Rarely has an anti-climax felt so satisfying – or appropriate.
All of the things I felt – and said – about ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka pretty much held true to the end. It was a resolutely odd little series. It was always true to its unconventional self. And it never quite closed the emotional circuit (at least not most of the time, for me). All in all it was one of the strangest series I’ve seen in some time, even by Natsume Ono’s standards, and while I can’t say that I loved it I certainly appreciated the hell out of it for what it was.
Basically, it seems to me that ACCA was four things in more or less equal parts. It was a caper flick, a travelogue, a food porno and (increasingly as it progressed) a family drama. And they all came together quite neatly and elegantly in the finale. There was certainly some tension here, but the idea that we might have an actual violent coup seemed so anathema to what ACCA is that I never really felt worried it would happen. It always seemed a given that this coup would end bloodlessly, more with a whimper than a bang – the only real question was how.
As the old king lay in his bed-chamber, staring at photos of the Otus family – seemingly ill after all but perhaps not as badly as was suggested – the final prep work for the velvet revolution of Douwa was well underway. The first sign that things might not stick to Lilium’s script came when Jean proposed a change in the plan – rather than announce his royal lineage immediately about the seizing of the prince at the centennial ceremony, they would delay doing so in order to avoid enraging him and prompting him to dig in his heels. Superficially it seemed as if Jean was flexing his independence, but in truth there was a much deeper reason for this suggested change.
In truth, everything came off a little too easily for my tastes, and a few too many loose ends were tied into the pretty bow of a happy ending. But one could hardly have asked for a smoother resolution. As it turns out (and no, I didn’t see it coming) Lilium was the only one in ACCA not in on the joke. Everyone else (up to and including ringleader Abend, who we’ll get to in a minute) was staging a plot to undercut Lilium’s. That is, to use the occasion to “stage” a hostile attack on the prince, forcing him to admit that ACCA were the ones with real power and declare his fealty to them in public. In truth I don’t think Schwan would have acquiesced that easily, but Lilium was certainly fooled either way.
In truth, you know, Schwan really wasn’t such a bad guy. A spoiled child of a young man, yes, but not evil. He wouldn’t have ordered the Otus siblings killed, as an example, and when the jig was up he showed at least token grace in accepting them into the family. He’s going to be the king either way, and Jean and Lotta’s lineage remains a secret (though with as many people knowing as now do, I don’t know for how long) which suits both princes just fine. One of those credulity-stretching loose end tie-ups was Jean and Lotta forgiving their aunt for having ordered them killed, but there was clearly an intent here to leave things in a state of general positivity.
The landscape of both ACCA and Douwa is certainly different in the wake of all this. Lilium’s response to seeing his coup foiled was to say “Screw you guys, I’m going home” and pull Furawau out of Douwa altogether. But because it’s a loose end, the poor but noble Pranettans (Pranettas?) conveniently discover “resources” after all – which turns their district into a gold rush destination and leaves Douwa independent of Furawau’s oil. Not only that, Grossular decides that the five chiefs of ACCA are no longer needed and that Mauve should be the top-ranking official (though he ends up staying on in an advisory role), so the other chiefs scatter to their home districts and start tying up loose ends of their own.
As for Jean and Lotta, things don’t change all that much, except they kind of do. Because this is ACCA no one acts all that differently, but at best their lineage is now an open secret and if nothing else, the fact that they know changes everything. Lotta visits the palace and everyone at Jean’s office knows who he really is. The biggest shoe to drop is the reveal that the district chief (I knew that moustache was too anomalous!) was Amend the whole time – and he’s not letting Jean transfer anywhere. He’s set Nino free to live his life as he chooses, but there was never any doubt what Nino would choose – to be at Jean’s side. A nice touch was the flashback to their prom, where “king” Nino places the crown on Jean’s head and says it suits him better. That was your first hint, Jean – did you suspect it, even then?
This was a good ending to a good series, neither the finale or the totality achieving greatness in my view but both standing out as among the best of the season. While ACCA was a bit too breezy and self-aware to ever be emotionally compelling for me, it was one of the most literate and clever shows in a good while. And it never caved in to the urge to go conventional, which in the end is probably my favorite thing about it (after Jean’s smiling face, of course). I like the fact that ACCA is pretty much impossible to describe in a way that does it any justice (or makes sense) – you just have to experience it. In a medium where formula is increasingly king, idiosyncrasy is a trait to be treasured more than ever.