What Is Phoenix Wright?
The Phoenix Wright series is a series of visual novels that have been on the Nintendo GBA, DS, 3DS, and iOS. In most of the games, you play as the defense attorney Phoenix Wright, as he investigates cases and defends his clients against false charges. The gameplay is comprised of court scenes, where the majority of time is spent cross examining witnesses and presenting evidence when a contradiction is found (OBJECTION!), and investigation scenes, where one goes around various locations talking to witnesses, and investigating the scene for clues. The main appeals of the game are the well written murder mysteries that are always more complicated than they appear to be at first. Each case has numerous plot twists that are hard to predict at first, but all make sense in the end. This is supported by a strong, well developed and quirky cast of characters who face off against and cross examine witnesses that are almost always have their own unique quirks or characteristics. You’ll rarely ever see a boring witness. Each game contains an overarching plot that ties a number of cases together, which eventually culminate in a satisfying final case. Through all these strengths, what would seem like a niche game at first ended up gaining a very dedicated fanbase worldwide.
Since the release of the first game back in 2001 for GBA, there have been 5 additional installments in the main series (with a 6th being released in 2016), 3 spin-offs, and 1 crossover game between Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton. The first appearance of the series in North America was in 2005, when the game was re-released onto the Nintendo DS. Due to the popularity of the series worldwide, every single game in the series (save for 2) has been translated and released worldwide. Of the 2 that never got an official translation, one has been fully fan translated. Story wise, the first 3 games in the main series consist the original trilogy, with the later games having a largely separate story. On the other hand, the spin-offs and cross-over games have plots independent from the main story. Since its release, the Phoenix Wright games received numerous adaptations, including both a manga adaption and a live action film. The anime, currently airing in April, will mark its first animated adaption.
Phoenix Wright (Naruhodou Ryuuichi): The main character of the series. Visually defined by the spiky hair and the blue suit. A rookie defense attorney.
Mia Fey (Chihiro Ayasato): Phoenix’s superior and mentor. An experienced defense attorney.
Maya Fey (Mayoi Ayasato): Younger sister of Mia Fey, plays the role of Phoenix’s assistant after the 2nd case.
Miles Edgeworth (Reiji Mitsurugi): A prosecutor famous for using ruthless methods to get all the defendants declared guilty. Phoenix’s childhood friend.
Dick Gumshoe (Keisuke Itonokogiri): The detective of the series. Works with the prosecution for most cases. Known for eating a lot of ramen and getting pay cuts.
Larry Butz (Masashi Yahari): Phoenix’s childhood friend and the defendant of the first case. Famous for being the cause of all the problems around him.
The first episode anime is set to air on April 2nd 2016. There aren’t too many concrete details on the anime available beyond that. There’s been speculation on number of episodes and how much how the game’s story the anime will cover. Most likely the anime will be 12 or 24 episodes. With 12 episodes, it can comfortably cover the entirety of the first game’s story. With 24 episodes, it can cover a second story in addition to the first. If it were to cover any more than that, it is likely that the plot will feel extremely rushed. As for announced characters and voice actors/actresses, only the main cast has been announced along with their respective voice actors/actresses: Tamaki Masashi will voice Mitsurugi Reiji (Miles Edgeworth), the prosecutor; Kaji Yuki will voice Naruhodou Ryuuichi (Phoenix Wright), the defense attorney; Yuuki Aoi will voice Ayasato Mayoi (Maya Fey), the defense’s assistant. Since the entire main cast is introduced within the first 2 cases, it’s difficult to make any predictions on what the anime will cover based off of this. What I can say for sure is that the entire first game will be adapted, anything beyond that is up in the air until the anime actually airs.
To say a bit about myself, I am a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series. I’ve played every single game, even the ones that have never been translated English. So story wise, I’m not expecting any radical twists or differences from the story I already know. I’m hoping for a solid and faithful adaptation to the story and characters that I already know and like. The one thing that the anime can add to differentiate itself from the games are the small slice of life scenes of the characters that we don’t see in the game, which have already come up in the previews. There was a short clip which showed Phoenix biking to the courtroom with all his stuff, rather than driving as you might expect. This confirms the fan theory that Phoenix doesn’t actually have a license, and has to bike everywhere. Small scenes showing the lives of Phoenix and the rest of the cast outside of the courtroom will be something that even fans that have played all the games can look forward to.
Issues Regarding Fansubbing
Fansubs are subtitles that viewers dedicate their time into making, alongside the official ones which are broadcasted by Crunchyroll. These are made to correct mistranslations, imporper timing, or other nuances that the official translation might’ve missed. I predict that the fansubs of the show will hit an interesting predicament regarding the use of names in the subtitles. The English and Japanese versions of the game have branched quite broadly in terms of character names. Unlike the Persona series, where the English version just uses the Japanese names, every character in the Ace Attorney series was given a new English name for localization. There’s never really been any problems with this though. The strange part will be when the anime characters say “Naruhodou Ryuuichi” (Japanese name of Phoenix Wright), what will the name in the fan translation be? Will it be Phoenix Wright, or Naruhodou Ryuuichi? Will it be Miles Edgeworth, or Reiji Mitsurugi? From my experience with fansubs, fansubs tend to be more on the side of “literal translations”. However, Ace Attorney is a case where the heavily localized version will be more familiar to all the fans.
Other funny things to look out for will be that in the Japanese version, all the games take place in Tokyo. In the English version, all the games take place in Los Angeles, no matter how hard they have to stretch the game’s story to make it fit (Eat your hamburgers Apollo). Since the anime will adapt the Japanese versions, a couple of funny contradictions might arise. In the first case, the victim traveled from Tokyo to New York in the Japanese version. In the American version, the victim traveled from LA to Paris.
With this anime screen capped combined with the American localization, the victim traveled from America to…America?! I don’t imagine this being too big of an issue for fan translators overall, but it might lead to some funny decisions they have to make.
The first episode of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney will be airing on April 2nd. As a series veteran, I’m looking forward to the anime a lot, and I hope you all are too.