Moeronpan and I were both slammed the past two weeks, so have a batch review!

Today in sports: synchronized lawyering

Episode 12

On the stand, Mitsurugi is forced to relive his worst nightmare: the moment where he believes he killed his own father. Frightened by Haine’s outburst, he threw the gun, which fired, leading to his conviction that he is the culprit. However, Naruhodou notices a second bullet hole at the scene, and insists that another person – the true murderer – was also present. The elevator doors opened just as Mitsurugi threw the gun; the murderer’s bullet hit Shin, and Mitsurugi’s hit the murderer. As the second bullet was never recovered, Naruhodou posits a practically insane theory: it is still within the body of the murderer.

This claim leads Naruhodou to the awful realization that only one person could have killed Mitsurugi Shin – Prosecutor Karuma himself, who took a mysterious leave of absence following the trial. Mayoi’s metal detector confirms that Karuma does have a bullet within his body, but only ballistics can prove that it came from the same gun as the bullet extracted from Shin’s corpse. Unfortunately, said bullet has been stolen by none other than Karuma himself. Mayoi and Mitsurugi work together to retrieve the bullet from the prosecutor’s office, while Yahari stalls for time by badly disguising himself as Mitsurugi. Though she is tasered by a policeman in Karuma’s employ, Mayoi manages to escape and returns to court with the bullet, proving Karuma’s guilt at last. On the same side for the first time, Naruhodou and Mitsurugi finally lay the DL-6 incident to rest forever.

With Mitsurugi’s innocence clear, the team celebrates; Chihiro’s spirit even pops in for the victory photo. A sheepish Yahari clears up the final loose end by admitting that it was he who stole Mitsurugi’s lunch money, prompting the long-ago class trial that started the three’s friendship. His friendship with Mitsurugi restored and Mayoi returned to her home village to continue training, Naruhodou begins to reminisce about the incident that started it all.

I just now realized that the money has the Judge on it

A solid court episode overall. Though it still feels like Karuma isn’t quite as intimidating as his game counterpart, especially with the infamous taser scene given to a random cop, seeing him defeated still brought with it a feeling of satisfaction. While the court segments were fast paced enough so as not to feel slow, the episode’s strongest moments in my opinion came from the interactions between Team Defense. It was wonderful seeing Mayoi, Mitsurugi, Naruhodou and Yahari all working together to bring down Karuma – especially Yahari’s less than convincing Mitsurugi “disguise”, which was a moment added for the anime and an utterly hilarious one at that. The ending too was beyond adorable; I especially loved that the group victory photo (another iconic image from the game) was given a more dynamic update with Chihiro’s spirit photobombing rather than merely floating in the back.

I did feel that Mayoi’s return to her training could have been given a bit more time. It’s a very emotional scene for Naruhodou – he’s restored his friendship with Mitsurugi, but he’s also losing (at least temporarily) his beloved assistant. It’s also the conclusion of Mayoi’s first game arc, symbolic of both her moving on from Chihiro’s death and putting her family’s past to rest – in many ways, she gets as much closure as Mitsurugi out of the resolution of DL-6, the case which destroyed her mother’s reputation. Her farewell to Naruhodou thus seemed a lot briefer and less emotionally weighty than it could have been – though, as this is far from her last appearance in the series, I’m not as upset about this as I would otherwise be.

Overall, a good conclusion to a strong case that made a decent transition to animated form. The necessary streamlining made Karuma’s presence a bit lacking, but over-the-top characters were toned down and we got a lot of great moments for Naruhodou, Mitsurugi, Mayoi and even Yahari. I have to say in the end I am pleased with the anime’s adaptation of my all-time favorite Ace Attorney case, and give it this many Dios:

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The most convincing disguise ever, right?

Aww, Chihiro

Episode 13

Naruhodou reminisces about his fourth-grade friendship with Yahari and Mitsurugi. On the day of the class trial, Naruhodou actually ran into Mitsurugi, knocking the money out of his pocket. A dog brought the money to Yahari; after school, Naruhodou, Yahari, and a reluctant Mitsurugi decide to find the dog’s owner. Mitsurugi successfully utilizes his deduction skills, but the dog’s owner turns out not to want the animal anymore. Mitsurugi’s father Shin allows him to adopt it, and the boys and their dog quickly become fast friends. They spend their time after school imitating characters from the show Signal Samurai, even getting matching keychains to commemorate their friendship.

An adorable duo

After the DL-6 Incident, Mitsurugi is taken away by Karuma without getting a chance to bid his friends goodbye. Along with the dog, he moves into a large mansion with the intimidating Karuma and his young daughter, the riding-crop wielding Mei. Yahari and Naruhodou find his Signal Samurai keychain seemingly abandoned, and think Mitsurugi has abandoned them for good. However, they see that he has left a trail of dog treats leading back to his old house, prompting them to wait for him. Mitsurugi sneaks out of the mansion at night to retrieve the keychain and say his goodbyes to Naruhodou and Yahari. The three promise that they will remain friends forever.

Back in the present, Naruhodou fondly remembers the promise and asserts that, now that the trial is ended, their friendship can indeed continue “forever”. However, at the same time, Mitsurugi exits his office, leaving only an ominous note: “Prosecutor Mitsurugi Reiji chooses death”.

Always believing the best – that’s the Naruhodou we love

Ow, my heart. This episode was the first fully original content we’ve seen, with everything except the class trial and Mitsurugi’s note at the end being added for the anime. Normally, a new content episode runs the risk of being dull filler – Turnabout Promise, however, was anything but. We got adorable interactions between young Mitsurugi, Naruhodou and Yahari, including more details about Mitsurugi and Shin’s positive relationship and his adoption by Karuma following the case. There was even a cameo from a young version of Karuma Mei, who becomes a leading character in her own right later in the franchise.

I have nothing negative to say about the episode. The goodbye scene between the friends was extremely sweet and in-character. Getting to see the backstory of the Signal Samurai keychains was fantastic. EVERY moment with the unnamed abandoned dog was ADORABLE – I wonder if adult Mitsurugi still keeps an older version of the dog with him today. While it means that we won’t be getting the fifth case of the first game, Rise from the Ashes (unless there’s a later OVA) I did still love the juxtaposition between the flashbacks and the infamous “Chooses Death” note. Even knowing it was coming, seeing him write that was still a punch to the gut after all that heartwarming.

A face it would be foolish to forget

I know that the decision to cut Rise from the Ashes (at least for now) will be a controversial one. However, I actually think this is a good decision. While the character development it provides for Mitsurugi is powerful and interesting, it also introduces an unusually large number of new characters for one case, has a backstory almost as complicated as DL-6, and relies heavily on visual mechanics (blood spray and fingerprint dusting). I hope to see it later as an OVA or movie where it can get the time and (hopefully) animation budget it needs – I think trying to fit it into the main show would result in it feeling very rushed. I fully support the show’s decision to bridge the two games with Turnabout Promise instead.

Despite initially being doubtful about an original episode, I’m so glad the show’s creators decided to do this. It is without a doubt my favorite episode of the Ace Attorney anime so far. The show will be continuing without a hiatus into its adaptation of the second game (Justice for All), but for now, this beautiful piece of work gets full marks from me.

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Aww, the adorable episode gets a happy endi…

….oh wait never mind

 

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