Written By: Lauren
“Ace Attorney” is an animated series based on the mega-popular video game series of the same name. Set in Los Angeles in 2016, it’s more than perfect that the anime was released this year! The story revolves around rookie defense attorney, Phoenix Wright, and his trials and tribulations (see what I did there?).
The main cast consists of Phoenix, Maya Fey, Miles Edgeworth, Mia Fey, and Dick Gumshoe, all with varying occupations and personalities, yet connected to one another through strings of fate.
The animated series was released early 2016 and currently has twelve episodes. The anime is still ongoing and will cover the span of the “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney,” the first game in the series.
I’m a huge fan of the “Ace Attorney” series, so I’ve been waiting for years to see the animation. The live action film was disappointing, but I had high hopes the anime would do the spectacular series justice.
Not only do all the characters have individual quirks (and punny names), but all of the cases and characters are interconnected in this huge web (or conspiracy, if you’d like to see it that way). “Ace Attorney” hits close to home, and as a fan of many years, I’ve been eagerly anticipating an animated series.
I’ve played all of the localized “Ace Attorney” games and “Apollo Justice.” I’ve played “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” multiple times, so I was keen on little details while watching the anime. I’ll be discussing two episodes per one review. Shall we get started?
I was so impressed with the first episode, especially with the devotion to the game and animation. Everything is just like how it is in the game, from the courtroom to the faceless guards posted inside the courthouse lobby.
In the first few minutes, I already spotted something familiar subtly placed in the background. Phoenix’s “Ryu” sweater, which foreshadows to a very important person in the game series (whose name shall not be mentioned yet for people who haven’t played).
Phoenix grabs his attorney’s badge, pinning it to his suit and rushing off on a bike to his first official trial.
Was the badge always supposed to be that small? I always imagined it as bigger, at least the size of my thumb.
Secondly, we finally uncover the puzzle of how Phoenix gets from place to place in the game. I always imagined he’d drive, but I guess as a poor rookie attorney, a bike is the perfect option. (So what about his occasional sidekicks? Bikes for them, too?)
Moving on to the courtroom: the position of everything in the courtroom is spot-on, and although less detailed than the game (for obvious convenience reasons), the animation and resemblance to the game art are fantastic. It’s amazing to see the characters interact with their setting from a different perspective than we do in the game.
We also get to see them refer to evidence and photos on screens mounted in front of the Judge’s podium, instead of viewing autopsy reports in a small square in the corner of our DS screens.
The use of similar background music to the game, along with the intense transitions and cuts simulate us into the game setting. I feel like I’m actually cross-examining Frank Sahwit because of that small gesture of familiarity.
Everything about the characters is impressive as well, from expressions to behavior. The characters mimic the actions performed and the words they say in the game. From Larry’s crying and pouting face, to Phoenix’s signature sheepish grin and head-scratching, the anime versions of them are almost identical to their game counterparts.
They even use the signature full-courtroom view at the end of the trial, and the dramatic “NOT GUILTY” verdict. The confetti and audience cheering was just icing on the cake.
As for my complaints with the episode, I was disappointed with Mia and the Judge’s lackluster character designs and the fact Frank Sahwit (or should I say… Mr. Did it?) didn’t hurl his toupee at Phoenix’s face. I was waiting the entire episode for him to rip off his hair and throw it at Phoenix, but it was just blown off by Phoenix’s intense cross-examining.
Ren’s Rating: 8/10
Episode 2 was less exciting than the first, but introduced major characters and events that will shape Phoenix’s character development.
Phoenix opens up the newspaper and sees Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth in the headlines, while he only gets a small square dedicated to his successful trial. Meanwhile, Edgeworth is shown in his office, a copy-and-paste of the one in the games. His appearance, office, and hell, even his car are perfect depictions!
They changed up a little bit with the timeline of Mia and Maya’s phone conversation, but the minor change didn’t affect the plot. The discovery of Mia’s body by Phoenix was flawless, and so was his first meeting with Maya.
Grossberg’s office and character are just like the game, and I love the emphasis on the painting before we even get to see Grossberg’s face. We even get to see glimpses of Redd White (that smug bastard!) phoning up good ol’ Grossberg.
We also meet our good pal Gumshoe for the first time, and I was impressed by his character art and voice acting! I can’t wait to see his interactions with Edgeworth.
They changed a lot with the timeline of visiting Maya in the detention center, investigating Gatewater Hotel, and speaking to April May. Phoenix goes to visit the room, and April is in the shower. She even sticks her bare leg out, thinking its the bellboy (that was pretty funny, but what the heck?).
Being a clutz, Phoenix knocks over a waste bin and he uncovers a wiretap, which he steals from the room and runs off. He was supposed to find it in the drawer, but I guess as long as he’s got the evidence, that’s all that matters. (Bro, you just jacked evidence!)
He meets up with Maya again, and promises to vouch for her defense, since Grossberg is unable to defend her. The fact he and Maya said the same thing was so cheesy that I couldn’t help but laugh and cringe at the same time.
As for my complaints with the episode, the small timeline shifts weren’t a big deal to me. It’s easier to follow than the game, where you constantly go back and forth from different locations to investigate.
I didn’t love the interactions between Phoenix and Maya. In the game, Maya was extremely reclusive, but they played it off a lot in the anime. It was a little too silly for my liking, but it was close enough to the actual story that I can’t complain too much.
Ren’s Rating: 7/10
Anime adaptations of manga and/or games usually fall short of my expectations because they insert unnecessary changes, but so far, this is true to the series. The timeline and story changes are minor and unnoticeable (noticeable to me because I’m nit picky with details).
I’m satisfied thus far with the anime, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series will turn out!
Stay tuned for my review of future episodes!