Mei challenges Naruhodou to explain how the wheelchair-bound Acro committed the crime. With Tommy and Ben’s help, Naruhodou demonstrates: the Ringmaster had attempted to open the heavy, locked box found at the crime scene. When he bent down to open the box, Acro dropped the bust of Max Galactica down on him from above. As the bust was raised via rope back to Acro’s window, it caught on Max’s cloak that the Ringmaster was wearing, causing the illusion of “Max” that witnesses claimed to see the night of the murder.
Mei is furious that her former witnesses are now aiding Naruhodou. Naruhodou explains that Max had negotiated with the Ringmaster not for a raise for himself, but for the entire circus. Having learned that, the circus members are all eagerly working together to prove Max’s innocence. However, Acro still denies any involvement in the murder, and Mei points out that he had no motive to kill his father figure – the Ringmaster.
Naruhodou has an explanation for this as well: the Ringmaster was not the intended victim. His goal was to kill Mirika, the person he believes responsible for his brother Bat’s accident. As a seemingly harmless prank, Mirika had given Bat a scarf doused with pepper, hoping to make him sneeze. However, it instead caused the lion to sneeze while Bat’s head was in its mouth – the “smile” Tommy remembered was actually a sneezing expression. Seeing Acros’ threatening note to Mirika, the Ringmaster responded instead, and Acro, who could not see out the window, killed him by accident.
Acro refuses to confess, insisting that Naruhodou has no proof. The judge is about to declare the trial over when Naruhodou, supported by Mayoi, Keisuke, and even the memory of Mitsurugi, realizes where the missing murder weapon is hidden. In order for the Max bust not to be found in his room, Acro had hidden it underneath the blanket on his wheelchair. Acro admits to the murder, and a distraught Mirika finally apologies for her actions and promises to watch over Bat. The circus continues, with Tommy taking over as ringmaster and vowing to make it the best circus in the world.
Elsewhere, Keisuke is revealed to have remained in contact with Mitsurugi, including informing him about Naruhodou’s cases. For reasons unknown, Mitsurugi makes his return to Japan, presumably to face Naruhodou once again.
Well, my opinion on this case in general is pretty much the same as Moeronpan’s: it’s probably my least favorite in the entire series. I agree pretty much 100% with everything said in Moeronpan’s episode 18-19 review, about how the characters are extremely annoying and the case overall is rather tiresome and pointless.
Despite that, I didn’t hate this episode. In fact, I actually felt it was a rather heartwarming conclusion to the case. Naruhodou proving how the murder was carried out using a life-sized diorama and props in the courthouse was a really nice touch, and actually made me laugh. The other circus characters helping out too was a nice touch – it actually showed their change of heart regarding Max, rather than it just being told to the viewer.
However, one opinion of mine has not changed from the game: Acro’s motive is bad. I don’t mean wanting to get revenge for his brother’s accident – I mean the content of the accident itself. The creators of this series have come up with so many unique stories and motives across many cases, and I’m hard pressed to believe they couldn’t have thought up something less contrived than “a lion sneezed”. Also, I know the entire situation is meant to make Mirika seem really innocent and naive, but in my opinion it just makes her seem annoying and insensitive. She remains one of my least favorite Ace Attorney characters of all time.
Overall, I would say that this episode exceeded expectations, but that may just be because my expectations were super low to begin with. Like Moeronpan said, it’s actually a little frustrating that this case was treated relatively well in the show while other, stronger cases have gotten shafted. Ah well, it’s over now, and we move on to one of the series’ most interesting cases from a moral and legal standpoint. And, of course, the moment I’ve been waiting for all season – the return of Mitsurugi!
Out of 5 Dios,