Naruhodo begins his very unorthodox cross examination of a radio (with Koroshiya on the other end of it), although the hired killer, ever committed to protecting his client, tells the court that Kamiya was his real client and Otoro is innocent. Apparently he hates traitors more than anything else and will void any mutual trust agreement if he discovers it, and his justification for revealing Kamiya as the target was that she tried to pin the blame on Otoro.
However, Naruhodo manages to prove that Koroshiya’s client wasn’t Otoro, and that he’d never even met Kamiya – since after all, Koroshiya referred to him as ‘he’ due to her masculine name.
Unfortunately this doesn’t help matters as far as Mayoi’s situation is concerned because now Koroshiya has realised that Naruhodo no longer wishes to help Otoro. He very nearly leaves, and Mayoi very nearly dies….but Mei arrives in the nick of time with surprise evidence.
The evidence is a video disk which contains the footage taking from the security camera in the teddy bears eye – the footage of Koroshiya committing the murder. It’s of little use to the judge – this shouldn’t be news to anyone. However, it is news to Koroshiya himself, and when he realizes his own client has betrayed him in a way that could compromise his true identity – a huge nono in his hitman guidebook – he cancels his agreement with Otoro, outs him as the true villain as well as his next personal target, and leaves. Otoro breaks down in panic, demanding to be declared guilty and put in jail for his own protection.
Naruhodo is overjoyed – he was able to save Mayoi’s life without letting a guilty man walk free. Mei is utterly confused why anyone would be happy to lose a trial and confronts him afterwards, but Mitsurugi explains it to her as dramatically as possible. She goes back to America in a huff – with some reflecting to do – and everyone else lives happily ever after. Until the next time Naruhodo decides to go somewhere and someone winds up dying, because that’s just his life, so not really.
The cross-examination of Koroshiya is actually one of my favourite ones in the entire game – right up there with the cross-examination of the parrot. The anime version feels a lot shorter and doesn’t quite have the level of tenseness as the game, but I really like that they kept the silly way the radio is animated. I had been worried that, in an attempt to be more ‘realistic’ (and also how goddamn cheap this anime can be), the radio would be completely static, so I was glad to see it bouncing and moving around like a Warner Brothers cartoon machine in a way that matched its sprites. And it isn’t until now that I noticed that the appearance of the radio very loosely resembles Koroshiya’s own face, complete with ‘monocle’ and the split down the middle, either.
It’s a satisfying end to the trial – although the animation leaves a lot to be desired as usual. There’s a baffling scene in which a guard carries the Koroshiya radio away and its suddenly several times too big. Given that the same damn thing happened with the cat a few episodes ago, I can only conclude that Koroshiya has the power to turn things big for no reason. (Or there’s an artist on here who just does not give a damn about consistency.) Also, those god-awful CGI gallery people. Seriously, it would look less shitty if they were static, unmoving background people then the weird clunky monstrosities that looked like they escaped from a Taiwanese news show.
The only reason I’m pointing out how dismal the trial animation was (there were some decent bits here and there though) is because it seems like they saved all the budget for the scenes with the Dramatic Conversation between Naruhodo, Mitsurugi and Mei. And then even more so during Mei’s tearful, angry goodbye to Mitsurugi at the airport. They’re not the scenes I would have expected to be given such climactic treatment but the difference in at least the art (I cant really say ‘animation’, as they’re scenes without a lot of action going on) looks compared to how it normally does is really striking. It’s like a glimpse into how the entire show should have looked, and it’s…bittersweet. An entire show that looks like those scenes is what we deserved all along.
This is one of the hardest anime to grade that I’ve seen in recent years because its simultaneously one of the best and worst video game adaptations I’ve ever seen. That alone is quite a feat, but it’s frustrating.
The animation in this, most of the time, is just…arse. It’s complete and utter miserable arse. It’s arse on a level usually reserved for filler episodes of 500 episode anime based on shonen manga. There’s moments of decency, and the second opening is actually animated pretty competently (I actually really love the circus part of it A LOT, which is ironic given how much I detest that case and everyone in it) and is in the running for one of my fave openings of the year. But such lazy and incompetent animation really takes a heavy toll on some of the emotional scenes.
I wish the animation was all that was wrong with it but some of the pointless changes just really got under my skin. Changing some characters around, changing evidence to something less logical, making two women into sisters – there’s so many tiny, weird changes that have a bigger impact than they should on the writing in the show. So many characters don’t get anywhere near enough development compared to the game and Mei – who I absolutely love, actually just annoyed me in this.
With all this it sounds like the anime is completely awful, and these are the reasons so many people say it is. But I can’t hate it, because the good points are that strong. It gets the game its adapting. It understands why these characters (the core ones at least) are popular, it understands their relationships and why fans like them. It builds on their personalities, making them come alive with certain quirks in how they’re animated. They could have made Naruhodo blandly walk from A to B – that’s what most crappy game anime adaptations do – but they make sure he’s clumsy, they fill in the gaps of how he should actually act when viewed from a 3rd person perspective as opposed to the first person perspective we have in the game.
Basically what we have here is the script of completely watchable and competent adaption in the skin of a shitty one. and that’s the real disappointment. That fact is far more disappointing than the bad animation.
We deserved a lot better, but I’m grateful that what we got wasn’t complete arse. There’s few game adaptations where that happens.
In the end….I find myself not really knowing WHAT to say about these series. 24 episodes later and a part of me still can’t believe that I’m actually really watching an Ace Attorney anime. Was it perfect? No. Was it rushed in places? Yes. Was the animation, for the most part, pretty darn terrible? Yes.
Did I love it? Yes.
It was no technical masterpiece, but I feel like this anime captured the essence of the offbeat, wacky yet strangely touching world that the Ace Attorney series as a whole inhabits. I think it says a lot that the anime was able to capture and reinforce the game’s strongest point: its characters. While the more streamlined anime format unfortunately meant that some – especially Kamiya, the elder Karuma, and practically every character in the Kurain Channeling case – fell by the wayside, the quirky core cast were all there, well-developed and as larger-than-life as ever. Naruhodou was touchingly awkward, Mayoi was adorable, and Itonokogiri kept reminding us that “detective” in anime doesn’t ALWAYS have to be synonymous with either “useless” or “villain”.
And, of course, I can’t conclude this series without mentioning the man who has a permanent spot in my Top 10 fictional characters. I’m talking, of course, about Reiji Mitsurugi. Sure, I’m biased, but I feel like the anime’s portrayal of him was its number one strongest point. His character arc was fleshed out even to a greater degree than in the games. His relationship with Naruhodou was equally heartwarming and tear-jerking, and I fully believe that the one true original episode, “Turnabout Promise,” is one of the best things to be added to Ace Attorney lore in recent years.
So in the end, despite its flaws, I thoroughly loved this series. I hope for a season 3, and, as soon or as far in the future as it may be, I’ll gladly and eagerly review it – maybe by then I’ll have a little more to say than just how glad I am this show exists. (But then again, maybe not…)