HOLD IT! This animated adaptation wasn’t all bad
Yesterday marked the end of the Ace Attorney anime; the long-awaited animated adaptation of everyone’s favourite over-the-top courtroom-based videogame series. And if there was ever a good example of “be careful what you wish for,” it’d probably be this. While I hesitate to call it bad, it definitely wasn’t good. What should’ve been a great alternative to playing the games was instead riddled with edits that rushed the story, bizarre deviations from the source material and inconsistent animation that was sometimes painful to look at.
Rather than go on about why it failed as an adaptation, though, let’s instead focus on the few specifics that it actually it did well; the things it got right. So, allow me to put on my lawyer’s badge, take to the bench and defend this otherwise flawed show. Obviously, this will contain spoilers.
1. How it Adapts the Courtroom Scenes
While a lot of the courtroom scenes felt very rushed and, as a result, led to poorly paced episodes, I at least felt that it did a good job of translating how they’re done in the games into the animated format. The original games were first released on the GBA, which meant there were a lot of limitations in how the trials were presented. Thanks to the use of music, sound effects and character animation, though, the developers were still able to make them exciting, tense and overly dramatic.
In the anime, they are presented almost exactly as how they are in the games, with a few extra details thrown in in order to justify the more ludicrous moments. It’s clear from the moment the first “OBJECTION!” word balloon almost smashes onto the screen that the animators were at the very least familiar with the source material; even a lot of the character animations are practically 1:1 with the original.
I personally couldn’t help but grin inanely whenever a character made a dramatic point, causing a gush of wind to blow their opposition back into a wall. They even had von Karma’s finger snapping have enough force to knock a man over. It was ridiculous but, much like the games, it owned that ridiculousness. Despite how rushed those scenes may have been, they were at least plenty of times when it felt like we were reliving the games in a familiar but new way.
2. Grossberg and Oldbag’s Characterisation
While I wouldn’t call them unlikable per se, Marvin Grossberg and Wendy Oldbag weren’t exactly the most popular of people in the original games. But, in a rather surprising turn, the anime actually went out of its way to portray them in a slightly more sympathetic light and gave them a few more redeeming qualities.
Firstly, there’s Grossberg, Mia’s old boss and mentor. In the game, when Phoenix approaches him about defending Maya in court, he immediately turns down the offer on account of being blackmailed by Redd White (the true culprit). Phoenix only ever learns the truth of the matter when he notices Grossberg’s prized painting in White’s office. He even learns that Grossberg was the one who sold out Mia and Maya’s mum to White, resulting in her disappearance. Overall, a good man who made some big mistakes, and that’s being kind to him.
In the anime, however, he DOES agree to defend Maya, only to receive a phone-call from White soon after telling him to drop it. He complies but, after witnessing Phoenix defend Maya himself, he approaches him, reveals that he’s being blackmailed and tells him to go investigate White. Several episodes later, he even confesses to Maya as the one who leaked the info regarding her mum, breaking down and begging for forgiveness. These small changes help show him that, while he screwed up royally, he deeply regrets it and does obviously care about the two sisters; at least a lot more clearly than in the games.
As for Oldbag… OK, she is pretty much exactly how she is in the games – grouchy and quick to complain about literally anything. But while her personality is unchanged, she gets one moment where she actually goes out of her way to help Phoenix prove his client innocent by willingly giving him an important photo, having been inspired by a speech she overheard Phoenix give about justice. Again, it’s an incredibly minor thing and arguably wasn’t needed, but it showed another side to Oldbag that we had never seen before. It just goes to show that the smallest of changes can help make something better.