The Ace Attorney games have been near and dear to my heart for a few years now. While I have not waited as long as some fans, I am still among those who greatly anticipated this anime adaptation.
The best place to begin with this review is the most basic of basic synopsis for the first game. The game follows Ryuichi Naruhodou (Phoenix Wright) in his first year as a lawyer as he investigates cases and defends clients in all sorts of strange cases. Wright is always in search of “the truth.” In fact, the translation of the ‘Sono “Shinjitsu”’ part of the title can be translated to ‘The “Truth”.’ This is a reference to the way Wright works hard to discover the real truth in each case, striving to always believe in his clients.
This first case covers the trial of Yahari Masashi (Larry Butz), a childhood friend of Wright’s, who is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend. This case, in the game, is fairly straight forward and acts as the “tutorial” for the game. Case One only covers one trial day and no investigation days; all of the evidence needed is on hand and one merely needs to comb through it to press witness statements and throw around “Objections!” until the truth is found. Likewise, the first episode of the anime moves fairly quickly. We see Wright rebut the prosecution’s arguments and quickly uncover the true form of the murderer – a “witness” to the crime (as is usually the case in this series).
Many have been disappointed by the anime already. While the parallels to the game are near-perfect, include the use of overly-dramatic music and theatrics, the animation has fallen short. With the beauty of the cutscenes in AA5 and what we’ve seen of 6 – it is easy to see why many are filled with disappointment. In some ways, this 15th anniversary celebration in the form of an anime can be seen as one giant promotion in hopes of bringing attention back to the Ace Attorney franchise. If this is the case, it would’ve been wise to strive for nicer animation, especially with the beauty we have seen from A-1 Pictures in the past (most recently – Erased).
Personally, I am both in love with the animation and disappointed. While I know that Ace Attorney deserves animation and in many ways, the lackluster animation was a letdown – it made me happy in other ways. For starters, this animation gives me a very early 2000s feel, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It makes me feel nostalgic and it truly gives the vibe of the original Ace Attorney games, created in 2001 for the GameBoy Advanced. The animation captures the true spirit of the original trilogy – which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your opinion. Ace Attorney is played in Japan during a timeslot generally reserved for kids watching afterschool, and alongside Detective Conan at that. That being said, I’m not surprised by the “kids show/Saturday morning cartoon” feeling of it.
As of right now, I am very pleased with the voice cast, especially Yuki Kaji’s work as Phoenix. I’m really interested to see how Reiji Mitsurugi’s (Miles Edgeworth) voice actor fares as this is his very first role. I’m looking forward to bringing my thoughts to each case as I can. The anime has been said to cover the first 2 games of the trilogy and if it does well enough, fingers crossed, Shu Takumi has stated that there is more in store. As such, I’d like to remind everyone to support this streaming legally (on Crunchyroll) if you want more! Also – for those watching on the computer who are struggling with the original Japanese names – CrunchyRoll has an alternative subtitle track that uses the localized names. New episodes go up every Saturday for premium users and the previous week’s episode will be available a week following for free users. Enjoy!