ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department – Manga Review

Japanese Title: ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

 

Related: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department (anime)

 

Genre: Drama

Length: 37 chapters (6 volumes)

 

Positives:

  • Unusual art style
  • Easy, comfy world
  • A fun charm

Negatives:

  • Story is light on depth

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department the manga came across my sight as I was looking for other manga to read. Having already reviewed the anime, I felt unlikely to read the manga (I don’t bother unless an anime is incomplete or vastly different), but then I remembered liking this unusual and unique anime. I still listen to that killer opening song each week. I added it to the “maybe” list.

Two weeks later, I got the urge.

For those who haven’t seen the anime or read my review, ACCA 13 is a story about a small world at rest and the government department that checks the 13 territories for signs of anything that may disrupt the peace. We follow Jean Otus, second-in-command of the inspection department, as he goes on tour around the Kingdom of Dowa.

Jean is as easy-going a man as you can imagine. His subordinates love him. His superiors have nothing to complain about. His sister, of course, adores him. Everyone gets along with Jean (except that one guy with a crush on Jean’s sister). You will never hear a cross word from him. It comes as a surprise to hear rumour of a coup brewing across the kingdom with Jean at the centre! That can’t be right…can it?

The tone of ACCA 13 is a leisurely one. Jean’s tour is as easy as a stroll through the park. Each territory has their own culture and quirks, which we explore alongside Jean. One territory is made up of abnormally tall people. When he arrives at the hotel, the concierge asks how he likes his toast. He is about to order his usual thick cut, but remembers where he is and asks for a thin slice instead – just one slice. Next morning, we see him eating a slice of toast the size of an oven tray. I love ridiculous throwaway details. Another territory has no electronic technology, so his retro mobile phone is the fascination of the people.

Reading this manga is like going on holiday. He stops at restaurants and bakeries every chapter. It also cuts away to his subordinates or sister back home to show us what food they will delight over today. Author Natsume Ono has a serious love for baked good. Perhaps even a fetish! I cannot overstate how often they eat from a bakery.

“Dude, seriously. Could you put down the cheesecake for one second and listen? There might be an insurrection building right under our— Is that a crème brûlée? Oh alright, just one bite. Could I have a cappuccino to go with it? Lovely.”

Such good food must be the secret to their peace with all the love these people have for it.

The story takes its time to reveal itself. Most events occur in the final volume where it all comes together. The coup plot is peppered (in between scenes of eating) with light moments of conversations behind closed doors about the situation. Who is traitor to the crown? On paper, should you look at only the essentials of this story, it sounds like a spy thriller from the perspective of an intelligence gatherer, yet there is nothing James Bond or the like about ACCA 13. If it is a spy thriller, it is the most peaceful one you will ever read.

And that is where many readers will probably lose interest. ACCA 13’s unique approach to such a premise, the tension being no denser than a peaked meringue, will leave some wanting a dense filling to keep them engaged until the end. It’s as if Ono didn’t want to disturb this perfectly peaceful holiday with drama.

Should someone ask, “Is there a manga/anime you love that isn’t widely known or critically acclaimed that you wish people would read?” ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department is my answer. I can’t quite put into words why I love this series. Is it the gentle style of the minimalist art even though it could use more environment detail? Is it the pace of a world where story stops for pastry? Or perhaps the characters being free of drama even in dramatic moments puts me at ease? I don’t really know. I just love it.

Now I want to watch the anime again.

Art – High

Story – Medium

Recommendation: Read it for light and cosy experience. ACCA 13 is a comfort read of mine.

(Find out more about the manga recommendation system here.)

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