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From the anime Houseki no Kuni also known as Land of the Lustrous we have several sparkling characters since we are talking about gems, lively than ever each one fighting for their own cause or moreover for someone they want to protect.
Among the many gems there is one specific youngest child who stands out for being not only very fragile but also spoiled to a problematic extent – Phosphophyllite or to keep it short Phos.
As the character that we are discussing today covers most of the series and contains major spoilers proceed at your own risk. If you didn’t watch the series it’s recommended to do so in order to understand the character talk fully.
With that let’s ignite another sparkling adventure with today’s character!
(Phos is a gem which makes them genderless)
The youngest gem with 300 years of age, Phos is also one of the weakest and easiest to break gems among the others.
Known as a good for nothing already is made clear in the first scene of the whole series where Phos is sleeping in the midst of a meadow mid-day while all the other gems are either working, patroling or fighting their enemies – the Lunarians who try to steal the gems.
Phos got their real first job when Kongo-Sensei ordered them to make a natural history encyclopedia which resulted later on that Phos wanted to find Cinnabar a meaningful job other than the night watch which was Cinnabar’s idea just in order for them to feel like having a purpose.
Despite that Phos is a very beautiful and well-liked gem which causes the Lunarians to often target them.
With a hardness of 3.5 Phos is the second fragile and easily to break gem only 0.5 away from Antarcticite whose hardness is 3.
After Antarcticite’s abduction, Phos as a successor takes care of the winter in their place and hallucinates often about their short-lived partner.
In order to explain the character further we have to split Phos character into several arcs, three in general when it comes to the anime.
First at beginning, secondly when they were betrayed by Ventricosus and lastly post-winter.
With those three sections we see the steady changes of not only physical appearance in Phos but also personality-wise.
In the beginning Phos is pretty-much spoiled in stark contrast to others like the stoic Bortz or hard-working Jade. They are mostly seen lazing around, sleeping whenever they please and being overly-confident in their appearance and charisma as the youngest, carefree and easy-going.
Despite that they still want a job they can do since due to their hardness of only 3.5, Phos easily breaks and can’t join fighting as they also cannot even wield a sword that is too heavy for them.
That changes when they get their first job and eagerly try to do the best out of it, which also lead to their affiliation with Cinnabar, who additionally caused Phos to do something for Cinnabar as in to find a job for them that is needed.
Phos gets along with most of the gems whether they are intimidating like Bortz or Jade, or easy-going and friendly like Diamond and Euclase. They almost seem clingy and persistent which is said to be the only good trait next to Phos’ self-confidence in their cuteness and charisma as stated by others.
Yet Phos’ personality slightly starts to change with their loss of legs and betrayal of Ventricosus. Phos’ is seen to be very forgiving despite the fact they were almost sold to the Lunarians in exchange for Ventricosus’ brother. As Phos seemed to understand how important it must feel to not be lonely, they did not resent the former sea slug for their actions in return they provided Phos with the Agate, which became their new legs.
With the loss of their legs Phos’ also suffers from lacking memories as the fragments have been lost and with that also a portion of their recollection of core information and some gems. Phos’ is seen to be much more eager to find a job for Cinnabar which seemed almost forgotten due to the lack of memory and their new fast legs comes with a sense of purpose, so Phos’ no longer slacks around as before but tries to find an use for their new abilities.
Still they are easily fed up when things do not work out and pretty much just a bit less careless as before.
Nonetheless with Antarcticite’s loss following into the post-winter arc, Phos’ personality changes starkly. Not only do they lose their arms making their original body reduced to their torso and head, but also the emotional loss on top of additional amnesia due to lost fragments.
We also see Phos’ personality getting closer to Antarcticite who was more serious and very dedicated as they were only able to manifest in winter and therefore always did the winter tasks alone, with their last task of protecting Phos Antarcticite sacrificed their own life and signed Phos to be quiet so the Lunarian won’t find them. Their last words were that Phos should take care of winter for them.
And so did Phos not only taking care of winter like Antarcticite showed them, but also shaping their hair and appearance like them, not taking off the winter uniform even in summer.
Phos becomes much calmer, very distanced from the others and much more reckless when it comes to fighting and taking on too many tasks. The confident and loud Phos is not recognizable and the child that used to be so spoiled and sparkling did not only change physically becoming much more disformed from their original form, but also getting more darker personality traits such as not relying on others, being suspicious and ruthless, especially after Kongo-Sensei seemed to know about a Lunarian called Shiro.
As Phos felt responsible for Antarcticite the darkness inside of them grew which is shown in hallucinations of Antarcticite that followed them even after a long period of time and also not being able to sleep. Cinnabar, who was the most important priority on Phos’ list suddenly got forgotten along with the other memories until they met again and they were reminded by others.
With the obsession to bring the other gems back and know more about Lunarians, as well the growing suspicion and distance towards Kongo-Sensei and the other gems turned the sparkling spoiled child into a remodeled weapon for their own means.
As the youngest gem, Phos is not only the protagonist we follow through the story but also with much information lacking due to their inexperience they are used as an information input for the viewer.
Lore and world-telling happens through Phos who seemed immature and very ignorant towards the beginning of the story.
As the story progresses we see that the image of the world changes as we are seeing the world through Phos’ eyes and with the new gained information the world expands from not only gems but also sea creatures and Lunarians.
Phos who was spoiled and loved slowly turned into a character who became much more twisted and complex over the series, even ending with Cinnabar and Phos trying to find out about Kongo-Sensei and the Lunarians behind the other’s backs.
Since Phos did not seem to have much experience with loss or understanding empathy towards other gems since they were self-centered towards the beginning the world seemed more calm when compared to gems like for example Yellow Diamond who is one of the oldest and already lost several partners and wished to sleep next to Padparadscha forever and not wake up.
Phos’ also becomes Antarcticite’s successor and also a more hostile character towards the end showing many instances of self-destructive behaviour.
While Antarcticite’s love for Kongo-Sensei was massive, Phos’ as their successor doesn’t seem to take especially that trait with them, rather irritation and estrangement are forming after the Shiro incident. In which Phos’ could potentially become an antagonist in the eyes of the other gems and Kongo-Sensei.
Phos changing awareness and also the things that happened to them is an indicator of how a future-self reviews their past-self.
They show the part of reflection which humans tend to do instinctively considering their actions and behaviour, but for gems their only purpose up until now was to serve Kongo-Sensei and make him happy.
Their immense character development as well as the beginning of questioning the things they were doing up until now, leaves up the questions why are we doing the things in the first place?
Why are we trusting someone without knowing a single thing about them?
Why do we sacrifice our lives and what is their purpose in the first place?
Since gems break and can be restored as long as the parts are retrieved, they do not fear death nor do they value their lives like the living beings in the sea which doesn’t give them a sense of loss.
Yet we see Phos having suffered from loss three times in the anime alone.
First having their legs taken and being betrayed by Ventricosus which lead into memory loss due to the missing fragments. With their first memory loss they had forgotten about some gems and information which has been there for a long time.
After their legs had been replaced with Agate, the second loss was their arms which also concluded into the third and most life changing loss for Phos – Antarcticite.
With the loss of more memories which are also part of forming personality and showing us how much impact physical change can also have on personality in Phos’ case, it shows that after Antarcticite’s abduction, Phos experienced not only the loss of something on their body but something further than that – grief.
Something the spoiled and youngest child among the gems never imagined to experience right in front of them, felt like a heavy burden on them causing a whole change in personality as mentioned.
And with that also came the first reflections on their actions from there on: Since losing something on yourself only may cause trouble for oneself.
Phos always managed to somehow get it replaced and was lucky on that part, yet when it came to losing someone dear, someone who wanted to do anything in order to protect the other gems. Phos in that case and also help Kongo-Sensei as much as possible in that process.
Phos felt they were responsible for the first time, something they had never borne up until that point which caused an immense change in both their ways of handling tasks and being the most useful as well as bearing the burden of trauma making them not sleep at night ever since that day.
It also showed the suspicion in their Sensei growing when he obviously seemed to know about the Lunarians who abducted Antarcticite and also the uneasy feeling of everyone knowing he may be affiliated with them or hiding something yet fully ignoring that fact putting full trust in him without anything in return.
Something that Phos next to Cinnabar started to question for the first time.
Unlike other protagonists who also did great character developments, Phos’ is a rather dark one in which they clearly become stronger but literally lose pieces of themself.
Instead of a nurturing change and becoming someone who is stronger than they used to be before, Phos’ recklessly sacrifices many things that could have been prevented in order to become the version of themself they are now.
The most interesting part: Phos, who longed to be useful and fight alongside the others, asked Diamond in the beginning how they could change which Diamond responded with that they should change from within.
More than enough Diamond was seen to break an arm while trying a new technique which could also be an indicator that Phos took that advice a bit too literally changing physically and also on the inside.
Due to memory loss and the many traumatic events Phos’ personality seems like two split characters when compared.
Phos’ initial goals of wanting to become stronger to fight alongside the other gems and find Cinnabar a job with a meaning so they could stay together changed drastically as Phos even almost forgot about Cinnabar towards the final of the series and also didn’t seem to partner up with others and go for a fight alone rather than cooperating. The initial wish of getting closer by becoming stronger turned Phos into someone who started to grow more distant and suspicious of others.
Not only that but also on an emotional level where Phos loved all their siblings and also was loved, changed into suspicion and irritation of why everyone is acting without questioning their actions and Kongo-Sensei which also resulted in hiding many of their thoughts and not sharing any of the burden that has been slowly growing.
The sparkling spoiled child in the beginning of the series turned into a foreign body that dulled in their tainted self-growth of over-awareness and self-destruction.