Fanservice and edginess have always been a point of contention in the anime community. Good thing the Winter 2020 anime season will grace us with Plunderer, a series that has both. Today, I will cover all of the source manga material that Yen Press has published thus far.
In a world where you’re born with a number indicating the amount of times you’ve done something, and can command anyone with a lower number than yours, moe-blob Hina seeks out the Fabled Ace of the Waste War… for some reason (probably has to do with her mom getting sucked into a black hole). She finds this Ace, named Licht Bach, but he’s a super edgelord and leaves the scene after saving her life (told you he’s an edgelord).
If I were to describe Plunderer at this juncture, I would call it a modern take on old-school battle shounen manga, like InuYasha, YuYu Hakusho, and Ruroni Kenshin. Its artstyle, which I’ll get to later, is a big reason, but it’s more so because it shares the “lead female protagonist is a damsel in distress” trope with the aforementioned manga . As a side note, those manga are- ironically enough- among my least favorite battle shounen of all time. I am aware that modern manga can treat its women as objects to “protecc” in the same way as the older mangas, but Plunderer‘s execution felt particularly nineties to me (just to clarify).
Fortunately, Plunderer does have some modern flare to it. Usually, most battle shounen manga (especially those older ones) have no real destination in terms of a narrative at the beginning, but Plunderer introduces intrigue during its first volume. The most notable mechanic is the Ballot system. These are items with their own pre-assigned values that add to their owner’s, and they’re where Licht gets his power. The female lead also has one that- based on its number- is far stronger than his, but it doesn’t get any use yet. It’ll likely be used as a Deus Ex Machina later.
But like I said earlier, Plunderer also has fan service tropes. Our main protagonist, Licht, has a count of -1000 thanks to how often he gets rejected by women. The reason? Because he likes to look up their skirts. And in good ol’ battle shounen fashion, he’s also a “righteous dude” who will protect ALL the waifus, especially from random sleezes who will try to use the number system to sexually assault them (well, except for when he’s in his designated “PTSD edgelord phase”).
His main waifu is Hina, the aforementioned moe-blob. Similar to InuYasha‘s Kagome and Kenshin‘s Kaoru, she ends up being a passive character for Licht to save. She might get powers of her own later, but it’ll probably never amount to much of anything.
The other waifu, Lynn May, doesn’t fair much better. She’s a moe-blob in the military, and a wholly incompetent one at that. She ends up tagging along when Licht stands up for her in front of a more… d***ish officer. Literally everyone around her makes fun of the shortness of her skirt, making her another mascot to sell the manga.
Jail Murdoch, one of only two other male leads, is pretty much the Vegeta or Piccolo of Plunderer; he starts out as an enemy, and becomes a frenemy not much later. Yeah, it’s a pretty bog-standard cast for the most part.
But if there’s one thing that I love in a battle shounen manga, it’s art. While Plunderer has a very nineties look in it’s character design, the panels are full of life and impact. Fights are especially good, even if the characters don’t put much thought put into their tactics.
Current Verdict: 8.75/10
It may sound like I was criticizing Plunderer throughout the bulk of this post, but that’s not quite what I was doing. I, personally, am loving Plunderer so far, but that doesn’t mean I won’t acknowledge that there are some things that would tilt others. I’m not going to be the type of reviewer who will conveniently omit any possible flaw that their favorite things have, for the sake of being “objectively right”. If you like battle shounens, you should have no problem enjoying Plunderer.