Anime Review: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.

written by Laurie Tom


ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is a slow burn, sometimes agonizingly slow, which is incredible considering that there are rumors of a coup with secrets all over the place and multiple characters who have no idea who can be trusted. Each episode feeds into the audience’s pool of knowledge and yet the truth feels frustratingly out of reach for half the show.

This isn’t necessary a bad thing, as it’s a ground zero view of the information most of the POV characters are working with, but ACCA plays its cards so close that the world seems made up of trees rather than a forest.

The Kingdom of Dowa faced a failed coup d’état a hundred years ago and to maintain peace through the varied territories, the response was to give them relative autonomy from the main government with an overarching agency called ACCA to oversee them.

Dowa today is a world much like ours, so there are cell phones, airplanes, and other modern conveniences, though there are some odd differences such as cigarettes being an incredibly expensive luxury good. And it’s through the ability to burn through such goods that we’re introduced to our protagonist, Jean Otus.

Jean is the deputy chief of ACCA’s inspection department, and as such it’s his job to travel around to the thirteen territories and make sure that everything is in order. In theory his job is supposed to look for signs of sedition, but the country has been so peaceful ever since the establishment of ACCA that in the first episode there’s discussion of closing his department entirely.

However, there are rumors of a new coup d’état and the current monarch, the aging King Falke, does not step down to offer the crown to his grandson and sole heir Prince Schwann as most people expect. The young Schwann wants to dissolve ACCA and is shocked that his grandfather hasn’t chosen to abdicate in his favor. (And though he comes off as a brat, Schwann is far less stupid than his initial appearance suggests.)

Meanwhile, the five Chief Officers of ACCA were going to close the inspection department, but change their mind. Presumably they do because of the coup d’état rumors, but at the same time, they bar the Director-General beneath them from investigating the matter. And the Chief Officers themselves are not a united front, with some of them suspecting each other of being part of the coup.

Jean finds himself caught in the middle of all of this, because his position allows him to travel to all thirteen territories, which are widely different from each other to the point that it’s amazing that they can be considered part of a single country (and probably why there was a coup d’état in the past, because there is no national identity). Both coup sympathizers and those who wish to track down the coup see Jean as the communication line for an uprising, which places him straightly in everyone’s crosshairs.

And yet throughout the show Jean largely just does his job. There is talk of a coup, but this isn’t the kind of show where everyone’s packing heat and assassins are around every corner. Discussions of secrets and plumbing people for information can happen over dinner and cake (I’m not kidding, this show could well be described as politics with pastries) and there’s so much spinning around looking for potential enemies without finding a thing that there came a point where I was wondering if there was even a coup at all or it was everyone’s paranoia at work.

It helps that Jean is a perceptive individual. Though he’s not a schemer himself, if given a hint as to his situation, he’s quick to pick up the rest. He’s also an incredibly hard read as the audience is rarely privy to his thoughts and his usual expression is one of bored disinterest. This occasionally results in moments where it’s not possible to figure out whether he’s been blindsided or he has a plan up his sleeve, and there’s a fair enough mix that it often goes either way.

ACCA is a slow build, but the pay-off once the cat’s out of the bag is quite good, and through the show never takes off at anything resembling a sprint (if ever there was a low key conspiracy show this is it) the second half reveals everything that had been subtly building in the first. It’s fascinating watching Jean once he realizes everything at stake and it upends his world in a way neither he nor the audience would have guessed when everything started.

The manga concluded at the end of last year so that helps in that the series is able to wrap up as well. I highly recommend ACCA.

Number of Episodes: 12

Pluses: Excellent mid-series plot reveal, fascinating watching Jean and his poker face navigate through treacherous waters, delicious baked goods everywhere (if you like that sort of thing)

Minuses: Show doesn’t really take off until second half, oddly relaxed pacing for a conspiracy involving a coup, hiding Jean’s thoughts from the audience becomes a little unfair once the ending is revealed

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is currently streaming at Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed). Funimation has licensed this for eventual retail distribution in the US.

Laurie Tom is a fantasy and science fiction writer based in southern California. Since she was a kid she has considered books, video games, and anime in roughly equal portions to be her primary source of entertainment. Laurie’s short fiction has been published in Galaxy’s Edge, Strange Horizons, and the Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Winter 2017 Anime First Impressions

written by Laurie Tom

Winter is a slim season this year, though there are a couple gems. Because of the partnership between Funimation and Crunchyroll, most new anime brought to the US now is streaming on the former (if dubbed) or the latter (if subtitled) and I’m watching entirely on Crunchyroll again. Though there are other players in the licensing market now, like Amazon and Netflix, the former does not regularly simulcast and the latter never does.

Amazon has started it’s own Anime Strike streaming channel for an additional $5/month on top of Amazon Prime membership (US members-only), but with only a handful of exclusives and two winter simulcasts it’s hard to justify at this point. The dollar goes so much farther with their competitors.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.


Why I Watched It: This is one of the season’s more mature offerings, featuring an adult cast containing bureaucracy members of a fictional country divided into thirteen states. The art style is distinctive, following the designs of its manga origin, which gives the cast a unique look compared to other series.

What I Thought: We follow the POV of Jean, a sleepy-lidded deputy chief of the Inspection Department, a sort of auditing bureau that ensures the thirteen districts are compliant with the national government. It’s a political job in a department that is beginning to look unnecessary given the long years of peace since its establishment, but there is something brewing and Jean is canny enough to sense it. It’s clear that he’s intentionally projecting a false image of himself that is a lot wealthier and disinterested than he actually is. This first episode is clearly setup and the storm is still to come.

Verdict: I’ll be watching. I like that Jean is a canny and observant protagonist. We don’t get inside his head in this first episode, so we don’t know his reasoning for anything, but his actions are curious enough that I want to know more.

Where to find stream: Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed, subscription required)



Why I Watched It: I admittedly didn’t have high hopes for this one, because it looks like the anime version of manic pixie girl upending a normal guy’s life, but the hype going in was good so I figured it was worth looking at.

What I Thought: Fuuka relies on a well worn anime convention to get started, the meet cute that goes wrong due to an unexpected panty flashing, which results in the titular Fuuka spiking protagonist Yuu’s phone into the ground. He wasn’t taking a picture, but her behavior is so outrageous that the memory of her is burned into Yuu’s brain. Fuuka’s a free spirit without a cell phone who still listens to music on CDs and she horns her way into Yuu’s life, leaving him wondering how he ended up with a girlfriend by the end of the first episode. It’s not my fantasy, but I do like how Yuu is a complete Twitter addict as I’ve never seen the medium depicted in anime before.

Verdict: I’ll probably pass, though I might come back to it at some point, because I know of a development later in the manga that takes this beyond the standard romantic comedy and I’m curious how the event will be handled.

Where to find stream: Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed, subscription required)

Interviews with Monster Girls


Why I Watched It: I wasn’t originally, since I feel like anime’s fascination with cute monster girls who look mostly human except for ears/tail/horns/etc has been done to death in the wake of Monster Musume, but early word of mouth is good, so I decided to check it out.

What I Thought: This is not my kind of show, but it’s surprisingly light on fan service and the first episode is what it says on the tin. Demi-humans have always existed in low numbers in this reality, and high school teacher Takahashi finally gets a chance to meet one who happens to be a student at his school. From there he inquires about the myth versus reality of being a demi-human by interviewing students, the first of which is a vampire. The interesting thing is that the demi-humans aren’t treated that strangely by the rest of the student body. They’re different, but not something to be feared. The myth vs. reality angle doesn’t tread much new ground though, especially starting with a vampire, which has already been reinvented to death.

Verdict: I’ll pass, but it’s a new angle for people who aren’t tired of the monster girl phenomenon.

Where to find stream: Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed, subscription required)

Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid


Why I Watched It: This is the one monster girl show I was going to check out, because of the unusual gender flip in that it’s Ms. Kobayashi, a woman, who gets stuck with a unusual houseguest in the form of a western dragon who can turn into a cute young lady.

What I Thought: The gender flip does add something to the monster girl genre, as the things that concern Kobayashi are different from that of a heterosexual male protagonist. She’s more concerned that Tohru doesn’t burn down her apartment than cohabitation with a stranger. Watching Tohru try to disrupt Kobayashi going out for drinks with a coworker (under the mistaken impression it’s a date) was entertaining as Tohru makes it clear that she harbors romantic feelings for her. I think the idea of having a dragon maid would be funnier if Tohru was in her full dragon form more often, but that would take away from the cute monster girl look that appeal to fans of the subgenre.

Verdict: I’ll pass. It’s cute, but I don’t think there’s enough here to sustain my interest.

Where to find stream: Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed, subscription required)

Saga of Tanya the Evil


Why I Watched It: Reason one was the wacky premise of a Japanese salaryman reborn as a little girl where he becomes a super-powered child soldier. Reason two was that World War I is seldom visited in anime but it’s my favorite historical conflict and the series takes place in an alternate WWI.

What I Thought: I was expecting to be more put off by Tanya, and to be sure, Tanya is “a monster in the body of a little girl” but she (he?) is interesting in watch in the way that some villainous protagonists are. It’s not that we like her, but we want to see what she does next and what her game is. The world building is more interesting than I expected. Air mages replace the airplanes of the real World War I, and the story takes place from the Empire (German) viewpoint, but there are several noticeable differences between real world history and the alternate one in how the war started, early grand strategy execution, and the progress being made.

Verdict: I’ll be watching. This show is definitely not going to be for everyone, but the other Empire characters are more relatable human beings (no cardboard Nazis transported to the wrong time period) and having a sympathetic cast around Tanya could balance things out.

Where to find stream: Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed, subscription required)

Laurie Tom is a fantasy and science fiction writer based in southern California. Since she was a kid she has considered books, video games, and anime in roughly equal portions to be her primary source of entertainment. Laurie is a previous grand prize winner of Writers of the Future and since then her work has been published in Galaxy’s Edge, Strange Horizons, and the Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction.