「夜霧にうかぶ真実」 (Yogiri ni Ukabu Shinjitsu)
“The Truth Emerges in the Night Mists”
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka has always been understated about all sorts of the thing, mainly because its characters very rarely ever spoke their minds in a direct fashion (except, of course, about love of food; the love even leaks out of the subconscious). But, curiously enough, it never actively hides all that much from the audience. In a full-on political intrigue or mystery story, one might expect red-herrings, false-flags, and innuendo everywhere. Not ACCA though. Where each character stands and what they’re doing there is usually clear enough, or at most an open secret. Even the most suspicious characters (by which I mean Grossular, most of the time, and also anyone with a goatee on any show) don’t actually lie, at least not to our faces. They’re just reserved. And when pushed for answers they’re awfully happy to let the secrets go free.
And thus it is this episode, where ACCA has judged that most of the audience should have figured out the mystery that the little hints and oblique lines of dialogue have pointed to, and decides it’s a good time to spill everything at once. Jean is told upfront that he’s a royal. Crow more or less confirms that he works for the king. Issues of age and ancestry are raised. The conspiracy around Jean begins to actually take shape—by which I mean it’s always had shape, and we the audience always sort of knew, but it’s now that Jean is aware of it forming around him. It’s a turning point; Jean’s never had much interest in his personal affairs before, but now that he’s forced to take a good look there’s actually a lot there. It’s not that much mystery or that intrigue; it’s just that Jean has never actually bothered to find out anything about himself. And when he does, information flows very easily.
ACCA‘s honesty serves to remove any sense of malice in much of the cast. It’s not that they’re not tricky—after all, we have the king arranging a meeting with Jean through his baker and his spy without the knowledge of his royal guard (because they perhaps answer to the Privy Council?)—but there’s no actual villain in sight. Lots of scheming, but somehow no ill-will. The closest thing we have to a chief antagonist (so far) is the prince, but while he’s clearly sharper than one may first believe, he hasn’t actually done anything yet. He does make a great foil for Jean, though. Consider Jean as a pretender challenging the prince’s claim for the throne. The prince has been sheltered in Dowa all his life, while Jean routinely travels all the provinces. The prince wants to dismantle ACCA, Jean is an ACCA bureaucrat. Jeans like wheat bread, the prince does not. Blonde-haired-blue-eyed Aryan master race though they both be, and though they’ve met only once, they’re already opposing characters. Lines can be drawn in the sand, and every player can take a side.
But, when the king was asked which portrait he liked best, he answered: all of them.