Boys and Girls, Be Lustrous


After reading Land of the Lustrous and learning more about its universe, much to my surprise is seeing the series feature on the cover of one of Japan’s top anime magazines, PASH! (on the right side next to Animage), for female readers.

While the anime adaptation has the gem characters portrayed with female seiyu talent, the characters refer to each other sometimes as “brothers” or use the Japanese masculine version of “I” to refer to themselves. The Kodansha Comics translation has them refer to each other with gender-neutral pronouns with the permission of the series’ creator, Haruko Ichikawa. Almost every reviewer of the series go with what Kodansha Comics does.

There are many male fans who treat the gems as “waifus”, “best girls”, etc. So I find Phos and company being featured here as bishonen types to be refreshing.

I’ve always felt that many people find gender to be so black and white, when it’s never that simple. That’s why you see the rise of non-binary individuals & awareness all across the world. What I get from following Land of the Lustrous so far is that it presents a fascinating view about culture in that what happens when you take the human need to categorize everything in sight and let things run wild within reason. What if you don’t enforce a culture of rigidity? Would a mass group of individuals still function well? 

Granted that the story does take a turn as Phos begins to have questions about their role and their fellow gems’ roles in the grand scheme of things, maybe the point is to question many things that have been held as gospel for years. Or better yet, see that there’s more than one side to the story. Formal education doesn’t solve all of life’s complexities.

Attack on Titan’s Hange Zoe stood out as a prominent example of a current non-binary anime/manga character because of its creator’s wishes. Now we have these beautiful gems that are anything fans want them to be. Yet at the same time, there are concerns on how to help those with gender dysphoria since certain forms of help may not benefit them. They shouldn’t break as much as the gems in Land of the Lustrous do. But after seeing the gems’ resilience through and through thanks to their fellow comrades-in-arms, both sides are parallel to one another in that they deserve a lot more love than given.

I think that it serves to remind us that non-binary/transgender/genderqueer individuals are truly the kind of gems that social scientists (and anyone in a teaching role) should explore further to help advance humanity.  

SOURCE: Manga Therapy – Where Psychology & Manga Meet – Read entire story here.