Blu-Ray Review: Land of the Lustrous – The Complete Collection

Land of the Lustrous brings a sense of unexpected animation styles with a unique story; but what can one expect from this Blu-Ray release? Well’s take a look and find out!

Synopsis:

No matter what the odds, life will find a way to continue, with young Phos and the other gems as the ultimate proof. Instead of flesh, their bodies are made of living crystal, allowing them to survive in a world too toxic for any human. But their gem bodies also attract a terrible danger: the Lunarians, who hunt the gems and use their shattered forms to fabricate jewelry and ornaments.

The gems with the strongest forms defend the others, but Phos is too weak and brittle to fight. Instead, Phos is ordered to compile an encyclopedia; but could that research discover hidden secrets that could help the gems?

Join Phos, the toxic Cinnabar, the powerful Bort, the valiant Diamond, and others in a glittering world unlike anything you have seen before!

Our View:

Land of the Lustrous is a forgetful story of self-discovery and finding one’s worth in a world filled with uncertainty and mystery. Adapted from Haruko Ichikawa’s manga of the same name, and beautifully crafted in CG by the animation studio ORANGE, Land of the Lustrous provides an alternate type of anime experience that looks pretty but doesn’t fulfil the simplest of needs for a good progressive story.

Based on looks alone I was tempted to pass on this series; but give it a second glance and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its stunning animation style, unique setting and colourful cast of characters. Unfortunately despite these positive thoughts Land of the Lustrous fails to provide the basic needs of storytelling and instead drifts in-and-out of various different plotlines.

The story within Land of the Lustrous follows the exploits of Phosphophyllite, otherwise shorted to Phos, who dreams of being on the battlefield with her piers but is unable to do so due to her weak stature. In this unique fantasy setting each of the characters are based on crystals tailored to human form; and they work together in order to battle the spirits of Lunarians who want noting but to harvest them bodies and break them down into gems. It’s unclear as to why this is the objective; but it is what it is and provides some interesting elements during fight scenes (with characters smashed apart and rebuild from dust).

 

At first the focus of this story seems to be the Lustrous (i.e. characters) protecting themselves from the mysterious Lunarians, as each Lustrous is given a set job within the compound they reside in, but rather quickly this focus shifts to Phos finding a job for Cinnabar. Cinnabar plays an important role in moving the story forward; as unlike other characters – who each have their own unique personality and fight style – Cinnabar stays off campus and acts as a nightwatch due to her acid style skill. In this case Phos wants to locate another role for Cinnabar within the facility and in turn progress forward in her own desires to help this (not so much) friend in to finding her true calling.

As this story begins to play out the focus changes again, this time ‘teasing’ a crucial plot point on why the Lunarians capture the lustrous; but sadly this is forgotten. Even the plot point of Phos locating a suitable job for Cinnabar is soon lost and in the end everything returns back to where we began; defending from the Lunarians. There is a perfectly good reason for this as each piece of a lustrous also contains their memories. Phos, who is a weak gemstone, often finds herself being broken apart and as such loses memories of her tasks and objectives that she herself has set out to do; that is other than defeating the Lunarians.

 

As a result of this unique set of circumstances is difficult to understand whether the story does not progress because Phos has forgotten about these objectives; or because the directors did not want to proceed any further with this plot point than they already have. It’s unclear and as such Land of the Lustrous provides a rather ‘wishy-washy’ approach to progression with the focus instead opting on Phos journey of becoming stronger and more self-independent. In shortl the series ends just as it started; with the Lustrous defending from the Lunarians with no conclusion and allies lost.

Extras:

Despite being animated in a unique fashion it is a shame to see that only bonus features included on this release are the textless opening and closing animations; both of which are not that interesting due to the music used.

Of course as this is a Sentai Filmwork related master it does have trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases. In this case viewers will find trailers for Princess Tutu , Girl’s Last Tour, Princess Principal and Made In Abyss; with the latter three being available on Blu-Ray from MVM Entertainment.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:47:33 (Disc 1), 1:41:08 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD MA 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Taking place in a mysterious variation of the world Land of the Lustrous follows the struggle of the Lustrous as that defend themselves against the Lunarians; with the strangely bizarre story of the Lunarians harvesting the Lustrous in order to use them for their own desires. The concept is that the Lustrous are gemstones in human form; with each Lustrous being a different type of gem and having different strengths and weakness.

In this particular story the focus is on Phosphophyllite, a lustrous gemstone who dreams of  being the front lines with her friends but can’t due to her weak stature, as she overcomes daily activities and negativities in order to better herself. At first the story relates to helping out her friend Cinnabar; but eventually she finds herself losing her memories and mergeing with different elements in order to achieve the strength she desires. In the end; she achieves her dream of fighting… but at the cost of those treasured memories.

It sounds like an interesting story; but it ends up being relatively dull with the only interesting elements being the cast of characters and the unique personality they bring. Phos’s personality for instance is superb and the accompanied English Dub brings out the best of this characters personality (and many others I might add) for an entertaining experience. That’s right; an English Dub is included alongside the Japanese audio (even a Spanish dub is included) and despite my complaints with Sentai Filmwork produced English dub it is actually a delight and makes the characters shine brightly on screen.

Overall Land of the Lustrous is a bit of a wonder; it is a very dinstictive and uniquely produced anime series that ‘seems’ like it should look terrible but instead shines beautifully with its unique combination of art styles. On the other hand the story its lacklustre, disappointing and seemingly goes nowhere that it ends up being quite dull. It really is a hit and miss; but fortunately this Blu-Ray release is compliant with similar releases and remains as one would expect – simplistic menus, easily readable subtitles and presented to the best of its ability. Land of the Lustrous is an ideal choice for those wanting to explore alternate anime options and does provide that unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Strangely satisfying albeit a bit disappointing.

Score: review-stars-3

Land of the Lustrous will be available on Blu-Ray from the 6th May 2019 via MVM Entertainment UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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