The intrigue of ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department (ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka) explodes this week as small-scale malpractice from the premiere gives way to questions of corruption and revolt. And with complex characters as fun to deduce as they are beautiful, this police drama is still on the must-watch track.
ACCA’s clever exposition continues from its premiere. A guided tour of elementary children introduces us to a bit of the Dōwa Kingdom’s history during one of Jean’s coffee breaks. It’s a minor thing, but having the history of the country’s near collapse explained with a bird mascot makes the info dump much easier to stomach.
Revealing that the organization’s namesake, the now extinct Acca bird, was a symbol of peace in its time is also a nice touch. It’s buried away in silliness (Our country is literally shaped like a bird, so let’s name our governing body after one and make a fluffy mascot for the kids) but the symbolism and history lesson could easily become imperative to the show’s plot later.
As Jean heads out to work, his assistant remarks in passing during a local audit that Jean gets his cigarettes for free. Even though Jean was introduced as the “Cigarette Peddler” last week, it still isn’t at all clear where he gets his tobacco — a heavily taxed, supremely luxurious substance within ACCA’s world. That’s just one of the many new mysteries presented this week.
Jean displays that he has an incredibly sophisticated information network around his city. He’s able to intercept Rail (the rookie police agent and lighter thief from last episode) in the middle of trying to frame him for arson. As he parrots back Rail’s quip about smoking from episode one, Jean continues to demonstrate just how adept an investigator he is.
There’s a quiet bite to the way Jean carries himself
There’s a quiet bite to things like his sudden appearance from plain sight, or the summarily presented point-by-point deconstruction of why Rail’s full of it and should return his lighter. Jean is an officer who feels like he can do much more, but doesn’t.
“Can you even understand how miserable it is to pour blood, sweat, and tears into something and get nothing in return?” asks Rail, at a loss for words.
Jean responds with the same blank stare he gives almost everybody, and more concern for Rail’s angrily discarded, half-smoked cigarette than Rail’s professional struggles. Maybe because Rail’s misconduct really is just a matter “out of his jurisdiction,” or maybe it’s because Jean understands exactly what it’s like to spin his gears as he’s bides his time.
For his part, Rail clearly isn’t on the job to protect and serve. He clicks his tongue and lets a young tobacco thief go free — a minor would apparently complicate a trial. His penchant for criminal activity and an apparent snub from the powers within ACCA’s investigations department help to explain his grudge. The existence of a rotten Rail-egg within the apparently peaceful and uncorrupt system in interesting in and of itself, but Rail’s real value in the episode is exposing us to more of Jean’s bureaucratic character. Whatever Jean’s thinking is the driving appeal of ACCA.
The biggest and most interesting mystery is Jean’s motive. While the debut made him out to be a zealous watchdog, it also hinted that something nefarious might be afoot. That theme is deftly emphasized here.
The question is whether the ACCA faces another coup
From Jean’s dismissal of his superfluously accurate info as something the rest of the investigation may or may not know, to his decision to rely on Nino (his high school friend and a private investigator) rather than his superiors when he suspects he’s being tailed, it’s clear that he’s hiding something. The question is whether or not it’s the makings of a new uprising — right before the centennial of the old coup d’etat that ACCA was founded to quell 99 years ago.
Tough to say with so little animosity from Jean. His interactions with his senior officer, Mauve, are benign on the surface and show off his deference to the hierarchical order — his salute to her while she’s out of uniform at the local bakery an example of this. But Mauve’s independent investigation into the coup rumours being called off by the same officers who hired Nino as an undercover agent to track Jean only incites even more questions.
So far it’s impossible to know who’s playing who and who’s a double agent. ACCA is littered with short cuts that are a big piece of the show’s encrypted puzzle. (“So that’s where the meeting is tonight.” “Not once in the thirty years I’ve known him.” “I’ve never seen that brand before.” “We received orders to give you that room.”) However, like any great mystery the cipher is buried in a future episode I can’t wait to watch.