Gyakuten Saiban (Or Ace Attorney, as it is known as in North America and Europe) is a series of visual novel/simulation video games developed by CAPCOM. The series has gotten pretty popular over the 10 years it has been around, so it makes a lot of sense to have a manga series to go along with the games. Even though this is not the manga series I am talking about, this is still an amazing collection of doujins in one nice manga volume, so if you are in any way a fan of Ace Attorney I would highly reccomend this to you.
If you are not
a fan of Ace Attorney, I would recommend not reading this manga, due to it's several nods at the games' plotlines and "inside jokes" that could only be understood if you have played the first 3 Ace Attorney games.
There isn't really one specific plotline or story the flows through every chapter, since it is just a collection of doujins all written and drawn by different artists. However, the base premise of the Ace Attorney franchise will always be there; the story about a rookie Defense Attorney set on getting that guilty verdict. I think this is a good thing because it makes this manga that much more fun to read. Instead of finishing a chapter and feeling like you wished it went on more, a brand new chapter with refreshinly new art and such appears in front of you, which really gets you hooked to wonder exactly what the next author/artist has come up with for our favourite AA characters to be in. And that leads us into the next part of this review, the characters.
The characters' personalities are almost exactly how they are portrayed in the video games, and that is a very important point when reading a manga based on a video game. They also keep the "who is buddies with who" matched up with the games. Of course, the series' protagonist, Naruhodou Ryuuichi (Phoenix Wright in the English translation) is portrayed perfectly, right down to his somewhat sarcastic tone of voice to his never-ending need to save people from injustice. Wright's lonetime rival and friend Mitsurugi Reiji (English Vers. Miles Edgeworth) is also very well shown, and the Ayasato women (Fey women; Mayoi (Maya), Harumi (Pearl) and Chihiro (Mia)) are as energetic and in character as they always are, even when Mia loses it at times because of a "certian problem" she has. Overall if you fell in love with the characters in the games, chances are you will fall in love with them all over again while reading this manga.
The art is definatly a mixed bag in this one; don't expect the clean art in the official games. However, every chapters art is unique and gives a nice spin to all the characters designs. Even though there are certian chapters' art styles that I did not like too much, overall the art is pretty well done and soft on the eyes.
I enjoyed this manga as much as I possibly could. From the full-out chapters to the hilarious 4-koma shorts included between chapters and at the end of the manga. A nice touch that I love was added was how the series' signature "OBJECTION!" bubbles are featured in every chapter, with "HOLD IT!" and "TAKE THAT!" making several appearances as well.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Overall, this collection of doujinshi is really nice and a must have for any Ace Attorney fan, as long as you've played the first 3 games (to avoid being spoiled). Put these facts together with enough "you had to play it to understand it" jokes for a lifetime and nice chapter plots and art throughout, and you've basically got one manga worth reading.
When it comes to the visual novel genre of video games, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney is one of the more recognizable series. Strong writing, fantastic story, puzzling mysteries, solid graphics, marvelous music, lovable and memorable characters... the only thing the Ace Attorney games lack is, ironically, gameplay (which is the most important part of any game, but then again, visual novels rely on on story instead of gameplay).
The games, released for the GBA in Japan and later the DS in America, have gained a large amount of poularity, as well as a dedicated fanbase, of which I'm a part of. Of course, when a franchise
becomes popular, it'll expand to various different media (a good example would be Transformers, a famous toy franchise that has expanded into a plethora of cartoons, comics, movies, and anime). Therefore, an Ace Attorney anime would seem likely, right?
Well, we didn't get a Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney anime, which is a bummer, considering that Devil May Cry, a franchise produced by the same company, also had an anime, and it kicked ass. We did, however, get a couple manga series based on Ace Attorney. The one we'll be taking a look at today is a doujinshi collection called Gyakuten Saiban Official Anthology Comic: Naruhodou Version (or, in America, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Official Casebook: The Phoenix Wright Files).
Let's start off with the one of the strongest points in the series: story. The Ace Attorney games each had 4 to 5 cases involving the main protagonist, Phoenix Wright, defending the convicted and finding out the real culprit. Here... it's a little different. Being an anthology of doujinshi stories, each one is written by a different writer, and not all of them take place in a courtroom. The tone of these stories varies from being serious to humorous, which isn't too far off from the games, which were generally serious, but were able to have some rather hilarious scenes. Overall, The writing may not be up to par with the Ace Attorney games, but considering that it's handled by different people, it's acceptable.
As far as art goes, again, this is a collection of doujinshi stories. The reason this area gets a perfect 10 out of 10 from me is because, much like the writing, the art is handled by different people, or illustrators in this case. This means we get to see many different art-styles, some better than others, all impressive. Some of them depict the characters realistically, while others go for a more cartoonish approach with goofy expressions.
When it comes to the cast of characters, naturally, we have the main hero of the games, Phoenix Wright, and his assistant, Maya Fey. Mia Fey and Pearls also appear, as well as prosecutors Miles Edgeworth, Franziska von Karma, and Godot. We also see Wright's bumbling childhood friend Larry Butz (remember, boys and girls: if something smells, it's usually the Butz), as well as the always 'dependable' Detective Dick Gumshoe. Granted, not every single character from the games makes an appearance, but for the most part, we do get to see the big stars of the Ace Attorney universe.
If I were to describe this manga to someone, I would say that it reminds me of Hetalia in that it's basically different stories with the same set of characters. The differences are that the jokes are actually funny (unlike Hetalia's shitty, unfunny 'jokes'), the characters are actually likable (Larry Butz > Italy), and the art style is pretty good (unlike Hetalia's half-ass trashy art). I feel ashamed that I have to compare something as good as The Phoenix Wright Files to something as shitty as Hetalia, but believe me, if I could think of any other comparisons, I'd use them.
All in all, The Phoenix Wright Files is an enjoyable experience. You don't even have to be a fan of the games to enjoy it. You just have to be a fan of comedy manga, and you love it. Fans of the games may not find it up to par with the original source, but hey, not everything can be perfect.