Another case has closed for Phoenix and a new one opens with Turnabout Big Top 1st Trial. This anime adaption of Capcom’s Ace Attorney game series is little more than the original games’ scripts. A lack of background stories and extra plot twists make this adaption feel as if it merely animated cut scenes. For fans of the games, it can be fun to watch but as a standalone anime the entertainment is does fall a bit short. Turnabout Big Top is a story arc centered around a circus theme. The murder, the victims, and the suspects are all involved within the same circus. The original game story writers did an excellent job of incorporating both the appealing and creepy side of circus life without making it terrifying for children to watch. Yet, this eighteenth episode feels rushed and there seems to be more questions than the animation studio cares to answer on screen.
While watching each passing episode, I continue to wonder more about the main cast. The audience is privy to scarcely little background info about these iconic and memorable characters. It seems a wasted opportunity for the franchise as a whole to be so cautious with the overall story. Barely anything is known of Phoenix’s childhood aside from his friendship with Larry and Miles. Wanting to know more of Phoenix’s process while earning his law degree and what he does for fun is becoming normal. We’ve seen Maya meditating and acting like a real person, especially when the episodes are focused on her. Since Phoenix is the poster boy for the Ace Attorney franchise it’s sad to see his more personal life aside from defending innocent clients and solving mysteries. However since this arc is focused on Berry Big Circus, I am interested in seeing Phoenix’s reaction to the performances and the types of people associated with the acts.
Berry Big Circus is not all smiles and bad puns. There is an underlying problem with the members and it’s that they all seem to dislike (or rather despise immensely) the main moneymaker magician – Maximillion Galactica. This dark truth seeps to the surface after the ringmaster Russell Berry is found murdered on the circus grounds. Maya’s new idol, Maximillion, is accused as the murderer since he is the only member of the circus who can fly. For the audience experiencing this adaption, it’s much too obvious that Phoenix will rise to the challenge and find out the truth behind this sinister act. A slight twist in this rather predictable storyline is that Max is merely a country bumpkin who is only provoking his fellow circus members into reaching their full potential.
Phoenix and Maya along with the anime’s viewers are taken aback by Max’s statement of the circus members being lazy by staying in their performance comfort zones. The animators do obtain credit for softening Max’s rather peacock demeanor into a sorrow-ridden expression that makes his story believable. Originally Phoenix is not keen on defending the outlandish magician until he listens to Max’s reasoning of provoking his circus mates. This bit of truth gives more insight to Max’s true self. While watching this episode one cannot help but feel a bit sorry for Max who ends up revealing that his true name is Billy Bob Johns. The empathy is working so far. Just how far the sympathy can be carried remains to be seen. In the remaining episodes of the Turnabout Big Top arc, it would be interesting to see how much of Max’s intentions are for his own benefit or for the good of his fellow performers.
Aside from occasionally hitting the facial expression goal, the overall art quality is poor for an A-1 Pictures production. A-1 Pictures is responsible for the glorious anime of Fairy Tail, Sword Art Online, Your Lie in April and many more. It’s quite sad to see Ace Attorney become such a lackluster anime. Every so often sweet moments are added into the anime that can not be found in the games. These little scenes are little and far between. The art could be glanced over if the extra storyline was present. Since it is absent along with the inconsistency animation, the overall effect of the Ace Attorney anime is disappointing for fans of the game series and of the anime medium. The little glimmer of hope are beginning to wane through each episode. The Turnabout Big Top story arc has extra content to work with, so it’s my last hope that the anime turns itself around and becomes as enjoyable as the games.
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