this blog isn’t done or open yet but i was talking to a friend about this a bit ago and i felt like i finally put together some thoughts i’d had floating around for a while so i just wanted to jot them down here :0
and i know that title sounds clickbaitey but i honestly, truely believe the series has. Ace attorney started off as the passion project of top tier writer shu takumi and his team of seven other people. it was a game project used to train new staff, and they weren’t given a lot of time to make a game as amazing as ace attorney is. But they did! And i firmly believe the reason they could was becuase it was grounded in three things things: strong characters, clever mysteries, and most importantly: social commentary.
If you aren’t a huge ace attorney obsessor like I am, or you just don’t know a lot about law in Japan, let me give you a basic rundown of what I picked up while doing research on the series. In Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright is the perfect prosecution’s punching bag. obviously, this is for comedic effect, no prosecutors in Japan bring whips or hurl coffee in court. But in Japan, especially at the time when Ace Attorney one was in development, Prosecutors ruled the court. It was expected that prosecutors not loose cases. It was expected that your client go to prison, as a Defense attorney. Prosecutors were infamous for forging evidence and forcing confessions, even leading testimony was common practice, and it even sometimes had a blind eye turned to it. So that’s what ace attorney was- a big, cartooney exaggeration of a very real problem in japan at the time. Phoenix is the defense attorney who cannot win, edgeworth and franziska are the “anything for a guilty verdict” prosecutors, adn the judge is the blind eye of the japanese justice system- a justice system that did not have a jurry in it until 2009.
So why is this gone? Ace Attorney one has overarching themes of the innocent deserve help, as well as biting critical commentary of Japan’s legal system at the time, the villinization of the prosecutor (something completely reverse from most american courtroom dramas, where the defense attorney is portrayed as evil) the innocent, hard working down on his luck defense attorney, the desperate, sympathy garnering clients in a place that so often paints them as villians (just look at Yanni Yogi, as well as Yomiel from Ghost trick, for example on that, albeit dramatic ones) Ace Attorney two is about the conviction of people who are ultimatly good- once again making sympathy where there often is none (i feel bad for ini, don’t you?) and then turning that on its nose with the scum bag client. AA2 was about how we understand innocence and how we need to look past it to create a good legal system. Finally, AA3 is about prosecution and defense working together to fix things- like takumi believes a courtroom should work. We see this carried over into apollo justice, which also has a more likeable prosectuion who actually cares about getting the correct verdict, it shows a step in the right direction, ESPECIALLY with takumi’s push for the jury system in this game (Apollo Justice was made in 2007, just two years before jury was reinstated in japan. clearly takumi was following this a lot)
I’m not going to touch on AAI1 and 2 becuase i frankly dont feel like i understand their context well enough to, and I haven’t play AAI2 (plus theres no official translation that worked with the staff, and while i worship the fan translators it runs the risk of missing very subtle themes if they didnt work with the producers directly) and I’m not going to touch on DGS (completely different historical context) or PL vs AA (not as serious a game) becuase theyre in a different situation than main game ace attorney
But in Ace Attoreny 5 and 6, this is just… gone.
i didnt really enjoy ace attoreny 5 just… in general, it had weird writing and stuff but on top of that? it doesn’t have a cohesive theme to tie it together aside from “athena is traumatized” and we’re in the “DARK AGE OF THE LAW” which was about… fake japanifornia law and (as far as i know) was not meant to criticize any other law systems. Ace Attoreny six some how took this one step further by setting everything in fake tibet and then criticizing a law (the culpability act) that has NEVER BEEN INSTATED anywhere?? as far as i can find? certainly not in japan, and certainly not right now. it felt like a hollow imitation of 1-4′s biting social commentary (especially in 1, tbh) and it fell very flat. I had plenty of other issues with this game that I’m sure I’ll talk about too, but this post is long enough
If i’ve missed anything, espeically about real world stuff b/c my knowledge of ace attoreny is 100% better than my knowledge of law in the real world, please feel free to talk to me about it, or disagree, or set up a dialogue! This is a jumping off point and I’d love to hear other’s thoughts :)