That Was Not a Dream: After Ghost gets taken away, Phos wakes up, approaches a recently-freed Cairngorm in the distance, and promptly gets a fist in the face for being responsible for Ghost's demise. Phos wakes up believing its a dream, since Rutile and Jade cant find words to explain to Phos what's happening, and the scene repeats again. Then its about to repeat a third time, but Sensei stops Cairngorm before Phos gets punched again.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: Discussed by Rutile when thinking of replacing Phos' head; Rutile wonders if by that point would they even possible to call the gem Phos, since about half of the gem's body is replaced.by other materials.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Phos gets a huge upgrade in fighting ability whenever they get new Artificial Limbs.
    • First Phos gets a pair of agate legs, which grant him Super Speed that Phos at first can't control.
    • Secondly, Phos gets gold and platinum alloys for arms, which Phos can shapeshift at will.
    • Thirdly, Phos gets Lapis Lazuli's head after the gem lost his, giving Phos higher observational skill.
  • Truth in Television: According to Sensei and Ventricosus in regards to the creation of Gems, it's a rare occurrence; a corpse decomposes (underwater, no less) and its bones are crystallized over time for "ages", and the result may be a sentient being made of a gemstone. In real life, there is such thing as crystallized fossils, though Houseki no Kuni seems to take some artistic liberty (or or something else) with it since Sensei is at least 10,000 years old and seems to have been made by humans, which may put into perspective how long ago the apocalypse was while fossils are typically millions of years old.
  • Two Beings, One Body: Ghost Quartz has another gem living inside them. Then they got taken to the moon, leaving the other gem alone. The other Ghost is later given the name Cairngorm.
  • Wham Episode: The Winter episodes, where Phos changes and the first gem gets taken. Its also where the plot starts to kick in.
    • And of course the Moon episodes, when Phos finally goes to the Moon to face the Lunarians in their base.
  • Wham Line: When Ventricosus and Phos finally reach the home of the Admirabilis:
    Ventricosus: Just as you care about Cinnabar... I, too, have someone I care about. Forgive me.
    • Phos arriving on the moon and discovering what became of the other captured gems:
    Prince: Decorated with you, our world is beautiful.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Happens everytime Phos loses a body part. It's noted that Phos's body is much more receptive to different materials as replacements compared to other gems. In fact, Phos actually recommends this in case he gets broken into pieces after planning to go to the moon.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The rare three-Lunarian attack formation is this. Once one of them has been defeated, the other two begin to retreat and a Lustrous usually goes after them. They then take this opportunity to steal the Lustrous away. The method they capture Ghost with is similar; the remaining two vessels close up into a sticky ball with a hole above it. If a gem gets too close, they take it through the hole.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Everyone's hair corresponds with the color of their skin underneath the white makeup they wear.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Alexandrite goes completely nuts when looking at a Lunarian. Because of this Sensei has forbidden him participate in battles.


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