Volume 2 ended with Rihito Sakai (the future Licht Bach) being stripped of his stars, and told that he will be kicked out of school the following day if he doesn’t find a way to steal some. This Plunderer volume 3 review contains major spoilers for Plunder volume 1 and 2, please go read them first!Plunder is available both physically and digitally through Yen Press.
Plunderer volume 3 picks up the story, which shows us just how concerned Rihito is with his lack of stars and impending expulsion. As it turns out, He doesn’t care. The only thing on his mind is panties, panties, panties. It’s literally all he can think about.
And when asked why he’s so calm about everything, he responds that he never wanted to be a soldier in the first place. He’s just there to look out for his friend. Of course, if Rihito had gotten kicked out of school, Licht Bach would never have existed. Therefore, Rihito does find a solution for his star problem. And then, training begins in earnest.
To Kill or Not to Kill
Plunderer volume 3 gives us a more in-depth look into the pre-Waste War world. We learn that starvation reigns supreme, especially when Captain Allen takes our group of time travellers on a field trip into the city. We also learn that the Waste War is going to be so destructive, future soldiers are better off training with medieval weapons instead of modern ones, since the war will eat up so many resources that bullets and fuel will cease to exist.
Through it all, Rihito – who, at his core, hates killing and vows never to take a human life – becomes the de facto leader of the class and convinces them to become a unit that doesn’t kill. Major Schmerman, who loves his students like they’re his children, readily agrees with this course of action.
However, Licht Bach has killed more than five thousand people. The count on his blade reflects that. So what exactly is going on? Where does it all go wrong?
Plunderer volume 3 spoilers
The book doesn’t reveal all the secrets as to where Licht’s future went sideways. It does, however, introduce us to the beginnings of the Ace Project. And it also introduces us to the young version of Nana.
Young Nana has the same time-travelling powers as her future self. That future self has told her that she will be receiving a tall, blond, four-eyed visitor who was there to change the past. Nana finds Jail as he’s spying on the instructors’ underground lab, where the Ace Project experiments are taking place. She has the same message as the future Nana: save Licht.
The future Nana left an SD card for the time travellers to watch, a message that the past Nana cannot look at without altering the future beyond recognition. The group watches the message in the computer lab, revealing what has happened during the three hundred years since the end of the Waste War, and explains why Licht wears a bizarre mask. Also why Alcia has some strange rules (including the ban on flight research) when they are interrupted by a stunned Captain Allen.
At gunpoint and out of options, Jail reveals who they are. Allen, who is all too familiar with Nana and her powers, readily accepts their real identities. He also allows them to stay in school and continue to train. And he takes extra time to prepare Jail, with whom he has a surprising connection.
Through it all, the mystery of Althing deepens, and seeds are sown to play out in future volumes. There’s a lot of intriguing stuff here, more than enough to keep you reading. So why do I say that this volume stumbles badly?
The Problem with Licht
The biggest problem with this volume is Rihito/Licht himself. He isn’t a likeable character. His obsession with panties – which was lightly touched in the first two volumes, but reaches disturbing levels here – seems to be his only personality trait (other than his dislike of killing).
I barely cared about Rihito by the end of the volume, but I was heavily invested in Jail’s story
Licht is supposed to be the main character, but he feels almost like an afterthought here, and his personality feels as flat as cardboard. The characters feel affection for him, but I felt nothing for him at all. It almost feels like author Suu Minazuki doesn’t like the character he created, and we see his feelings come through in print.
The true hero of this volume is Lieutenant Jail, which is a complete 180 from volume 1, where he primarily played the villain. It’s Jail who puts himself on the line repeatedly to save both Licht and the future. By the end, he is a far more sympathetic character than Rihito. I barely cared about Rihito by the end of the volume, but I was heavily invested in Jail’s story. That would be fine if the title of this series were “Jail Murdoch”. But, it’s called “Plunderer”, and right now, it has an identity crisis.
There’s a current of misogyny that runs through this book. I didn’t detect it in volumes one and two, but it feels rampant here. There’s images like the one above, with Sonohara getting physically bullied. There’s Rihito’s constant peeping, which is obnoxious and toxic. And of course, there’s the constant abuse that Sergeant Major Lynn receives, especially from Sergeant Pele, which feels like it crosses a major line at one point. All this combines into a volume that is sometimes difficult to read.
Is Plunderer, Volume 3 worth reading?
Yes, but… This book has serious issues. The story elements are still good, with fantastic art and character designs. And the fact that there is still so much mystery yet to be revealed makes for tantalizing future possibilities.
However, the problems are too glaring to ignore. Rihito is not a great main character. in fact, he isn’t the main character at all. He’s supposed to be compelling, but the book is better when he isn’t there. Violence towards women can’t be ignored. There are far too many examples of physical abuse and degrading behaviour by men towards women in this volume.
Another turn-off may be that the characters are still in school. Volume 1 created an interesting world. While volume 2 tore the characters out of that world and dropped them into modern-day Japan, which many fans of the first volume didn’t like. In volume 3 keeps them in Japan, and it doesn’t seem like they will be leaving anytime soon. This alone may be enough to turn off more potential fans.
I’m going to stick with the series for one more volume. I want to know more about Althing and how Alcia comes to be. I also hope that the Licht Bach from Volumes 1 and 2 makes a return and that he once again becomes the main character in his own comic. Maybe this series will figure out its identity crisis, and maybe it won’t. I hope it can regain the high standard set by volume 1.