Over the weekend I read “Houseki no Kuni” and was blown away. Houseki no Kuni is the story of a group of genderless gemstones who fight off invaders from the moon attempting to kidnap them. It sounds like the setup to a battle manga. But this description doesn’t do it justice. First of all, look at the alien invaders:
What. The. Fuck?! And you can see the main characters in the first image. Very kyasha. And very hard to tell them apart. It gets even stranger though: through most of the manga, the main character continually loses and replaces body parts, including, ultimately, his head.
Which is also beautiful…
Probably the best word to describe this manga is haunting. It’s a story that spans thousands of years, following an endless cycle of loss. The most enigmatic character, Sensei, continually loses himself in fighting the invaders. It’s a battle that’s seemingly pointless and no one can understand, as they are unable to communicate with the invaders. Nor do the vast majority of the characters even attempt to. One of the most interesting plot threads is how Phos, the main character, attempts to uncover who the invaders from the Moon are and their relation to sensei.
It’s fascinating watching them suffer through the endless cycle of suffering and solitude. The character who expresses this sense of loneliness most strongly is Cinnabar, who unlike the rest of the characters, can only come out at night. So he doesn’t even have the company of the others. He spends centuries in solitude, with his only solace a promise Phos made to relieve his loneliness, which Phos has trouble remembering. Because to make matters worse, as the characters lose pieces of their bodies, they lose their memories with them. So they will repeat the same mistakes again and again, not even aware that they’re doing so.
The bleak solitude is perfectly captured perfectly by the artwork.
Even though this isn’t finished yet, it’s one of the best manga I’ve ever read. I highly recommend giving it a read.