Houseki no Kuni Ep. 10: Shattered

As an odd couple, Bort and Diamond are a lot like logic and emotion. The latter even alludes to this disparity between them:

Diamond: “Bort is never wrong and always, always makes the right choice. Sometimes, I almost hate it.”

In the real world, bort refers to low-grade diamond. No one uses them as jewelry, because they’re not conventionally beautiful. They’re very much un-gem-like. They still technically diamonds, however, so they still have useful properties. In fact, you might even say that bort’s value is purely derived from its utility. Houseki no Kuni’s Bort is much the same way. They desire to team up with Phos, but it’s not because they suddenly care more about Phos than Diamond:

Phos: “You’ve really given me a lot of thought, huh?”

Bort: “Is that how you see it? Dia despised me for this.”

Phos and Diamond both make the same mistake; Bort doesn’t care about Phos in any deep, emotional sense. They simply appreciate the utility that the golden-armed gemstone can now bring to the battlefield. With that appreciation is also the desire to cultivate. Bort is a fighter, and they want to survive. They see someone who has been given a second chance at life, so to speak, but isn’t making the best of their situation. Phos is still too green, too undisciplined. So to put it more accurately, Bort technically cares for everyone, and as such, they want to protect everyone including Kongo. Their temporary alliance with Phos is just that:

Bort: “Join up with me and I can cover your weaknesses, and we can work to create new, more efficient methods.”

Utility is what matters here. Logic. What makes sense.

We’ve known from past episodes that despite Diamond’s brilliance and physical hardness, they are also very insecure. They are also incredibly emotional. That’s neither inherently good nor bad, mind you. It’s just different. Of all the gemstones that we’ve met, Diamond is easily the most empathetic of their kind. When Phos needed help with the encyclopedia — man, that feels like a long time ago — who was the only person who offered genuine advice? Diamond. When it looked like Phos had turned into a slug, who went out of their way to help? Diamond. Diamond isn’t even uncomfortable around Cinnabar. They conversed with the lonely wandering gemstone without any fear or apprehension.

We also need not look any further than this very episode for an example of Diamond’s empathy. Phos accepts Bort’s invitation to team up, but they know deep down that someone has to break the bad news to Diamond. It certainly isn’t going to be Bort. But when the moment comes, Phos can’t find the words and turns to leave. No matter. As if they knew it was coming — and was never really sleeping in the first place — Diamond tells Phos that it’s okay:

Diamond: “It makes sense. I shouldn’t have expected Bort to just overlook the way you shine now.”

Diamond understands Bort’s feelings even if they don’t like it. This says something about the gemstone’s radiance. Their ability to empathize is derived from the way diamonds can uniquely reflect light. Bort might seem cold and unyielding to most people, but even next to Diamond, the former can shine like any gemstone. This is one of the reasons why diamonds are so highly valued; they can bring a sparkle to anyone or anything.

Nevertheless, diamonds might be hard to scratch, but they’re not particularly tough. For instance, you can certainly break one under a hammer. Just go back to the second episode and hear it from Diamond’s own lips:

Diamond: “I may be hard, but am fragile under impact.”

Toughness and hardness are not the same thing. At the end of the day, Diamond’s emotions get the better of them. Feeling rejected by Bort, they jump to the erroneous conclusion that they will have to fight alone. As a result, Diamond decides to stop running and instead face their enemy, a beast-like Lunarian with multiple eyes and arms. As the battle drags on, Diamond slowly finds themselves breaking apart, but they use their own inherent sharpness to cut the beast in two. You can argue that Diamond never would’ve found this courage to hold their ground if Bort hadn’t decided to team up with Phos. So in a way, “Bort is never wrong and always, always makes the right choice.” Diamond gets something out of their “breakup” after all.

Nevertheless, we soon see that the beast has simply been divided into two, and the battle isn’t over yet. It’s likely just as dangerous as before, but Diamond, lying there broken and shattered on the ground, is definitely down for the count. The gemstone is more in touch with their emotions than anyone else on the team, but it also makes them insecure and fragile. They’re reckless and easily broken. In a way, their pairing with Bort makes perfect sense, because Bort can cover Diamond’s weaknesses and vice versa. But let’s not forget that these gemstones practically live forever. And when you’ve been partners for that long, sometimes you forget the most basic truths:

Diamond: “From afar, I see just how much you mean to me.”

Bort: “I do, too.”

All Diamond can do is tell Bort to run, but it’s clear that the latter won’t. Bort manages to see themselves in their broken “niichan,” so it’s their turn to be a little reckless.

Anyway, the soundtrack has really grown on me and it pairs perfectly with the tense moments in this week’s episode. It’s also nice to see something a little different from the Lunarians. The gimmicky weapons made out of former gemstones pale in comparison to the beast with sharp black nails. The episode is titled “Shiro,” so I assume that’s the beast’s name? Previews for next week’s episode seem to suggest that the beast will turn into something cute and cuddly, though. I am kinda hoping for the Lunarian threat to continually ramp up more and more as the series progresses, but that won’t be the case if Shiro turns into a bunch of cute, fluffy dogs.

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4 Replies to “Houseki no Kuni Ep. 10: Shattered”

  1. This show has been amazing so far, Really enjoying your write ups as well. Not sure why they’d even think of turning the beast into dogs, will just have to see how that plays out. I thought the design and the dimensional rift ability it had was really interesting, it instantly reminded me of pokemon’s Hoopa. Who knows maybe that’s where the inspiration came from for hoopa.

  2. It’s a shame that this anime doesn’t put more effort into its world and side characters. The side characters have the potential to turn this anime into something more, but they are treated more like a plot device.

    I’m just kinda confused at the moment. If this anime wants to become some sort of ambitious, philosophical science fiction story, it kinda fails at that because it doesn’t dig deep enough into its world. The world is only interesting to me during the winter. To be honest, I first expect that the story would employ one episode right after Antarticite’s death to explore both the development of Phos step by step and the world. It seemed like a good time for an introspective episode, but nope. Let’s time skip to the spring with a brand new Phos. It’s a missed opportunity I think.

    If the anime wants to become a character-driven story, it also kinda fails because the side characters are either plot device or meh. Even Phos has not prove herself to be able to carry this anime by herself at least for me.

    As an aside note, bort and diamond in this episode are nice. I don’t know about the cute dog in the preview, though. They just seem weird and out of place. Are the dogs going to go evil later and Phos has to kill them all?

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