「翼を広げた王女と友のつとめ」 (Tsubasa o Hiroge ta Oujo to Tomo no Tsutome)
“The Princess Who Spread Her Wings and the Friend Who Had a Duty”
Another turning point for ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka this week. ACCA has never really indulged in flashbacks and long periods of dedicated backstory exposition, preferring to keep most of its storytelling temporal and naturalistic. But now, here we have almost a full episode devoted to the past of Nino, and by extension the story of Jean’s royal mother and her faithful aide. Nino says as much in the preview for this episode: it’s not his style to dwell on the past. This is the one and only time. Which is probably a shame, because I quite enjoyed this our time in yesteryear (and not just because young Lotta is irresistibly cute). I am a sucker for these stories of stoic loyalty and sacrifice, and that’s basically Nino’s entire life. ACCA‘s subtle storytelling style served the quiet tragedy of it all exceedingly well, and I felt the emotions stirring within me more than once in the 20 minutes, even as I was not exactly sure why.
At first, I was rather outraged by the entire scheme to remove the princess from the royal family, on the basis that was too adventurous and inquisitive. What, did everyone in this country miss the Enlightenment? My reflexive reaction is that it was much too extreme and surely malicious. But, as the episode went on and I set myself back into the ACCA mood, I started to empathise with the decision. For starters, both the king and the princess were content with it. And when one reflects on the history of their kingdom, one may understand the reasoning behind this plan—not agree with it, necessarily, but understand. This is, after all, a country that had gone through a brutal civil war just 100 years ago. Everybody is rightfully nervous about maintaining this grand yet fragile peace, maintaining the status quo. The royal family, I suspect, is expected to toe the line all the more, since peace was only achieved by granting each district independence. It’s as constitutional monarchs are today; the royals need to stay well above the fray. They are tolerated only so long as they don’t actually do anything. And so the princess had a choice: she could be a princess, or she could be free. Not both.
But there is nuance. The reality of the matter, hidden from even the princess herself, is that she is not truly free, nor did she truly stop being a princess. Her loyal retainers continue to watch over her (which would be rather creepy in a different context). The king did not completely cut ties with her. And this is where things get potentially messy. The tragedy of ACCA is that all its conflict spring from good intentions. Everybody speaks of duty, and the good of the country, and protecting the peace. But these motivations don’t all spring from the same place. Grosular’s duty to the Crown was first and foremost loyalty to his princess, just as Nino’s was first and foremost to his father. The princess is dead. The duty remains. And it is up to Grossular to interpret what that means, by himself. And along comes the heir to the throne, who seems the opposite of Grossular’s princess. She wanted to be free, so relinquished all power. Schwan also seems to seek freedom, and intends to seize power. If I was Grossular, wouldn’t this upstart, who seems to spit on the legacy of the lady I swore fealty to, be the kind of thing that moves me to act? Especially if my princess as still technically a princess? And technically had a prince of her own?
I could be wrong, but I feels like something clicked this episode. I feel like I understand.