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!