Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Ace Attorney

BD+DVD - Part 2

Synopsis:
Ace Attorney Part 2 BD+DVD
After Miles Edgeworth's departure, Phoenix finds himself facing off against Franziska von Karma, the daughter of the prosecutor he disgraced in the final case of the series' first half. This is compounded by the fact that the person he's defending in his first trial is none other than Maya, accused of murdering a man during a ceremony. Once that's over, Phoenix will go on to defend a circus performer and another costumed superhero actor in a case that once again puts Maya's life on the line.
Review:

Just in case you were wondering, it's apparently quite difficult to enforce Japan's perjury laws. Not that that makes some of the courtroom shenanigans that take place during this second half of Ace Attorney's first season any less ridiculous, but it is kind of nice to know that not everything is being pulled out of thin air. Of course, none of us are (I hope) watching this show because of its gritty and realistic depiction of Japan's legal system – we watch it because it delivers delightfully over-the-top goofiness with a smattering of mystery, and at that the series does quite a good job in its second half.

In part this is because the ridiculous factor has been raised a bit. Whereas the previous set of episodes focused more on Phoenix's personal dramas – the death of Mia and prosecution of Miles Edgeworth, as well as their troubled past – this half is more invested in the lunacy of the cases. This is most clearly seen when Phoenix is pushed by Maya to take the case of Max Galactica, a stage magician working for the Berry Big Circus. The ringmaster, Russell Berry, has been murdered, and Max claims that he's being framed for the crime, even though the evidence all clearly points to him. As Phoenix and Maya begin investigating, the episodes grow steadily more silly, featuring Phoenix facing off against a monkey, the world's least perceptive animal trainer, and a clown who never takes off his makeup. In terms of the actual trial things aren't too much different from previous cases, but the hunt for clues itself frequently sends the storyline wandering off in unhelpful directions, apparently in the name of being “funny.” It isn't a total failure on that front, and it does provide a bit of lightness between two darker cases, but it doesn't work as well as it could have.

The other two turnabouts are no less convoluted, but handled with a bit more aplomb. More at issue is how they return Maya to the role of damsel in distress, although in the final case of the season, which has her kidnapped by the assassin Shelley de Killer, does feature her working towards her own escape and makes her integral in her eventual rescue. The opening case has Maya back in her home village taking on the role of head Mystic, which lands her in the hot seat when a client is murdered during a ceremony. This time Phoenix is assisted by her much younger cousin Pearl, who is also able to channel the spirit of the deceased Mia, leading to some very uncomfortable imagery of a buxom Pearl/Mia hybrid in Pearl's little girl clothes. The main issue here is that the case frequently contradicts itself in what we as an audience have seen; the assertion that Maya and the victim were alone in the room holds very little water when we saw two assistants walk in to the sealed room with them. As I said before, we're not really watching this show with the expectation of an anime version of Law & Order, but this is a gaffe that feels like too much.

Fortunately there are still plenty of fun moments to enjoy, and even a few tense courtroom ones. The final case really does get intense at times, and the ludicrous name of the assassin aside, Phoenix's dilemma about getting a bad guy off or saving Maya's life comes through. We can see the continuing follow-through of the series' previous revelations about Miles Edgeworth once he returns, and there's a notable change in the way he and Phoenix interact that helps to make this case work. The dub continues strong as well, with Bryan Massey's Detective Gumshoe being a consistent highlight. Anastasia Munoz is still wonderfully abrasive as Old Bag, and Lindsey Seidel's Maya has toned down the squeakiness.

Visually there are more issues with this set than previously. The art is frequently off-model, with profiles suffering the most, and problems from the first half of the series continue to be present, such as the near-total lack of background characters and clunky CG audiences during trials. To this we add the unfortunate Native American iconography of Acro during the circus case, who also is described as “being bound to a wheelchair,” a phrase that is being phased out, albeit slowly. All of the scenes with Phoenix wearing a sweater with his (Japanese) nickname in a heart can't quite make up for the other issues. (Although it is a pretty great image.)

Ace Attorney isn't a show that begs to be taken seriously. It's fun, it's silly, and if it manages to sneak in some darker content, that doesn't take away from its goofier aspects. This set of episodes closes out the second game and manages to bring us back to the opening imagery of the series, with Phoenix biking up a hill, only to reveal that this time he's not alone – he's got Maya with him. It's a nice bit of bookending and the set is fun in general. The fact that the outtakes included this time are a little more outrageous does help, and the commentary track is entertaining, making both extras worth watching. Whether you're a fan of the games (like Miles' English voice actor) or just want something to watch that doesn't require too much thinking, this is a nice bit of fluff to watch – and it doesn't need to be anything more than that.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C
Art : C-
Music : C

+ Fun vocal performances and extras, revels in some of its sillier moments, does pull off serious when required
Frequently off-model art, some glaring plot issues in the first case and unfortunate elements in the second

Script:
Masaharu Amiya
Ayumu Hisao
Kazuho Hyodo
Shuichi Kamiyama
Atsuhiro Tomioka
Yoriko Tomita
Storyboard:
Shinpei Ezaki
Yoshihide Ibata
Yukiko Imai
Hiroki Itai
Shizue Kaneko
Ayako Kawano
Yoshiko Mikami
Takaharu Ozaki
Satoshi Saga
Mamoru Sasaki
Nanako Shimazaki
Hiroaki Shimura
Tomokazu Tokoro
Shingo Uchida
Ayumu Watanabe
Episode Director:
Kosaya
Shige Fukase
Naoki Hishikawa
Yoshihide Ibata
Yukiko Imai
Shingo Kaneko
Ayako Kawano
Yūsuke Maruyama
Yoshiko Mikami
Takaharu Ozaki
Satoshi Saga
Kiyomitsu Sato
Nanako Shimazaki
Shingo Uchida
Tomio Yamauchi
Unit Director:
Yoshihide Ibata
Shizue Kaneko
Ayako Kawano
Yūsuke Sunouchi
Character Design: Koji Watanabe
Art Director: Eiji Iwase
Chief Animation Director:
Hiroki Fujiwara
Keiko Ōta
Seiji Tachikawa
Koji Watanabe
Animation Director:
Shūjirō Ami
Mariko Aoki
Yukiko Busa
Mitsutaka Echigo
Daisuke Endo
Hiroki Fujiwara
Keita Hagio
Miyuki Honda
Masahiko Inuzuka
Hiroyo Izumi
Tomoaki Kado
Shinichiro Kajiura
Hiroyuki Kobashi
Youko Kuhara
Yu Kurihara
Eisuke Matsubara
Asami Mitsui
Haruki Miura
Etsushi Mori
Yuri Nakajima
Iori Nonoshita
Keiko Ōta
Kaori Saito
Takahiro Sakai
Haruka Sanefuji
Mamoru Sasaki
Mutsumi Sasaki
Yusuke Shimizu
Seiji Tachikawa
Michiko Takahashi
Misato Takasaki
Koji Watanabe
Yoshimitsu Yamashita
Art design: Tsukasa Ohira
Sound Director: Katsuyoshi Kobayashi
Cgi Director: Akira Fukuda
Director of Photography: Ayaka Shimizu
Producer:
Masanori Miyake
Koji Nagai

Full encyclopedia details about
Gyakuten Saiban (TV)

Release information about
Ace Attorney - Part 2 (BD+DVD)

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