Ace Attorney
Episode 5

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Ace Attorney ?

Just when I had settled in and gotten used to things, Ace Attorney's production values have changed. I'm not sure what happened, but this week's storyboarding was leagues beyond everything we've seen so far, providing new animation and material to go with the game's classic story and music. Ace Attorney is still no masterpiece, but this makes me way more optimistic for the show going forward.

The Steel Samurai's job is to kill bad guys—on TV, at least. So when the actor who plays the Evil Magistrate is found dead at the Steel Samurai's blade, the man inside the sentai suit, Will Powers, is immediately arrested. The Steel Samurai trial is sometimes known to game fans as filler since it doesn't directly involve any of the main plotlines, but the anime is giving it the star treatment. First, we get to see a short episode of the Steel Samurai show animated for the first time. It's nothing special, but the cheesy direction and dialogue are different and more developed than the prologue in the Ace Attorney game. While playing the game, I wasn't entirely sure which costume was the bad guy, since they both look pretty bizarre, but the anime does a much better job of setting it all up.

Over at the police station, Maya and Nick meet Will, a tough looking fellow who's actually a big softie, true to his nature in the game. Will bows when he asks for Phoenix to take his case, smacking his head against the glass just like Maya did a few episodes ago, giving us a new gag for the anime that isn't in the games, but extends the cast's goofy nature in a way that feels like canon. The show is starting to come into its own through little details like these, like Wendy Oldbag eating sweets in her security office, or Maya playing director while Nick interviews a witness, or Gumshoe and Phoenix trying and failing to catch an unruly grade schooler like they're in a slapstick routine. We're finally veering away from a play-by-play of the game in a way that feels natural and just silly enough.

Plot-wise, it looks like the show is also weaving in a larger story arc early. Von Karma, Edgeworth's despotic mentor, has already made his appearance. There's also a cut to two other witnesses, the director and producer of the show, without any context. For fans, it's a neat preview to how this odd couple will be portrayed, but it could be a bit jarring to everyone else. Back at the trial, this episode's changes are once again apparent in the courtroom audience, which has reverted to regular 2D animation rather than those uncanny 3D objects. Phoenix Wright's courtroom evidence is as fickle as ever—sometimes it covers his attorney's stand, but sometimes the desk is spotless. This is far from perfect, but it's a lot better than the previous four episodes, and it's certain that something has changed behind the scenes. This new direction paired with the show's already excellent story and music has the potential to be praiseworthy. I'm thrilled to see if this heightened quality sticks around.

Rating: B+

Ace Attorney is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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