With CloverWorks splitting off from A-1 Studios, there was reason to hope that this season of the Ace Attorney anime might right the wrongs of its predecessor. Having gained the independence to make their own decisions and not simply be A-1's B-studio, they might have been able to take the series in a new direction. And with PVs showing revamped character designs, and the fact that this season was to adapt only one game (Trials & Tribulations, the third game in the series), and the show even starting with a good first episode, things were starting to look hopeful.
Sadly, this was not to be.
read my review of the first season, you'll see I've already detailed there what a disaster this anime was from a technical perspective. There are some improvements to be found here - the colour palette for the character designs was improved from the undersaturated tones used in the season prior, although the facial proportions are still odd. The courtroom has also been revamped to something more closely resembling that of the games (although the defence and prosecution are still on the wrong sides of the court for some reason). Most importantly though, the CG court gallery, whilst not removed outright, has been made much less obvious. This anime even looks good at times - but it's extremely uneven. In some episodes it looks completely fine, but in many more there are constant and severe animation errors. The animation may be slightly improved, but it needed much more than "slight" improvements.
As before, this takes a streamlined approach to the games, cutting a lot of incidental dialogue. This actually works wonders for its opening case, The Lost Turnabout. This was originally the first case of the second game, Justice For All, which was left out of the first season - Understandably so, as it serves mostly to reintroduce the main cast, which would have been quite out of place in the middle of the previous season. That case has some fun contradictions, all of which are preserved here (for once), but it suffered from having an extremely irritating main villain whose main characteristic was rambling and ranting. The streamlining of dialogue cuts this out, leaving a much more enjoyable case as a result.
However, this approach is detrimental to the entire rest of the anime. In particular this damages the characterisation of two of its most central characters - Godot and Mia Fey. Godot serves as the primary antagonist for this season, a mysterious masked man with a grudge against Phoenix. While Godot is probably the least capable rival Phoenix has ever had in the games, notable more for his characterisation than presenting a direct threat, he was still a competent prosecutor in the source material. Here, however, he fails to present a single decent argument.
And Mia Fey comes off even worse. Prior to Trials & Tribulations/Gyakuten Saiban 3, she had been a mostly one-dimensional character, having been killed off quite early on and serving more as a ghost mentor figure to Phoenix and a part of various character's backstories. Here, however, we are treated to two cases set before the start of the series in which Mia Fey is the protagonist. Sadly she doesn't differ much from Phoenix in this adaptation, as both were strongly characterised by their inner monologue - the game's version of Mia is the sassiest thing on the planet, but that is completely absent here. Similarly, the anime totally changes the romantic dynamic she had with her mentor, making her obviously flustered in place of the more subtle dialogue that was used originally. It's a clear downgrade, and takes her even further away from her excellent game counterpart.
Those two cases are adapted more faithfully than much of the game - presumably since as they are more closely linked with this series' overarching plot. However while the events themselves aren't changed much, the sequencing of the cases is bafflingly rearranged. Turnabout Memories, originally the first case of the game most of this season is from, is moved to around the midway point, directly before the other prequel case, Turnabout Beginnings. Given that the plot threads set up in this case are vital to the dramatic core of this entire arc, and help to build intrigue in some of the later cases moved before it, this rearranging of the cases damages the narrative somewhat. While it isn't devastating, it's still maddening that they would arbitrarily make such an easily-avoided misstep.
A similarly bizarre decision was to add an entire four episodes of filler (including a brand new anime-original case, Turnabout Express) when such a substantial amount of canon content was trimmed out. Save for the aforementioned Lost Turnabout there isn't a single case here that couldn't have used more runtime. Somehow, even the filler case manages to feel rushed, and wastes some ideas that might honestly have made a good case (although possessing some obvious flaws, like the killer's identity being one of the franchise' most outplayed tropes).
Fortunately the series does make a significant jump in quality in its second half. Turnabout Beginnings in particular manages to preserve if not outright improve on the eerie tone it sets, with its very premise spelling certain doom for most people involved. Even the animation here is noticeably better than usual, and many of the presentation choices in these episodes do a superb job of emphasizing some of its most key emotional beats.
Most importantly of all, though, this season adapts Bridge to the Turnabout, the indisputable masterpiece of the original Ace Attorney trilogy, if not the entire franchise - and manages to not completely bastardize it. While it does make some errors in its first half (in particular bungling the initial hook of the case), in its second half it fares far better, not only giving the events the due space to breathe properly, but also featuring some uncharacteristically excellent directing in places. This case is an absolute masterpiece of detective fiction, managing to create an incredibly layered mystery that weaves together an absurd amount of narrative threads so perfect a puzzle that it defies belief. It creates a perfect mystery while also managing the feat of tying it all into numerous threads laid throughout both of the previous games, and grounding it into the conclusion of compelling character arcs for much of the main cast. It really cannot be overstated just how good Bridge to the Turnabout is, even if the execution here is flawed in places.
Overall this season is a significant improvement over its predecessor, but it's really too little, too late. While the production is better than its predecessor (what isn't?), the improvement is owed more to having better source material than the previous season.
If you have not played the games, and have already watched the first season, I am begging you not to watch this one. Please go play the games instead. They are available on so many consoles at this point that there's no way you don't have something that can access it.
After the first series aired with its numerous problems, not many of us had any expectations for the continuation. Rough work on the pacing, narration and execution was detrimental to the final work. However, CloverWorks worked on some of the core problems the prequel had and it brought forth a much acceptable result.
The theme of the anime remains pretty much the same with Phoenix (Naruhodo) going through a few cases, but this time there is much more attention to the pacing, leaving enough time for a case to unfold in a more natural way than rush through everything. There were 23 episodes to animate only
1 game, which meant there was plenty of time for everything and indeed, they gave the final case the space it needed which made the series shine in the end with some great moments and a most well done climax, unlike the prequel.
Of course, this does not make everything great, as things still may be fast and there are various fillers that are just really boring (albeit some being on point!), but the changes have been welcome and it makes the experience much better for people who may have not played the games. It is still pretty far away from a perfect narration of a mystery (but that is not really the anime’s fault), but combined with the intricate story the 3rd game has, which involves our main characters deeply and has a span of many years, and the better storytelling, we have a series we can at least be happy about this time.
Character-wise, there is not much change other than the inclusion of Godot, who is by far the best character in the franchise, and Dahlia (Chinami), who is surprisingly very good at what she does. The downside of the characters is that the franchise itself is peculiar in ways that just do not make sense with characters acting so unnaturally sometimes, ignoring the obvious thing or somehow making the most absurd (yet right) assumptions, etc, so this happens in this series as well. It all comes down to how much you can like them and ignore such things, but of course it is not a good thing either way. Thankfully, there is a touching story involving a lot of characters this time and the more we learn, the better it gets.
Unfortunately, the art and animation have a lot of problems to the point that even in some close-up stills, the anatomy is pretty terrible which is astounding. I still consider it an upgrade though, because the opening/ending sequences were much better this time around and with better songs and I found myself rewinding to check some specific scenes created solely for the OP/ED. But that is all the positive feedback I can give to it, since the animation seems very simple most of the time and I was not a fan of some of the special effects used. However, they really tried bringing to life some of the game’s animations, which was welcome. Sound-wise, there was nothing impressive, but the voice actors were good (especially Godot, even though I didn’t like Hiroaki Hirata as a choice at first) and the OST is decent, with the 2nd OP being a weakness of mine.
Summing up, this is still not a great anime, but CloverWorks fixed to a big extent the problems that were there before and offered us an enjoyable watch, at least. If you are a fan of the game, you should definitely watch this. And if you are not, this deserves a chance someday!
As someone who's never even held a copy of the games, I legitimately didn't think that the Ace Attorney series could have anything even resembling an overarching narrative. A strange surprise, but certainly a welcome one.
More cases, more peculiar murders, and one suspicious woman that seems to keep popping up in everything that's going on, the follow up to Naruhodo Ryuuichi's start in his career as a defense attorney has him tackle more of these cases, this time with a lot more backstory and a lot more quirks to be had.
Noted as an adaptation from the third game of the Ace Attorney series, a lot
doesn't really change from the story aside from continuing to adapt cases from the source material, doing a sort of 'animated tutorial' with a hundred percent less trial and error hoping that you just 'happen' on the right answer since Naruhodo is a lot smarter of a defense attorney than (apparently) most people give him credit for. The quality of the show varies on a literal case by case basis as some of the defense cases are more interesting than others, so the overall story flow fluctuates depending on who or what is getting their time in the spotlight.
The one differing aspect from S2's story this time around is the fact that the show has a set narrative regarding the past and presents of Naruhodo and his friends from the Ayasato clan, which by in large made the show a lot more interesting than should be given credit for since it surprisingly enough ties a number of things together in ways I didn't think needed to be done, and actually for once engrossed me in the story and the eventual reveal and unveiling of everything since Season 1 was a series that I found either fun or exhausting to watch depending on who was slated to be put in the slammer. Really if it hadn't been for three cases this time around all revolving around the same cast of characters and painting a full story within the lore of Ace Attorney, I probably wouldn't have batted much of an eye at the whole thing.
The staying factors of Naruhodo and Mayoi haven't really changed much beyond the explorations of their characters through their backstories. Since a massive chunk of this season is devoted to focusing on a select few cases that all revolve around the same cast, most of where their characters shine happens here where they're at the forefront of the topic at hand due to their heavy involvement with the accused, culprits, and witnesses during these trials. It's a nice change of pace since now Naruhodo has to put aside his personal ties in order to do his job, adding a nice bit of conflict to the usual zany cases that I'm sure would make any self respecting defense attorney want to take up the bottle due to the kinds of clues and convoluted plans these cases entail.
The rest of the recurring cast like the judge and Chief Itono don't really shift all that much since their roles are primarily comedic fodder that also serves as the legal/civil team that helps with the investigations of these cases. The only major changes here exist in Mitsurugi's role largely being pushed to the side with only one episode really dedicated to him, and the mysterious prosecutor Godot, who I would really think should be dead after ingesting so much black coffee in such a short amount of time.
As for the side characters who serve as the show's 'main attraction', most if not all come back to be the series's usual, quirky side cast that does their best at being (usually) hair pullingly annoying with varying mileage on my tolerance towards them depending on the case. Primarily one and done characters where solving the case/convicting the right person finishes their involvement with the series, a few that appear in the middle of the series show up to bring about that overarching narrative that I've been mentioning a few times. Strangely enough, the characters involved with THOSE cases feel a lot more like real people rather than oddities of society, making at the very least some of their actions seem plausible and a lot more interesting due to the results of their actions.
With CloverWorks picking up the slack from A-1's work from Season 1, personally I don't really see a difference with the artwork. Maybe a little more saturated than the shiny and bright polish that A-1 did when the series was in their hands, but the series largely looks the same, and that's a lot better than what I was expecting since I usually expect a show that changes hands to boast an equally dramatic shift in art quality as well.
Likewise, the show still did its best to keep the little 'quirks' with everyone at the podium, animating replications of all the sprite movements that admittedly were a lot more annoying than I initially remember them being since I'm positive the they were just trying to fill up time with how often they were using them.
Personally I didn't find much of many of the songs to be much of interest this time. At most I'd probably give Tomohisa Yamashita's songs "Never Lose" and "Reason" credit for being an interesting pieces to listen to with their more mellow and modern beats, which while somehow really out of place with Ace Attorney, were definitely interesting choices that work well as songs to listen to on their own.
I honestly thought that this season would just be the 'obligatory' watching continuation of a series that I decided to watch on a whim and would continue doing so because I typically don't like leaving series unfinished when there's more material to watch. And for once I'm glad that I put time into watching it this time around because I had significantly more enjoyment this time around with the series.
While a number of the early cases in the season weren't really all that stellar, it's the last few that really made the series feel like it was worth watching beyond the quirky and borderline illegal murder court cases. I'm pretty sure a lot of what's happening in that court room is a felony in and of itself. The fact that I felt engrossed watching the show when I previously didn't really bat much of an eye towards Season 1 due to it seeming just average is a monumental improvement over what my expectations had initially put this series at. Man, people were right in saying that last case is their favorite. In context to everything, I can see why.
If you're an Ace Attorney fan, you're probably the one I would recommend this series to. While I typically relate the adaptation in closeness to the original source material, I'm not really qualified to say how close it is to the games. But at the very least I can say from the perspective of someone who has no idea what goes on in this series that this was a surprisingly fun series that had my eyes gunning for the next episode despite my apprehensions at the beginning.
Really enjoyed this adaptation of the video game. It's obviously not the most complex anime ever but I personally enjoyed the story and fell in love with the characters! I love how each main characters ambitions and goals are brought out to you near the end. I wish that some of the characters overall existence was more clearly explained closer to the begin of the series. Overall I really liked this! I also think that the music choice near the end of the season was really cool. The intensity of the courtroom really heated up with the help of the music. It was lovely how
the ending music played in the last episode. A perfect touch to one of my now favorite anime's!