Houseki no Kuni Ep. 5: We all need to evolve at some point

Evolution doesn’t imply improvement, but you know what? Sometimes, we need change. Sometimes, we just need to shake things up a bit. Phos reveals that they just turned 300 today. What a thing to casually mention. I guess birthdays aren’t all that important to gems. But more importantly, Phos is the youngest of their kind. The others are much, much older, and yet, they appear to live such stale, unchanging lives. Every few days, they defend themselves from the Lunarians. When they’re not avoiding capture, they each have their assigned jobs. But do they actually experience breakthroughs? Innovations? I can’t help but recall Red Beryl’s seemingly pointless improvements to their uniforms in last week’s episode. What if that’s the case for all of them? After all, it’s the same thing with the Lunarians. They keep having to defend themselves for centuries and centuries. Doesn’t it ever get old? Don’t they ever want to stop this conflict? It’s as if the gems have taken immortality for granted, so they’ve stopped looking for any real solutions.

Cinnabar’s tragic fate is the initial catalyst. We’re only here because Phos desperately wants to help the lonely, suicidal gem. Nobody else wanted to even try. All Kongo does is meditate in his chamber. Cinnabar has practically been left for dead, so it’s no wonder that they also want to sacrifice themselves to the Lunarians. Phos is at least trying to change the status quo. It’s foolish to enter the ocean, but when was the last time anyone tried? I still think Phos was too trusting, but then again, they’re supposed to be a child. Children are trusting, children are naive, and most of all, children are forgiving. Despite Ventricosus’s betrayal, Phos holds no ill will toward the fleshy creature. The latter was only trying to save her family, after all. And thanks to Phos, she did manage to at least free her brother. The gem even agrees to let the two siblings to continue using her as a bargaining chip. But Ventricosus is touched by Phos’s forgiveness, and she thus undergoes an evolution: “If we don’t change our ways, we’re no different from the Lunarians, are we?”

Phos ends up losing their legs, but Aculeatus, Ventricosus’s brother, snaps off a pair of spines from his former shell and donates them to the gem. The inside of the spines are made of agate, which is a rock that is actually much tougher than phosphophyllite. Rutile goes about mixing the agate with Phos’s pieces, and the result is something that looks pretty cool. The gem now has ribbons of agate wrapping around their legs. More importantly, they’ve evolved. It doesn’t take long for Phos to adapt to the new legs, and they seem to be moving faster and running quicker than ever. As the old adage goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or stranger. Whatever. The downside, of course, is that Phos loses some of their memories. But when you consider again the sort of lives that these gems live, did Phos really lose anything all that important? They forget Jade’s name, but that’s not the end of the world. It makes you wonder if the gems have ever tried to produce a hybrid, but it’d probably be a weird amalgamation of two gems’ personalities and memories. At least for now, the agate appears to be lifeless.

Even in our world, some conflicts seem to rage on forever and ever. We pride ourselves on being humans that can think and reason, adapt and change. And yet, the same nations still hate each other, the same cultures still despise each other. When you boil it down, the gems’ centuries old war against the Lunarians isn’t all that different. Even their inability to understand the moon invaders is familiar. How often do we cast our enemies off as the Other that we never hope to understand? Something needs to change.

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4 Replies to “Houseki no Kuni Ep. 5: We all need to evolve at some point”

  1. Phos is turning out to be a much more interesting character than I initially anticipated. Loving this show so far and I’m hoping it continues to do what it has been doing which is pretty much surprising me each week with just how good it is. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I still need Phos to show me more. And another character to step up. Right now, the show’s alright, but it’s not my favorite. It’s not blowing me away or anything.

  2. I hope that this isn’t the end of the so-called character development for Phos that the fans have been clamoring at me for the crime of thinking that this is boring. I mean our pure and good animu shoujo* with never ever going to give up attitude is evolving into a pure and good animu shoujo with never ever going to give up attitude just with more determination and better leg is just ugh… underwhelming?

    I mean it’s still character development I guess, but with all the clamoring from the fans, I expect something much more dramatic and not this. Not to mention that the fans just keep on going Phos this or Phos that, so I think that the other characters aren’t going to do much later.

    *: Yes, the fans can call them genderless all they want. I still can’t see the gems, except Kongo, as anything but your standard animu shoujo or trap, and trap is pretty much the same thing as your standard animu shoujo.

    1. Oh no, right now it’s half way to the starting point. The real thing will happen a bit later and we’ll get to see the effect. Then the rest will have to be saved for future seasons, if it’s getting some.

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