I make no secret of it. I'm a big fan of the Ace Attorney (Gyakutan Saiban) games ever since its first European release on the original DS, back in 2006. The series has always been a good mix of point-and-click adventure games with visual novels, all while having a good dose of humor and suspense.
I was part of the crowd that clung onto the fan translation of AA3 due to Capcom not being straight on whether or not it was going to receive an English release; I was one of the skeptics on the portrayal of Phoenix in the Apollo Justice game (but eventually got swayed), I'm one of those who desperately wants Investigations 2 and "Dai Gyakutan Saiban" to be released in the west and so on and so on. So yeah, big fan.
And through all the years of being a fan, I have been secretly wishing for an anime adaptation of the original trilogy. So you could call me excited when Capcom and A1-pictures announced that they would have an anime adaptation of the first games back in early 2016. But sadly enough, my experience with this anime can be formulated in the five stages of grief.
Stage 1: Denial
The first few episodes aired and I kind of liked it. The animation was a bit "off" at times, but I tried to have an open mind to it. Even though I felt some things were missing, I was still excited to see this favorite game series being animated.
The music and voice acting was good enough. It's obvious enough that the music is adapted form the much beloved OSTs of the games. So for a lot of fans it's the first time hearing these themes outside of the video games. But for some reason nothing really stands out.
Also, the desperation of Capcom to make sure the subs of the anime reflect the translated game text often has hilarious results.
Stage 2: Anger
Because I felt things were missing in all of the episodes, I bought the Ace Attorney Trilogy remake for my 3DS and played all through it again. And I suddenly realized what was missing. Entire chunks of the game were cut.
And not just any chunks, but almost every part that included character development was gone, especially when concerned to Miles Edgeworth. In the second and third case of the first game, we were exposed to the dark side of Edgeworth. He's a prosecutor who stops at nothing to win his case, with lying and manipulating both witnesses and evidence. But in the anime he was reduced to a generic rival character with no real charisma. If you only would only watch this anime, you would never understand why Edgeworth has become one of the most iconic game characters of game history.
The fourth case adaptation was a mess. Manfred Von Karma is easily one of the most threatening villains in the entire franchise. In the game, he went as far as physically assaulting you just to steal evidence that could potentially be used against him! He's a real threat. But here he's just... an cartoonish bad guy with 0 charisma.
Stage 3: Bargaining
After the end of the first game adaptation, I was trying to bargain with myself: Maybe the second game adaptation will be better. And when they handle the third game, the experience of the animators will have improved so much, that it will get better without a doubt. I mean, Godot is the most iconic antagonist of the entire franchise. They wouldn't ruin that one, right?
Stage 4: Depression
Why did they remove the fifth case of the first game? Why remove the opening case of the second game? Why did they add in a fluffy filler episode that added NOTHING of story to this. Why?
Anybody want to tell me why we got a mushy "Edgeworth looking for his dog" story instead of "Phoenix gets his head bashed in" story?
And then the total number of episodes was finally confirmed. There's no way to add in the third game in here. This anime is a failure, man. Failure. This is horrible. Why create an anime if this is the way it's being handled. Who directed this? Come on! Couldn't they at least LOOK at the other team that animated the promo video for Spirits of Justice? THAT one is amazing compared to this! Seriously, it's available on Youtube. Just watch that.
We wanted a good anime to advice to our friends who like the character, but have no idea where to begin in the gaming franchise. This is not the anime we wanted...
Stage 5: Acceptance
Now that a few months have passed since the final episode has aired, I can only say the following: Forget this anime exists. While this is not a good adaptation of the games, it does not reduce what the original Ace Attorney games stand for.
And right now, at least there's one thing less on my mind... Now I'm no longer secretly hoping for an anime adaptation of my favorite games. If THIS is how game adaptations are being handled in the anime industry, I'd rather not see any anime of video games at all.
I give this anime a 5/10. It's not horrible per sé. And if you have never seen anything of the Phoenix Wright / Gyakutan Saiban franchise, this isn't THAT bad. But overall, I can't really recommend it either. There are just so many better anime to watch all together.
If you want to catch up on the best anime of 2016, this is one you can easily skip.But if you DO want to check it out, it's available on Crunchyroll for free streaming.
Next time, a more positive review.
Until then, V out.