by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 9 of
In which one hero falls while another rises.
The last episode of Plunderer ended on a cliffhanger—one that completely redefined everything we'd seen up until this moment. This episode doesn't even give us time to sort out the implications before hitting us with several more revelations that send us sprawling.
The main reveal of this episode is finally answering the question of “is Licht actually a Legendary Ace?” The answer is “yes.” Not only is he a 200-year-old warrior of myth and legend, but he is also a member of the military that rules the land with an iron fist as well. As a colonel, he outranks every character we've met so far—including Jail. Why such a man would desert his position or rebel against the army is no-doubt a mystery that will be explored in depth later.
But more than this, we learn that Licht is not the only remaining Legendary Ace. Just as things with the helicopter wind down, Sonohara (and her gun-wielding special forces team) arrive on the scene and begin exterminating witnesses—i.e., the whole town. Sonohara handles Licht easily. While his Count might make him bulletproof, her power to never miss a shot means that she can not only curve bullets but also gather them together into a canon shot that can slam even Licht into the ground.
Her goal seems to be to drive Licht from the light-hearted pervert he is now into the killing machine he was in the past. And by threatening everyone he holds dear, she succeeds. We see Licht's true power for the first time—he moves and cuts so fast that his enemies are all but vaporized in a shower of blood while he appears to be walking normally.
There could be no more obvious symbolism than Licht once again hiding his face with a mask—undoing all that Hina and Lynn have accomplished in getting him to remove it over the past episodes. But even the mask does nothing to hide his internal feelings—after all, its cheek is adorned with a single bloody tear.
But as Licht falls in this episode, our true hero rises.
Make no mistake: Jail Murdoch is the true hero of this story. He is not a tortured fallen hero like Licht—broken by the weight of his past sins and always on the edge of sliding back into despair. Jail is a man who has fought for the greater good all his life—punching “evil” directly in the face. However, his travels pursuing Licht have proven to him that the world isn't as black and white as it once seemed—with the military being good and those opposing the military being evil. At first, he cared nothing for collateral damage as he pursued his “conviction.” But now, he has reached the point where he cannot let the innocent around him die—especially for a dubious rule he doesn't understand.
Thus, he breaks the law against attacking the Abyssal Hands—which comes with a literal death sentence—protecting himself and those under him with only the flimsy plausible deniability that his glasses have gone missing and he can't see exactly what he's doing.
And like any good hero, his actions inspire those around him: It's not Licht who rallies the people or gets the other soldiers to step up to help—it's Jail. Unfortunately, all of Jail's heroics are for not once Sonohara arrives on the scene, shoots him, and begins her massacre.
Sonohara's attack serves as both world-building and subtle visual storytelling. As noted in previous reviews, the vast majority of people in this world are part of a medieval zeitgeist—meaning they have never seen a gun. Even in this episode, all people know is that there was a flash, then a bang, and then someone is dead next to them. They don't even know that the gun has caused it—not really. This is why they don't run or hide when the bullets start flying. This is so far beyond their experience they just freeze in place having no idea what to do.
Thus, what's truly intriguing in this episode is who knows what a gun is and who doesn't.
Jail doesn't, despite being a hot-shot in the military. He just instinctively puts up a shield when faced with a literal monster from hell. And even after seeing the helicopter's main gun in action, he doesn't understand that Sonohara's handgun is the same thing—which is why he gets shot so easily.
However, others do know what guns are. Licht obviously knows. So does Nana as she uses her own body to shield Hina. But what's most unexpected is that Pele does as well.
Lynn, as a hand-to-hand expert with a high count, could easily knock away the gun pointed at the back of her head. However, she doesn't recognize the danger she is in. Pele jumps in and kicks the hand holding the gun up—meaning he knows that a bullet comes from the barrel and that by pointing it away from her, Lynn will be safe. Of course, why exactly Nana and Pele know what guns are is a mystery yet to be revealed.
All in all, this is hands-down the best episode of Plunderer so far. Tons of action, reveals, and character growth, all while sprinkling subtle mysteries into the background to be solved later. Now all that's left to see is if our heroes can stop Licht from fully returning to his previous, bloody path.
• What was in the helicopter that made Licht stay his blade?
• As a colonel, Licht could potentially just order Jail to leave him alone as no one has explicitly told Jail that Licht isn't still an active member of the military.
• As Sonohara's shots never miss, we can assume that she never aims at Nana or Hina—even as she kills all those around the pair from above.
• Another bit of storytelling hidden in the background? The characters' names. The average citizens of the world have Western-sounding names: Jail, Lynn, Pele, Pelmo. However, an interesting group of characters have Japanese names—Sonohara, Nana, Hina, and now, Rihito.
Plunderer is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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