ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department Review — The Anime Version of Filibustering

So much is said, and yet nothing feels important.

  • ACCA: Thirteenth Territory Inspect…fuck it, I’m just calling it ACCA. Lots of people like this show, and if you’ve been following my reactions to it, you’ll know I don’t get the appeal at all. If anything, this show has some of the worst storytelling I’ve seen in an “anime that tried to actually aim for something more than cheap jokes” in a long time.
  • The show’s title comes from the name of a giant civilization organization controlling thirteen districts in some fictional kingdom called Dowa, and follows a young blond man named Jean as he inspects the world whilst having illegal smokes along the way. And just so you know, this anime is twelve episodes long, so the main character’s permanent stoic face is going to stop being funny very fast.
  • While going on his usual inspections, Jean and some of his companions hear rumors about a coup that threatens the very existence of ACCA. What exactly would happen if ACCA was overthrown? Who knows? The show doesn’t bother to explain beyond some generic “ACCA keeps the peace” speech, before having Jean’s friends eat cake or bread whilst talking about how good it tastes, Lucky Star-style. Okay? So you’re not going to tell us about the setting and you’re going to take your sweet-ass time getting to the actual meat of the story. Great, it’s one of those shows.

Now let’s dance around it for twelve episodes

  • You know what kind of show I’m talking about. That stupid “let’s intrigue the audience with a lot of vague hints regarding what’s to come while developing the characters and the world, even though with no story, I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about either of them?” type that anime fans have been eating up for more than a decade? Because who cares about actual plot as long as you like the elements involved, right? It worked for Durarara way back when and it still keeps the love with the common folk alive despite the sequels selling liking shit, and every elitist anime writer dropping it like that ex-girlfriend who you start to realize has changed.
  • Well apologies ACCA, but I can’t say I like your characters, because I don’t see what’s appealing about a cast where every single character is a mature well-rounded person with no personal flaws or semblance of pathos. I think only one dude goes through a struggle, and all it amounts to is being there for Jean, like every other side character.
  • And Jean can eat shit as far as I’m concerned. Everything is just handed to him. He’s always comfortable with where he’s at. Every single revelation regarding him is predictable. Whenever he’s in trouble, someone always bails him out or he had a plan beforehand to bail himself out. And of course, he has less emotions than Kristen Stewart in every single movie she’s been in, except without the unintentional hilarity.

Every time someone gleed over cake, I wanted to take that cake away and throw it in the trash just to make something interesting happen

  • But the biggest problem with the characters is what comes out of their fucking mouths. ACCA is one of those dialogue-driven shows in the same vein as Uchouten Kazoku or all the Monogatari anime, so it pretty much lives and breathes on whether the writing is good. Unfortunately, ACCA’s dialogue is utter horse manure. Every time someone speaks, it’s always world-building, delivering exposition, or setting up future conversations that we could have easily skipped to, which basically means there’s no story and therefore no momentum to make me care about what the characters are talking about. And even by those standards, the quality is poor.
  • You remember the movie, Twelve Angry Men, and how it became critically acclaimed for its discussions regarding consensus-building and the different personalities involved regarding whether a suspect is innocent or guilty? ACCA’s discussions regarding its subject matter are pretty much just “this is good/bad. Why is this good/bad? Because we say so, that’s why.”
  • Apparently the ACCA system is supposed to protect the citizens, but I’m not sure how. The show never brings up topics like employment rates, health care, or pretty much every issue Trump ignores in favor of his Muslim ban. And we don’t actually see anyone suffer or benefit from ACCA’s reign beyond their word, which makes me wonder what the royals even do and why having them in charge is a bad thing. What happens when they get overthrown? Who benefits from this supposed coup that will radically change everything?

I swear the artist just drew whatever he thought looked cool when designing the settings

  • Not helping at all is that ACCA is an entirely fictional government with no basis in the real world beyond the most basic of rules and some English uniforms. That means the story has to try much harder to make me care for the setting since as a real life person, I can’t automatically connect with make-believe land the same way I can for Africa. And all the setting seems to have is that the continent is shaped like a bird and every district has its own Japanese-like custom. What custom you may ask? The kind of food served in each area, that’s what.
  • Why on earth would I care about what kind of food District #11 serves if I can’t personally taste it? More importantly, what makes you think I care about food in general? How about highlighting some more interesting customs like different laws? Different races? Different ways to make video games? Something besides fucking food that’s not even relevant to the plot in any way?
  • Every time ACCA looks like it might be going somewhere, it puts the brake on its train of thought and ponders which direction to go whilst not giving me a toy to distract myself with. No one seems to have any passion or be into what’s going on. The details of the coup aren’t even clarified until the three-quarters mark, and it takes even longer for it to actually start because the instigators want to get more of a feel for what kind of bread a specific district eats for no reason other than “we ordered twelve episodes and realized at the last minute we only had enough story to fill in a typical installment of Adventure Time“.

I don’t think we get much of a follow-up to this secret meeting after it’s over in one episode

  • Plot points are introduced and then just thrown away at a moment’s notice. “Oh wait, I’m being chased by mysterious men. Oh wait, no I’m not. Yay! Now let’s never bring this up again” is pretty much my snarky description for a tensionless chase scene that Jean’s sister, Lotta, goes through late in the show’s run. “Oh no, I got shot. Oh wait, I’m still alive, but I can’t help you anymore” is what I thought when I saw a certain scene in the penultimate episode.
  • This even happens to the coup itself. It only shows up at the very end, and gets around a minute of screen time before the series revealed that it had a three-minute speech (that was obviously written by a ten year old because all it consisted of were reassurances that ACCA was necessary for the people whilst again not explaining how and why) planned all along, and everyone gets off scot-free in order to end on yet another Return of the Kings-style epilogue that is so long and unnecessary I had to hit the fast-forward button to get through it.
  • Really, do I even have to clarify further why ACCA is bad? The world-building is horrible. The dialogue is horrible. It’s not funny. It doesn’t give its characters anything to do – and when they actually do something, it’s always in the most tensionless way possible. It’s nothing but a fucking junk food anime, which is pretty much synonymous to “worthless” at this point in time, as well as another Madhouse disappointment that fails to cash in on its promise.

Animation is also really inconsistent. Particularly in the final episode, but the first one was bad at it too.

  • Fuck off Madhouse! You passed your peak long ago and now Bones is dancing circles around you. And they haven’t exactly changed either. You just got a lot worse after Redline nearly bankrupted you!

Minor Quips

  • Not gonna lie, the Dowa Kingdom does look like a fun place to visit.
  • Maybe people only think the dialogue in this show is good because they still cling onto that fundamentally flawed notion that “saying one thing but meaning another” is considered brilliant writing.
  • Or because they have boring office lives and like being reminded of how boring said office life is.

2 responses to “ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department Review — The Anime Version of Filibustering

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