Come for the bread, stay for the coup.

ACCA 13 Territory Inspection Department Volume 1Title: ACCA 13 Territory Inspection Department (Akka: Jusan-ku Kansatsu-ka)
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Political Drama
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Creator: Natsume Ono
Translator: Jocelyne Allen
Serialized in: Monthly Big Gangan
Original Release Date: November 28, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.

The Kingdom of Dowa has been at peace for nearly 100 years. As a kingdom surrounded by waters with no obvious neighbors, Dowa and it’s sub-divided 13 districts have been able to balance regional autonomy and national unity. This has largely been thanks to the work of ACCA, the country’s central bureaucracy that operates both local and national offices that encompass every kind of public service a citizen could imagine.

In fact, ACCA has been so successful at keeping the peace that they’ve recently decided to eliminate its Inspection Department and this means one Jean Otus will soon be out of a job. Jean doesn’t mind, he’s been trying to get a transfer for years. But before the department vanishes he has one last routine inspection to do.

English-speaking fans may already be familiar with Natsume Ono’s latest work since ACCA was adapted into an anime earlier this year. While both the adaptation and the original manga are slow-paced, character-focused stories, this manga may be slightly easier for a newcomer to get into since it’s slightly faster to read this one volume of manga than to watch the two anime episodes that were comprised of the same material.

If one read the manga instead of watching the anime they would miss out on some funny visual gags but Ono’s simple linework is fun to look at on its own. Enough of Ono’s work is in English so it’s easy to compare the art in ACCA to the art in her previous series, like House of Five Leaves or Not Simple, and her current style is the most stylish yet. Her art feels minimalistic, dominated by white spaces and black fills with a relatively tame use of screentone, and each character carries themselves as if they might be a model in their free time. Best of all, she’s finally refined her style of drawing eyes to the point where they don’t look like gaping, dead fish eyes (which was wont to take you out of her previous series).

ACCA 13

As for the characters themselves, ACCA plays its cards close to its chest and it’s tough to get a good read on the major players right now. The background characters distinguish themselves in terms of personality quickly, from Jean’s bubbly colleagues in the Inspection Department to the surly young man working in Badon’s local branch of ACCA, Rail. Jean himself seems like a rather laid-back young man, someone who is more interested in trying out the local bakeries than keeping up with the internal politics in ACCA. The end of this first volume hints that there might be more going on with Jean than meets the eye.

The heads of ACCA have gotten wind of a coup and Jean Otus seems to be involved in it. But their reaction to this planned “coup” is odd. Instead of firing Jean they instead order him and the Inspection Department (accidentally saved from closure by Jean’s earlier work) to conduct even more audits of all the districts and they give Jean quite a bit of autonomy in doing so. It’s clear that something is at hand, they already even have someone tailing Jean, but it seems like something is afoot at least, although what it is only future volumes will tell.