Image source: TVアニメ『ACCA13区監察課』公式 on Twitter

Tiny cakes. Office politics. Fresh bread. ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is an anime about political machinations and upheaval—but for much of its runtime, the characters are mostly concerned with what’s for lunch. It is this mundane approach that makes the show a snapshot of how evil operates in the world: quietly.

In the fictional world of ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., there is a kingdom (Dowa) broken up into thirteen independent districts all under the supervision of a bureaucratic organization called ACCA. ACCA itself is monitored by an internal inspection office where Jean Otus, the lead character, works. His job sends him on a lot of trips around the kingdom to check up on remote district offices.

For Jean and the people he works with, the job is just that: a job, one with plenty of paperwork and people typing at desks. Reports are filed, meetings are held, and all of it is business as usual. Even when Jean discovers evidence of corruption or a person plotting to frame him, he seems unfazed. This is his job; uncovering deception is precisely what he’s told to do, just another part of his routine.

Image source: TVアニメ『ACCA13区監察課』公式 on Twitter

One part of that routine that gets a lot of screen time in every episode of ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is food. Twice a day everything at ACCA comes to a halt so the staff can eat a snack. First they talk about what the snack is, then they discuss where it’s from (usually it’s wherever Jean last had a business trip). Sometimes the audience gets a close look at the food. Outside of the office, too, characters sit down and bond over homemade breakfasts and late-night dinners. Hardly a scene in ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. goes by without food being described or consumed.

If this sounds boring, it is, but in a purposeful way. On the surface, the routine nature of ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. and its constant food content seems drab and runs counter to the actual plot as it unfolds in the background. However, it also underlies a truth about how evil works in the world: through business as usual. Movies and TV shows like to present dictators and villains as maniacal, laughing schemers who take joy in pain. But in ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. as in reality, most decisions that cause harm arrive without fanfare or sinister music.

Image source: TVアニメ『ACCA13区監察課』公式 on Twitter

There hasn’t been any great act of evil in ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. yet, but the main characters are all dressed like the SS and they work to support a totalitarian regime. Dowa is a monarchy and a bureaucracy with no sign of elections. Rumors of a coup d’état are swirling. There are no neighboring states adjacent to the islands of Dowa and no external threats looming, so the people in ACCA seem most concerned about dissent from within, yet the first episode nearly sees the internal inspection office shuttered as it is “no longer needed.”

The officers of ACCA may not be exact secret police analogues but they are not freedom fighters either; in the end, they follow orders. That’s how evil is perpetuated in a bureaucracy and the definition of routine. People go to work, do their job, eat dessert, and go home without questioning what they did.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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