ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.
by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 12 of
ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. ?
We really haven't changed, have we?
Jean's last line to Nino sums it up best. In this week's climax, ACCA stayed true to its laid-back nature by turning Lilium's carefully plotted usurpation into a theatrical exercise that's resolved in a flash. Publicly out-couped, the master plotter ends up getting played on the stage that was supposed to mark his secret step into the limelight. Schwan is demoted to the subordinate role of figurehead that Lilium had originally intended for Jean to fill – except that instead of Furawau pulling the strings, ACCA and the people are there to remind the future king of his purely representative function. Jean, Abend, and Nino are free to do whatever they want, which turns out to be pretty much continuing where they left off: running inspections, tearing up transfer requests, and having a drink with their best friend. All former duties, responsibilities, and complaints aside, none of them look like they will use their newfound freedom to make drastic changes. They've come to treasure and value what they have, and isn't that the most beautiful epilogue we could ask for? Lotta gets to expand her sandwich bread appreciation circle, Rail enjoys his donuts, and life goes on, just with a few notable changes.
After all his scheming and hair-pulling, it was more than rewarding to see Lilium's insufferable smugness wiped off his face. Jean and Mauve had long been busy cooking up a plot of their own, and Mauve's level of diplomatic badassery was a joy to behold. Not only did she thwart Furawau's plans, she gracefully owned the prince even when kneeling in front of him. Schwan may call himself king, but only as long as he plays by ACCA's rules. Luckily, Schwan still possesses enough brains behind all his pouting that he'd rather opt for nominal power than none at all. The old guard resigns, and Mauve inherits ACCA's future.
All threads are wrapped up more than adequately, with enough time for the obligatory cake-eating sprinkled in. While the payoff was satisfying enough to justify shutting us out of Jean's prior internal processing, his after-the-fact explanation felt anticlimactic compared to Mauve's moment of awesome (and Grossular's smile). Thanks to the significance of its location, the reveal of Abend's identity and Qualm as the one everything ultimately leads back to played out more organically. Ultimately, Nino's job was of major importance, since only his (and Owl's) accounts of Jean's character gave Qualm the confidence to bet on his rejection of power, which in turn inspired ACCA's chiefs to step down and return to their districts, promoting what they love and embracing the new order.
In fact, with every single subplot resolved in an explosion of optimistic sweetness, there's so much love and respect in the air that it might just be too much. While Furawau withdraws into splendid isolation, Suitsu shows signs of change from an isolated backwards country to a modern, democratic district. Years of fruitless dreaming in Pranetta finally pay off, with resources discovered just when the rich Furawau has left the fold, inspiring the slightly less romantic dreamers from Yakkara to join in the fun. Even Knot's wife might be coming back to him, resolving a plot that really didn't need to be resolved. It's all very sweet, but this happy endings free-for-all takes away some of the main storyline's impact and nuance.
From a production standpoint, ACCA seems to have just barely made it to the finish line. The extent of still frames has become more than noticeable, and crowd shots no longer move at all. Even main characters are missing facial features in medium shots, and poor Grossular shows some serious case of robot walk syndrome. The lovely art and expressive character designs were among the show's many strengths, and I wouldn't have wanted to see the animation quality drop any more than what we saw in the finale.
Despite these issues, ACCA ends on a high and truly sweet note, with Nino, who lost about 10 years worth of worries and burdens along with his glasses, and Jean, the uncrowned prom king. It was a well-paced, slow-burning, but always engaging political intrigue tale without any of the forced drama or violence this genre tends to attract. I'm happy shows like this exist.
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