Ace Attorney continues to feel like a work that’s more or less “work in progress”. The anime adaption slowly but surely, with time, is actually starting to get closer and closer to its source material. This week, I’d say, is the best episode we’ve had thus far, if only because there wasn’t a rush to cram in an investigation and a court trial in the same episode. The more this adaption can slow down and really appreciate the individual moments, the more the story itself and the characters will shine. Every week that Ace Attorney does better, it more or less makes my point for me.
This week was no different. While there was still a sense of rush to it all, the episode did take the time to focus in on Naruhodo’s investigation of the case. In doing so, it showed, if only a little bit, just how much of Naruhodo’s defense work is evenly split between Arguing in court and actual detective work. If you’ve followed procedural court drama in western media, then that’s a rather stark change to what you’re probably used to. Yet, I think one of the appeals of Ace Attorney is that its equal parts a mystery and a court drama, with the court kind of serving as the big moment where the hero is able to show off his deductive reasoning and sometimes even bluff his way to the truth.
Looking at this week’s episode, and how it really did feel like it slowed down a bit, I can’t help but think how awesome this show would’ve been if it had taken its time, and adapted every scene, every line and every moment from the source material, rather than just trying to condense it all. In fact, I actually kind of recognize that there is actually a need for additional scenes to actually help flow the story. And this week, we actually do have some additional stuff, and it works, but only because there’s an actual attempt to build up and lay a foundation for what will be the eventual payoff in court next episode.
This week, was all about Naruhodo snooping around the TV studios and figuring out enough clues to find the actual culprit. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I honestly got chills when Naruhodo actually did stuff competently this week. He figured out the whole thing with the kid and the Steel Samurai, and convinced him to tell the truth. HE was the one who made sense of the fact that the victim was actually the one in the Steel Samurai Suit, and that he actually went to Studio 2, and was killed there.
And I do realize that it doesn’t make as much sense yet, but that’s kind of where the actual courtroom comes in. That’s where explanations are laid out, the whole murder is kind of revealed and where everything fits together. But its because of how this all works, that its equally important for the setup and investigation parts of the story to be given their due. And to this show’s defense, if you can call it that, it does equally skimp on both the investigation and the courtroom stuff as well.
Unfortunate though it may be, this episode really really makes me long for a different reality. A reality where Ace Attorney spent a good three episodes on its first case, a good five or six on its second, and probably around as much on its third. Instead, there really is this weird regulation of sorts, where each case has to wrap up in three episodes, regardless of whether that make sense or not. In this case, combined with the changes from last week and the additions this week, the show is able to kind of manage somehow. In a way, it is still able to keep the essence of the story in tact.
Now I say all of that, but let me be clear: There’s a lot that’s still cut and edited out in this episode. The story is changed quite a bit, and I’d argue that some of these changes are so massive that the anime may as well be telling a different story at this point. I suppose that’s what adaptions are in a way, they “adapt” the story, rather than translate it to the silver screen, so to speak. The problem, however, is that while we do arrive at mostly the same point in the anime as the games, all the fun of the journey is arguably lost.
And yes, I am going to lay out those massive differences, as usual. With that said, lets talk about all of that then.
So Massive Changes this week, as I said earlier. At this point, I’d almost look at the anime and the games as two separate entities, because while the core suspect is going to be the same, and the eventual outcome will probably be reached the same way, the path to get to the outcome is widely different this week.
As you’re aware, this episode has Naruhodo and Mayoi investigate the TV studios, and all the people who may have been involved with the murder of Ibukuro (the actor who plays the Evil Magistrate). Their investigation kind of zeros in on the kid Otaki Kyuta, and his witness account of what he saw during the murder. This, combined with the meeting with the Producer Himegami Sakura, leads Naruhodo to deduce that it was actually Ibukoro, the victim himself that was in the Steel Samurai Suit, and that he actually walked on over to Studio 2. This little revelation, leads to breaking down Sakura’s alibi and the episode itself ends with Naruhodo basically targeting her as the prime suspect, and ready to deal with her in court.
I’ll be honest, this version of events isn’t particular bad per say. It makes a decent amount of sense, and it actually does something that I’ve been wanting for a while now; It shows Naruhodo as actually a pretty capable guy, and a fine detective.
But here’s the thing, this is the one place, where things actually don’t go this way in the source material. So what happens in the game? Well for one thing Naruhodo and Mayoi are not nearly as successful in their detective work as they are in the anime version.
There’s actually a fair bit of running around, interacting with all the TV Studio staff, doing some errands, trading items and basically getting all these different people to open up and talk. The assistant that we briefly saw last week in the investigation montage? She plays a pretty important role. That’s nothing to say of Otaki Kyouta, as the kid himself is a lot less cooperative and neither Naruhodo nor Mayoi can actually get him to talk.
What ends up happening is that Naruhodo and Mayoi end their investigation on a rather bleak note. Himegami Sakura, the producer, actually gives her whole explanation about her alibi, and sends the two home in dismay. Then, when all hope seems to be lost, Mayoi actually channels her bigger sister, Chihiro, because things are just that bad.
Then, the second half of the investigation is actually Naruhodo and Chihiro (in Mayoi’s body) and its there that they start to make some headway. Removing Chihiro’s entire part of the investigation, and slotting things together, kind of ruins the fun of the journey. Its really kind of nice to see how different Chihiro and Mayoi are, and how a Naruhodo, Chihiro team might’ve looked like.
And before anyone points out that Naruhodo is basically helped by Chihiro, its not that she does his detective work for him, its that she just helps him get the kid, Kyouta under control. The joke here is that because Chihiro is such a pretty woman, Kyouta actually kind of listens to her. This then, finally allows Naruhodo to ask the questions that he wants.
Even then, however, there’s only some hints at what could have happened, and the day actually ends with Naruhodo’s client looking pretty guilty, and the odds stacked heavily against him. Plus that whole declaration and challenge that Naruhodo issues to Himegami Sakura? That never happens in the games, because those facts aren’t quite revealed yet.
Those facts and the idea that Sakura is actually a suspect, come to light during the trial itself. And it goes without saying, but Chihiro actually follows Naruhodo into the trial to support him, and at this point Mayoi is kind of on the bench.
And beyond just revealing things early, removing pivotal characters, the show actually also makes the detective work itself a lot more convenient. In the game, Naruhodo and Mayoi actually have to snoop around a bit, and “borrow” some keys and basically go into places that they’re not supposed to be. Its never quite breaking the law, its more about “getting into” certain restricted areas. And once the duo actually does make it to where they need to go, they’re sent on an errand by the Producer and then have that whole weird conversation with the director.
So at the end of the day, this is still a terrible episode if you compare it to the source material. Why all the changes? I can only guess that its because this show doesn’t want to spend more than 3 episodes on this case. Is that a misstep? Is that a mistake? I think so. I can’t argue that the anime’s approach doesn’t work, because it kind of does, but all the extra flavor, the humor, the build up and effort to the actual reveals? Those are gone, and happen waay too early and waaay too easily.
This episode is definitely better than all the previos ones, if only because it at least does spend an episode trying to setup the upcoming trial’s outcome. At the same time, however, its clear that with all the information I listed above, this investigation itself would’ve spanned two episodes (if not more). And personally, I’d be all for that, because its in those two episodes worth of time and content, that you’d get the great character moments, the comedy and slowly get towards the facts of the case, without outright solving it before hand.
Unfortunately, time and care just isn’t something that this anime can afford, and so we have what we have. It’ll be interesting to see how the actual resolution of the case happens, and whether we’ll see Chihiro in the courtroom at all. I’m curious to see how different the anime’s resolution is, because its clear that it can’t do what the game did at this point. I”m also starting to worry that this series is trying to cram the events of the first game into one cour, and the second game’s into the other. As we proceed further in the timeline, the cases become more and more complex and longer, so there’s going to be more massive cuts and changes if the show is going to do what it wants to.
And that’s all clearly a big mistake as far as I’m concerned. I would’ve personally been happy with two cours of the first game’s story, but I’m unfortunately just a sad fan and not in charge of the Ace Attroney anime Adaption. I know that sounds really spoiled and easier said than done, so I’ll say that at least the anime staff is getting better at condensing stuff, if nothing else. Positivity right? XD
Next episode wraps up this case itself, so there’s that. See you next week XD
Advertise on Anime Evo!
Help us pay the bills and work with us to promote your awesome product, service, website, comic or anything else you want to show off. We here at Anime Evo work with our advertising partners to promote products that are actually relevant to our audience, and give you the best bang for your buck!