By Tom Speelman
Anime has no shortage of fantasy. But this winter season is giving us something a bit more unique — Plunderer. Just two episodes in, this action-fantasy from KADOKAWA is already shaping up to be one of the most interesting debuts of the season, with colorful characters and a world unlike any other.
With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed on everything you need to know about Plunderer before you watch.
What’s It About?
In the world of Plunderer, every person has a number printed somewhere on their body that corresponds to a vital aspect of their lives. This is known as a “count,” and can go up or down depending on what happens in that area of the person’s life. Your count could be anything from the number of times you’ve sneezed to how many people have called your cooking delicious.
No person can disobey the order of someone who has a higher count than them. The only way you can change your count is called a star-stake: a formal duel, with the winner adding the loser’s total count to their own.
Most importantly, if a person’s count reaches zero, mysterious and shadowy hands appear out of the ground to drag them to a place underground known as the Abyss. Nobody knows what the Abyss is, exactly — whether it’s hell or something similar — but no one wants to go there.
Our heroine, Hina (voiced by Rina Honizumi in Japanese, Sarah Wiedenheft in English), whose count corresponds to the number of kilometers she’s walked, saw her mother dragged to the Abyss before her eyes as a young girl. But just before she disappeared, Hina’s mother handed her a mysterious ball and sent her to find a figure known as the Legendary Ace and give it to him.
At the start of our story, Hina arrives in the city of Alcia, where she encounters friendly restauranteur Nana (Shizuka Ito in Japanese, Caitlin Glass in English) as well as masked pervert Licht Bach (Yoshiki Nakajima in Japanese, Eric Vale in English), who seems to have the lowest count of any person anywhere: -999 (the number of times a woman has rejected him). Of course, that doesn’t stop him from trying to hit on Hina.
But Licht shows his true colors when Hina is tricked into a star-stake by a shady military officer and nearly winds up with a count of zero. It turns out Licht is the Legendary Ace that Hina has searched for all this time. Known as the Ace of Flashing Strikes, he helped win a mysterious conflict called the Waste War over 300 years ago with his incredible speed and jumping abilities.
Furthermore, it turns out the mysterious ball Hina was given is actually something called a “ballot,” and holding it is important enough that Hina nearly gets killed over it. Just what the ballot does, and why factions of the military want Licht dead once they find out he’s alive, are just some of the mysteries Plunderer seems set to explore. And if you’ve read the original manga, you know it gets even crazier than that…
Who’s It By?
Plunderer is based on a manga by Suu Minazuki, the creator of Judas and Heaven’s Lost Property (even describing the stern Iron Jail, who you’ll meet later this season, in the author’s note of volume 1 of Plunderer as a “more straitlaced version of Sugata-senpai” from that latter series). It’s been running since 2014 in Kadokawa’s Monthly Shonen Ace magazine.
The anime, which premiered on January 8, comes from scriptwriter Masashi Suzuki (The Sacred Blacksmith), director Hiroyuki Kanbe (Keijo!!!!!, Rosario + Vampire) and studio Geek Toys (RErideD: Derrida, who leaps through time; Hensuki: Are You Willing to Fall in Love with a Pervert, as Long as She’s a Cutie?).
Why Should You Watch It?
Well, more than anything, this show is just plain fun. The world is laid out in a really intriguing way, and the action is always exciting, with Kanbe and co. delivering some pretty stellar animation to back it up. But as with any good anime, it’s the characters that suck you in.
While we don’t know much about Hina yet, she’s a very compelling heroine, with Wiedenheft and Honizumi each giving her enough emotional heft and grit to keep you invested. Likewise, Vale and Nakajima really commit to both halves of Licht: the secret hero with powers beyond imagining… and the gross, money-hungry pervert. It’s a tricky balancing act, but they pull it off.
If you like shows like fellow new fantasy anime Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, classic action-comedies like Trigun or even if you’re still not over the end of Fairy Tail, give Plunderer a shot! We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Have you watched Plunderer yet? What do you think the Ballot is for? Why does everyone want Licht dead? Let us know!
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