For a final episode, “New Work” was a little… underwhelming, to be honest. Well the first half was anyways. The past half was more introspective and had not much going on, although I acknowledge its importance in setting the series up for a potential next season.
So Padparadscha wakes up, and she’s automatically my new favourite character. She’s beautiful and smart, witty and charming; bascially all that and a bag of chips. They go out on patrol with Phos, who asks about a potential connection between Master Kongo and the Lunarians. Padparadscha warns that if Phos does ask, they must be composed and be mindful of their actions. For what if they hear something that will absolutely devastate them, something they’ve never even considered? As Phos is thinking Padparadscha’s words over, Padparadscha falls asleep again. …Yes really. ;~;
As this goes on, Zircon is paired up with Bort as a potential new patrol partner, but their first run together doesn’t go very well and Zircon is rather upset. Phos gives Zircon some advice and their next interactions with Bort on subsequent patrols seem to go a bit more smoothly.
Phos finds Alexandrite one evening and asks them to teach them [Phos] about the Lunarians. Alexandrite goes all out, drilling all known information about the Lunarians into Phos until Phos knows it by heart. Phos asks Alexandrite if it’s possible to communicate with the Lunarians, but Alexandrite says they just don’t have enough information to give Phos an answer to that question. It’s also revealed that Alexandrite thinks about the Lunarians every day so they remember the hate they felt after they lost their former partner Chrysoberyl was taken.
Phos goes out just as the sun is going down and the Lunarians show up. Having no sword, Phos manages to capture a Lunarian within a gold alloy bubble and upon choking it, its eyes roll forward and there appears to be pupils and some degree of awareness. It tries to speak but emits only the “F” sound. Then Cinnabar shows up and destroys all the Lunarians, eliminating any further attempts at communication. So are the Lunarians sentient, or are they more like bees in a hive? Or the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation?
The end of the episode is mostly about a proposal to Cinnabar by Phos, and some personal self-reflection on Phos’ part. But let me back up first – Phos’ idea is to have Cinnabar help them research the Lunarians to see if there is a connection between them and Master Kongo. Cinnabar initially refuses once Phos admits that the job won’t be any better than their night patrol task, so Phos says they will return later. Eventually Cinnabar agrees to help Phos with their new project.
Afterwards things appear to be returning to normal. Phos thinks a lot about the way they were months ago, back at the beginning of the season: spoiled, selfish, immature, irresponsible… the list goes on. How could they have lived like that for so long? In the closing moments of the season, Phos is summoned to see Master Kongo. The episode’s ending leaving a question hanging in the air: what does Master Kongo want to talk to Phos about? Did he get wind about Phos’ project? Or could he just want to talk about some trivial matter? Dun dun duuuuun ~
Story: Houseki no Kuni has had an awesome story. It was a little slow in the beginning back when Phos was still spoiled and immature, but things really started to pick up and get more interesting for me once Antarcticite was taken and Phos became unable to sleep. This is about when the theoretical conspiracy about a link between Master Kongo and the Lunarians starts forming, and I think that’s the biggest question I have about the plot. I haven’t read the manga as usual, so I’m not sure if it gets answered later on, but as of this season of anime I am intrigued enough that I might just go looking for the manga so I can get my questions answered.
Characters: There was definitely an eclectic cast of characters in Houseki no Kuni, with many different personality types on display. Some of the ones which
really stand out to me are Padparadscha (she’s so cool! 0 ), Bort and Diamond (because they’re opposites), Rutile, and of course Phos. Oh, Phos. I spent the first half of the series not thinking much of Phos because they were so immature and irresponsible, and then the back half of the season disliking Phos more because grief had so warped their personality that they became very cold and analytical, very “un-Phos-like”. So I guess all I can say was Phos was not a main character I connected to much, if at all.
I’d also like to note one more time that this series had no gender-specific characters aside from Master Kongo; just about everyone else was referred to withgender-neutral pronouns, something I haven’t seen in anime before. I’d love to see this continue in other series!
I also really liked that each character was named after the gemstone they were, and that they didn’t have original names. Sometimes it was a little confusing when characters of an unknown gemstone (to me) were introduced, but I think I eventually got everyone figured out.
Oh and more Phos x Cinnabar please. Cinnabar’s blush during their new work discussion with Phos was super cute. ;D
Music & Animation: The music was pretty good, no major complaints. I was not a fan of the closing theme, but I did enjoy the opening song ( “Kirameku Hamabe” [Sparkling Beach] and “Kyōmen no Nami” [The Waves on the Mirror’s Surface], respectively). As for the CGI I enjoyed it about as much as I did the CGI in Berserk (2017), meaning that there are some areas which are a little clunky, but I think it was still a successful attempt at a new style of animation.
Overall Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed Houseki no Kuni, especially the latter half of the season. It has me interested in the rest of the story enough that I’m actually thinking of picking up the manga to see what happens next. Is Master Kongo really a traitor? Does the spirit-bones-flesh theory really true? I must know!
Final Score: 9.5/10