Naruhodo, Mayoi and Harumi have all been invited by Niboshi Saburo – the defendant from way back in the Steel Samurai case if you forgot already – to the Hero Grand Prix. This is an exciting annual popularity event held in a luxury hotel featuring heros from many different tokusatsu shows. Competition was apparently particularly fierce between rivals Nickel Samurai and Jammin’ Ninja – but it was Nickel Samurai that won.
Because Naruhodo curses every event he goes to with his mere presence, the Jammin’ Ninja (or rather, the man who plays him, Fujimino Isao) ends up murdered shortly after the ceremony with the Nickle Samurai (Otoro Shingo) arrested as the prime suspect – right before the latter’s press conference was scheduled to start in which he would apparently ‘confess something’. Ooba is back as a security guard witness – claiming she saw Otoro going to Fujimino’s room.
If things werent hectic enough, Mayoi winds up kidnapped by someone who has a very clear demand – if he ever wants to see her again, Naruhodou must get Otoro a ‘not guilty’ verdict in just one day. And this mysterious individual who now communicates to Naruhodou via walkie-talkie isnt messing around. He’s so determined to help Naruhodou out that he shoots Mei with a sniper, ensuring she spends the trial in hospital instead of as the prosecutor. With no prosecutor for this case, a certain someone chooses this moment to dramatically return. Mitsurugi is back!
This is one of my favourite cases in the games due to how exciting and different it is to the ones before it – it breaks quite a few of the ‘rules’ established so far. I absolutely love how it lulls you into a false sense of security by initially seeming like a repeat of the Steel Samurai case only to pull out the carpet from your feet with a whole load of chaos. Kidnap, prosecutors being attacked and a defendant who isnt what he seems – being the final case of game 2 the amount of twists is par for course. But does it work as an anime?
So far I think it does, even if, like I am always feeling the need to point out, it could definitely look better. The urgency of the situation seems to have been preserved decently enough – and theres also some genuinely adorable character interactions. It’s been so long since I’ve played this case that I’m actually not sure if anything has been changed – I’m currently wondering if Yahari actually featured in this case in the game or if I just forgot that he did – but nothing has immediately jumped out to me as being different so if there are any changes this time they aren’t too jarring. The only thing I can really think of is that Otoro doesn’t really get enough scenes. The game really hammers in what an airhead he is to begin with, and his sprites look a good deal goofier than he does here – the parts with him constantly dialing his fancy wrist-phone to ask his manager about literally anything Naruhodou asks him (a defining quirk of his) were a lot more extended in the game also; they’re barely in the anime at all. This will become important in the next episode, and its slightly disappointing because the result is that he just seems like a kind of bland jock instead of the more ridiculous, kind of stupid image he had in the game. But more on that later.
Now, this isn’t really about the anime but I really want to point it out – if ‘Koroshiya’ (AKA ‘De Killer’) actually wanted to assist Naruhodou getting that not-guilty verdict within a day, how in the hell is shooting Mei supposed to help with that? No one expected Mitsurugi to show up again, so what would have happened if he didn’t? The judge probably would have called the trial off until a replacement could be found and thus destroyed any chance of a guilty verdict happening at all that day. Unless he had been counting on Auchi (AKA Winston Tutorial Case Payne) being the replacement. Maybe Mitsurugi literally pushed Auchi out of the way right as he was about to make a dramatic courtroom entrance himself. Now that I wish I could see.
With Mitsurugi back in action, claiming that the ‘old’ Mitsurugi is dead and New and Improved Mitsurugi with Extra Dramatic Pointing is here to stay. Which is all well and good, except Naruhodou kind of really doesn’t need a skilled prosecutor stretching out this trial of all trials.
Fujimino’s body was discovered by Otoro’s manager – Kamiya Kirio. He had one of the hotel knifes stabbed into him – one with Otoro’s fingerprints all over it – but his autopsy shows that his cause of death was actually strangulation. It clearly looks like Otoro is being framed, and Kamiya is the most suspicious. After all, the photo taken on Yahari’s camera that Ooba says shows the Nickel Samurai merely shows someone much shorter than Otoro in his costume, and Kamiya is already highly suspicious for being apparently ‘involved’ with Fujimino before his death, which according to Ooba was to create a scandal and ruin his career. Kamiya sadly isn’t really helping herself much – even after admitting it was her in the costume, and even that it was her planning to impersonate Otoro while he was sleeping and go to the press conference for him (a press conference he apparently never heard about) in order to ‘confess’ something. She refuses to testify about what this ‘something’ was and Naruhodou takes the opportunity to declare her the murderer, because he’s smooth like that.
Because there is almost no evidence against her, the judge has to choice but to suspend the trial for the day, much to Naruhodou’s horror. Luckily for him, ‘Koroshiya’ is willing to give him another chance – although he stresses that he’s serious for reals this time and if the next trial doesnt see Otoro’s name cleared, he won’t see Mayoi again.
Mitsurugi noticed how frantic Naruhodou became in the trail and deduced something was wrong, and after talking to Kamiya about the strange card she’s been holding all this time, which she claimed to have picked up from the scene of the crime, he realises that it’s the calling card of the hitman ‘Koroshiya’. Meanwhile, Naruhodou visits Otoro’s house at this request to feed his cat in his absence…only to discover he had a butler – actually ‘Koroshiya’ in disguise – and the request wasn’t necessary. Confused, he returns with Harumi to investigate the crime scene again where he and Detective Itonokogiri discover that one of the giant bear plushies given as gifts to Fujimino has a camera in its eye.
It doesnt take them long to trace the purchase of the camera and the giant bear – a rare and expensive imported brand – back to Otoro’s credit card, making the fact that he hired ‘Koroshiya’ to kill Fujimino glaringly obvious. This is when Otoro drops his airhead facade and reveals his true asshole self to Naruhodou, taking a sadistic kick out of the fact that Naruhodou has to defend a clearly guilty person in order to save Mayoi.
That was an awfully long synopsis, but somehow this episode didn’t really feel as cluttered as the last episode I saw that tried to cram way too much in. It actually used all the revelations to its advantage in order to really emphasize the frantic and desperate mood this entire trial has. But there’s some problems with the characters who arent the mains.
The parts with Naruhodou fretting about Mayoi were really well done. The scene when the trial ends without a verdict in which Naruhodou starts to fret and panic, frantically searching for something to help in and then breaking down in tears, was somewhat awkwardly animated but had a genuine sense of desperate emotion to it. His voice when he starts to become more and more terrified about the possibility of Mayoi is the kind of voice we haven’t actually heard him use in the anime yet and its incredibly effective. The scene is pretty emotional in the game as well, but adding the movement and voice really adds to it.
In a somewhat weird contrast to this, Mayoi somehow doesn’t seem like she’s in danger. We cut to her frequently, sitting in the basement where she’s being held captive and complaining about being hungry, and although theres a sense that she may end up starving, something about the way these scenes are framed just dont seem half as dire as they should.
The other problem is with the characters unique to this case and how little characterization they actually get. First of all there’s Otoro himself, whose sudden transformation from ‘clueless airhead’ to ‘scheming asshole’ is a lot less surprising and shocking when he hasn’t really been fully portrayed as a clueless airhead. Next there’s Kamiya who….doesn’t really have a presence at all in the anime. You interact with her a lot more prior to the trial and so here she just comes across as bland. I’m interested to see if she’s any better in the next episode when more gets revealed about her.
I can’t actually remember if this was resolved in the game or not but …..why did Otoro make Naruhodou feed his cat again? Did he not know ‘Koroshiya’ was pretending to be his butler? I should probably replay this part because it seemed like an incredibly pointless way to get Naruhodou to see the inside of his house – which may be important, but I still don’t get why he would have told him to go there at all. Also…that cat really confirms that literally no one on this animation team can draw an animal at all. I have no idea what happened to all the animators who can draw animals – I assume they’re all busy working on other anime – but this was one terrible cat, and its so bad-looking and inconsistent that it actually changes sizes.
I’m wondering if the rest of this case will be one episode or two. I think there’s at least two episodes left of Ace Attorney, but will they end this season with this case or with another filler episode? I’m not sure if season 3 has been greenlit yet, but if it has I kind of want to take a break from it to be honest. I’d definitely watch a season 3 but two cours is my limit when it comes to reviewing stuff here.