by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 18 of
“In which our heroes are (almost) completely absent.”
Episode 18 of Plunderer is one big info dump. In an abridged fashion, it covers the 300 years between when our heroes disappeared in the past and when they reappear in the present.
This is done through a series of vignettes with Nana as the narrator directly addressing the camera. These appear to be selections from Nana's video diary over the course of 300 years with the most recent entry—a direct message to whoever she chose to time travel—bookending the other entries.
These are the recordings that Nana sent into the past—and that her young self gave to Jail in episode 14. The four time travelers then watched these off-screen in episode 15 after their brief visit to the world outside the school—though we, the viewers, haven't seen them until now. This explains both why Hina was so gung-ho to save Licht and why Jail was against doing anything that would threaten the creation of Alicia.
In between and over Nana's narration, we see the events of the war—i.e., Licht's gradual fall into madness—and the events after. During the war, Licht was weighed down by two things: becoming a killer and the lust for killing that came as a part of Schmerman's genetic material. The one thought he held on to, the one ideal that kept him going, was that he was doing the killing so the others in Class A wouldn't need to.
In a greater sense, he was obsessed with protecting them—not only physically but mentally as well. So what really broke him completely was cutting down Tokikaze and making all his sacrifice moot. It's no surprise that act left him in a catatonic state for years.
After regaining himself somewhat, he and Nana escaped. And he healed slowly, bit by bit—though still obsessed with the past and his sins. In the end, all he could decide to do was fight back against the army that made him and betrayed him. However, as Nana says, no matter what she did, she couldn't get him to remove his mask—to become the man, not the killer, once again.
Nana posits that he won't remove his mask because she reminds him too much of the war—what he did and what he lost—and thus she is unable to save him. But this, in turn, brings up what is perhaps the most important aspect of this episode: Nana is an unreliable narrator.
It's not that Nana is lying or hiding information—nor that the events we see on screen are skewed or didn't happen. Rather, it's that she likely doesn't know the whole story herself. We're simply seeing the events that Nana knows about and her voiceover tells us how she interprets these events.
Realizing this makes this episode worth a rewatch. The scenes we see are filled with moments hinting that a lot more is going on in the background—especially when you remember what we have learned about the war in the episodes before the time travel arc began.
There's a lot to digest in this one but it does an excellent job developing both Licht and Nana, explaining the impetus behind their actions in the first half of the anime. All the while, it finally explains to us the actual state of the world and, in doing so, sets the stage for whatever comes next. Good stuff.
• Next week, it looks like we'll see what it's like for Licht to be on the other side of extreme sexual harassment. And hopefully, Nana and Jail will get time for a long-overdue talk—especially given his actions in the past.
• It's worth noting that the Nana who sent the diaries to the past is the one from the original timeline. This means she—unlike the post-time travel Nana we are returning to—never met Jail as a young girl and saw him single-handedly change the future she saw.
• Everyone in the past is surprisingly okay with finding out that four of their class members were freaking time travelers.
• The world below has so few resources that it must have taken years to get the helicopter gunship seen in the first half of the series fueled and flying. Which raises the question: how would anyone know how to fly it—unless they had real-world experience flying one (or were taught by someone who had actually flown one)?
• This episode shows the existence of five Aces—Nana, Licht, Alex, Sonohara, and Doan—like that's all of them. However, previous episodes have shown seven silhouettes when talking about the Aces...
• So other than Schmerman, Firenda, and the Aces, everyone on Earth was left behind to starve and die while Schmerman restarted humanity using preserved human embryos? So much for “saving the children.”
• The most important still-missing backstory? The points where the other Aces joined Licht as killers—or perhaps didn't!
Plunderer is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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