This week: spirit channeling identity theft.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
It has just been revealed that the woman on the witness stand isn’t Sister Iris at all, but Dahlia Hawthorne, being channeled using the kurain channeling technique to testify on the stand. Despite her villainous repute, her testimony is still valid in a court of law. Dahlia immediately starts to explain what really went down that night on the mountain.
At Morgan Fey’s behest, Pearl was instructed to channel Dahlia at a certain time so that she could kill Misty Fey and Maya as well. This would make Pearl the head of the Kurain family and fulfill Morgan Fey’s ambitions at last. However, as we know, things didn’t go according to plan, not in Pearl’s execution of her orders, and not in Dahlia’s execution of the plan either. Misty Fey ended up being the channel for Dahlia Hathorne, and for some reason, while Dahlia was about to kill Maya, she blacked out after being stabbed from behind. When she awoke, she was trapped inside the sacred cavern and switched places with Iris when the earthquake hit and she was able to escape her prison.
Just then, Godot receives word that the locks on the sacred cavern have been broken and only Sister Iris was found inside. This makes Phoenix and Dahlia think that Maya might really be dead, but Phoenix doesn’t give up. He realizes that because Dahlia blacked out, she must have been re-summoned within the sacred cavern, by none other than Maya herself. Mia, being channeled by Pearl, explains that it was her idea to do this, after Maya channeled Mia asking for help. Dahlia is enraged by this revelation, and is banished from Iris’s body in her anger, revealing that it was Maia channeling her the whole time.
But the trial is not yet over, Godot insists that we haven’t found out who really killed Misty Fey, and the court concurs. Godot makes her disdain for Phoenix clear, and explains that if he can’t prove Maya’s innocence, she’s going to be slammed with the guilty verdict. He challenges Phoenix to protect Maya without Mia’s help, a challenge that Phoenix has no choice but to accept.
There isn’t much left of Ace Attorney, both in how many episodes it has to go and how much goodwill it can carry with it’s audience. It seems that not even the most ardent of fans can be bothered to turn a head to see how this unfolds. Make no mistake, this episode, and this anime, is just a worse version of events from the “Ace Attorney” game series, and it really shows when the enigmatic villain, Dahlia Hawthorne, steps on stage.
This was the time when Ace Attorney should have had a radical shift in tone from lighthearted to dark and sinister. Dahlia Hawthorne isn’t just a villain of a case in the series, she is almost the villain, representative of a lifelong clash between the kurain family lines that hurts the innocent and allows evil to thrive. Her menacing, mocking tone flies in the face of the absolute sincerity and heart that Phoenix strives to maintain in the courtroom, making her an incredible villain to work with. Yet, this anime can’t seem to shoot straight in this area. The washed out, bright and well-lit courtroom completely undercuts the drama and clashes with the story. The voice acting and writing tries to make Dahlia threatening, but just does so little when it needs to do so much. She isn’t terrible, just kind of average, and a little bit too bratty to be entertaining.
Because Dahlia doesn’t work, the rest of the case doesn’t really work as well. Like I said last episode, too much of the case is spent recapping things or explaining things that aren’t terribly interesting. The mystery doesn’t function because it’s played out like a conversation between two characters, not a first person examination of a puzzle. There are few things more boring in an anime than a flat shot of people talking, but you’re going to see a whole bunch of that here. Certainly some better direction could have made this more exciting to watch, or the use of the “Ace Attorney” franchise’s extensive soundtrack, but that’s just wishful thinking at this point.
There isn’t much more I can say about this episode that I haven’t said time and time again about this series to begin with. An anime can’t just turn on a dime and finish out it’s last few episodes in high style. The poor quality of this episode is just symptomatic of the larger structural and directorial issues with the show. This is just a matter-of-fact cash grab, designed to be easy to produce without much trouble.