Ace Attorney 01 – Phoenix …. Naruhodo*

*Naruhodo (なるほど) is both Phoenix’s Japanese name, and also a Japanese expression similar to ‘I see’ or ‘So that’s how it is’. There will probably be more terrible bilingual puns in this blog’s future.

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I am vaguely familiar with the Ace Attorney franchise and watched the first episode of this show when it aired, but previously hadn’t found the impetus to keep watching. I’ve played Dual Destinies but none of the older Phoenix Wright games. I’m planning to do an episodic review of this series, sharing my thoughts on each episode. I know that the series didn’t have great reviews owing to its somewhat slavish sticking to the original story material, but firstly I feel that it’s important to make up my own mind on anything that I view, as I occasionally find that popular opinion is divergent from my own, and secondly, the fact that the plot sticks so closely to the original source material should hopefully be a great way to familiarise myself with the game’s plot.

Looks like we’re starting out with ‘whodunit’. I guess the Phoenix Wright series is more about using the evidence to get a conviction than deducing who was responsible so knowing the killer in advance isn’t really a spoiler.

I think it’s kind of weird that Crunchyroll opted for the Japanese names as default. While I’m normally all for not over-localising something, I think as Phoenix Wright has been known in the English-speaking world by localised names for so long, having the original Japanese names is kind of confusing. It would be like starting to refer to Ash as Satoshi in the Pokemon cartoon. There is an alternate track with the English names available. The Japanese names are so full of puns that I think that it definitely captures the spirit of the naming conventions better to have similar ‘punny’ names in your native language. I think that I’ll opt for the alternate translation track as I watch this series.

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Also, I’ve already noticed that there seems to be a lot of work put into lovely background stills but not so much in the character design. City, you look so gorgeous. Phoenix, you look so dorky.

The opening, Gyakuten Winner (逆転Winner or Turnabout Winner) seems kind of generic. Even though there’s karaoke text, I can’t see myself getting into singing along with this, it feels a bit skippable. I’d love to see more courtroom action in the visuals as that’s what I really associate with the series. I think that as the show seems to be trying to stick with accuracy to the source material that some audio from the game would have been more appropriate than the pop tune.

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The courtroom looks pretty good in comparison to what I’ve seen so far! I guess we’ll be spending a lot of time in here as the series progresses so it’s good that the background visuals are pleasant. They aren’t stunning, and have some obvious CG features, but they seem to be far superior to the character designs and movement.

They’ve put in some visual techniques which are very reminiscent of the gameplay, and have also re-orchestrated some game audio. I’m undecided whether this is a pleasant nod to the series or just a lack of creativity.

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Seriously, how does her top do that?

One of my non-anime interests is sewing and clothing design, and I’d just like to say that Mia’s outfit firstly looks more like what you’d wear to a nightclub than in a courtroom, and secondly doesn’t look like the top would provide adequate support to give that sort of shape/seperation. You’d need some underwire and heavy boning to give that sort of support in a top. Random clothing musings aside, lets get back to the show.

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I feel this epitomises Phoenix’s approach to solving a case. ‘Just look through the evidence until someone helps me find a contradiction’. He never seems to really know what he’s doing but just muddles through.

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Do your best Phoenix! Somehow despite the show’s limitations I can’t help but cheer for him. He’s so enthusiastic. It’s great to see the trial ‘turnabout’ and how he uses the evidence to prove his client’s innocence and catch the real killer. While I’m pretty sure that the rest of the world would accept ‘reasonable doubt’, if this is the legal system, it’s a good thing that the killer so conveniently turned up for the trial so that you could prove his guilt and thus the defendant’s innocence.

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The ending theme, Message, is again some generic pop music which I think doesn’t especially capture the feel of the show. However the visuals are very colourful and pleasant to look at. I like the watercolour styling of most of this ED, although I don’t know that it especially related to Phoenix Wright and the challenges and dramas he experiences in the courtroom and during his investigations. It’s a shame some of this artistry isn’t used in the main episode.

From the first episode while I’m not enthralled with the visual style or the music, the story is still exciting enough that I can’t wait to see more of Phoenix’s adventures and misadventures.

 

 

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