ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department (ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka) introduces a strikingly different locale this week with a mini arc, while still managing to develop its overarching mystery.
Jean sets off to audit the economically and culturally repressed district of Suitsu, riding in a horse-drawn carriage and wowing the locals with his flip phone. The whining violin characteristic of Suitsu’s background music does a great job of shifting ACCA’s soundtrack along with our minds to an anachronistic time.
ACCA uses colour to great effect between each Dōwā district, and in turn, between each episode. These differences are aimed at emphasizing the idiosyncrasies of each district in multiple ways.
For example, at first I thought each ACCA department was using recoloured uniforms with slight variations from the main branched, in actuality, they’re each as different as the districts they come from. Suitsu’s officers rock a red colonial suit reminiscent of a British foot guard or Napoleonic infantry, whereas the more industrial Jumōku district officers from episode two wore sleeveless button-down shirts with ties.
It’s like each district is a shard of another world
In episode one, the scorching sun bathed the Fāmasu district in a warm yellow that brought life to the mid-western, rural feel of the diner truck stop. Even the clarity of the night sky when Jean sat with Eider in the dark while ruminating on their next meeting, contrasts strongly with the cloudy horizons presented in Suitsu. Even as this episode’s arc progresses though, we see the sunrise over Suitsu in a far brighter light than in the first introductory shots.
It’s not entirely clear how far apart each district is geographically, but the climate shifts significantly between them as well. Jumōku’s giant produce, bread, and burgers were possibly because of this, and it gave episode two a distinctly surreal tone that takes on a new meaning now that we’ve been exposed to the context of more districts. It’s like each one is a shard of another world.
The nearly victorian way that things operate in Suitsu, stands in stark contrast to the royal splendour of the Dōwā palace and surrounding area from last week. We keep hearing that this 100-year-old Kingdom is at peace, but the truth to that statement is impossible to agree with when we see the poverty that Suitsu citizens suffer through. So as expected, we get to see the citizens strike back, led by Warbler, an ACCA supervisor who’s maintained his unpopular post in Suitsu for four years.
It could be easy for ACCA to get too caught up in the weeds of the multilayered political aspects it frequently adds to its core mystery plot, but the show consistently finds a way to root its high-level conflicts to the humanity of individual characters.
A bureaucratic flaw in the investigation department’s auditing system obfuscated Jean’s vision every time he visited Suitsu before. So when we get to see Jean interacting with local citizens for the first meaningful time, his eyes are opened to their plight thanks to Warbler.
Assuming the Suitsu’s chief director hadn’t negotiated Jean into silence after he witnessed a small coup first-hand, Jean could have easily reported the uprising to his superiors. Instead, he makes sure all the harmlessly detained revolutionaries are released, and he even delivers some verbal gymnastics that lets Warbler stay with the citizens he’s come to love as neighbours over the years.
Jean’s handling of the situation continues to show the power he holds as an investigator, but also his human streak that we’ve seen hints of throughout the season. Whether or not ACCA is building Jean up so it hurts more when we see him come crashing down is interesting to consider. Just like the other curious leads still floating around the show.
Jean is to ACCA as Spike is to Cowboy Bebop
The symbolic or plot significance of Jean’s cigarette obsession continues to be a pleasant conundrum. The gifted cigarette pulled from a wax-sealed envelope in his hotel room this week is white, not brown like the previous ones. And at one point, Jean explains to a baffled Suitsu resident that he’ll accept cigarettes as payment for things that would usually cost a fortune in cash.
When he tries to light up in front of a Suitsu police officer, the cop jumps, visibly indignant. For whatever reason, people in ACCA’s world really do not like his flippant use of tobacco cigarettes — but Jean loves ‘em. Every other scene, he pulls one out of his silver case and lights up with all the class of Cowboy Bebop’s Spike Spiegel, or Fight Club’s Tyler Durden. If ACCA keeps up its pace, Jean will find his own place among those icons, if he hasn’t already.
Scattered throughout this week’s episode we also get a few sprinkles of dialogue from the five chief officers and a brief phone call from Prince Schwan. It appropriately progresses several previously introduced plot threads, sometimes in less than 10 seconds, while keeping the focus on the story on this episode. It helps anchor the significance of this story to the main plot, while we’re enjoying the mini arc about Warbler and Suitsu. The entire arc also serves as a piece of character building for other main characters too.
We learn that chief officer Pastis original home was Suitsu, and then we’re soured to see his flagrant disregard for the region’s struggles and its inept political leader. It says more bad than good about his love for the kingdom. Some short character introductions in these scenes also help us learn more about the chief officer’s character, beyond the fact that he’s an elite with a penchant for suspicion.
Nino’s still on Jean’s tail as well, and ACCA takes pains to make sure we never know exactly whether he’s reporting to chief officer Grossular or someone else. If it wasn’t already, his cover may have been blown this week, too. Nino steps in at the last second to steer some bristling rioters away from attacking Jean during the coup. He was in disguise, but if what we know about Jean’s observation skills, and the lingering gaze he casts after the receding rioters, he now either knows Nino is tailing him, or he knew all along.
Either reality presents the same intrigue ACCA has peddled since episode one. And the prospect of watching them play out alongside more pleasant side stories like episode four’s is as appealing to me as ever.