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Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Vol. #03 Manga Review

4 min read

A fantastic little standalone murder mystery.

Creative Staff
Story: Kenji Kuroda
Art: Kazuo Maekawa
Translation: Althea Nibley, Athena Nibley

What They Say:
Ace attorney Phoenix Wright is at it again, protecting the innocent and helping his friends with his amazing skill as a lawyer.

The Review!
After watching a fortune teller predict that a young woman will be possessed by the Lord of Death, we find Phoenix getting an ice cream fortune told. The fortune teller, Cool Saito, uses his ice cream to predict that Phoenix will become a pianist, and Phoenix in turn walks off rather unimpressed. As it turns out, Phoenix is spending his day in the “Fortune Circle,” a group of strange fortune telling shops set up in a department store. While waiting for Maya to return, Phoenix meets the girl from before, a hyperactive occult lover by the name of Russi Clover. Maya comes back, and the three soon depart for their next fortune telling assignments. Russi visits the popular Nether World prophecies of Oracle Hecate, while Maya goes to the Venutian Forecasts of Moira Cytheria, and Nick gets his palm read by the eccentric Wally Flores. Maya is blindfolded and has earphones placed on her while she tightly clutches Moira’s hand, and Phoenix is abandoned after Wally has a panic attack over being touched. While all this is going on, a loud scream rings out, and Russi is soon found literally red-handed, standing before the bloodied corpse of Oracle Hecate.

Russi begins to panic and claims she killed Madame Oracle while possessed, prompting Moira to pick up the murder weapon and destroy the Lord of Death’s image hanging on the nearby wall. This noise prompts Franziska von Karma to come in and see what is going on, as she was subbing in for one of the other fortune tellers. Russi soon retells her story to Phoenix, claiming the lights were turned out and she was spun around, and then told to stick her hand through the “Gate to Hell,” where it was grabbed by the Lord of Death. Investigating the scene, Phoenix can’t see any way it could be anything but a locked room. He thinks he has something when he discovers that the hole in the “Gate to Hell” leads to a back hallway connecting all the shops, and that someone could reach through and unlock the door. Unfortunately, Franziska points out that Russi’s arm was in the gate the whole time, making that impossible. Things look hopeless for Phoenix, but Larry suddenly pops up with a crucial bit of information: all the rooms are interconnected above the ceiling!

This critical information in hand, Phoenix finally feels prepared when it comes time for Russi’s trial to begin. Franziska quickly takes the upper hand, forcing Phoenix to play his trump card and prove that the room wasn’t truly locked. However, Franziska quickly turns things around by calling Moira to the stand and establishing that Madame Oracle had bolted up the ceiling access a week ago after she furiously accused her fellow fortune tellers of touching her precious scythe. With his final trump card gone, will Phoenix be able to pull off one last turnabout and prove his client innocent in this seemingly hopeless case?

In Summary:
By focusing on a single case, this volume makes for a great standalone bit of Ace Attorney goodness. The case ends up being a good arc, given plenty of time to establish itself and come to a satisfying conclusion within a single book. The characters are crazy and enjoyable, and the setting is plenty wacky on its own as well. The hook of this mystery may not be as complex as some of the ones that have come before it, but there’s still a definite satisfaction to seeing how the trick was done and watching Phoenix corner the culprit. All in all, this book is a great little piece of the series that stands surprisingly well on its own.

Content: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Rating: A

Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: December 20th, 2011
MSRP: $10.99

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