This is why you don’t get eight-year-olds to do your murdering for you.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Phoenix continues the investigation into the death of Elise Deauxnim, which has Iris the shrine maiden accused of murder. With Phoenix on the scene, the clues start falling into place as Phoenix uses his keen senses of investigation to great effect. Phoenix notes the writing of Maya’s name on the white pillar near the shrine entrance and finds a charm belonging to Elise Deauxnim on the ground as well. What’s more, Gumshoe presents Phoenix with a half-burned note in the furnace with some kind of strange instructions written on it.
Following this, Iris is brought to the shrine to try and undo the lock keeping Maya inside of the waterfall cavern. This leaves Phoenix to share his evidence with Sister Bikini, who reveals some important information. Phoenix presents her the charm he found, which he believes to belong to the master of the Kurain channeling technique. This means that Elise Deauxnim wasn’t who she said she was but was actually Misty Fey, Maya’s long lost mother. Bikini mourns and explains the politics of the Fey family that have been going on in the background of this murder. It turns out that Iris and Dahlia Hawthorne are related to each other and connected to Pearl and Maya as members of the Kurain branch family. Just then, an earthquake rocks the mountain, which gives an opportunity for someone to put more locks on the door to Maya.
Later that night, Phoenix and Edgeworth discuss the case and discover a sword hidden away in Misty Fey’s staff covered in blood. It looks like this might be the true murder weapon all along. Afterward, Phoenix talks with Iris, who explains that she’d been helping her sister Dahlia with her criminal acts in both the case with Terry Fawles and Phoenix. Armed with this info, Phoenix goes to his last two witnesses, Larry and Pearl, who is chilling by the fire. Phoenix presents Pearl with the note he found in the furnace, which Pearl confirms to be instructions from her mother, who went to prison for murder. However, because Pearl can’t read well, she didn’t understand the instructions and didn’t end up killing Misty as her mom wanted her to.
Much like the frigid mountaintops and the temple Maya and Phoenix find themselves on, Ace Attorney has gone stone cold as it flops around trying to tell a story that is best suited for a game and was never meant to find its way into the world of anime. As per usual, we find that this episode tells its story in such a matter-of-fact way that it can barely keep my attention, let alone keep me from falling asleep during it. Get ready for an episode bogged down in exposition and lacking any kind of directorial ability necessary to tell this story in a more interesting way. Get ready for reused animation, choppy dialogue, and slow, poorly-animated scenes.
What’s embarrassing about this finale arc in this show is that it doesn’t have the legs to stand on to try and tell this story. This is supposed to be the dramatic high point of the series, the dramatic climax of a plot three games in the making. Yet, because the basic qualities of an anime are nowhere to be found, the drama just comes off as stilted and obvious. The mystery doesn’t hold, and the major twists here can be figured out pretty obviously by anyone who’s been paying attention. There are so many things that this show could do to try and make its story more watchable, but it just doesn’t even attempt them. That, combined with the awful and sometimes even off-model animation, this story just comes off as full of cringe.
It doesn’t help, either, that the voice work of this episode is not even close to where it needs to be. The happy upbeat tones that Phoenix usually has doesn’t make for a good dramatic scene. It works fine in the normally comedic tone of the show but not when it decides to take itself seriously. And, considering that a good 90% of this show resorts to back-and-forth dialogue to tell the story instead of visuals, the poor voice acting is only magnified here.
This is just such a boring flop of an arc. No amount of forced gasping and cliched dialogue can stop this episode from drowning in its own melodrama. What’s worse is that there’s an actually good story buried deep down in here. Something compelling, dire and mysterious. But without visuals or direction to match the core story this episode wants to tell, this is just another waste of 22 minutes.