[Twelve] Personality, Memory, and Phosphophyllite — Land of the Lustrous

Whenever I visit my parents’ house, I tend to travel along the same paths that I did when I lived there as a teenager and twenty-something. I grab a bagel at Bagel World, a breakfast staple that I cannot find in Los Angeles. I sit on the old heating grate as the air rises up to keep warm until pins and needles shoot up from my ankles, forcing me to shift my weight into a different position. I watch softly falling snow from the same vantage point — the window of my old room that faces the streetlamp. The curtains are now an odd purple color and the bed is a full-size, meant for guests instead of one young woman.

I don’t think I’m trying to relive the past, but in traveling these same paths, how much has changed in my life is brought into sharper focus. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder when I won’t feel like my parents’ child in their house.

When will I feel like an adult?

Phos’ journey whimsically begins with a dandelion seed in their hair and ends with a completely different body, fused together from materials outside of their phosphophyllite namesake. A one of a kind gem with a body that will seemingly accept any foreign material, Phosphophyllite becomes a curiosity to their peers. In the world of Land of the Lustrous, gems are sentient and their bodies managed by microorganisms called inclusions that bind the gems together. This means that they cannot die in a traditional sense — if their bodies are fractured, they can be repaired provided that the pieces are found — but with each piece of their bodies lost, they lose their memories.

Due to their immortality, many of the gems’ personalities are static, and their memories fully intact outside of a few bits and pieces that they may have lost along the way. This makes Phos’ journey — both within the scope of the anime series and outside of it in the ongoing manga — of particular interest. They are made up of several different materials and with each transformation, slowly become something new and completely different, much like a human does through living. We see how various changes to their body accompany learning new pieces of information, some of which Phos’ older peers already knew and accepted. All Phos wanted to do was fight. As their body becomes more adept at fighting, they also realize that the scope of what they initially knew was incredibly narrow.

Yet, with each new material that Phos takes on, Phos also retains their distinct and unique personality. Even if their specific memories are lost and their perspective changes, their innate personality remains. This is especially apparent in the later chapters of the manga, where we see Phos continue down the trajectory that the anime introduced because of their inability to accept parts of the status quo, a key part of Phos’ personality from the opening moments of the series.

I’m not a gem. My body changes with age. One day, it won’t exist at all, not because it was squirreled away by moon-dwelling Lunarians, but because I will die. This is still a difficult concept to grasp sometimes, especially when I’m visiting my parents, staring up at the ceiling of what used to be my room, glow-in-the-dark stars long since peeled-off and painted over. And even though I know I have changed, when I reach for a mug in the cupboard to make tea, or walk down a cold flight of cement stairs into the basement to do laundry, I still feel like a child. There are certain parts of me that will never change, despite growing older, some of which I love and many of which I hate. Perhaps I’ll learn to accept them one day. Regardless of whether that happens or not, I’ll continue to lose memories naturally, through aging rather than physical pieces of myself. There are already occasions that slip through my mind before I can grasp them, mixing with dreams, aspirations, and ambitions in my mind.

These thoughts are frequently a jumbled mess, but I love Land of the Lustrous, and Phosphophyllite, for inspiring and helping me sort through some of them.

This post is the first of the Twelve Days of Anime project for 2018 where I will publish one personal post a day about how anime I watched this year affected me. Here are my 2017 posts


  1. Returning to my parent’s house for a visit over Christmas I find myself falling back into old patterns of behaviour and following old paths almost without thought. It always makes me think about the roads I’ve taken and the ones I have left behind.

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