Damn this show making me feel sad and melancholic all over again. When Nino told Jean last week that this is going to be a long story, I wouldn’t dare to think that he really means it. This week, the show takes us back 33 years ago and tells the story from royal observer’s point of view, resulted in the show’s most emotional resonate episode so far. This episode is just bittersweet and beautiful. Now, there are two things about ACCA writing that set it apart from other anime. The first aspect is its attention to details and confident storytelling, which I mentioned last week and psgels pretty much nailed it in his monthly review. The second aspect is… well, remember at first we initially thought ACCA might be similar to Ghost in the Shell in nature? Turned out we were completely off the mark because ACCA never at once goes heavy-handed. There’s a lot of backstaged planning, behind-the-scenes scheming but there’s no real dark intention in that world. Everyone’s actions so far have been for the benefit of the kingdom, even the coming coup arisen from the fear of the incompetence of the expected king. No selfish reasons whatsoever, at least not yet, just conflicted ideas on protecting the kingdom’s order I guess. The “accident” 33 years ago happened in that same vein. It was the scheme organized by Qualms (the head of Council Privy), the King, his daughter and her guard in order to protect the harmony of the royal and the kingdom and give Schnee the freedom she always desired. Everyone got out of it with what they think was necessary, even if it resulted in the second princess removed her name from the Dowa family register- become a commoner. That would be a fairly same-old same-old, cliche story if not by the fact that her life was chronologized secretly by the person who give up his own life to report her life, so in a sense, her family’s life has become the man’s; and his son’s, lives, and that hold lots of weight.
Nino, in particular, has been given a lot of weight-lifting this week but he shines through. When his father decided to follow his master’s quest, meaning that he had to give up his current life and his child for an unforeseeable future; he wanted to go with him no matter what. And Schnee and then the Otus family suddenly become their lives, but the father and Nino took pride and passion to their jobs. Every picture they took, every news regarding the princess they gathered, every bread the princess took interest to; they treasured them all. For Nino’s father, at least he had his own life before taking this job, but for Nino, it’s sad to realize that the life revolving the Otus family is the only life he knows. Makes me wonder what his purpose gonna be if Jean and Lotta were all gone. He took up the job pretty nicely too, attended college (despite huge age-gap) in order to stay closer to Jean. But then that train-wreck incident happened that not only took Jean’s parents lives, but his father’s as well. He then realized that he has been set up all along to be the next royal observant reporter in line. The best moment of his character development has to be after he received the news on TV, sadden by the the death of his father, bitter by the cold decision of the master, taken up the job he knows had no exit, he was still sensitive enough to offer a shoulder for Jean to rely on. This guy totally deserved a gold medal guys, he might become my favorite character of the show now.
So the main question the episode trying to raise is whether Abend is in fact Grossular. Looking at appearances, Grossular does share a lot of similarities with Abend, most notably his long hair and the fact that he isn’t Jean and Lotte’s father who died during the train wreck. Speaking of which, there is a minor twist that Schnee and Abend weren’t lover, which actually raise a compelling relationship between those two. It’s a duty for Abend to keep track with Schnee, but is there other feeling involved from Abend to the princess? For now though, I think Grossular is a red herring; yes all the details pointed towards him being Abend, but it makes no sense for me that Nino would report to him twice with different manners of speaking, and the show actually mentioned that everyone in that Rokkosu district having the same look regardless. In fact, I suspect that the real Abend is closer to Jean and Lotta than you might think, in fact I’m thinking of a certain character that the show keeps mentioning despite not appearing that much in the series, and he does eat a lot of desserts together with Lotta lately (Yes. You know who! Oh, and the child Lotta might be the sweetest thing ever). In any case, I strongly suspect that guy Abend to be the one who set Jean up for the upcoming coup d’etat (in other words, he’s important!), so the fun remains to see who this guy is and what exactly he plans to use Jean for the coup.
Lastly, allow me to give extra recognition to the impressive color palette in this episode, as it conveys effectively the mood of each sequence. In the sequence between the King and the young princess for example, the scene is bathed with light blue of sadness and longing. The sequences involved Abend, in contrast, was all in red/brown background of calculated plan and the strong sense of duty. Move over to the scenes involving young Nino and his father and we have a slightly washed-out color of memories that feel like an old picture. And lastly, when Nino received the devastated news on TV, it was dark blue with bold strokes and dark shading. The music, likewise, is totally impressive. Head ups for the sequence of Nino meeting Jean for the first time when an actual song kicked in. Even more stunningly, all the framing, the color and the music never distract the mood of the story or stand out too much, but fit the stories very, very well. This week, as a result, is the most impressive ACCA episode both in terms of technical quality, and emotional strengths. While the main storyline might focuses on the upcoming coup, the show’s main catch has always been establishing the ambiguous relationships between the cast. This backstory episode might not progress the plot very much, but it builds a solid foundation that exploring many intriguing relationships with confident executions. I said last week I was sure the show going to get better, right? Well, it does get better, but for reasons that completely against my expectation and for that I am really grateful. And boy how the show know how to pull an emotional punch, that piece of apple pie at the end (the apple pie that marked the sharp turn in Nino’s life) seriously melt my brain and make my head spinning around in circle. Damn this show making me feel sad and melancholic all over again.