Episode 13

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Plunderer ?

In which a bully meets his match.

Plunderer episode 13 is basically two stories in one: a look back at the past and a look forward to the future.

The first, centered around young Licht, shows the genesis of the star battle system we know from 300 years in the future. Each student gets two star-shaped pins. Get 10 stars and you graduate—guaranteeing yourself a spot in the military and your family food for life. You can earn stars by doing well in the classes—or by challenging others to a star battle and taking theirs.

However, Licht alone doesn't receive any stars—all but guaranteeing that he'll flunk out. Of course, Licht really doesn't care about that. All he cares about is convincing Tokikaze to quit and return home with him. As far as he is concerned, school is playtime for him to indulge in his perverted desires for the few days he has left.

However, after Doan steals most of the class' stars—and Licht learns what would happen if he and Tokikaze returned home—he enacts his own plan that shows why the students would come to accept and rely on Licht despite his obvious perverted shortcomings. Basically, Licht steals back Doan's stolen stars using sleight-of-hand and distributes them to the rest of the group.

This teaches us a few things about him. He is smart enough to know what victory actually is—that the goal is not to beat Doan but get everyone's stars back. And if he can do it in a way that no one gets hurt, all the better. Moreover, he knows that, if Doan doesn't figure out what has happened until later, Doan won't turn him in for it. A bully like Doan could never accept being outsmarted at his own game and then running to a teacher for help.

In the end, Licht basically ensures that everyone is no longer on the edge of flunking out and will have full bellies for a long time to come. Moreover, he asks them all to get in on his next plan: if everyone stays under 10 stars, they will have a meal ticket for life. Sure, their families will have to get by without the free meals graduating would get them but at least they'll be down one mouth to feed without worrying about their children being sent off to war to die.

But as interesting as Licht's backstory is, it's Jail's continuing heroic journey that steals the show. In a real way, now that he and the others are in the past, the training wheels are off. Without Nana to guide him, he has only his own sense of right and wrong to rely on—and is unsure how far to follow it.

When Doan steals stars from his classmate's lockers—and then has Sonohara and Tokikaze “gift” him their stars—Jail steps in. However, Tokikaze immediately tells Jail to butt out—despite the fact that all those without stars by the end of the day will be expelled. Jail acquiesces and steps aside—only to then gift one of his two stars to Sonohara. This heroic act inspires all those with two stars to do the same. In the end, only Tokikaze and Licht are left starless.

For the rest of the day, Jail stays close to Tokikaze and Licht, waiting for either of them to ask for his help, but neither do—even though being drummed out will likely lead to the death of Tokikaze's grandmother as there's not enough food to feed the three of them. So when the pivotal moment comes, Jail decides to get justice regardless. After giving his last star to Lynn (to give to Tokikaze), he waits at the gate for Doan.

Doan is a natural-born bully. And like most bullies, he is a coward. He only picks fights he is sure to win. He's bigger and stronger than Sonohara and the other students so it's easy enough to get what he wants. Those he can't outfight, he attacks mentally like when he threatens to have his parents evict Tokikaze's grandmother—all but guaranteeing her death.

But Jail is like no one he has faced before. Jail isn't interested in stealing Doan's ill-gotten stars or tricking him into a star battle. Jail has accepted that he will be kicked out of the school—that his allies can handle what is to come without him. With that choice, Doan has no power over him—nothing to threaten him with. That leaves only the physical—and Jail, a trained soldier, isn't afraid of mixing it up with Doan. In fact, he's counting on it.

The moment Doan steps out of the safety of the school, Jail plans to break Doan so badly he'll be useless to the military. He'll be crippled and sent home. All Doan has done will become meaningless.

Even before his heroic evolution, Jail could see the big picture. Thus, he is willing to lose the battle (staying in the school) to win the war (preventing Doan from getting what he wants). Doan has finally bullied the wrong man and put himself in a position where he can't possibly win.

It's almost too bad that Schmerman stops the fight before it begins and reveals that Doan has way fewer stars than he thought.


Random Thoughts:

• Our heroes from the future all wear their stars rather than hide them. They've lived their whole lives with their stars on their bodies. It makes sense they'd never even consider trying to put them someplace “safe.”

• Licht leaves Doan with two stars ensuring he won't be kicked out either.

• Nice to see the class has the same reaction as much of the audience: that Licht isn't worth saving due to his constant sexual harassment.

• The fanservice in this episode was surprisingly normal as far as anime goes—just girls in the bath. If we can keep it to this level or lower going forward I would be satisfied.

• The comedy keeps trying to push how similar Jail and Tokikaze are—but Jail is completely different. Jail follows his convictions, Tokikaze shies away from his own.

• Schmerman gives Jail the stars that were supposed to go to Licht—poetically marking the hero of the future by giving him an item that was supposed to go to the hero of the past.

• It's interesting to remember that, in the original timeline, Jail and the others weren't present. Thus, Licht likely just stole back the stars and Doan never came up against a person who refused to back down.

Plunderer is currently streaming on FUNimation.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.

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