The long-awaited anime adaptation to the Ace Attorney video games is finally here. The story follows rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright/Ryūichi Naruhodō as he makes a name for himself in the Japanese courts.
The only thing that really disappoints with this adaptation is the art style. It’s not as sharp and clean as it could be. A lot of the characters’ faces look swollen, for lack of a better word. It’s a very soft look that really doesn’t work well with these character designs. When it’s time for the characters to make their signature Ace Attorney reactions it just doesn’t make as much of an impact as it should.
The story and characters stay true to the writing of the games. So far the show is following the first game very closely. If you’ve played any of the Ace Attorney games then you’re not in for any nasty surprises. You’ll probably like the adaptation just fine, and people who haven’t played the games will be able to jump right in with no problems. The series has funny, unique characters and an intriguing way of moving the story and revealing the truth behind the court cases. That said, it isn’t a substitute for the experience you’d get playing the games. Without the process of finding clues and putting together the puzzle pieces of the cases the end result isn’t as satisfying.
There’s actually something really interesting about the subtitles. There are two English subtitle tracks, one that is a direct translation, and the other one that’s a more westernized localization that mirrors how the English versions of the Ace Attorney games were done. The biggest difference is how the names have changed. In the main version characters have their original Japanese names, like Ryūichi Naruhodō and Keisuke Itonokogiri, while the alternate will have Phoenix Wright and Dick Gumshoe. If you pay attention you’ll spot other differences, like in episode 4 where a character said “miso ramen” but the subtitles said “hamburgers.” I’m sure a lot of people like myself who know Ace Attorney from the English version video games will find the name changes make this easier to follow. I can’t say whether or not the miso ramen/hamburgers subtitling was done as a misguided attempt to make things more understandable or as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the games’ localization, but I’m perfectly comfortable believing it’s the latter.
Ace Attorney is looking to be a solid anime that follows in the footsteps of its source material. Your opinion of the game is a good litmus test for how much you’d like the show, and vice versa. If you want a show with comedy, mystery and hilariously over-the-top courtroom antics then Ace Attorney does the trick.
Ace Attorney is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.