It’s full steam ahead for Jean Otus and the impending ACCA coup
Story & Art: Natsume Ono
Translation: Jocelyne Allen
Lettering: Lys Blakeslee
What They Say:
With the first two volumes, Ono’s deliberate world-building laid out the foundation for ACCA and the vague pretense surrounding its effectiveness as a governing body. Now with Volume 3, conflicts arising across the numerous districts of Dowa have been laid bare.
As Jean Otus continues his round of audits, the rumored coup d’état begins to look more and more like a real possibility.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Compared to the slow build of tension up to this point, Volume 3 is a whirlwind of decay, as Jean’s work continues to toss him further into the pits of political unrest fermenting within and without ACCA. With three separate inspections taking place in such a short time frame, its full-on crunch time for Jean.
His first audit lands him in Suitsu district. From the get-go, there’s an air of unease about the district officials. Suitsu presents an obvious wealth disparity between its citizens and those in charge of the district. Before Jean has even completed his inspection, he’s caught overhearing a conversation between some locals and is promptly “kidnapped”.
Jean is brought to a secret meeting location for the rebel cause taking root in Suitsu. But it’s more than just a civilian uprising, as key members of Suitsu’s ACCA division have major roles in the reformer party, including Suitsu Branch Supervisor Warbler. Jean’s involvement now places him at the center of ACCA’s greatest flaw. Because of each district’s autonomy, Suitsu has been caught in a state of isolation for a hundred years – while the nobility in charge lead fruitful lives, the masses are left to toil away in an archaic system that prevents them from progress. Warbler and his reformers plan to overtake the Suitsu branch office and dismiss the current Central Council Representative Beurre. Both Beurre and Chief Officer Pastis are natives of Suitsu, but they have refused to change the district, donning rose-colored glasses and raking in the benefits while rarely setting foot in their home district. While Jean agrees to hear out their plea, a riot breaks out in the streets of Suitsu. Suddenly we’re thrown into the class turmoil that’s persisted in silence for years.
With the riots doused and a majority of the reformers arrested, Warbler believed his chances of changing Suitsu had been doused beyond repair, with his role at ACCA soon to follow suit. Branch Director Beurre arrives on the scene, intent on convincing Jean to sweep this under the rug, as the Suitsu officials always have. Jean agrees to not report it, only on the conditions that all citizens arrested in the coup attempt be released. With no other choice, Beurre agrees to Jean’s demands. While the reform ended in failure, Jean has given Warbler a second chance. Jean sees the potential of Suitsu’s future in the hands of its people, and although he has no control over each district’s inner workings, he has left it in the hands of those who seek change in its current state of corruption.
Meanwhile, the Prince’s continued interest in Jean’s sister Lotte sees his personal assistant Magie tailing her in Badon. The two bond over their love for bread, making for a light-hearted subplot that reveals a bit more about Jean and Lotte’s family history. Magie returns to the Prince with sandwich bread from Badon as well as the knowledge that Lotte’s parents died when she and Jean were still young. This bit of information will resonate with Jean’s character later in the volume.
Before Jean’s next audit in Birra, Chief Officer Lillium picks him up for a quick discussion. While Lillium pinned his coup suspicions on Chief Officer Grossular at the end of Volume 2, Jean feels less confident in Grossular’s involvement. Before parting ways, Lillium clues Jean in on the familiar set of eyes Grossular has had stalking him. As we arrive in the snowy lands of Birra, this is the first time Nino (aka Crow) has felt Jean notice his presence.
The state of Birra is a complete juxtaposition to Suitsu, but it nevertheless feels the inevitable change coursing through the veins of ACCA. Birra Branch Director Perry is confident in the faculties of his district. While Birra’s current state of affairs remains intact, it’s what’s to come that has kept Perry on his toes. He’s aware of the upcoming power struggle and simply wishes that Birra isn’t left behind as the future of Dowa begins to take form. The desperate need for change in Suitsu compared to Birra’s will to remain consistent portrays an excellent contrast in ACCA’s shortcomings as a “unified” governing body.
The fated meeting between Crow and Jean takes place on a snowy night in Birra. Though Jean has caught on to Nino’s surveillance, he’s aware that his friend has no ill intentions with his snooping. With a habit of being dragged into things out of his control, Jean believes he can trust Nino and gives him the space to divulge his intentions further when he feels comfortable. The two return to Badon and share a meal with Lotte before Jean heads off to his final audit in Rokkusu.
A western-styled town filled with long-haired citizens, Rokkusu is home to Chief Officer Grossular. Whereas Pastis was very disconnected from his roots, Grossular can be seen often roaming the streets of his hometown wearing civilian clothing and walking the same paths as his people. Jean finds Grossular reading on the outskirts of town and approaches him. The lack of direct interaction and tension built between these two has set the stage for a foreboding dialogue to ensue. But surprisingly, our story takes a very wholesome turn, cluing us in on where Jean stands in the overall ACCA discourse.
Jean opens with a story from long ago, detailing the death of his parents in a railway accident on the border of Peshi and Rokkusu. While Peshi district refused to be held accountable, Rokkusu bore the blame of the incident and advocated for the national railway system to be put under ACCA’s control, which drastically decreased railway incidents in its wake. The Branch Director in charge at the time was none other than Grossular. Despite the current debacle surrounding ACCA, Jean believes there are members of ACCA who have an earnest role in maintaining peace for the country. Having heard both his name and Grossular’s tossed around in the coup rumors, Jean’s divulges that he doubts Grossular is behind it. The stoic Grossular looks on as Jean departs, doubtful that Jean truly grasps the weight of the situation they’ve both become major players in.
As Jean returns to Badon, he finds Director Mauve waiting for his report. Although he agreed to help her investigation, Jean withholds all of his information. Even though he’s become a pawn for the upper officials, it seems Jean is set on maintaining his own agency in the battle for ACCA’s future.
And with that, the densely packed Volume 3 comes to a close. As a cherry on top, the last few pages go into detail on ACCA Headquarters, describing the interconnectivity of its multiple branches.
With half of his audits in the bag, the cohesion of ACCA continues to splinter between each of its districts. Natsume Ono retains pacing to her story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. With so many working parts, the future of Jean Otus and the Kingdom of Dowa remains a mystery for now.
Content Grade: A+
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
MSRP: $15 USD