by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Ace Attorney ?
Another week, another decent episode from Ace Attorney! After last week's significant jump in storyboarding quality, my big question was, “Will it last?” This week's offering shows that it wasn't just a fluke. As if the last episode was merely testing the waters, this week doesn't just present original takes on existing scenes, but even presents some of its own scenes that weren't in the game. Combined with memorable characters and music, it's mostly successful.
Looking back at the game, I remember the Steel Samurai case being one of the weakest ones. Though it introduced some great characters (Oldbag being my favorite), it didn't directly involve any of the main cast's arcs. The result was a case that felt fairly long and filler-like. Now the anime is cutting down on the fluff, taking the pace to about twice the speed of the game and quickly extracting key pieces of evidence that used to take a lot of investigation. It may be this need for speed that led to Nick's interview of Cody at the studio, instead of grilling him at the trial like in the game. Re-energized from a night of Steel Samurai flicks, Nick knows exactly what to say to mesh the Steel Samurai's fight for justice with his biggest fan's incentive to do the right thing. This entire scene, with Oldbag overhearing, cuts straight to the point and brings Nick's speech to life in a way the game doesn't.
But on the other hand, this speedy approach can taper the action. When Nick and Maya are surrounded by mysterious men in sunglasses, there's barely any time for tension to build before Gumshoe breaks up the scene. In the game, this is a pivotal point for Gumshoe's character development, when the player learns that he's not just a bumbling idiot, but a person with a sense of justice that holds up in the face of adversity. Cutting things short in the scene with Cody gave Phoenix's words space to influence everyone. Meanwhile, Gumshoe's heroic entrance feels more like an afterthought. This sped-up pace isn't always on Ace Attorney's side.
These are the two key scenes where the Ace Attorney anime differed from the game, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Otherwise, the cleaned-up animation and improved storyboarding is reliable and true to the game. Sal Manella is just as warped and creepy, and on the English Alt track you'll be treated to his in-game L337speak as well. Dee Vasquez is just as aloof and collected as fans will remember. Subtle moments illustrate this odd couple's relationship visually, like when Sal's hand trembles before he opens the producer's door—another example of how the anime shows instead of tells to give us the same story in half the time. Oldbag is just as vibrant and vitriolic as last episode, and her reprise is welcome. But in the midst of it all, the character I love most in this retelling is Maya, who benefits immensely from animation. Her playfulness is better illustrated through her myriad expressions and actions, like when she challenges Nick to a Steel Samurai battle with brooms.
It's a shame it took five episodes for Ace Attorney to attain this level of quality. While it isn't nailing every scene, it's trying now, differentiating itself from the games in ways that often make sense. The result is a fast-paced take on an already well-loved story.
Ace Attorney is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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