「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: 「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.