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« ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka – 11

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka – 12 (END)

「鳥の行方」 (Tori no Yukue)
“Where the Bird Flies”

A triumphant finale for ACCA, where the villain is soundly defeated by taking the higher ground. Great stuff. But let’s turn our minds to Furawau, and in the spirit of ACAA spare a thought to why they might have turned out the way they did, if only to play devil’s advocate. It’s hard to believe anybody in ACCA is ‘evil’, per se; everybody has their motivations, everybody has their reasons. Not all those reasons are pure, sure, but we should treat people as people, still.

I’m sure the manga would have gone into a lot more detail into each district and their distinct character, but I think the anime’s done a fine job with compression and we could read a bit into Furawau, still. The main thing I took away from Furawau is that it’s rich. Some North African oil barony? Could be. At some point, I guess, the wealth just gets to their heads. Not in the ‘money is the root of all evil’ sort of way; that would be too blunt for ACCA. Rather, a point is made about how they supply the rest of the Kingdom of Dowa, and they take great pride in that. And perhaps they even have an noblesse oblige view of their role in the kingdom, and that’s where it gets dangerous. Because when you start thinking of yourself as having a higher duty than your peers, of having innate privileges and responsibilities, then you might be tempted to also start thinking, ‘Perhaps I should be in charge’.

In, really, the fact that Furuwau had been spearheading the plan to usurp the monarchy is rather ironic, since it, ruled by the Lilium dynasty as it is, has been very much the model of the ACCA-less monarchy it purported to wish to prevent. Really, are not all the lessons that Mauve impressed upon Schwan as equally applicable to Lilium? His family already has money and influence, and his grand show of power, to place itself as the power behind the throne, to earn the respect he thinks his family and their district deserve, stinks more of petulance. Indeed, is Furawau not that one kid on the playground, who just can’t play nice with the others, and instead just takes all his toys home so he can sulk with them?

And yet, everyone else still seem to be having fun! It must be infuriating.

 

ED2 Sequence

ED2: 「Our Place」 by ONE III NOTES

 

Final impressions ~ The human touch

It doesn’t feel quite right to send ACCA off with fanfare, and I didn’t really stray from my usual format this episode. As usual, it’s not really the kind of show that crescendos, even in its finale; it more soars upwards, then glides down again. Such is its tempo. But still, final impressions are in order, especially since this was a great show and I need to sing its praises at least a bit.

I love myself some political intrigue, and indulge in quite a bit of it. ACCA, though, was different from all of those kinds of stories I usually enjoy. Intrigue is usually about alliances and betrayals, about cloak and dagger, about leveraging power and exploiting weaknesses. A very cynical exercise, all in all. But ACCA is to its core completely idealistic. Government and bureaucracy—almost pejoratives in the modern parlance—are portrayed as overwhelmingly positive forces for good. That’s already fascinating. It’s because, to ACCA, a government, a state, and a country are institutions of people, people who are fundamentally decent and who just enjoy good food. There’s nobody too irredeemable for sandwich bread.

Being positive and idealistic, though, doesn’t mean that ACCA was shallow and naive. There was no reason it had to be, and indeed ACCA recognises that people are complicated, and flawed, and sometimes fall short (which is one of the reasons, I think, that Jean will never stop smoking). ACCA puts focus on those people and their complexities by makings its plot exclusively character driven. Everything happens because some person drives it to happen, and then we have to figure it out why.

Drawing out the motivations of all these characters is the interesting part of ACCA, especially because ACCA has a subtle touch. It’s not just because it’s mood is so even and its characters so stoic. It’s also in its storytelling, which is almost always temporal, always in the present, avoiding lengthy pieces of backstory (with one notable exception) and never stopping for someone’s internal monologue. Instead, a lot of emotions and inner thoughts are implied through expressions, camerawork, and veiled dialogue. And that’s where the intrigue comes out.

No doubt, ACCA is not pure perfection, and I’m sure it must have cut a fair bit of the manga to fit into 12 episodes, but with those 12 episodes it did a lot, and did it well. And I can’t really ask more for an adaptation than to be able to tell its story from start to finish, in a way that served the telling impeccably. This is the kind of show where I may have never read the source, but I know that the staff ‘gets it’. That’s powerful stuff. Subtle, but powerful.

Oh, and for both Americans and Europeans out there, I hope ACCA inspired you just a bit. That is all.

 

Epilogue:

March 29, 2017 at 8:13 am
23 comments »
  • March 29, 2017 at 9:06 amkay

    Thank you Passerby for covering the whole show! It’s always fun and interesting to see how other people view a series like this.

    I’m amused by the comment of Jean likely to never stop smoking, I’d bet on that too. Qvalum even comments in the manga that Jean’s penchant towards smoking is just like the king’s old smoking habits. (Lotta’s preferences in sweets resembles the king’s.) Now that the series is over, I want to mention one point I appreciated which is the food at Schwan’s coming of age ceremony; the food presented was casually questioned since it wasn’t Schwan’s favorite foods but mainly the king’s favorites. It’s mentioned in the manga that strawberries are one of Jean’s favorite foods. To put it simply, Qvalum knows all.

    For those who ever get a chance to read the manga, I highly recommend doing so. Reading through the manga and watching the anime together make a whole new other experience since the anime also included a few original touches. There are countless scenes, lines, and character developments that are worth reading the manga for. Both the manga and anime are made in a way where rereading/rewatching leads to new discoveries and connections each time.

    • March 30, 2017 at 1:29 amPasserby

      More of our master of the Privy Council is a great reason to give the manga a look. He’s always given the impression of being the guy pulling all the strings, even before it was confirmed in the finale, but we never really heard much from him.

  • March 29, 2017 at 9:11 amGoukaRyuu

    I called Owl being Abend! Hurray! I actually got something right!

    I felt a little put off by the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this show, but I gave it an 8 out of 10 where it could have been higher. Maybe it was because I feel Jean could have been a better King than Schwan, even if he didn’t necessarily want the position. As Dumbledore has said, those best fit for power are usually those that don’t seek it out.

    Overall, a fun show. Thanks for covering it Passerby!

    • March 30, 2017 at 1:30 amPasserby

      Thanks for reading!

  • March 29, 2017 at 9:31 amKarmafan

    I liked the series but loathed the finale. A foppish worthless dandy is gonna be king and the MC (who would have been great at being a king) avoids his destiny and heritage.

    • March 29, 2017 at 10:13 amSmokex365

      Jean didn’t want to be king in the first place. He was perfectly fine just being a member of ACCA. Lotta is happy and gets to meet her grandfather. Mauve is a capable leader and so are the rest of the members of ACCA. Don’t see how the outcome was bad.

  • March 29, 2017 at 1:10 pmThe suffocated

    I wholeheartedly and fully agree with Passerby’s opinions. This show has its flaws, but overall, I love it and I think it’s one of the best series in recent years. While this show is fast paced and many characters or districts could only manage to appear in a few scenes only, they leave me very strong impressions and I can remember most of them quite clearly. And Mauve. She’s simply the most charming female anime character in last decade.

    Episode 10 is especially good. One can tell how much Rocksterra cared for the district just by looking at the way she dressed. The comparison between Suitsu and Pranetta also enriches the story nicely. The Dowa Kingdom isn’t a stereotyped rich-vs-poor setting. Not all poor districts look alike. Pranetta was so poor that I was deeply moved when the district chief of Pranetta handed Jean a borrowed cigarette.

    There aren’t many animes in which most senyuus have above-average performances. The overall voice-over performance in ACCA is perhaps not as good as that in Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, but it is still very outstanding. The senyuu who played the district chief of Pranetta, Atsuko Tanaka (Mauve), Aoi Yūki (Lotta) and in particular, Mamoru Miyano (Prince Schwann), are marvellous. The humbleness of the district chief and the loneliness of Prince Schwann were so authentic that for some brief moments, I didn’t feel like I was watching an anime.

    • March 30, 2017 at 1:32 amPasserby

      And I agree with you, too! Episode 10 was great. It and 08 are definitely my favourites of the series.

  • March 29, 2017 at 3:11 pmFaolin Eye

    Overall, it was a good story about intrigue and the intricacies of a country’s inner workings, but sometimes I found it hard to swallow the show’s idealism. This sentence sums up the whole experience with this anime so perfectly, that it’s hard to add anything more:

    There’s nobody too irredeemable for sandwich bread.

    And thanks Passerby for covering ACCA, your reviews always gave something more to chew on even when the story was at a lull.

    • March 30, 2017 at 1:32 amPasserby

      Always glad to hear that Random Curiosity added value to your viewing experience. That’s what we’re here for.

  • March 29, 2017 at 4:20 pmRedRocket

    Thanks Passerby for covering this gem.

    I love the unity with differences approach of the ACCA government. With the ending the ACCA even more went into power the future King reminded he just there to look good and he accepted that.

    In some ways show mirrors my favorite slice of life Aria though this is government no personal life. Both show signs of the founder of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry view of the future where humanity keeps maturing. Quite simply over all the population in ACCA is more mature than ours but not to the level of Aria’s or Roddenberry’s Federation at Peace. While Roddenberry was at the helm he insisted that Star Fleet characters never go to complete enemies with each other or into great opposing drama with each other because mankind had gone beyond that. Other producers chaffed at that as this rule reduced the amount of drama possible. Aria does have a advantage over the world of ACCA though in that the inhabitants of Aria are the decedents of generations of people who all worked together to completely terraform over more than a century a dead cold inhabitable planet with no surface water with low gravity into a earth gravity warm planet covered in water(it a anti gravity civilization they can modulate gravity, story is very high technology but often seams 1950 and before technology in the way things are done, they write letters even though they have holographic communications available). Warning Aria has almost no conflict what so ever it just is incredibly calming slice of life.

    A reposnive bureaucracy lasting as long as the ACCA did without falling into impersonal bureaucracy is a rare thing but you can tell the populations attitude in general seams to guide the ACCA into not growing out of control. A old Role Playing Game I played called Traveler had responsive bureaucracy and impersonal bureaucracy as forms of government and at the top of the development chart where high technology societies were the ones that formed these government type. Traveler did have impersonal as the more likely type though, it is so hard to keep a bureaucracy from duplication and people doing things just to justify their job even though things are fine. Why I’m a radical moderate, moderation with principles is the way, bureaucracy and regulations are needed but the bureaucracy must be constantly carefully pruned to grow right. (Term radical moderate comes first from Ben Franklin who called himself one, although I reinvented it on my own before I found out it had already been coined)

    • March 30, 2017 at 1:37 amPasserby

      ACCA, ARIA and Star Trek are all arguably science fiction, and they offer a very positive vision of the future based on a premise that few other sci-fi stories use: that perhaps humanity doesn’t entirely suck. Having also written about Rewrite this season, the difference is palpable.

  • March 29, 2017 at 5:50 pmdaikama

    With the RC Spring Preview recently posted I want to state that if not for this season’s RC preview I would have passed on the show. The base description seemed like “Bureaucracy the Anime™”. Yeah, I’ll pass on that. However, the additional RC preview notes convinced me to give ACCA-13 a try and I’m glad I did.

    For me this was a good, entertaining watch. Flawless, no – it has its flaws, but personally this turned out better than I expected. Not only that, IMO it did some things which good anime (or TV/book/movie/etc.) do. First, not only did it maintain my interest, but I got more interested as the season progressed. Second, it build up a surprising amount of “goodwill”. What I mean by that is when there was something wonky or cliche’, rather than *sigh* & shake my head, my response was “Eh, whatever. I’ll just go with it”.

    The ending was fine and certainly fit the show’s consistently laid-back tone though I was a bit surprised just how much was wrapped up so nicely and neatly. The “bad guys” (Lilium family) are outwitted, ACCA is saved without even needing a coup d’état, Jean gets to maintain the life he wants (i.e. not take the throne), the spoiled, not-so-smart Prince learns a valuable lesson, the old bedridden king gets to see his grand-kids, and even the poor, yet still ganbatte Pranetta district discovered a bunch of valuable resources which just so happen to offset what happens with Furawau. Seriously, everything is tied up in a very nice, neat package. The Furawau seceding from the country was a bit of a surprise, but it does make sense. I liked that.

    In terms of adaptation, I mostly agree with the conclusion the show did the best it could with a single cour run. Personally, I think they could have cut some of the ubiquitous food p0rn and insert some more substantial details. Not entirely, but there was a lot of food p0rn. Early on I wanted more details on the government structure, but I guess ultimately the details provided were sufficient (or I just went with the flow). Still, some additional details would have been nice.

    All in all, I think this was a good, entertaining “change of pace” type anime. Maybe not for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

    • March 30, 2017 at 1:39 amPasserby

      I’m always very proud of the previews we do, so it’s great to hear that our efforts don’t go to waste.

  • March 29, 2017 at 6:31 pmEl Huesudo II

    I see a few people didn’t like or get the finale.

    Jean was never meant to be the king, actually you can tell he was plotting to avoid being the king. And it wouldn’t have worked out anyway, because of the threat of Lilium, who had succeeded (until the last moment) to hijack an existing coup plot and turn it into his own. ACCA was between a rock and a hard place, they had no choice but to do exactly what Jean proposed.

    And, of course, considering Schwan was a spoiled brat that didn’t even see just in what mess he was about to get into, they gave him a lesson – that his wishes were secondary to those of the people, and that if he tried to be a dictator he’d be toppled instantly. Schwan seemed to get it – that Mauve was just joking by saying the exercise was about the size of his personal guard, and that he was being given just one more chance.

    • March 29, 2017 at 9:05 pmdaikama

      @El Huesudo II: Not sure if your comment is directed towards my post above, but just in case, to be clear, it’s not that I “didn’t like or get the finale.” I got it just fine and it was pretty good – certainly fitting. However, it did strike me just how well everything was wrapped up so nice and neat in a positive way. For example, just when resource rich Furawau secedes from the nation, Pranetta just so happens to discover, after all those years, resources to offset any potential loss/trade problems with a now fully independent Furawau.

      The ending was fine, but I don’t think it’s above any and all reproach.

      • March 30, 2017 at 1:41 amPasserby

        I agree that it’s awfully convenient that Pranetta strikes it rich at just the right time, but ACCA is also far too idealistic a story to not have Pranetta’s dreams pay off. I also sort of fell in love with it in episode 10, so I’m biased.

      • March 30, 2017 at 4:41 amEl Huesudo II

        Not you, actually, a few other people here.

  • March 30, 2017 at 1:41 amPasserby

    Think about it this way: Jean didn’t have to be king! That’s a win for him, I assure you.

  • March 30, 2017 at 10:45 amtheirs

    That was unexpected. Though it did go in accordance to how I think these characters would act. A fitting end that stays true to the feel of the show, IMHO. Strangely given a glimmer of hope near the end. A positive out look that sees Furuwau rejoin the union in the future. Or at least a respect of history.

    Jean gets to keep his cosy lifestyle. Mauve and her people get to keep their jobs. A happy ending for almost everybody. The exceptions being Lilium’s clan who waved the white flag, and Schwan who had to throw his plans out the window. Hmm, isn’t that everyone with an extremely high ambition? Anyone else who has an overly ambitious desire?

    If there’s a group that really got my respect, it’s these guys:
    http://randomc.net/image/ACCA%2013-ku%20Kansatsu-ka/ACCA%2013-ku%20Kansatsu-ka%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2015.jpg
    Real professionals. Still protecting the prince with their lives, even though personally, they’d probably prefer him getting caught. He lost all respect from them last episode remember?

    Sad to see it end. This is the only anime this season that I actually anticipated watching every week. A nice happy ending with very little loose ends. I’m contempt with that.

  • March 30, 2017 at 10:34 pmdrunkenveggie

    It’s been such a long time since I’ve encountered an anime that ended so cleanly. The story was told, there are no threads left loose. And I can agree with the rest of you, yes ACCA has flaws, but it is certainly a very solid anime. I haven’t felt this satisfied in ages!
    Thank you, passerby!

  • March 31, 2017 at 4:51 pmSongster01

    Interesting anime to watch, though I never fell for the characters (and therefore the show) in the same way as Natsume Ono’s other works like House of 5 Leaves. I’ve enjoyed other ensemble shows before, like M*A*S*H and Broadchurch, but they of course were far longer and we got to know the characters much better than in ACCA. Perhaps the manga would be better for me, if it spends more time with the characters.

    I also found the political/economic ending a bit too convenient, but I think people made good points above, about it being an idealized almost sci-fi show, rather than a gritty political thriller (the obsession with food and drink, a Natsume Ono trademark, was the huge clue it was the former). So I respect its genre even if I’ve not fallen for this particular show. Another recent anime series in an idealized world, YOI, worked for me far better, because of the fantastic characterization of the lead being married to superb relationship development with his love interest and excellent storytelling, so I really need top-notch characterization to deeply love a show. So I’ll put this in my larger “enjoyable” category, but not in the tiny “ZOMG head over heels” group.

    One thing that isn’t addressed in the review are the character moments beyond the happy platonic reunion of the Dowa family. I found some of the conversations a bit confusing: any thoughts on whether Grossular and Mauve are not just close colleagues who trust each other, but are actually in love? Or was that just a reference to the excellence of their now more trusting work relationship? And Jean’s crush(?) on Mauve is something he knows is unrequited? Just trying to understand. Frankly the relationship of Jean and Nino is far more deeply explored that Jean and Nino’s so I admit to being relieved they weren’t just smashed together like so many het romances do. A crush not built on isn’t enough a foundation for believable romance.

  • April 1, 2017 at 1:45 pmJon Oscar

    That was surprisingly satisfying finale. I love the twist since Jean going along with the coup seemed awfully wrong to me, thankfully he and the others knew better. I also loved how the prince didn’t remain a one-dimensional joke and was given room for growth, he’s still young and has all his life to mature and become a good king.
    Overall this was an incredibly enjoyable show for me. Seeing all these calm and collected characters soothed my soul each time after a long day of hearing noisy people during commute and nonsense at the workplace. But more than that, absolutely every second of this show was a feast for my eyes, I loved the grounded yet colorful character design, the carefully drawn art (the nails!), the beautiful backgrounds… Also the best opening of the season for me.
    Thank you Passerby for covering this show till the end, it was a blast reading what everyone’s thoughts.

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