Ace Attorney is an anime based on the first three games in the video game series of the same name. The first season of the anime was produced by A-1 Pictures and directed by Ayumu Watanabe. The second season was directed by Watanabe, but it was produced by CloverWorks. The first season aired on Japanese television from April 2-September 24, 2016, while the second season aired from October 6, 2018-March 30, 2019. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American rights for the Ace Attorney anime.
The main character of Ace Attorney is Phoenix Wright, a rookie defense lawyer who works under his mentor, Mia Fey. In the second episode, Mia is murdered. Phoenix meets her younger sister, Maya, a spirit medium in-training who can channel the spirits of the dead. Maya is charged with Mia’s murder, and Phoenix serves as her defense attorney. It’s a wild trial, which includes Phoenix being implicated for Mia’s death. In the end, though, the truth behind the murder is revealed. After both Maya and Phoenix are found not guilty, they join together to form the Wright & Co. Law Offices.
The series sees Phoenix going up against some prosecutors in the trials that are portrayed in the anime. Right at first, the main prosecutor he’s up against is Miles Edgeworth, his childhood friend. Edgeworth is depicted as being a cold and hard-nosed prosecutor, but after he is framed for murder and the truth about his father’s death years ago is revealed in court, he begins backing off of his cold and aloof exterior. As the series progresses, Edgeworth becomes an ally for Phoenix.
Another prosecutor is introduced in the second half of the first season: Franziska von Karma, the daughter of the prosecutor in Edgeworth’s murder trial. She and her father both have a connection with Edgeworth, but they are driven to be the top prosecutors, no matter what it takes and no matter who they may hurt. I found Franziska a little annoying, though, especially with how often she would use her whip and try to boss people around in the courtroom (including the judge).
The second half of the first season also introduces Maya’s younger cousin, Pearl Fey. It turns out Pearl has impressive spirit channeling power for someone her age, and her mother wants to make her the successor for the family even though she and Pearl are part of the branch family. With Mia’s death, Maya is now the successor for the main family, and we see how the family succession politics play out with a case in this portion of the series, as well as in the final episodes of the second season.
The second season introduces one final prosecutor, Godot. He comes across as being a little eccentric, between the face mask he wears and how he keeps using coffee to make his points, but the second half of that season shows what kind of a connection he had with Mia in the past. The second half of the second season also introduces some new characters and some backstory for Phoenix, which shows that he’s had connections with the Fey family for much longer than he realized.
While there are various cases that appear throughout the Ace Attorney anime, with some that use the same secondary characters, the series ultimately has a running thread involving the Fey family. However, this running thread is more prominent and blatant in the second season of the series than it is in the first season.
My son, who has played the Ace Attorney video games, says that the anime is a rather faithful adaptation of the games, although there are a handful of anime exclusive episodes that focus on providing backstory for some of the main characters. By being such a faithful adaptation, though, this could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that the anime is staying true to its original source material and isn’t tinkering with ideas and concepts just for the heck of it. However, it’s a curse for viewers who have already played the games, because they know what’s going to happen and so the twists that are presented won’t surprise them.
When it comes to the animation in the series, it looks pretty standard, especially for the time period that the two seasons were released in. The main thing that stands out in this aspect is that some of the visual cues from the game have been carried over into the anime adaptation, such as the big red characters that come up on the screen when a character yells, “Objection!” (or “Hold it!”), as well as the way information (such as providing the date and location for a scene) is depicted. Outside of that, there’s not much else animation-wise that makes this series stand out.
I have to point out a complaint about Crunchyroll’s streaming of Ace Attorney. During the second season of the anime, some episodes randomly use the original Japanese names of the characters in the subtitles instead of the names they were given in English. One of the worst cases of this was having the Japanese names appearing in the subtitles for the first two episodes of a three-part story, and then the third part having the English names in the subtitles. This inconsistency in the subtitles was jarring as I watching the second season.
Outside of that complaint with Crunchyroll’s subtitles, though, I did enjoy watching the Ace Attorney anime. I came into this series without ever having played any of the games and only having very minimal knowledge of the property, but I found myself getting into this anime very quickly. I appreciated that the anime studio and the director went into this series thinking of viewers who are new to the property, because time was spent establishing the characters and important facts of the series’ world. They didn’t go into this assuming that the audience would already be familiar with the property.
There aren’t a lot of anime that have mysteries or are centered around the justice system, so I always appreciate getting a chance to watch a series that falls into this category. For me, at least, Ace Attorney didn’t disappoint. If you have an interest in mysteries or in series set in a courtroom, then you might enjoy Ace Attorney.
Additional anime spotlights:
Yes! Ace Attorney was so much fun to watch! I hadn’t played the game before watching the anime, so the cases were quite surprising to me. I really liked the characters, Phoenix was optimistic but still kept realistic expectations, Edgewood had a really good reason for acting so cold and aloof, and I like that though Phoenix’s mentor Mia was murdered she wasn’t just forgotten the next episode but made many appearances through out the series.
LikeLiked by 2 people