(25ish episodes ?)
What’s it about ?
Adaptation of the first two Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney videogames, featuring the trials and tribulation of a young defense attorney.
Phoenix Wright, our protagonist, is just fresh out of law school. Not everybody would start off their career with a murder trial, but he insisted because the defendant in this case is his childhood friend…
Larry Butz. Let’s be honest, he’s a complete idiot with terrible luck and even worse manners. But he claims to be completely innocent of the murder of his top-model girlfriend (who totally hadn’t just dumped him), so what else can his best friend do but try and defend him ?
Mia Fey, head of the Fey & Co Law Office, and Phoenix’s boss. She’s here to be the helpful mentor who pushes Phoenix to make the right deductions. Don’t get too attached, though, she’s only here for the tutorial case.
Because clearly this is merely an appetizer before meatier cases ; the culprit’s identity is revealed from the start, and the whole thing is resolved under twenty minutes of screentime.
Not very good, unfortunately. The animation is bare-bones, the character designs haven’t aged that well, and there’s a lot of awkward staging. I’m a bit puzzled by the choice to use exactly the same introduction boxes as the game ; it doesn’t look very good. At least the random dynamic character insets work a bit better. And they seem to have nailed the body language (that bit with Larry sitting was genuinely funny), which is essential in a show that could easily devolve into talking heads. Decent update and expansion on the game’s score, too.
Crunchyroll have made the interesting choice of providing two different subtitle sets, with our without translating character names. On the one hand, the American localization of the games is rightfully iconic (which is why I’ve been using it above), especially considering the pains they’ve taken to translate the punny names for everyone. On the other hand, even they started to run into trouble with their attempts to relocate the setting to Los Angeles, and this is compounded in this show, with many distinctly Japanese establishing shots, to say nothing of the victim’s plainly Japanese passport and her trip to New York (exactly 14 hours of timelag away) being major plot points in the case. This simulcast can’t just subtly alter the visuals like the games did, and so a “straight translation” subtitle track makes a lot of sense, especially with the more localized one as an alternate option.
What did I think of it ?
I’m a die-hard fan of the games ; of course I’m going to watch this to the end, regardless of actual quality. Especially if it spawns sequels for the later games.
It certainly could be worse. It’s utterly faithful to the games, covering every nook and cranny of the murder trial’s argumentation and somehow managing to cram the whole first case into a single episode without feeling too rushed. It even found the time to seed some flashbacks in that won’t be actually explored until the fourth case, as well as fit in a few additional character bits here and there. It’s also nice to see more thought given to how the AA trials actually look like beyond the limited perspective of the games.
There’s no way this could be as fun as actually playing the games, and frankly it could have been a lot more polished, but it’s decent enough for my purposes.