Tag Archives: ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

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.)

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department – Anime Review

Japanese Title: ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

 

Similar: Kino’s Journey

House of Five Leaves

Joker Game

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Mystery Drama

Length: 12 episodes

 

Positives:

  • And now for something completely different.
  • The grander plot.
  • Mauve is gorgeous.

Negatives:

  • Second acts of most episodes are dull.
  • The comic office staff are out of place.

(Request an anime for review here.)

What an unusual anime. When a dear reader requested ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department for review, I wasn’t really looking forward to it, if I can be brutally honest for a moment. A bureaucrat goes around the states of a peaceful nation to audit the peace? What…? Where’s the conflict if everything is peaceful? I had to force myself to start it for the sake of the review.

The first episode didn’t impress me beyond the visuals. We learn that the kingdom of Dowa has known peace for a century thanks to a government initiative called ACCA that cares for the needs of citizens. Rumours have started stirring, however, of a coup d’état against the king. Jean Otus of ACCA now has the job of auditing the Dowa’s 13 territories to see how peace suits them and to uncover the truth of these rumours.

The slow start and lightweight feel, for lack of a better word, to the mystery of the rumours didn’t compel me to keep watching. If not for the “peace” in the blurb, one would expect ACCA to be in the vein of Bridge of Spies and similar Cold War films, where tension holds the very fabric of reality at peace. But because Dowa is at peace and the storytelling slant is tranquil, I found myself questioning why this story needed telling. I don’t joke when I tell you that only my love for the visuals kept me going. (If I’m not feeling an anime for review, I will often take forever to get through it.)

By the second episode, I’m starting to love the opening song (I wouldn’t skip it from here on) and the protagonist Jean is growing on me. Let’s not forget Mauve, one of anime’s most gorgeous women and her role in the plot. She has a mysterious air about her and this sultry confidence that made me unsure if she truly was Jean’s ally. Then we learn of someone spying on Jean, who himself is acting like a spy in his tour of the states. The layers of spying go all the way to the top. I’m not hooked, but I’m no longer dreading it.

The problem with ACCA is the overrepresentation of daily life. I understand that this is a country at peace and peace breeds routine, monotony in society. But! They should have worked in more spying as an undercurrent to the ordinary events, extracting bits of information during chitchat, and everyone suspicious of something, all with a fun angle like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Kingsman. From the outside, it would seem like daily life, but underneath that is spy work. The existing second acts of most episode are boring. Most third acts of episodes interested me enough to keep going.

The second issue I have with ACCA relates to the territories. Each territory has a specialty – one is agriculture, another makes all the movies, and so on – yet most of them don’t feel much different and aren’t interesting, unlike Kino’s Journey where every location brought something new. It wasn’t until Jean visits the territory that lives akin to 17th century France, with electronics such as mobile phones banned, that my interest piqued. Alright, some variety!

The core of the plot also comes to light soon. As the coup builds, Jean needs to learn which side each district will fall on, should a power play occur – with the crown or the conspirators.

ACCA had slowly built my interest until the third act, where it delivers its best episodes as all the secrets come tumbling out. If anything, its story is too end-loaded and could have measured it out more to boost engagement earlier. Still, the strong finish left me with a good impression.

ACCA’s aversion to anime tropes also helps its case. In fact, the one notable trope it does use – goofy co-workers from Jean’s home office – is an eyesore. Their comedic relief isn’t funny and doesn’t fit the tone of the show. Their inclusion was to counterbalance the drama, though the fun spy work I mention above would have been more fitting. It could have done without them.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department isn’t going to blow you away nor is it a great anime, and yet, because it’s something different, you don’t have the feeling of “same old, same old” when watching it. I urge you to give it a chance.

Art – High

ACCA looks different yet familiar to anime. I love the colours and character designs. This anime adores animating things fluttering in the wind. It also uses small visual techniques you rarely see in anime, such as characters fading into view as the camera reverse dollies through them.

Sound – High

The OP is great and went on my playlist before I finished the series. The woman’s vocals struck me. As for the acting, it’s good in either language, so go with your default preference.

Story – Medium

An inspector from ACCA, the government department responsible for the country’s peace, travels to the 13 states after rumours of a coup d’état surface. ACCA overcomes its dull segments with an unusual concept executed through interesting characters.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Try it, I urge you. ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department won’t be for everyone. In fact, this little-known anime will interest very few among us, but it’s worth trying in case you are one of those few. I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative: None