Land of the Lustrous by Ichikawa Haruko (Japanese: Hōseki no Kuni, lit. “Country of Jewels”) is an ongoing manga series. It has been serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine since October 25, 2012; there have been ten collected volumes thus far. Volume One collects the first six issues.
Six times meteors smashed the Earth. Most land was battered and submerged. Humans as we know them are long extinct.
Humanity does have descendants. Of a sort.
The jewel people, the Lustrous, are exactly what their name implies: intelligent beings who (despite their human appearance) are made of jewels. Each person is composed of a different gemstone. They form a community of wondrously beautiful beings — potentially immortal beings. The Lustrous are being hunted by the ruthless Lunarians, who kill and dismember them to turn them into jewelry .
The harder Jewel People have a better chance of surviving Lunarian attacks. That’s too bad for Phosphophyllite. They are beautiful in Lunarian eyes, but they’re fragile: a Mohs-scale hardness of just 3.5. If they were to battle Lunarians, their first battle would almost certainly be their last. But despite their fragility, Phos yearns to be useful. It seems unlikely that they can be … or so say the other Lustrous.
Ancient, mysterious Kongou-Sensei mentors the Lustrous. Kongou has pondered Phos’ aspirations for a long time and come up with an answer. It’s not one that Phos enjoys hearing. No glorious battles for Phos. They are to compose an encyclopedia of natural history.
It seems safe enough. Certainly not the sort of activity that could possibly leave Phos transformed into an ugly-cute slug….
Although this manga features people made of and drawing their abilities from various gemstones, Land of the Lustrous doesn’t at all resemble the TV series Steven Universe, which also featured gem-people.
The art is a bit more stylized than I prefer — or it would be if the beings depicted were human rather than post-human. Since they are, I find the elegant art works very well.
Volume One is largely devoted to introducing the setting and the characters. For various reasons that are no doubt compelling to the characters, they spend a lot of time reminding each other about events and facts of life with which one would assume they were all familiar. As you know, Bob …
Otherwise, the story thus far is effectively told. It conveys the horror of the endless Lunarian persecution and the pain of the social isolation felt by the oddball Lustrous like Phos. There’s one complete storyline in this volume, the tale of Phos the slug, which kept me reading.
Where it’s all going, I don’t know. But I will find out. I guess that’s a thumbs-up.
1: Being dismembered isn’t necessarily fatal to the Lustrous. Shattered limbs can be re-attached. Shattered people can be resurrected if all their parts are found. Even if they were ground into dust they could be resurrected. But losing a part to the Lunarians …