Happy Holidays fellow readers! There were some aspects of episode 11 that left me feeling a bit unsure of how to tackle it. It seemed best to the final two for one big one. That way I wouldn’t have to backpedal in case my questions were answered one week later. (Though I’m sure manga readers know… shhhhh)
So by now, anticlimaxes are becoming a staple of this show. I can’t help but wonder if this sense of non-resolution is intentionally supposed to invoke unease in the audience. In the same way, it is beginning to finally sow seeds of doubt into Phos.
Getting back to it, the Beast from last time continues to split apart Hydra-style. We also see a peek of Alex’s (red-haired) berzerk mode, which triggers whenever she looks at a Lunarian. Both turquoise and red-pink are colors that Alexandrite takes depending on the light it’s seen under. So that’s a neat detail. She is still perhaps the most interesting character that isn’t really a character yet. So here is where we a bunch of harmless pup versions of the big beast. The seemingly tense leading-to-a-finale-confrontation gets dispersed. Enter merry, carefree, and light-tone mode. The really emphasize these creatures pathetic cuteness here and I can’t help but love it. Soon after everyone gets sucked into this mode and a hectic montage of antics and adorableness ensues.
However, when all the pups are quarantined in a makeshift cage, the big guy re-emerges in an unsurprising and unceremonious turn. It’s hostile again. This time it’s rampaging can be interpreted a bit more as playful roughhousing. Now that we know more about its nature it’s clear the threat wasn’t as clear-cut as we thought. This is confirmed once we learn that Kongo knows what this creature is. He even has a name for it; “Shiro” (meaning “white” for any non-Japanese speakers). I love the way he comes in the room with the slow motion as the tension melts from Kongo appearing to be attacked to giving it commands like master and dog. For all we know, it could have been chasing the gems earlier like a dog would chase squirrels.
Phos saw this creature emerge from a sunspot in the same fashion as any other Lunarian. She is under no illusions of where this came from and why it’s non-hostile makes little sense. This causes her to reconsider everything she’s ever known. For me, this realization was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Based on how this show presented itself, it seemed pretty clear that a “the enemy is not the real enemy” bait and switch was on its way.
We’ve seen it done before in Gurren Lagann, Attack on Titan and many more. The only difference here is that I don’t know if there will be any “the true enemy in hiding” reveal. Feeding back in the show’s sense of hopelessness, there seems to be a cycle of non-resolution with no true enemy to direct character’s anxiety or motivations towards. You see this a lot of stories that are deconstructions or nihilistic in nature. Based on the themes presented so far, this existential crisis seems like the ideal evolution for this series to take.
What’s most perplexing is how the other gems have always suspected some mysterious link between Kongo and the Lunarians but never thought anything of it. Very much like battle droids going about their roles and sub-routines with a small semblance of detached emotion but without the drive to change much of anything about their lives. If you like at characters like Dia, Cinnabar and several others you can see this in their characterization. Phos being a rare exception. They put blind faith in Kongo that he’s doing the right thing and leave it at that. It’s easier to fall back in line than to question your taught worldview.
Phos is still too apprehensive to ask Kongo who is perhaps being secretive for reasons he can’t explain. Instead, she makes a bold claim to “ask the Lunarians themselves.
Before that, we get a glimpse into Padparadscha (I’ll call “Pad” for short). She’s a strong fighter (hardness 9) just under Bort’s strength and about as old as Yellow. It’s our first time hearing of her but surprisingly Phos still has her memories contained of someone not even the audience was aware of. Her inclusion in the first season is rather late so it’s awkward considering a potentially important characters sudden inclusion. She ends up making Rutile (another one of my faves) much more interesting. Since Pad was born with holes, Rutile modified her body to be able to have a partner to fight alongside. Fleshing out her role as the school’s doctor.
Turns out she’d just been out of commission for awhile (a mere 231 years) because certain gem replacements just weren’t doing the job. They go to the Chord shore again to find parts of Ruby to fix her. This also shows how Rutile knew how to originally fix Phos the first time. When she awakes you’d expect an emotional reunion. But again, in this show characters’ nonchalance always surface in the face of scary concepts. Like being separated from her friends by a coma for instance. Rutile’s self-deprecation also feels all too familiar for this show. She feels guilty.
It is quite scary being gone from the world for so long that things change to the extent that you are no longer able to recognize the world and the people in it. Luckily not too many changes occur in this place despite how much has changed over the course of a single year. Since Pad and Phos last met they are a lot more alike. They could probably talk about the related experience of their body modification but Phos is still only interested in talking to her about speaking to a Lunarian. Pad quickly confirms Phos’s resolve before falling back asleep. Better to play fast and loose with expectations than just having the necessary key to your answers appear out of the plot’s convenience. I always prefer being made aware of an important character before they are completely useful; lest it becomes a deus ex machina moment.
By Phos’s suggestion to Kongo in the last episode it would benefit more gems to partner up with Bort. So Zircon takes a run at being her partner and feels completely ignored after a day of silence from Bort. Zircon can be a bit manic and eccentric. She now feels even more downtrodden when she sees how far Phos has come. Considering she was Bort’s previous partner and has come so much farther than her in the same amount of time, considering Phos and her are around the same age. It’s a nice humanizing char for a new character we still no quite little about. Her being so young yet get outclassed by someone deigned protagonist-worthy makes us feel for her. As the show barely mentioned her until now we too feel like she is insignificant. Therefore, her freaking out about it is relayed perfectly to the audience’s sensibilities.
Yellow, who has lost every partner she’s had, considers the responsibility being off her chest good for Zircon’s sake. Until Bort fails to protect her and Yellow will feel responsible for not doing everything she could to protect her instead. Future predictions feel a little strange though with the series ending for who knows how long?
Phos still trying to learn what she can about the Lunarians. Which leads to her seeking local Lunarian nutcase, Alex. She is far too excited and takes it as some kind of trivia game. Phos ends up beating her at her own game in a hilarious fashion. Alex became a Lunarian researcher to get over her “condition” but also as a way to never forget that they stole Chrysoberyl from her. In Alex’s case, it isn’t indifference rather true hatred.
Phos finally gets an opportunity. During an attack, she isolates a single Lunarian to interrogate it. Creepy pupils role forward from their typically pale eyes. It utters a single “f…” before Cinnabar comes and saves Phos and destroys the Lunarian. Nothing seems to be working. Except, just then Phos remembers the “new job” promise she made to Cinnabar. Only it was the promise of a “better job” by no fault of Phos’s own faulty memory.
Cinnabar rejects this except, Phos is still determined to make it work. Cinnabar’s prudence and cleverness are second to none and the perfect moral compass for the mission to uncover the truth about Kongo. Cinnabar still hadn’t decided on what side to be on but her own doubts cloud her ability to move forward with her suspicions. Phos is probably the perfect partner for her as well.
This really does feel like an extended prologue to a story I may be too excited to not fold and just read up on the manga now. We have a firm grasp on all the characters and Phos now has a clear motivation and is predictably partnered up with Cinnabar. Finally! We see a lot of growth for Phos finally. Seeing her walk past an echo of her younger spoiled self is a powerful reminder of that. Understandably jealous of the time where she could get by living that way; it’s an unmistakable part of growing into adulthood.
- Dia may have lost Bort but now she has a much cuter, fluffier partner ;0
- Tiny Phos learning about the world’s history alone in a school desk chair sure is precious. The onlooking child gems ask “will this one fight?” to which Sensei gives an ambiguous answer but it conveys a sense that the resolution to this conflict will likely take a non-combative path.
- I’m impressed how many characters are still left undeveloped, but based on this first season I feel confident that no one gem will go unnoticed without some sort of involvement in the story.
- Cinny (whom I am now calling after that blush) has a long way to go back to the position of best girl. She’s got tough competition is all I’m saying. Wait… is she still holding onto Phos’s clipboard from episode 1? Watch out Rutile and Antarcticite.