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Turnabout Movie: The Characters of “Ace Attorney” – Review

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This review will focus on four characters that had an impact on the overall feel of the movie, for better or worse. These characters are: Phoenix Wright, Larry Butz, Miles Edgeworth, and Maya Fey. Each one will be reviewed in detail.

Phoenix Wright

“Ace Attorney” made the scattered new attorney Phoenix Wright comes alive in a way that I could never imagine. When playing the Capcom game, you are obviously playing as him, so you make the decisions based on your own composure. He could only act out so much in the game-play, but when choosing the right words and evidence, he comes off as a somewhat put together competent lawyer. As long as you as the player know what you are doing, Phoenix Wright doesn’t lose track of anything.

…But not in this case. In “Ace Attorney,” you get to experience what Phoenix would be like on his own if he had to make those decisions himself. He has no one controlling his every movement, but instead left on his own to figure it all out. It added a sense of realism in this world because if any one of us were put in his position, we would not come off as knowing all of the answers right off the bat. No, we would bumble around like foolish fools, trying to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle in a relatively short amount of time, while still under the pressure of your client, the judge, and the prosecutor ready to tear you a new one. Think about it: if the Phoenix Wright games had a time limit as to how long you have to make your choice in questioning or evidence, we would all have a different mindset and feel a sense of pity for our dear old Phoenix. We would directly feel his pain in this cruel, dark, lawful world where it seems like no one is on his side except for Maya, Mia, or Larry. Because he was left on his own, his personality truly shined.

It was clear his progression throughout the movie from a new lawyer to a fully competent one (more or less). His mannerisms changed from unsure to downright confident and proud. Hiroki Narimiya did a phenominal job at portraying Phoenix Wright in all his quirkiness. His measly little “objection”s at the beginning reflected that of how he felt on the inside; alone, scared, intimidated, lost. But as the movie progressed, his trademark battle cry became more booming. Although it would have been nice to hear it more often, considering it is the staple for the game, the film was fine without a shower of it.

You grow with him throughout the film. You feel his frustration when he could not figure out the last piece of the puzzle for DL-6 when it was in front of him the whole time. You watch as his quirkiness comes out in every little way, especially when searching for evidence in Gourd Lake for DL-6. It is so easy to fall in love with him and even though the fan favorite is Miles Edgeworth, I think Phoenix Wright has more personality than any of the characters combined (except for Larry Butz, which I will get to in a bit).

At the end of the day, this was a Phoenix Wright movie, so the bulk of it focused solely on his character development.

Miles Edgeworth

Miles Edgeworth…oh did the fan-girls shriek in joy when he came on screen. Takumi Saitou does a marvelous job portraying the suave and cool prosecutor in the only way that would do him justice (no pun intended): little to no dialogue and just to stand there and admire his pretty face. Sense that hint of sarcasm there? The one problem “Ace Attorney” has is deeper character development and that, in my opinion, is a big problem. It is unfortunate that Miles Edgeworth, the person whom Phoenix cares about a lot, lacks a personality.

He played a big role in the games, if not the biggest second to Phoenix. He pushed Phoenix to his limits and forced him to grow as a lawyer. If it wasn’t for Edgeworth and his brashness, Phoenix would not have turned out to be a fine lawyer. But during the movie, it did not seem like he was fighting Edgeworth to get his client a “not guilty” verdict, but rather the evidence on hand. Where was that Edgeworth that would interrupt Phoenix mid-sentence to deliver a perfect counter and throw him completely off balance? There were indeed moments in the film where he did show his coldness, but those moments were very few and far between in comparison to the games. Phoenix fought more with the witnesses and evidence that was presented, rather than the harshness of Edgeworth.

The dynamic relationship between Phoenix and Edgeworth was present in the movie, but it had nowhere near the kind of heart like the game did. At the beginning, it was one sided with Phoenix wanting to meet Edgeworth in the courtroom to find out what happened to him as a child. But the relationship soon grew from there when Edgeworth lost to Phoenix in the Mia Fey case and saw him as a threat, yet in a way respected him because of his determination. The relationship then strengthened even further in the DL-6 case when Phoenix asked Edgeworth if he can represent him in court for the murder that Edgeworth is accused of. By the end of the movie and the game, the relationship did show to have developed to the potential it should have been early on, especially during the credits rolling.

The very well put together prosecutor did have his moments of personality where he once lost his cool composure and gave into a witness’s account of him, calling him a fluttery guy. But for the most part, he was just there in the background, looking pretty with his frilly necktie and perfect hair. A disappointment, indeed.

Larry Butz

Larry Larry Larry…now he was something else. If you remember from the game, he shows up in two of the cases, but really shows his character in the latter DL-6 case. He becomes a big asset to the defense team and ultimately leads into a favored verdict. In the game, he was helpful in the sense that he carried the story along, but didn’t really carry the whole game. It just seemed like he was the friend who was overshadowed by the sidekick and rival. He did have significant importance, but not nearly as much as the other two.

This is hardly the case in the movie. The pairing between Phoenix and Larry was more fruitful than the relationship with Phoenix and Edgeworth. This is strange, considering Phoenix and Edgeworth have a strong bond throughout the game, just in a different way. Although Larry was present in the cases and helped our dear Phoenix when he was in a jam, he did not strike me as having a strong bond like Phoenix and Edgeworth had. “Ace Attorney” took the relationship and amplified it to the max, overshadowing the clear relationship that should have been developed between Phoenix and Edgeworth. Needless to say, Larry Butz definitely helped the movie along with his klutzy nature and genuinely good heart.

His over-the-top goofiness made the movie for what it was, comedic in nature. Whether that was a good or a bad thing is entirely up to you. The games did have their funny moments, but the overall feeling when playing them was not to laugh, but to buckle down and be serious or else your clients will be found guilty. Played by Akiyoshi Nakao, Larry Butz was the comic relief of the game; the tension reliever of the group who would show up, cause a bit of a snafu in some cases, but winds up helping out in the end.

Maya Fey

Maya Fey, played by Mirei Kiritani, could have easily been the character that would outshine Phoenix in just her personality alone. While Phoenix has his scattered mind but good heart, Maya was the one who would give him ideas and help him investigate the cases. Sure, she did get side tracked sometimes and she would make comments that served no purpose, but her fangirling, burger eating self had barrels of personality and potential.

However…

Maya’s personality was darn near nonexistent in the movie. If you remember from the game, there were times when she would just not shut up. She would go on and on about her children’s shows, despite being 17 years old. But her talkative, peppy nature was nowhere to be found in “Ace Attorney.” I could understand in the first case why she wasn’t herself because her sister was murdered and she was the prime suspect. After that incident, we caught a glimpse of the real Maya Fey in two scenes regarding the DL-6 case: testing the camera at the lake and stopping the trial from progressing temporarily. Her quick-to-act nature did show in these two scenes…but that was it. Granted, one scene was tweaked a little to remove another impulse action she took in the game. But that does not excuse the fact that Maya Fey was not in “Ace Attorney,” but rather a quiet spirit medium that you wouldn’t have known she was one until her sister embodied her. It was strange how no one called attention to her clothes or questioned her abilities…

Other characters

While all of the characters were important in their own sense in the game, I narrowed it down to just reviewing the ones who had a severe impact on my views of the movie compared to the games. Honorable mentions that were in the movie and did not disappoint were Mia Fey (Danrei), Dick Gumshoe (Shunsuke Daitou), the Judge (Akira Emoto), and Prosecutor Von Karma (Ryou Ishibashi). There was a twist in a change in character that was completely different than the video game, but I will let you read about that in the “Special Effects/Detail” review.

Given the character list and my review of them, I would say that Phoenix Wright and Larry Butz were the shining stars and everyone else was just a flicker in the universe.

How do these characters fair in the cases the movie highlights? Check out the review for the cases of “Ace Attorney” on Only Single Player!

Lucy Niess
I play video games and write about stuff.

Turnabout Movie: Did “Ace Attorney” Do Phoenix Wright Justice?

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