by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 16 of
Welcome to the beginning of the end of the beginning.
The first half of this episode revolves around Licht's choice to undergo the experimental procedure to become an Ace—namely how it affects our heroes from the future. On arriving in the past, the group's gut reaction was to stop the procedure. But as they've come to learn more about the world of the past, it's become more and more obvious that without Licht becoming an Ace, everything they've ever known will almost certainly not come to be.
On the eve of the surgery, Jail is not willing to sacrifice his entire world just so Licht can avoid becoming an Ace—to the point where he will fight the others if pressed. Pele is right alongside him in this.
On the other hand, Lynn is torn. While she cares about Licht and wants to spare him the pain of what is to come, she can't ignore the effects he has had on her own life. Thus she chooses her own selfish wants—i.e., her memories of her time with him—over changing his future. This throws her into a spiral of self loathing.
Pele tries in his own exasperated way to comfort her—explaining that it is in her nature to want to help people even if that help would ultimately do more harm than good. Despite his own contrasting worldview, it is something that he finds admirable. He encourages her not to change, that there are people out there who understand her value and are even attracted to her personality—though they're interrupted by Hina before he can go into full love-confession mode.
While Lynn has been wallowing in her shame and regret, Hina has been busy thinking of a solution to the problem they face. In short, Hina has realized that what broke Licht was not him becoming an Ace but him becoming a killer. Knowing the future Licht, she knows that Licht has a martyr complex—that he willingly sacrifices his own soul and well-being to save others. It's obvious to her that this could easily push him to protect Class A by killing for them instead of working with them. Thus, if Hina and the others can stop him from killing and get him to rely on his friends to share the burden, then he can win the war without losing his soul.
This is an idea that the group can get behind—including Jail. It's important to remember that while Jail and Hina were on opposite sides of the “Licht becoming an Ace” dilemma, Jail is not against saving Licht. He's just against sacrificing the future to do it. As long as the war is won, he'll gladly work with the others to save Licht's soul—especially if doing so will save Nana in the process. But interestingly, this is not Jail's only moment of heroic growth for the episode.
Wandering through the school, Jail comes upon Doan stealing Sonohara's remaining star. However, Sonohara does not ask Jail to help her get her star back. Instead, she asks for one of Jail's stars. It is here that Sonohara's thought process is laid bare. She is not in the school to support Licht, the one person who protected her from bullies. She's at the school because, if Licht is near, he will protect her from bullies.
She won't ask Jail to get her star back because she's afraid that might piss off Doan and get her more bullying. It's much safer to simply ask the man who gave her a star before. She's a coward. As Doan puts it, she is not fit for the military. If she can't stand up for herself in a school situation, she'll simply die on the battlefield. Jail can't help but agree.
While Sonohara may want for things to change—to end her bullying and become strong—wishing is not enough. You have to act. You have to have the conviction to make your dreams come true. Jail tells this to her but she doesn't understand—with her trauma she can't let herself understand.
And Jail knows from his experiences with Licht, Nana, and the others that he can't force her to change. That change has to come from within. All he can do is give her some advice along with one of his stars and hope that she is able to take that first step alone. Sometimes a hero has to know when he can help and when he can't—no matter how painful it may be to watch.
The other half of the episode is pure action. While the upcoming war was scheduled to begin in March, the other original ballot-holding countries have come together in secret to start the war early—launching a surprise attack upon the one country with three of the seven ballots.
This leaves the school under attack. And while Jail, Tokikaze, and Alan are quick to jump into action and save the rest of Class A, the other students in the school are far less lucky. Worse still, the attacking troops have cut the power with Licht still on the operating table. Thus, the class comes together to save Licht, fighting—but not killing—the invaders as they work their way to the backup power generator.
But will they make it in time? Find out next week!
• Boy, the next episode preview really takes all the tension out of the cliffhanger ending, doesn't it?
• It's interesting to see the little ways that Alan goes out of his way to protect Jail—i.e., covering him as they move and keeping him out of the line of fire. He may not have any memories of raising Jail but that doesn't mean he'll let his future son die.
• It's good to see that Nana hasn't been forgotten—neither the little girl locked away from society nor the woman who taught Jail to be a hero. Jail will save both if he can.
• I get the feeling that Doan's excuse for bullying Sonohara (that he's forcing her to drop out so she doesn't get killed) might actually be his true feelings. ...Doesn't make him any less of an asshole though.
• The internal conflict in Pele is both obvious and understandable. Everything about Lynn conflicts with how he views the world. He is a pessimist. She is an optimist—yet he longs for her way of thinking to be correct. Of course he can't help but be attracted to her.
• I love how in this episode especially it's easy to see how events in the original timeline went without Jail and the others there. While our heroes are always involved, their roles are never vital and there's always someone else on hand who could have played their parts.
• Is force feeding pretty girls vegetables an actual fetish? ...On second thought, I don't want to know.
Plunderer is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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