Manga of the Month: ACCA

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department by Natsume Ono

The Kingdom of Dowa is subdivided into thirteen autonomous states, all of which coexist peacefully. Or do they? Jean Otus finds himself in the middle of a country-wide coup, and he doesn’t even know it. Or does he? And with all thirteen districts renowned for their unique snacks, only one food can reign supreme. Or can it?

Independent civilian agency ACCA keeps an eye on the workings of each section of Dowa’s kingdom. With an impending coronation assumed, a power struggle is bubbling just below the surface. As vice-chairman of the Inspection Department, basically internal affairs, Jean often travels for business, crisscrossing the thirteen territories. Gaining the nickname The Cigarette Peddler for his love of the now-extravagant luxury good, Jean finds himself in possession of many unique cigarettes over the course of the series, but just what is their significance? The Chief Officers of ACCA have their suspicions about Jean, but they also have their own agendas.

Jean seems to look at the world with an all-knowing gaze. He has a quiet charm with a dry sense of humor, is a thoughtful big brother, and has an appreciation for all types of bread. But he is also a character who plays his cards very close to the vest. Part of the fun of the series is trying to figure out just how much he actually knows. Which in turn makes me questioning whether I really know anything for sure, not because ACCA is confusing, but because it is quiet and subtle.

ACCA is a refreshing political thriller that seamlessly integrates cuisine and comedy among the intrigue. I am just as likely to remember the conspiracies, royal secrets, and double (triple?) agents, as I am the office politics, attentions paid to sandwich breads, and thwarted romances.

~kate

Advertisements

Manga of the Month: Land of the Lustrous

Land of the Lustrous (宝石の国) by Haruko Ichikawa

hisui_icon_4040_round Back when Anime Strike was still a thing it was a bit of the kiss of death for discussion surrounding any series that was put on the service. With the need for subscription to both Amazon Prime and Anime Strike it made the service extremely unpopular. The double pay wall meant that all but the most dedicated (and well to do) fans used the service. Now the normal “alternative methods” of watching licensed shows still exist but shows that are not easily to stream tend to get left out of the general conversation of fandom. It takes a very special show to stand out in a way that a larger audience will spend the time and/or money to find a show that is not just dropped in their laps. Land of the Lustrous was one of those shows.

I was honestly surprised that people were talking about Land of the Lustrous despite being on Anime Strike. Now some shows on Anime Strike are just not very good so it makes sense they would disappear from discussions but even very good shows like The Great Passage did not stand a chance. So when Anime Strike finally died the few shows that people were still talking about before the lowering of the second pay wall stood out. One of the shows that I remember having lots of buzz was Land of the Lustrous. It was as impressive as I had heard and made me very curious to see what the manga was like. Haruko Ichikawa’s work on the manga opened my eyes even more.

The last time I did the Manga of the Month I mentioned the somewhat rare case where the manga and the anime but both very good but also have enough of a difference in execution to make both version worth experiencing. I’m happy to say that Land of the Lustrous falls into that same illustrious category. It gives the reader a very different experience than the anime but being just as good. That alone makes it worth talking about. The fact that the series is a unique mixture of philosophy, mystery, and action takes it from the realm of should talk about to must talk about.

Continue reading

Manga of the Month: Tokyo Tarareba Girls

Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura

Are you in the Olympic spirit like me? Then enjoy Tokyo Tarareba Girls! I’m sure a dramedy about single 30-somethings discussing their lives and loves isn’t the first series that seems relevant to an international athletic competition, but these women have a plan: get married before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

From the creator of Princess Jellyfish comes a hilarious and searing look into the concepts of youth, beauty, love, sex, and society’s expectations on women, especially as they age. Successful screenwriter Rinko and her friends meet-up to commiserate their “old age” and play the what-if game of continuously rehashing their past decisions and speculating on how things could have turned out differently. Their feelings about their failed relationships and their desires to find love are complex. They embrace society’s demands of them while also trying to reject those demands; it’s a tough and true place they find themselves in.

Funny, heartbreaking, a little too on the nose at times, and over the top at the right points, Tokyo Tarareba Girls speaks with authenticity about the actual experience of your 30s VS what you thought it would be like in your 20s. Just because life didn’t turn out the way you planned doesn’t make it wrong, but will Rinko learn this herself by the end?

~kate