Jun 24, 2020
Writer James Beckett of AnimeNewsNetwork once said, speaking on the anime “Fire Force”, that it felt like it was written by “two middle-schoolers stacked on top of each other wearing a thick trench coat.” Sorry if I didn’t get that exactly right, James. Can I say the same applies to “Plunderer”? Well, as someone who was once a middle schooler thumping my feet to Slipknot and Green Day as I scrawled in the margins of my homework, I’d like to think my capacity to conjure a competent narrative was at least marginally better than whatever...the fuck I just saw.

I’m going to keep this review of Plunderer as brief as possible because I’d rather it vacate the mental real-estate it has occupied in my head-space now that it has finished airing. You think of anime like “One Punch Man” and “Attack on Titan” where absolutely every aspect of production had to fall perfectly into place in order for the celluloid to properly translate to screen, in other words, lightning in a bottle. Plunderer is like the inverse of that, imagine, if you would, a 2-liter bottle of shit filled to its absolute brim over the course of 24 weeks get the idea. Plunderer is the type of legendarily bad anime that you only get once in a decade because anything that can go wrong with an anime during its syndication absolutely did go wrong.

Plunderer is juvenile, it seems to be under the impression that a good story is predicated on otherworldly plot-twists, tragic heroes, and romance, but that’s just not the case. At the core of Plunderer’s story is a horribly unlikeable protagonist, Licht Bach. Licht checks just about every box for how not to write a compelling protagonist. He sexually assaults any woman in sight, has a happy-go-lucky attitude about it, and hides behind a shield of tragedy to force some degree of emotion out of the audience.

I’m an unrepentantly perverse and salacious bastard, the furthest thing from a prude, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. For a character like Licht Bach to have as many love interests as your run of the mill harem protagonist is nothing short of insulting. The number of women queued up to swing their legs open for this dude is staggering, it gets to a point where they are actively embracing being sexually assaulted just to have this man’s dick. I don’t normally allow my convictions to bleed into anime, because applying real-world logic to a cartoon can have varying results. But in Plunderer’s case, I just can’t ignore how these female characters are presented, because it’s nothing short of reductive and dangerously exaggerated.

Is the story at least good enough to distract from the chaos of its forced character relations?, not really. Trying to explain the story of Plunderer would be like asking Charlie Day to expound on the modalities of working in a mail-room. It’s mired in minutiae and messy plotting, so for the sake of it, I’ll highlight some of the essential bullet-points. Licht Bach is some kind of super-soldier from the past that was forced to kowtow to his superiors to spare his peers, he bastardized his ideals when he was forced to kill others even though he was in a fucking military academy, and now in the present when the world is virtually unrecognizable he’s seen as a pariah known as the “Legendary Ace”, also there are aliens involved?

One of my absolute favorite scenes in Plunderer is when the main cast is forced to visit the past and during the school’s opening ceremony, the Commander straight up pops 3 punks in the crowd. It was jaw-dropping, to say the least, but it’s not until after the back and forth with Licht does he reveal that he actually shot them with a paint gun...even though they acted like they were dead the entire time. Like “Oh yeah, golly, I’m not dead!” Seriously, I checked out from this anime when I saw an attack-helicopter slowly rise from the smoke of the abyss.

The music is terribly anachronistic, mundane, and poorly integrated from scene to scene due to poor directing. The animation doesn’t even have to be spoken for in this case, but for the sake of it, I’ll say that Plunderer is so poorly animated that you can count the number of smear-frames per episode on your fingers. The coloring and linework is incredibly flat to the point where this show looks and feels like it was released over a decade ago.

Plunderer is…awful, irredeemably so. But it was never boring, far from it. With a bit of grandad’s cough medicine coursing through my system, it was actually raucous fun. Can I recommend it? Well honestly, that’s for you to decide whether or not I want the rest of you curious viewers at large to...share in my pain.
Reviewer’s Rating: 1
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