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Plunderer is Bad and Stupid

Hello everyone! My name is Syy – you might know me for my
novel length analysis series of Heaven’s Lost Property and why it’s amazing, which
made this video something of an inevitability. So Plunderer, the next big manga created by
the same author as Heaven’s Lost Property, Suu Minazuki, just recently got an anime adaptation. Now, I originally read the first two chapters
back when it came out and bounced off it almost immediately because I thought it was bad and
stupid, but didn’t really read enough to have a concrete opinion. But then I started doing a manga book club
of Plunderer with my friend Isaiah where we read through the manga chapter by chapter
and gave commentary about it as we went, and in doing so, I confirmed that it was even
worse than I initially thought. And now the anime is out, and it’s somehow
even worse than that. And a warning up front, this video will contain
some minor spoilers, but trust me, the manga’s plot isn’t worth caring about. So, what even is Plunderer? Simply put, Plunderer is… a mess. Plunderer is a battle shounen action show
where each person is wearing a number that literally tells you how strong they are, which
means there’s never any tension to the action scenes, and the only way Minazuki has to fix
that is to have characters constantly pull bigger numbers out of their ass, sometimes
by literally peeling a sticker off of their previous number, to reveal an even bigger
number, or by showing that they were hiding a second even biggerer number in their pocket
the whole time. Plunderer is a show where things just happen,
irrespective of logical consistency or rules established by the narrative, so long as they
look cool, because the target audience is clearly 12 year olds who won’t question
it. Plunderer is a comedy fanservice manga like
SnO, except with worse jokes and terrible characters. Plunderer is also a dark and gritty world,
where people are tortured and killed in wars and where starving children drive people to
horrible and desperate means to survive, depicted just pages away from the aforementioned comedy
and fanservice. Plunderer is about 5 different manga at once,
crammed into a single terrible conflicting mess of tones and intentions. There’s so much to talk about here, let’s
just throw a dart and start with “characters”. The characters are all terrible. Our protagonist, Hina, who by the way looks
exactly like Nymph from SnO because Minazuki can only draw like 3 character designs, can
be summarized as an audience surrogate that cries a bunch. For the first 20 chapters of the manga, she
zero personality or character, just getting dragged along into events because she has
nothing else better to do. Of course, around Chapter 20, Minazuki realized
he’d forgotten give the main character any character, and so a switch is flipped, and
she just gains a completely new personality one chapter to make up for her complete lack
of one prior. Not that I like that new personality either,
and even then she is super inconsistent, but I guess that is technically better than nothing. But unlike a lot of other amateurish mistakes
in Plunderer, I think writing Hina to be an idiot was intentional, because that made it
infinitely easier for Minazuki to write exposition, and really quick, let’s tangent to talk
about that. Plunderer is fanfiction-tier amateur hour
when it comes to exposition. In the first chapter/episode whatever, Hina,
the supposed main character, acts as our audience surrogate in this pseudo-fantasy world where
everyone has a “Count” on their body, but they only way Minazuki could make that
work was to make her a fucking idiot. Despite living in this world all her life
and traveling all across the continent, Hina somehow remains oblivious of what Counts are,
how they work, and what they do, despite that being incredibly common knowledge. But there she is! Asking how basic parts of her reality work,
stuff that she should know, just so Minazuki has an excuse to write a whole bunch of exposition,
and tell us, the audience, the stuff we don’t know. Hina’s entire roll in the first 10 chapters
of the manga is basically to prompt characters for exposition, to the point that her repeating
something another character said as a question became a running joke in our bookclub. Getting back to Characters, then there’s
Licht, who in the first episode at least is fucking abhorent. The only way I can even explain the opening
scene where he goes around raping Hina is just to say that Minazuki had been writing
Heaven’s Lost Property for 8-years prior, and so just so is just… stuck on autopilot,
and just made him act like Tomoki without really thinking about it. Tomoki was also a pervert who’d harass girls
in comedy scenes, but not only is he actually funny, but at least he’s introduced as a
normal guy who also potentially has some interesting stuff going on first, and then only turns
into a gremlin for comedy’s sake halfway into the episode, after you’ve had some
opportunity to get to like him. But Licht being introduced as fucking gremlin,
gropping Hina, with super-awward poorly written dialouge where he bounces back and forth between
groping her and asking for money, is I think, the single worst character introduction in
anything that I’ve ever seen. Then there’s Nana, a walking exposition
machine and amazing human plot device, who you could literally surgically remove from
the plot and miss nothing as long as trade her to the characters for a copy of Bill Wurtz’s
“History of the entire Plunderer world, I guess” and the time machine from Steins;Gate. And of course she’s in league with Minazuki,
and so despite being perfectly happy to be the exposition machine in every other scene,
she very curically doesn’t tell Hina the one other thing about counts that will coinicendially
get her into trouble when she doesn’t know that thing in a later scene. How unlucky. And then there’s David, a character so deep
and well written that I had to check the manga’s glossary to know that his name was David. He’s a cartoon villain, who tricks Hina
into following him so he can rape her, and then when he realizes she has the increidbly
important mugiffin, after she takes it out and hands it to him saying, “Look at this!” stands up and starts to attack her so he can
get the thing she was just trying to give him before he started attacking her. Then he gets beaten up by Licht in a fight
scene that somehow takes half an episode despite ending in a single hit, because the anime’s
pacing is just that bad. Later we do get some mildly better characters,
but they’re all side characters you only see occasionally, whereas we’re constantly
stuck with Licht, Hina, and Nana, like bubblegum that we just can’t quite scrape off our
shoe. Let’s move to writing – my favorite. And ooh boy, writing contrivance, thy name
is Plunderer. Shit just happens in this manga, doesn’t matter
if it makes sense or not, so long as it looks cool. The goal of the entire manga is to have as
many shocking 2 page spreads as possible, strung together by whatever terrible writing
is necessary. About once a chapter the most convenient thing
possible will happen, like two main characters just bumping into each other randomly, sometimes
horses magically appear because the next scene has to involve a horse, and on one occasion
an antagonist turns and helps the hero’s temporarily, and then Hina’s bag splits open and drops
the incredibly important mcguffin in front of him, and he goes, “Hey wait a minute!”
and starts fighting them again. On that note, there’s also a revolving door
of antagonists, mainly on account of there being a drug that makes you turn evil, which
is the epitome of Minazuki’s lazy writing. All it takes is one injection and this person
is evil now, who cares if it makes sense! So characters will start off bad, become good,
and then get injected and turn evil, then they’ll fight again and become good again,
until the next time a battle needs to happen and then they get injected and become evil. Interesting antagonists with sympathetic motivations
whose ideals are tested over time and eventually changed? Who needs that when you have a drug that makes
you be evil! I’ll bet 20 billion dollars that in the
final battle, everyone will be on the hero’s side and they’ll walk up and confront the
villain, and he’ll just pull out the Medic’s gun from TF2 and then Licht will just have
to boss rush the entire cast. The worldbuilding is also non-existent, outside
of what allows bullshit shonen battles to happen. Despite everyone in this world having a number
on their body which forces them to obey the orders of people with higher numbers, and
where having your number reduced to zero means death, fucking nothing about their world is
any different from any other generic fantasy world. You can think about this concept for 10 seconds
and have already put more thought into it than the author did. For example, since it could be so easily abused,
surely the method by which your count goes up and down would be a closely guarded secret. Nana’s count for example is the number of
times a customer told her her food was good, and it goes down if someone tells her it was
bad. Surely she should be keeping this a secret,
since by knowing this, some asshole could easily kill her by review bombing her on the
fantasy version of Yelp. But nope, she and anyone else will freely
tell you what their count is if you just ask. One also wonders how the justice system in
this world handles any of this. Like, in that example, would I be charged
with manslaughter for that, or would the judge just wave it off because that’s how the
world works? Or what about this. What if I, with a count of 100, went up to
a local shopkeeper with a count of 50 and ordered them to give me all their food and
money. Would that illegal in this universe or the
system functioning as intended? Either way I don’t know how someone with
an absurdly high count wouldn’t have completely upended this society by now and reduced everything
to total anarchy where those born with easily increaseable counts rule completely over everyone
else? But like I said, by asking these questions,
you and I have already put more thought into this world than Suu Minazuki ever did. The answer to all of them is shut up and please
try to enjoy the action scenes. And then there’s the fanservice, and OH
BOY. So Plunderer’s fanservice is at incredible
odds with the tone of the rest of the story, which is a Game of Thrones esque dark fantasy,
pages away from Hina getting her tits out, or Sonohara getting raped for the 5th time. SnO was also something of a tonal tightrope
walk, as it tried to simultaneously tell a serious story alongside a perverted comedy,
but where SnO succeeds where Plunderer fails is that SnO never goes anywhere near as dark
as Plunderer does, with the exception of the final 10 chapters, during which time the fanservice
and comedy is smartly disposed of so as to allow the story to go that dark. But Plunderer is a never-ending Shadow the
Hedgehog tier edge fest from beginning to end, which simultaneously tries to do the
perverted comedy thing, and those two things just can’t coexist! There’s this moment later in the manga where
during a flashback, we see a starving child eating what scraps of food his father had
been able to steal for him. This is probably about as close as the manga
ever gets to being properly “Dark” as opposed to edgy. This image gave me pause, it’s a shockingly
realistic and disturbing image of a four-year-old on the verge of death. However, in the chapter prior, we had Hina
getting naked so she could try and fuck Licht, and a few chapters later we’ll have Pele
doing a medical examination of Lynn by pulling her legs apart as she gets super embaressed. These things don’t work together in the
same manga, let alone pages apart. And it’s not just that. The problem with Minazuki trying to create
a dark and serious world for this show is that with the singual exception of that starving
child, it’s so incredibly half-assed, and so comes across much more strongly as being
simply “edgy”. Sure death does happen, but only to incredibly
minor background characters, or sometimes to characters poofed into existence in that
chapter, or sometimes to characters we’ve never even met just so we can feel sad. But at the same time, all the main characters
have plot armor out the ass. Main characters get shot and cut and stabbed
and impaled, but none of them ever actually die. There’s a moment later in the manga where
Hina is forced by a villain to play Russian Roulette. She loads one bullet into a 6 chamber pistol,
and Hina, without blinking and in rapid succession, fires 5 shots at her head and they’re all
blanks. The villain then reloads the gun with two
bullets, and hands it back to her, and she fires another 4 shots at her head without
any of them being bullets. And repeat. Hina literally putting a loaded gun to her
head, and pulling the trigger 14 times without a single bullet actually firing, is the purest,
most perfect definition of plot armor I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s what I mean when I say Plunderer
feels like 5 different manga stitched together. All of this leads me to one conclusion. Minazuki had no plan for any of this. He started the manga by copying what worked
for SnO, wacky comedy and fanservice, but didn’t stop to develop any of the characters
or the world before doing so. And as the series went on and started to find
its own identity as a more grim and serious story, it was held back by an obligation to
keep doing the comedy and fanservice stuff it started out with. Minazuki was Grommet, laying the tracks one
at a time in front of him while already on the speeding train, blind to the destination
and only thinking of how to keep the momentum going, and the end result is a terrible story
that swerves unfocused through fight scenes, splash pages of gorgeous art connected by
plot contrivances and terrible writing, and some of the worst tonal clashes I’ve seen
in my entire life. I think there is a decent manga here, buried
under layers and layers of bullshit. Some of the characters are alright, portrayed
well with decently written arcs, the art’s great (in the manga at least, the anime looks
like garbage) and some of the action scenes are cool, but so much of the show is terrible
nonsense that I could not possibly care. This video is honestly only skimming the surface
of this ocean of terrible writing, and if you want to see more, I do recommend watching
our Plunderer bookclubs, linked below, for a more specific and in depth deconstruction. But honestly, more so than this mess, what
I care about is and has always been Heaven’s Lost Property. And in regards to that, I view Plunderer as
both a good and a bad thing. It sucks because now that a bad story has
been adapted badly into a terrible anime, my job of playing defense for the genuinely
good things in SnO just got that much harder. Practically all the advertising for Plunderer
has been, “From the creator of Heaven’s Lost Property!” because lord knows this
story can’t stand on its own two decrepit feet. But by doing that, they’re dragging SnO’s
name through the mud. The best case scenario in that regard is that
Plunderer slinks off to the bottom of MAL and no one ever thinks about or watches it
again. At least then SnO would be spared. But on the bright side, I personally see Plunderer
as valuable insight into Heaven’s Lost Property. For example, in SnO, spoiler alert, Hiyori
commits suicide, in order to transfer her memories into the villain, so she can learn
right from wrong, despite the fact that she could’ve just had a conversation with her
and told her that with words instead, and then she’d still be alive. If you go back to the bookclub on that chapter,
69, you’ll see that Isaiah and myself immediately recognize this as the stupidest thing in the
universe and start trying to explain this sudden inexplicable terrible writing in contrast
to the rest of the manga’s good writing. We had all these theories about why he did
that, for example maybe an editor mandate said that he couldn’t have an 8 year old
killing people, and so had to write around that so that Chaos wasn’t technically the
cause of Hiyori’s death. But in the wake of Plunderer’s atrocity,
it’s just incredibly clear to me that Minazuki has an obsession with big dramatic visuals,
and will twist and bend the story however he needs to in order to arrive at those visuals,
and Hiyori killing herself is a big dramatic visual, so it’ll happen even if nothing
about it makes sense. But SnO had the benefit of having well developed
characters and robots that as the phrase goes, are so advanced they were indistinguishable
from magic, both of which provide you a LOT of writing leeway. But Plunderer has neither of those, and so
the writing flaws are so much more visible here than they ever were back then. All the worst parts of SnO are what make up
the lifeblood of Plunderer. So sure, Plunderer might be the worst anime
of the season, and get rightfully torn apart by every single anime critic on YouTube. And sure, Minazuki might’ve ruined his own
reputation and the legacy of his past work, but at least I got to learn a little bit about
SnO! So that’s neat. Hey everyone, thank you so much for watching. I have a Twitter, follow me there, and subscribe
if you want to see my new videos. Very occasionally. Thank you guys very much for watching, and
I’ll see you next time. Later.

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34 thoughts on “Plunderer is Bad and Stupid

  1. Hey everyone! We'll be doing the next Plunderer bookclub livestream later today @ 4PM Central over on Syy Live! Come and hang out while we shit all over this terrible, terrible manga.

  2. Woah I didn’t thought the anime was that great from the first episode that I saw but I thought it was decent. Now that I see this video tho, I see how bad it actually is. A shame tho cause I thought the concept had some good potential.

  3. When I saw syy had done a video on something other then heavens lost property…I nearly shed a tear..does this mean we can see more videos then just the love letter? I enjoy the love letter but if we can see actually more videos from syy other then one a year that'd be amazing.

  4. So we could say plunderer is like the wii u, a not so thought-out, bad executet thing. i see now the bad things after actually liking the manga, thanks for that you opened my eyes. hopefully we will get something better from Minazuki in the future

  5. I freaking love Plunderer. It's a stupid fun adventure. Is it the best thing in the world? No. But it's not bad.

    I'm loving it more than I ever did Heaven's lost property at least

  6. Meh, it's not like it would be the first time I enjoyed a brainless, scraping the barrel, fuckfest of an anime, don't see how it could be any different here.

  7. Did you actually read the manga? Nana's 77 on boob is fake number. She is one of Aces and her real count is on her cheek. See cover of 11th volume.

  8. hahaha the "RULED BY NUMBERS" bit is fucking gold. I do not know why my friends are so amazed by this. FInally, someones sees the light.

  9. Damn this is actually sad. Heavens Lost Property was one of the first anime I watched and one of my favourite manga. This is such a let down. What the hell happened??? Did Minazuki even write HLO???

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