English Dub Review: Ace Attorney “The Stolen Turnabout -1st Trial”

Crime doesn’t pay. Especially when you’re stealing an urn.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

The phantom thief, Mask de Masque, has been a plague on the city for a good while, evading the police with every one of his elaborate heists. But his most recent heist was the sacred Kurain urn, the urn Pearl broke in last season sacred to the Kurain village. This brings in Maia and Phoenix to investigate the crime and retrieve the sacred urn for the museum presenting the Kurain exhibit, Lordly Tailor.

During their investigation, Phoenix and Maia come across Adrian Andrews, who is now running the Kurain exhibit at Lordly Tailor, and Luke Atmey, an eccentric ace detective and rival to Mask de Masque. Atmey fills everyone in on how he was hired to stop Mask de Masque from robbing the museum.

The team is surprised when Detective Gumshoe gets a call saying Mask de Masque turned himself in. Phoenix and Maia go to interview him and find his real identity is a hapless young man named Ron deLite. Ron explains that he lost the urn, and his wife, Desiree, soon arrives to speak on his behalf. Desiree hires Phoenix to be Ron’s attorney and claims that Ron is just a fan of Mask de Masque who gets carried away in his love for the phantom thief.

Phoenix decides to take the case and begins his investigation. He looks around the deLite household and Luke Atmey’s office as well. His search is interrupted by Atmey, however, who explains that he’ll be facing off against Phoenix at the trial. As the trial begins the next day, Phoenix comes across a mysteriously masked prosecutor, the coffee-chugging smooth talker, Godot.

Our Take:

The first episode of season two of Ace Attorney failed to amaze, but what about the second episode, the one which begins the story arc proper? Well, it’s okay, but its quality doesn’t go any higher than that. This series is troubled, and though I’m a big fan of the games this show is based on, I can’t say this episode is in any way compelling.

Ace Attorney seems to have a real problem with pacing. It throws a whole lot at you in such a short amount of time that the audience doesn’t get a moment to digest everything that’s happening. This is understandable, considering that the original “Ace Attorney” games were text-based games meant to be played over long periods of time, so there’s a lot of content for each episode to get through. Yet, this is still a big problem, because a visual medium needs to make sure the emotional beats and reveals hit the audience at the right time. Without a good sense of pacing to the story, everything just feels like a jumbled mess.

I’m not happy with the vocal performances this series is bringing so far. As one might expect, a long-time fan of the series, such as I am, will usually have their own expectations of what a character who only exists in the text should sound like. But, though I may have a bias, I’m certain there could have been a stronger vocal direction than this. Maia and Pearl both have this annoying high-pitched twinge to their voices. Maia is an upbeat character, of course, but what we’re presented with just doesn’t land on the ear that well. Phoenix isn’t too great, either, I’m afraid. He sounds too comical, even when he’s trying to be serious, to be the hero of this story. As for Godot…there’s just something that doesn’t sound right. There’s a poeticness to his character and use of language that just isn’t captured here.

Ace Attorney season two is going to be taking on the third game in the series, “Trials and Tribulations”, which I can say from experience is the darkest of the three games. If Ace Attorney the anime is going to handle what’s to come well, then it needs to put on its serious suit and bring more to this show than what we currently have. As of now, it feels like an undertaking that’s misguided, hastily made, and most of all, cheap. And on such a legendary series such as this, “cheap” simply won’t do.

Score
5/10

Erich Hau

Erich is a northern California based writer on the front lines of the nerd frontier. When he's not burning the midnight oil he enjoys musicals, smooth jazz, and a good cup of dark roast. Cream and sugar not included.

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