English names will be used in this review to coincide with the familiarity of the English game text.
Capcom’s Ace Attorney game franchise is incredibly entertaining due to the varied characters and gameplay style. The visual novel adventure games are a favourite, both in Japan and in the West, so it makes complete sense for an anime adaption to be created. Sadly, the first episode, The First Turnabout, is a disappointment.
Phoenix Wright is a defense attorney fresh out of school working under his mentor, Mia Fey. He is a lovable and naive young man whose youth is still shown on the outside. Riding his bike to the courthouse and having a key-chain figure attached to his professional-looking backpack makes Phoenix look more like a student than a professional. The physical character design is the best feature of the series as it reflects the game series perfectly.
Larry Butz is a good friend of Phoenix and is on trial for murdering his old girlfriend. Commendable Phoenix takes up the case in order to repay a favor to Larry. The slightly scary realization is that Phoenix chose a murder trial as his first case, which bears weight on his personality as a helpful person. Larry is goofy and hardly seems to realize how deep the water is in at the trial and curses, whines and cries while being accused.
Larry brings out puppy-dog eyes and cries while pleading with Phoenix to prove his innocence. The facial expressions are exaggerated the same as in the games which sits well in the anime setting. Yet the art style is very generic. If it wasn’t for the iconic characters, the anime would be difficult to tell apart from other Shonen series. The music blends so well with the episode that it disappears and is forgotten. Unfortunately, this first episode is lacking in details and depth. Only the surface of the crime is seen and explained with little to think about afterwards. I was expecting the anime series to dive into the stories of the game a little more and to show the layers beneath the characters’ outward personalities.
Based on Ace Attorney’s opening episode, the game series does not translate well into the anime form. No investigating scenes were shown and Phoenix’s process of eliminating the smoke screen evidence to find the truth was limited. An entire mystery solved in one episode with little exploration of the characters involved does not bode well for the series. I truly hope that my disappointment turns into excitement as I continue to watch and review this anime. Stay tuned for next week’s review of Ace Attorney: Episode 2: Turnabout Sisters: 1st Trial.
You can watch the Ace Attorney anime series through Crunchyroll.