What They Say:
As a brand-new defense lawyer, Phoenix Wright is learning what it means to be a true defender of justice. But when his mentor is murdered, things go downhill fast! With all evidence pointing to the victim’s sister Maya, it’s up to Phoenix to use all his wit and powerful shouting to prove her innocence. Which is easier said than done when up against Miles Edgeworth, the genius prosecutor.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the dub, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. It’s rare that a dub doesn’t get the 5.1 treatment, even when it’s a basic show, so there’s likely some stipulations about it in the contract. The show wouldn’t be much different with one as it’s largely a dialogue driven piece with lots of courtroom time and other standard investigative elements that doesn’t even require much in the way of directionality or placement. Some of the courtroom scenes work a little into it but it’s still a fairly standard simple mix. The tracks for both are definitely clean and problem free and there’s no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback, it’s just not all that noticeable of a design.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The eleven episodes are spread across two discs in an eight/three format. Animated by A-1 Pictures, this is a very basic and simple looking show that reminded me more of the whole US animation side of adapting video games to animation. It’s got a flat look to it, bland colors even when they’re a bit more vibrant, and some awkward elements that just made me cringe – particularly the use of CG characters in the seating in the courtroom watching on in some scenes but not others. The encoding for it isn’t an issue at all here as it’s clean and without problems with solid colors and no line noise of aliasing going on. But the source material isn’t anything that will make it stand out, especially coming from a place like A-1 Pictures. I get that it’s mirroring what the game looks like but that just makes it look like game animation from far too many years ago.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case where we get a slipcover that uses different artwork with it. The slipcover goes for a white background that utilizes the game logo well against it and has an upper body shot of Mitsurugi with his finger pointing out while the top half goes for the big game piece of the “Objection” that takes up lots of space. It’s what fans expect, it’s what fans get. The back of the slipcover does more character artwork that features the supporting cast taken from an above angle with everyone in their standard courtroom outfits.while including a smaller logo – but no objections, which is welcome. The case artwork itself has another shot of Mitsurugi set against a richly detailed backdrop of the courtroom while the back cover provides a breakdown of the episodes by number and title on the right along with the extras while the left has another Naruhodo headshot. The technical grid covers everything cleanly and clearly for both formats while the reverse side replicates all of this but with a different shot of Naruhodo done to the white background.
The menu design for this release keeps things simple with what it does in using the white screen to throw the various phrases out in big red batches across it. The logo is simple but effective and the look of it overall works as it’s something that ties into the game in the right way. The problem I have with the menu is something that likely will only both a small number of people like me in that when you do language selection you’re offered two subtitle tracks; the Phoenix Wright track or the Naruhodo Ryuichi track. Having not played the games I had no idea what the difference was until I remembered that the name is likely localized in the game and the subtitles offer up separate tracks of authentic or localized. I’m glad they did it but they could have labeled this piece of it a heck of a lot better.
The extras for this release go a bit above the norm just in the fact that we get a couple of minutes of outtakes from the dub cast. It’s done without a look at the actors performing, which I always find to be more fun in seeing them react to the flub, but there are some cute bits here that will make people smile. In addition to that, we get a commentary track for the twenty-fourth episode as it finishes off the third storyline of the set as well as the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of the Ace Attorney anime series was not one that really engaged me well. I hadn’t played the games so I went in without knowing much of anything besides a couple of names and catchphrases. What I got was a show that was definitely playing old school in a way when it came to the looseness of things while also playing up some looks at the absurdity of the real legal system in Japan. That’s beyond my scope of knowledge and I’m hard-pressed to take too much in terms of criticism from an anime adaptation of the game. There were interesting moments but the show also went in some weird directions that just left me rolling my eyes, particularly when it came to the use of spirit mediums and how they were applied to things.
The first arc for this season delves into events leftover from the previous one under the Reunion and Turnabout storyline. It’s here that we have to deal with Mayoi as she ends up caught up in a car accident and event gone wrong. Over the four episodes, it plays out in a kind of convoluted form as she’s accused of murder and we get talk of possession being part of why it unfolded and more. The characters brought in aren’t terribly interesting but we get Mei Karuma as the new prosecutor since Mitsurugi departed after feeling defeated by Naruhodo’s victories. Mei’s one that’s just as problematic as she sees things that aren’t there and is beyond adversarial in a way that just depresses since she regularly attacks Naruhodo even when he doesn’t do anything. There are amusing bits in how all of this gets resolved, involving whether a car is American in design or Japanese when it comes to steering wheel placement, but for the most part it’s a weak storyline and plays so heavily into the way spirit channeling was unfolding that it just made me less and less interested as it went on.
With the second story, which goes by the arc name of Turnabout Big Top, we get introduced to the headliner of the Berry Big Circus show with Max Galactica. Naruhodo and Mayoi saw him running the show and discover the next day that he’s accused of murdering the ringmaster, which then leads into trying to understand events that lead to the ringmasters death. There are a couple of obvious potential culprits here and we get more of the usual issues with Mei as she’s intent on taking down Naruhodo and utilizing a lot of insults for it. As the case progresses and we get a couple of sidebars with it, the whole thing just ends up more ridiculous with the theatrics that Naruhodo puts on in showing what he believes has happened (while having slim proof, it really is more speculative than anything else) and then essentially hoping that the culprit will just reveal himself along the way.
The last story, Farewell My Turnabout, hits four more episodes to deal with an incident and trial, this time involving a costumed actor that plays a hero in the Hero of Heroes Grand Prix event ends up dead. The whole thing is just another variant on the previous two trials in how it unfolds where there’s an easily visible template here for the most part. It does change things up a bit with Mitsurugi making his way back into the show proper but it engages with plenty of the usual absurdities, including one person, Shelly de Killer, to appear through what’s basically a walkie-talkie. I mean, I get the approach that the show uses and why it does it but it’s just something that left me rolling my eyes more than anything else that it becomes impossible to really deal with it because it is that absurd in a bad way.
I went into the Ace Attorney series overall without knowing much about it but I came away from it realizing that I definitely shouldn’t revisit it with the second season that’s in the works. I can totally understand why it has its fans and everything from the games but the anime just doesn’t work for me at all. The structure reinforces the problems even more and the end result is a show that was a chore to get through. Funimation did a good job with the release in giving it a fun dub, two subtitle tracks to please both audiences, and some welcome extras that include the always enjoyable but sadly all too rare dub outtakes. Ace Attorney simply isn’t for me but for the fans that are out there this is a solid release to dig into.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Ace Attorney Outtakes: Part 1, Episode 12 Commentary, Textless Opening & Closing Songs, Trailers
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 8th, 2018
Running Time: 275 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.