Spot the purple: Change in Land of the Lustrous

I’ve talked about the use of purple for scenes and character design before, focusing mostly on My Hero Academia. In case you haven’t read that post, I’ll briefly summarize it for you. On characters, purple can express femininity, mystery or refinery depending on the tone. On scenes, it can foreshadow a drastic change, or death. However, this are only a few of the possible interpretations of the color.

Now, this season is definitely keeping me busy with its ridiculous number of interesting shows, but Land of the Lustrous is consistently one of my biggest enjoyments each week. With the predicaments of its immortal, genderless gems and the moon people after them, Land of the Lustrous has created a world that’s as interesting as it is breathtaking. And after this week’s episode “First Battle” here I am, talking about purple again.

Spoilers: discussions of events from Land of the Lustrous’ up to the sixth episode.

Change, or rather, wish for change plagues protagonist Phos since the beginning of the series. With a harness level of only 3, Phos fragile body is unfit for battle. This goes against their wish to join the fight against the Moon Dwellers. After Phos’ ordeal with Ventricosus and the Moon Dwellers on last week’s episode “Return,” that change finally comes in a pair of new legs. Those legs give Phos incredible speed, enough for their Sensei to let them join Amethyst on their patrol.

Purple on character design can give them an air of mystery

Previous episodes also brought to light a possible theory about the origins of the gems, the slugs and the moon people. However, it’s not until this episode that the series start to tease the repercussion those previous developments might have. Conflict it’s foreshadowed not with words, but with color in a few moments, so let’s take a look at them.

The first one happens when the Sensei asks Phos for their report about what happened to them on the sea, where Phos learned about the origins theory.The scene literally waits for red and purple to appear before starting. 

As Phos struggles to remember, purple surrounds them. They only manage to remember the vastness of the sea and the word “humans.” Yet it’s enough to break Sensei’s seemingly unbreakable calm.

We have yet to find how that will play out, but the colors confirm what other elements on the scene tells us as well: this will come back to cause disruption in the future. For that reason, this is a pretty good example of tension in a scene aided by purple. 

Purple plays an important role again during the last few scenes. The Moon Dwellers appear on a purple sky, and Amethyst confronts them. As I said on my previous post, purple is associated with the other-worldly because of how rarely we find it on nature. Therefore, if the color appears in a situation where a character’s safety is at stake, be afraid. This is something that we often can tell instinctively; most might have noticed that when it seemed like Amethyst had already won, as they stood there, something was off. And sure enough, they soon get caught on a trap that almost takes them to the moon.

The gems are immortal, but losing parts of their bodies means losing memories. And being taken apart on the moon to become decorations, among other things, is essentially a death for them. For a moment, as Amethyst’s crushed against a purple sky, it seems like this is the fate that awaits them, until Bort arrives at the last moment to save them. Then, Sensei arrives to the scene and destroys the Moon Dwellers for good. Purple never leaves; it’s practically another character.  

During all that, Phos’ too stunned, too terrified to move. When it seemed like Amethyst would be taken away, we see Phos reach out with one arm, with purples cloud at their back. When Phos turns around to see the Sensei arrive, there’s more of a yellowish-orange on the background than purple. But when Sensei pats Bort’s head after they save Amethyst, purple practically consumes Phos distressed face. All of those moments establish a connection between Phos and the color.

In other words, the color is trying to give us a message about Phos. The episode closes with a big purple sky dwarfing the characters. Phos is on the ground, Bort is confronting them as Yellow Diamond watches and Sensei is literally giving them their back.

Phos is going to die. Not literally, of course. But further change awaits them, just as the saying goes “if it’s purple, someone’s going to die (or change)” There are many other elements coming into play, of course. But just looking at the colors, I would would say that, as foreshadowed by the big purple sky surrounding them, old Phos’ days are numbered.

Land of the Lustrous


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