Some tales and genres really lend themselves to be translated over to shows; others are not so friendly. I have found that 4-komas and video games can’t always make the jump to light speed, so to speak, and they betray their origins. This is never more so than in the offering “Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igiari!” (“Turnabout Trial: I Object to That ‘Truth’!”), as the problem is, no matter what they call Naruhodō Ryūichi, we know him as ‘Phoenix Wright’ (and he is referred to as such on more than one occasion).
The premise is pretty straight-forward: Naru is a brand-new attorney. I mean, he hasn’t even chased his first ambulance! His mentor and friend, Mia Fey (the professional lady to the right) helps him in his first case, where he has to defend a childhood friend accused of murder against the almost unstoppable Miles Edgeworth (that dandy on Phoenix’s back….dang! I’m doing it, too. Naru’s back). The thing is Miles is an old childhood friend as well, but Miles will stop at nothing to gain a conviction and hasn’t lost a case ever. Move over, Perry Mason!
Here is where things go off the rails, as it all plays out like the video game it is. Can you spot the contradiction? Well, we eventually do and our tyro earns his first victory. However, it is short-lived when tragedy strikes the lawyer firm and Naru must soldier on.
It’s just that it comes off as really bad lawyering, terrible courtroom ‘drama’ and just a convoluted fantasy mix. You are in shock as to how the Japanese judicial system works, in that the judge can (and is) bullied by the prosecuting attorney and you HAVE to reach a verdict in three days. What? There are broken protocols in the handling of evidence, the lack of separation between the arresting officer and the lawyer (I don’t think they want you being too chummy with them all), the oddness of the cases themselves and the over-dependence on ‘surprise’ witnesses. And the artwork isn’t all that good.
Forget how horrible Naru’s hair is, he has EKG eyebrows (there’s a little blip or uptick in them). And the histrionics in the courtroom would, under normal circumstances, have all of these people serving a ton of time in stir for contempt of court. Plus, when we find out that the wrong person has been charged, we just shift things about and the ‘proper’ person is now in the docket and continue on as if it were a mere bagatelle. Uh, what about false arrest or any other miscarriage of justice? And what are these people so fired up for that we have to crank out justice like it was just ice?
It would have been better if we either pushed the lunacy for all it was worth or stuck with something more serious; instead, we tried to have both, but ‘dramedies’ are difficult to pull off successfully and this one doesn’t do it at all. I found myself getting irritated with the whole mess. Maybe it works better as a video game (I wouldn’t know, as I never played it myself), but it certainly flops as anime, especially when we bring in the spiritual/occult angle to reach a conclusion. That’s some rather tricky evidence to present.
And Naru is always down to his last scrap of brain cell before he manifests a stunning comeback and justice is served….but it’s more like a fish dish leftover on the second day. So, why did I stick it out? It certainly violated Rule Three of my Anime Rules List (“If you think a show isn’t going to get any better, leave it. It will NOT get better.”) and I felt it got worse. I think I just wanted to wrestle it to the ground to achieve at least a moral victory.
I cannot recommend this show. Characters are bizarre to be bizarre and inescapably annoying. Plus you are aware that the ‘good guys’ will win and there are never any worries. But Naru has the Jessica Fletcher Syndrome. Quick time out: Jessica Fletcher was from the show “Murder, She Wrote”, and it seems that everyone she knew was accused of murder or a victim of murder. If you know Naru, you are going to be accused of shiving or poisoning or offing someone, and he’s still learning. As far as I can tell, the show potentially did not take more than six weeks of real calendar time, so he is getting a crash course in things.
You can do far better than this mess.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 6 (Intentionally odd)
Plot 7 (Typically typical)
Pacing 7 (Frantic just to keep your interest)
Effectiveness 6 (This ain’t lawyerin’!)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 6 (Feh!)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I object!