Plunderer
Episode 5

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Plunderer ?

In which we learn that while punching criminals in the face might be satisfying, it's probably not the best way to eliminate crime.

While you might not notice with all the action going on, Plunderer's fifth episode is actually a character piece on our newest main character, Jail.

Jail, a high ranking member of the military tasked with hunting down Licht, is literally powered by his convictions--his beliefs. This, in turn, causes a dangerous mindset--one that has been reinforced 12500 times as he has decided to do something and then imposed his will on the world to make it true. But just because he has followed his convictions through to the end and succeeded in his goals doesn't mean his actions are right or just.

However, Jail absolutely believes that they are. As long as the greater good is being served--i.e., capturing and punishing those the state deems enemies--his actions are righteous and any collateral damage is not worth his notice.

Jail looks down on Lynn who lives in a peaceful village and does community service instead of catching criminals. It never even occurs to him that the reason there is so little crime in the village is because of Lynn's efforts. Instead of eradicating the symptoms (i.e., catching criminals), she's eliminated the entire disease (i.e., crime itself). She's made a place where no one wants to be a criminal by doing nothing more than being a role model and building a sense of community.

It's when Jail is confronted with the possibility that her way is better than his that he begins to waver in his convictions--possibly for the first time ever.

Remember: Jail is literally powered by his convictions--i.e., his sense of what is right. Thus, if he is overpowered physically, it proves--in his mind, anyway--that the person he's facing may have a better grasp on what is truly just.

While lecturing Jail on the amazing job Lynn has done with the town, Licht casually breaks Jail's iron bindings--the physical manifestation of Jail's will. Beyond the metaphor (of Licht's convictions being so strong they shatter Jail's), this makes it clear that Licht was just playing possum in their previous battle. The reason why he didn't go all out on Jail quickly becomes obvious. If either he or Jail began using their full power, Licht would no longer be able to mitigate the collateral damage. Just matching Jail's full power in a simple weapon clash is enough to shatter the ground around them--a problem for anyone living in a village built upon a cliff.

Yet what really rocks Jail to his core is, in the moment when part of the cliff gives way and sends Lynn falling, Licht speed increases to the point that it's almost like Jail is standing still. As Jail turns to try and grab Lynn, he is an easy target for Licht. Yet, instead of attacking, Licht chooses to rescue Lynn--proving (at least in part) that Lynn was right about Licht not being an evil man.

Seeing proof that he could be wrong not only about Lynn but Licht as well finally shatters his previously iron-hard convictions--dropping his count by a single point.

But here's the thing about Jail, he truly believes himself to be a hero: a man doing the right thing. So when it's proven that his way might not be correct, he has no choice but to accept that and adopt the better way. Thus, he follows Lynn's proposed plan and builds a playground for the kids--simultaneously giving Licht a head start as a reward for his good deed.

He also demands that Lynn join him on his quest to capture Licht. Jail himself knows only one way to make the world safer, but now knows that it's not the only way--nor even the best possible way. If he was wrong this time, perhaps Lynn will be able to continue pointing out better paths to justice in the future as well--no matter how annoying Jail finds her personally.

All in all, it's fantastic development that makes Jail the most complex character of the anime so far.

Rating:

Random Thoughts:

• For as horrible as Pele treats Lynn in his own passive-aggressive way, he is obviously worried for her safety when she squares off against Jail.

• So the way I see it, Licht's count goes down every time a girl that has been falling for him says “I hate you.” While it may seem crazy he has a -1001 count if the rules are that specific, 300 years is a long time.

• The scene where Licht's sword (his ballot) is knocked out of his hand confuses me. At one point, Jail clearly has possession of the sword. Wouldn't that mean, at that moment, Licht's net count is -1000? Shouldn't the shadow hands come for him? And, if not, what is the range for a ballot? And for that matter, what if Jail had used the sword? Can you use someone else's ballot?

• It seems that every time Licht leaves a town, he wants to make sure that the women he leaves behind hate him rather than pine after him.

• No Hina or Nana in this episode but I'm sure they'll be back next week.

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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