What They Say:
Hold it! The Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright, is back. And his newest case is giving him a serious headache—with a case of amnesia! Once Phoenix gets his bearings, he’s back to finding the truth and helping his clients. But, a case involving a phantom thief brings in the smooth blend of justice and lawyer from hell, Godot! This coffee-obsessed prosecutor will prove not only to be a challenge, but will also be a reminder of a terrible trial from Phoenix’s past.
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 are no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback, it’s just not all that noticeable of a design.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/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 brown leathery background that looks good and sends a nice tone and contrast from the first season. The front cover gives us our lead and supporting side in familiar positions, including the objection piece, as they burst through the book. The back of the slipcover does a small piece of artwork along the left while the right breaks down the episodes by trial. 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 Godot 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 almost mirror the previous edition – no outtakes, sadly – as we get a commentary track for the seventh episode as well as the clean opening and closing sequences.
With a number of games out there in the series, the Ace Attorney anime is something that felt pretty overdue when the first two-cour series arrived in 2016. It was surprising to me that A-1 Pictures picked it up and that it was done as it was with the arcs as I expected that it might be a bit more Case Closed style in nature. Having not played the games and having no expectations, I thought it’d be the kind of series that could go on for years instead of two cour, and I figured it’d have a more budget-oriented production behind it. That said, it looks like a budget production as it works the style of the games and that doesn’t do the show any favors. It’s kind of flat, static most of the time, and fairly uninteresting to look at – at best. With the second season coming two years later, part of me wondered if it would get any kind of real change to it but mostly what we have here is more of the same, albeit with some new characters.
With the twelve episodes that we get for the first half of the series, we end up with three trials that cover ten episodes as well as two standalone episodes. It’s definitely interesting to get something that’s resolved in a shorter amount of time, such as the first episode that involves Naruhodo get a whack to the back of the head and losing his memory for a bit. That he can still do well in handling the trial is amusing and unrealistic but it’s something that at least feels different. Similarly, the sixth episode stands along with what it wants to do and focuses on a young Miles Edgeworth as he’s dealing with searching for his lost dog. It’s at a time when he and Naruhodo know each other and it has a kind of weird feeling to it, what with Naruhodo cheering Miles on, but I like when we go back in time a bit to see younger versions of these characters in a less than polished form.
The opening tale comes in at four chapters under the name Nusumareta Gyakuten where an ancient urn from the Kurain Village has been stolen while on display at an exhibit. This brings the focus onto Ron Delite, who is either the thief DeMasque himself or just a fanatic that’s playing at the role and craves the fame. This sets us up with a few helpers for Naruhodo to work with in investigating how the heist went that lifted the urn as he’s been hired the guy’s wife to prove his innocence. Like any trial in this series, a lot of what goes on is in the courtroom itself so that it feels weird seeing so much discovery taking place in this form, allowing for plenty of feints to play out and uncertain attacks to unfold. It’s fairly simple overall as more and more things come out that allows it to take shape. It’s not terribly engaging, especially over four episodes, but it hits the right points for the story to unfold.
The second main story is a really weird one from the get go.The focus on this one Suzuki as she was framed for murder and it was a case where she lost that Naruhodo ran the defense on. The problem is that Naruhodo never actually did this and has realized that someone took on the role as him. That’s just surreal in general for a range of reasons but it at least explains why he’s getting involved beyond wanting to help Suzuki out again. Across the three episodes, a retrial is put into motion when some additional motivations surface that lets the real Naruhodo take the stage. Of course, any other series would be a focus on finding out who took on his role in the previous trial and dealing with that more than this but it is fun to watch him go and do what he can here to win the day. It moves quickly with just the three episodes but i found myself just more interested in how the fake Naruhodo gamed the system.
With a final story for the season that runs the gamut with all the hits – new years eve, a train ride, and an escaped fugitive, the first half of this season of the series works through plenty of familiar material. As I had talked about with the first season, the Japanese intent of court cases and justice moves and operates differently than it does in America for a number of reasons. It made for some curious moments in both seasons in how things unfold but just the nature of this being an adaptation of a gamified version of working the court system really does leave you cringing. I had a rough time with the first season and even with the changes made for the second here it doesn’t do much that makes it easier to get into and connect with. I like the concept and I know lots of people that play the game and have a great time, but the anime adaptation feels more like a trudge with how decompressed each storyline is.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 7 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: September 3rd, 2019
Running Time: 300 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.