OP: 「Shadow and Truth」 by ONE III NOTES
「もらいタバコのジーン」 (Morai Tabako no Jīn)
“Jean the Tobacco Peddler”
I make no secret of my fondness for stylish period pieces. Like Joker Game, which I absolutely swooned over. I’m especially thrilled if there’s an opportunity for a noir edge, snazzy hats, femme fatale, and jazz. I guess I just, now and again, wish for my anime to be cool and classy. Along comes ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka this season, with its smooth soundtrack and a cast completely decked in crisp uniforms, and I just knew this was my fix. Yeah, sure, ACCA is not actually a period piece, but it certainly has the feel of one. It’s a blend of sci-fi and fantasy, at once both an uncanny future and and unfamiliar alternative universe, but the setting is certainly more than just the country of Dowa. The entire time period, fictional though it may be, seems to have a character of its very own, and the story and the cast are born from it.
Yeah, history fascinates me, even if it’s made-up history of a made-up country. So just the understated yet ever-present setting was enough to pull my attention from the get go. That’s a good thing, because ACCA is starting slow and demands that we soak it in rather than huff it straight. This pilot is, for the most part, exposition, by convenient newscasts or outright lectures, explaning the mechanics of Dowa. There is some to plot when ACCA is tragically shuttered immediately after introduction, only to be promptly un-shuttered before the end of the episode. Turns out, that was no plot-hook, but actually more exposition, an excuse to explain the whims of the ruling class of this country. ACCA is serious about its introductory episode, all right. Basically everything is dedicated to that purpose in in some way.
The lack of an explicit plot hook, though, is sort of the strength of ACCA. It seems to be prefer to be subtle, simply content with laying things out for now instead of diving into a plot, and in doing so it sets up the potential for dozens of plots. The lure is not what the story is, but all the things that the story could be. As we learn more and more details, contradictions build up, and we start searching for answers to our questions ourselves. This is especially evident in the central character, Jean Otis (Shimono Hiro), who is a fascinating man. He’s an anti-corruption watchdog, yet he’s framed as the actual corrupt element in his government. He purports to make less than the regional police, but somehow has an access to endless supply of expensive luxuries. It doesn’t seem like he should care much for the integrity of his work, yet he’s a meticulous auditor. He claims to not have much attachment to or trust in his staff, but his staff all seem to like him. He’s the coolest of customers, but he oversees a bunch of goofballs. It’s these contrasts and juxtapositions that build an air of mystery around Jean, and also keeps the mood of the show balanced, despite the politics and the intrigue.
For now, I expect ACCA to continue introduction mode for now, especially as Jean tours the fiefdoms of Dowa and shows us more of the world. Still mostly slow, that is, and perhaps that’s not the pace everyone is looking for. But considering all the potential ACCA is baking into its setting and its cast, I’m going to wager it’s going to be more than worth it. As I mentioned in the preview, this ACCA‘s going to great. I’m still sure of it. Hold onto this one.
ED: 「ペールムーンがゆれてる」 (Pale Moon ga Yureteru) by 結城アイラ (Yuuki Aira)