“In which our fallen hero finds the path to redemption.”
Last episode, we wrapped up Jail’s arc, with him taking the final step on his journey to become the hero his world needs. In this, the final episode, we see Licht leave the path of the villain and take his first step towards redemption.
Lichts tragic path has been one of bad choices stemming from each of his big failures. When he kills his first man, he loses faith in the dream of a non-killing army and decides to do all the killing himself to spare his friends the guilt of being murderers. But he fails at this as well when he finds he is unable to kill child soldiers–forcing Doan to step in and take that duty himself. From that point on, the pair vow to kill as many as needed to bring the war to a quick end–no matter the cost.
All this eventually leaves him so broken that he cuts down Tokikaze and leaves his friends on a lifeless world to die without even realizing this fact till years later. Then he mopes for a few hundred years, eventually deciding to literally destroy the world in order to avenge the friends he failed.
It’s here at the end of the series, however, that thanks to the connections he has made with Hina, Jail, Lynn, and Nana, he is able to see the mistaken path of his life for what it truly is. However, there was one step he had taken that was not wrong: the first step–the creation of the non-killing army.
While it may be an impossible dream, it was one worth fighting for–and one that inspired hope in the hopeless. With his new companions, he has a second chance to do things right. This time, he won’t be protecting them and destroying himself in the process. Instead, they’ll all be protecting each other–and share the burden going forward.
Moreover, this gives him a new way to atone for what happened to all his friends. Instead of bloody revenge–against a largely ignorant populous–he has a chance to mend the world he helped split in two. While the Althing may have ended war, it most certainly did not end suffering. And if you’re going to believe in something as idealistic as a non-killing army, then why not take it a step further and believe that humans can learn to live in peace without a god-like power oppressing them.
It is Licht’s newfound mindset and purpose that ends his final battle with Doan. Seeing Licht’s determination that things didn’t need to go as they did in the war–seeing the hope that once inspired Class A return to his old friend–it’s no surprise that Doan backs down. He clearly hates the world they played a part in creating as much as Licht–only staying loyal to avoid more bloodshed and keep Sonohara safe. If Licht truly can change the world without killing anyone, there’s no reason for them to fight. He even gives them back the original ballot–trusting Licht to do things right this time. After all, if Licht can find redemption, perhaps Doan can as well.
The rest of the episode is simply spent tying up loose ends. Pele confronts Licht about knowing his true identity–displaying a speed which leaves even the “Ace of Flashing Strikes” at a loss–and Lynn lampshades the impossibility of all her friends from Homhough saving her from bleeding out before having a good cry about her unrequited love.
We also get a few scenes with our heroes and their romantic pairs. Jail reaffirms to Nana the promise he made her 300 years ago–with the implication that he’ll be by her side as long as she’ll have him. Pele makes Lynn breakfast in bed in an attempt to soothe her broken heart (and hint at his own feelings). And Hina jumps on Licht like the last chopper outta ‘nam–giving him a taste of the rampant sexual harassment he was so keen to dish out in earlier episodes.
In the end, while the story of Plunderer is far from over, this is an excellent stopping point. This season has been a story about heroes–what makes them and what breaks them. Over the course of 24 episodes, we have seen Jail go from an attack dog for a totalitarian state to a hero who can not only fight oppression but can inspire people–even enemies who are trying to kill him–to do the right thing. Likewise, we’ve seen Licht go from idealistic hero to broken villain and back again. It’s an inspiring superhero story and one I’d gladly watch again.
Honestly, my only complaint with the series overall is the rampant, sexual harassment fanservice that so litters the show’s first half. While it did relate to Licht’s broken character–as his attempt to regain some of the lighthearted innocence of his youth and as an impetus to receive physical punishment for his past sins in a twisted form of self-flagellation–the way it was displayed in the series was for titillation, plain and simple.
But if you are able to get past that, you have a series with great characters, tons of cool scenes, and a plot full of twists and turns. I genuinely hope to see an animated continuation in the future. And if not, well, there’s always the manga.
• It’s heavily implied that Pele is, in fact, an Ace as well–one that was not part of Licht’s battle group.
• Licht trusts Pele’s love for Lynn to keep him on the side of the angels–which makes sense given that Licht’s own love for Hina is what has given him a second chance.
• Don’t think I’ve forgotten that “Ms. Green Grocer” is far more than the background character she pretends to be.
• Legitimate “laugh out loud” moment: when I realized that one of the villagers from Homhough literally took a dump on Licht’s head after they all kicked his ass. (I like to believe it was “Ms. Green Grocer.”)
• I liked how, even with all that had happened, if Licht still planned to simply destroy Althea, Jail was ready to stand against him.
• Well, that’s an effective little cliffhanger showing what appears to be a less-dead-than-expected Class A working with Schmerman.
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Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.