Image source: TVアニメ『宝石の国』 on Twitter

As our hero in Land of the Lustrous matures she keeps replacing body parts. But, the body parts she’s lost contain her memories. So, we come across a paradox with her: As she replaces her lost body parts, is she the same person?

In Land of the Lustrous, a small island populated by jewel people protect themselves from being abducted by mysterious beings from the Moon. Among the jewel people, Phosphophyllite is seen as the most useless because she’s lazy and cracks easily. However, after a life-threatening encounter with these Moon people, Phosphophyllite has gained a new set of tougher legs. Still seen as hopeless by her peers, though, she wishes she had more power. But, that power comes at a grave cost: her memories.

One of the earliest things we’ve learned about the jewel people in the series is even if they break apart, so long as a majority of their body can be recovered, they can be reformed. This comes from the microbes that reside in each jewel person’s body. While it’s suggested a jewel person can be reformed without every last piece being found, they suffer from memory loss. It’s a fascinating concept because it means every part of a jewel person’s body is a living record. Thus, it makes it doubly important a jewel person never loses large portions of their body.

This raises an incredibly interesting question that none of the characters have yet addressed. If a jewel person replaces a majority of their body parts, are they still the same person? It’s a question that harkens back to the Ship of Theseus Paradox. In short, the Paradox asks if a wooden ship has its parts slowly replaced over the year until none of the original ship remains, is it the same ship. This question is more important than ever in the series since we’ve seen the main character, Phosphophyllite, have a few of her body parts replaced. However, with Phosphophyllite we have to examine the Paradox on a physical and metaphysical level.

Image source: TVアニメ『宝石の国』 on Twitter

In a physical sense, Phosphophyllite has both her legs and arms replaced—with the mineral agate and a gold and platinum alloy respectively. With agate, while it’s similar to the mineral Phosphophyllite there are slight differences in its composition. On a molecular level this means Phosphophyllite is different. Yet, as a humanoid she looks exactly like you’d expect: two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, and ten digits. However, since Phosphophyllite is no longer composed of just one mineral we have to ask is she the same person as she was when the series began? There’s no easy answer to this problem either since it calls into question what we value as physically being the same. Is it Phosphophyllite’s general shape that makes her Phosphophyllite or is it what she’s composed of. So far, the other characters have treated Phosphophyllite as the same person. But the question still remains, is she the same.

The Paradox become even more difficult when we look at it from a metaphysical sense. It’s because it questions the very nature of what makes her the character Phosphophyllite. Is it her memories, her personality, the microbes that live inside her, or something else entirely? Think of it in these terms: If it’s Phosphophyllite memories that make her Phosphophyllite, then the very act of removing any body part turns her into a different person. It’s because, as it’s been established in the series, her entire body is a living record and those memories make Phosphophyllite the person she is. The same is true with her personality. If a body part is removed, it could take a core of her personality, like her laziness.

Image source: TVアニメ『宝石の国』 on Twitter

However, replacing the body part doesn’t actually give Phosphophyllite her memories, personality, or whatever else back. It just provides her with a new body part. So, those memories are lost forever until the body parts can be recovered. Thus, she’s irreparably changed on some metaphysical level. This becomes even muddier when we stop to think what if Phosphophyllite gets her old body parts back. True, she’ll be getting her old memories back. Yet, what about the new one’s she makes with the replacement body parts. Or what if you took all the replacement body parts and made an entirely new Phosphophyllite? We then have to as which is the actual Phosphophyllite. For now, though, she’s still Phosphophyllite, right? Well, since a majority of her body is still composed of the mineral Phosphophyllite, thus retaining a fair portion of her memories, you could say yes.

But, now with her arms being replaced in the latest episode it means there are going to be more fundamental changes to her personality and memories. And those changes will get to the point where those around her may no longer recognize her as the Phosphophyllite they once knew.

Land of the Lustrous is currently streaming on Amazon Anime Strike.

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