Houseki no Kuni Ep. 9: A whole new me

Spring comes and everyone starts treating Phos as if they’re a whole new person. They might be right. The spark of youth can no longer be found in Phos’s eyes. Our protagonist has long lost both their innocence and exuberance. No longer carefree and bubbly, they’ve even gone and cut their hair short to emulate the late Antarcticite. Yes, the new Phos is surprisingly all business nowadays, only ever focusing on the task at hand. That’s because guilt weighs heavily on the heart; Antarcticite’s capture is mostly their fault, after all. Phos also confesses that they can barely sleep anymore. If they do, it’s only when complete exhaustion takes over. Every time the gemstone closes their eyes, however, they are haunted by images of Antarcticite’s last moments. So to drive away the guilt, Phos opts to work tirelessly over the remainder of the winter.

On the plus side, our new Phos can definitely fight. Their new arms are incredibly heavy, and as a result, their super speed has been neutralized completely. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the gemstone suddenly opts to cover their legs up with powder. Their peers are really only interested in Phos’s new arms, but the legs are no longer a source of pride. They’re just, well, ordinary now, so they also deserve an ordinary look. Not only that, the parts of Pho’s body that are still phosphophyllite are as brittle as ever. Fine cracks appear whenever the gold-platinum alloy arms exert themselves. Luckily, the alloy will then seep into these cracks to prevent the body from falling apart. From a distance, you wouldn’t be able to tell that anything has changed at all. But even so, I wonder what it must feel like to be in Phos’s shoes. It can’t be pleasant to go through micro-fractures all the time, right? Well, they’re not human, so maybe it’s not really an issue.

In any case, the pros greatly outweigh all those trade-offs I just listed… in battle, at least. Thanks to the gold-platinum alloy, Phos now has incredible reach. Not only that, the gemstone can propel themselves to great heights whenever they use their arms as a makeshift platform. Last but not least, their arms can also function as an invaluable shield that has no issues repelling standard Lunarians arrows. Time will tell if Phos can withstand the enemy’s trickier forms, but for now, the gemstone’s newfound battle prowess is enough to give Bort some consternation. Of course, everything annoys Bort, so who really knows if we can truly blame Phos’s new limbs.

On the emotional side, however, it feels as though Phos has lost something important — a crucial aspect of their previous self. I’ll try to explain what I mean. As it has been pointed out over and over, every missing body piece also means a missing chunk of memories. In this week’s episode, the gemstone almost fails to recognize the name Cinnabar. Phos’s promise to the forlorn gemstone is the event that kick-started this entire story, though. From the start, our protagonist’s primary purpose is to find their mercurial friend a proper job — a job that they can feel proud about. Well, it was the primary purpose. Phos has changed in more ways than one, and as a result, their focus is now completely different form before. Actually, what is Phos’s focus these days?

When Rutile wakes up from the winter-long hibernation, they ask our hero to pay Cinnabar a visit, but Phos declines. After the long, painful winter, they don’t feel well. They also have nothing to say to Cinnabar. Towards the end of the episode, the gemstone accidentally runs into the red-haired gemstone. It almost feels as though the latter had sought them out. After all, it’s been a long time since they last spoke. I’m certain Cinnabar hasn’t forgotten Phos’s promise. Phos hasn’t forgotten either, but they almost did. And to tell the truth, they haven’t really tried to help Cinnabar either. Like how it is with everyone else, Cinnabar has been relegated to an afterthought in Phos’s mind. Our hero tries to tell a white lie — “I’m making good progress on finding work for you” — but Cinnabar can see through it: “Well, it’s not like I care anyway.” All Phos can do is slump their shoulders in defeat. I feel as though the old Phos would’ve cried out to Cinnabar with something hopeful, something uplifting. The old Phos was useless in battle, but they could at least make Cinnabar feel wanted. That’s all the mercurial gemstone is really looking for. So this is what the new Phos lacks; it feels as though the gemstone can no longer truly empathize with their friend. Phos has come so far, and yet, I can’t really say that their changes are truly for the better.

8 thoughts on “Houseki no Kuni Ep. 9: A whole new me

  1. Karandi

    Yes, Phos’ ability to fight definitely came with a steep price and only time will tell what the true cost of it will be and whether what is left will be Phos at all.

  2. Niello

    It’s weird seeing how in the show it’s now spring and the grass is green, but the snow falling effect on the site go across the screenshots and makes it feel like there is still a hint of winter left.

  3. Advaris

    Phos is still a bit meh and the rest of the anime (i.e. the story, the world, the side characters, etc) are also still a bit meh. This creators of this anime seem to bet everything on one character alone (i.e. Phos) and I think that they have made the wrong decision here.

    On another topic, Phos does change, but I think that using Cinnabar to show it is kinda not working. It is not like the old Phos really give a damn about helping her. I mean it does not feel like Phos is helping her, considering she is too busy with other things and herself. Feeling sad for Cinnabar isn’t helping her at all. Those who don’t agree with me can agree are free to convince me otherwise, though.

    It’s a bit disappointing that this anime isn’t going to have an extensive and neutral discussion about augmentation and just going to become another “the price of power (i.e. augmentation) is your humanity” animu.

    1. Sean Post author

      Why does it have to be neutral? The viewers will come to their own conclusions that are hardly neutral. I prefer the show to take a stand whether or not I agree with it.

      1. Advaris

        It doesn’t have to be neutral. I personally would like a pro-augmentation anime, but I don’t think that it’s possible anytime soon, so I’ll accept neutral even if I think that it’s lame. I guess I’m just bored with all the “Technology is evil” or “Augmentation will eat your soul” spiels from anime, manga, and Jrpg. I have friends and relatives who need to use hearing aid, pacemaker, and so on to have a normal life, so this kind of gross simplification just irritates me I guess.

        1. Sean Post author

          It’s not arguing that all technology is evil. It isn’t even definitively saying that Phos’s changes are necessarily bad. There are clearly trade offs. But even then, you can’t compare replacing your arms with a strange gold-platinum alloy that can seemingly think and act on its own to, say, a hearing aid. These are two completely different things. Where exactly is the gross simplification?

          1. Advaris

            Gross simplification is probably not the right words, but I just can’t help but feel that this is going to end up with some lame “Phos is better before she change” spiels.

            I mean why do the new arms even need to be able to think and act on its own? She just got new arms, not made a pact with the devil.

            If I’m being generous, I could imagine that it’s to illustrate the feeling of someone that just receive an implant or transplant. Her arms feels alien and detached from the rest of her body to emphasize that she has not accept them completely and are still trying to get used to them. Therefore, she needs to accept and get along with them, synchronizing, so her thought and her arms’ are one and the same.

            But I can’t help but feel the feeling that I typed above in the first paragraph. It could also be me being too negative and not giving anime the benefit of a doubt I guess.


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