Hi fellow Gem fans! It’s time for the Land of the Lustrous episode 7 recap and review. This week’s episode is called “Hibernation” and we are introduced to a new character, Antarcticite.
The episode starts opens in the medic room of Rutile, who is putting the Amethyst twins back together after their shattering attack by the Lunarians in the previous episode. I love the scene of Red Beryl braiding their hair. Phosphophyllite is lying on the ground in a pose of extreme apology. They are clearly feeling guilty for their inaction during the Lunarian attack.
However, the Amethyst twins do not blame Phos at all, but instead blame themselves for being careless and being, “too preoccupied trying to set an example for you.” Phos is shocked at their response. I keep seeing this as an ongoing thing with the Gems. Though Phos inadvertently causes a lot of grief, many of the characters blame themselves for whatever problems arrive. Though perhaps from the standpoint of the other Gems, Phos is just a kid to them, and they naturally have to set the better example and take responsibility. But for Phos, this just highlights their own immaturity and physical lacking. And Phosphophyllite is not oblivious to this–it only causes more them more guilt and drives them further to want to be better.
Alexandrite barges into the room, hyped up and read to take the Amethysts’ reports on the Lunarians. Naturally, they don’t remember the exact details of the attack, and suggest Alex ask Phos. Phos has left the room, however. Ran, actually.
Phos thinks as they run, that they have to be able to run not only fast, but on demand. To freeze whenever Lunarians attack is inexcusable. Phos stops at the shore (it is night) and spies Cinnabar on patrol. Phosphophyllite immediately ducks down in the grass.
Phos looks sadly at Cinnabar, and thinks, “What would I even say right now?” Phos has still not kept their promise to Cinnabar, and this is the greatest source of guilt for Phos. No matter how hard they try, they have failed to help the one person they swore they would help. Cinnabar continues to watch the new-falling snow.
Winter has come.
And with winter, it is now time for the Gems to hibernate. It is explained that the microorganisms (Inclusions) within the Gems need sunlight to provide energy to the Gems. With less sunlight, it is difficult for the Gems to move around or fight if necessary. Of course, since the Lunarians also attack only after a few days of sunlight, this means they are less of a threat. There is only about ten days of sunlight in winter meaning the Master and one other Gem can handle it. I’ll get to that Gem in a bit.
For now, the Gems festoon the school/palace/mansion with white sheets and dress in excessively frilly pajamas made by Red Beryl. Diamond points out to Red Beryl that there is no good reason for these extravagant clothes that will get wrinkled, but Beryl does not care–“Fashion is all about one’s pride and disposition!” I suspect it was the original author Ichikawa Haruko’s way of getting her characters to wear cute Lolita fashion. And I have no problem with that.
Rutile asks Phosphophyllite (who initially hides under sheets) to take blankets to Cinnabar. Phos does not want to do that–they can’t face Cinnabar right now. Phos then asks Rutile if they can avoid hibernation. Phos does not feel sleepy. Rutile sardonically notes that Phos is normally the first to sleep and last to awaken of all of them. Phos does not need to stay awake, Sensei and the Gem Antarcticite will take care of them.
And who is Antarcticite? The scene cuts to the Gem in question–Antarcticite exists as a liquid for most of the year. As the temperatures are dropping, their body begins to crystallize and harden into the humanoid Gem form the rest have.
Antarcticite awakens, dresses, and greets Sensei. Master Kongou asks about Antarcticite’s condition (“Flawless”), and the latter asks of they can continue their yearly tradition–which is simply hugging the Master. Antarcticite may work alone, but unlike Cinnabar, they do not appear to get lonely. The only contact they need is their short interactions with the Master, whom they clearly adore. Of course, all the Gems love Master Kongou.
Suddenly Antarcticite turns and sees Phos is spying on them. A very surprised Antarcticite asks why Phos is still awake. Phos repeats that they could not sleep, and asks the Master if they could stay awake that year and work with Antarcticite. Master Kongou allows it, to Antarc’s dismay. Antarticite finds Phos to be weak and useless.
It seems that even though Antarcticite is a liquid most of the year, they still seem to be cognizant of much of the goings-on with the other Gems. I suppose they can overhear conversations around them, even while being a liquid in a bowl.
Later, Phos and Antarcticite stroll in front of the school, discussing the former’s new agate legs. Antarcticite can’t understand why a fickle and lazy Gem like Phos would want to stay awake through the winter. After seeing Phos’s legs, they ask Phos if they got into trouble. Phosphophyllite says they didn’t–and that’s what troubles Phos. Also, if it’s exhausting just trying to stay awake in the winter, maybe just staying awake could be a test of strength for them. Antarcticite agrees to let Phos take on some of the former’s duties.
And how hard it is for Phos. The snow is several feet thick, and Phos is having difficulty walking through it as easily and confidently as the cold-natured Antarcticite. Plus, there is so little light, and Phos is getting tired. Antarcticite says they are only half way to their destination, and that the sun being out would mean Lunarians.
Eventually Phos plows (crouching) through the beautiful snow to arrive with Antarcticite to the iced-over sea. Phos sees a frozen, star-like wondrous shape reaching out of the cold sea.
Phos: A-a Lunarian?
Antarcticite: No, it’s just an ice flow.
Phos: A floe?
Antarcticite: When the sea freezes over, any segments with microorganisms from the sea floor wind up like that. But Sensei once called them “sinners”…and I’ve never quite been able to forget that.
The astounded Phos watches in awe as the fantastical ice structure crashes into the sea. Antarcticite asks them to keep watching. A great iceberg emerges out of the sea. Phos collapses in amazement as the great berg roars as it collides and scrapes by other ice in the sea. Antarcticite explains that the scraping of the ice floes will keep the Gems awake, and it is their duty to chop up these floes into smaller pieces. Antarcticite has a large saw-like tool for this purpose, and high heels to grip the ice.
Antarcticite sets to work rushing along the ice and crushing ice floes.
Later in the evening, Phos and Antarcticite are at the school. Phos rests and tries to gain energy by hanging their face over a bowl with a luminescent jellyfish (their own version of a light therapy lamp, I guess). Phos is grateful Antarcticite is sharing their work with Phos, but the latter feels they can’t do it–they only have those agate legs good for running. Antarcticite says that they are not at peak form either (it’s not cold enough yet), and warns Phos if they fall into the sea, the ice floes will grind them to dust. Antarc tells Phos that they will get used to it in time. Phos says, “You’re not just trying to get me out there in the face of danger so you can get more time alone with Sensei?” Antarcticite threatens to break Phos.
Phos continues: There are things I just can’t do.
Antarcticite: Because you never try.
Phos: I do the things I can as best as I can.
Antarcticite: And so you never accomplish anything new.
The next morning, Phos starts to work and accomplish new things. Under Antarcticite’s instruction, Phos runs across the ice on high heels from iceberg to iceberg. They leap down on the hard ice–a perfect landing, but Phos’s face cracks.
That night, Antarcticite repairs Phosphophyllite and explains they have more work that day. In addition to breaking ice floes, they must shovel walk ways, break apart ice packs, and dig out more snow. Antarcticite accidentally harms Phos, and must attach their hand again at night. As they mend Phos, they describe the most dangerous part of the job: dealing with sleepwalking Gems. Bort and Master Kongou are the most dangerous, presumably because they can damage the building if they walk into it. They are easily calmed by throwing a blanket over them.
The next day, the two Gems are back to work. Phosphophyllite is trying to crush an ice flow with Antarcticite’s ice saw, but they are much too slow at it, and are already cracking their face again. Phos is clearly envious of Antarc’s skills. Phosphophyllite realizes they aren’t even needed here to do the work, and they feel a bit frustrated at that. Once again, Phos is feeling inadequate.
Suddenly, Phos hears a voice coming from the ice. This startles Phos, and they tell Antarcticite. The latter says that the ice is a mineral like them, and it makes word-like sounds, but the Gems cannot understand them.
Phos can understand them. Phos tells Antarcticite that they say, “I’m tired.”, “I want to go home,” etc. Once again, Phos understands things no one else can–whether it’s a mollusk or ice. Phos is terrified.
They both tell Master Kongou. Phos says to Sensei, that they do have a vague memory of being able to talk to a creature from the sea [Ventricosus–though Phos no longer remembers her name]. That gives Phos an idea–why not just talk to the ice floes and tell them to be quiet? Phos is pleased with their own originality (and hey, it would be less work for them, so bonus).
Unfortunately, Master Kongou shoots down that idea. The Sensei tells them the ice floes do not have a consciousness that enables them to talk. They only reflect “the anxieties of others, and further exacerbate them.” Master Kongou calls them dregs from creatures from the beginning of time. Sensei warns Phos to still their mind while in the presence of the ice. Master Kongou then turns to Antarcticite for their report. The latter tells their master Phos is doing great at keeping up with them, but they wish Phos’s arms were as strong as their legs. This saddens Phosphophyllite. Once again, they feel inadequate.
These words will stick in Phos’s mind.
The next morning, as they are on the ice, Phos looks at their arms and at the ice saw. Phos quickly snaps out of the self-destructive reverie remembering that there is little of the agate shell left, and no more phosphophyllite to make arms, if Phos were to lose their limbs. It was a crazy idea.
The ice floes start to speak. They tell Phos, “You’ll be stronger”, “But you’ll be stronger.” In one of the best scenes of this series, a crack in the ice looms towards Phos’s view. It tells Phos it will bite off Phos’s arms, and that everything will work out in the end. Phos is aware that these words are reflections of their own subconscious thoughts, and they are disturbed to hear that reflected back at them. Nonetheless, those words have a strong pull. “Somebody will figure out a way”, says the ice. “You won’t get any worse”. “You must change”.
The ice tells Phos that if Phos just waits it out until spring, Cinnabar will…
We don’t get to hear the end of that thought, and I’m not entirely sure what the conclusion of it was to have been. Phosphophyllite approaches the crevice in the ice. The ice repeats its remarks about waiting for Cinnabar in the spring as Phos starts to insert their arm in the icy water. Phos then snaps back to awareness, saying “No”, but slips on the ice, falling into the cold water.
Antarcticite sees Phos falling in the water, and rushes quickly to the spot. They are able to pull Phosphophyllite out of the ice–but Phos no longer has any arms. Both of the limbs have been crushed by shifting ice floes under the water.
Favorite Random Pretty Scene:
- I’m really not sure what the ice [Phos’s subconscious] meant by Phos waiting it out until spring for Cinnabar. If Phos waits without arms, then what? Cinnabar will give them limbs? Cinnabar will be taken by the Lunarians in the spring and Phos has to get stronger by then?
- If no one can hear the ice floes speaking words except Phos, then how does Master Kongou even know they speak words reflecting the Gem’s minds in the first place? Do other Gems feel simply emotions emanating from the ice that reflects their own emotions and just assume the words are what they are thinking?
- Why does the Master call the elaborate spiky ice floes sinners? The Master has a clear disdain for those microorganisms that become part of the ice. Which is interesting, because its microorganisms that animate the Gems. Maybe not all microorganisms are equal.
- It was just a quick moment, but Master Kongou was looking over the table they cracked in previous episodes. I think Sensei was thinking of humans here, and perhaps of their own emotional reaction towards hearing Phos utter the word “human”. It would seem no one has said the word “human” in thousands, if not millions of years.
- I don’t think Master Kongou liked humans very much.
Well, that’s it until next week. Poor Phosphophylilte, losing limb after limb. What memories will they lose next time? They have already forgotten most of their interactions with the Admirabilis, what next?
And if you love the anime, I again suggest reading the marvelous manga.