I’ve watched a lot of Japanese movies since I first watched Ace Attorney, but it was the movie that really started me on Japanese film (and tv). My friend B, who loves video games, had talked a lot about the game (which I had no device to play on), but I hadn’t really paid much attention to it. But then, as I was scrolling through tumblr (this is how these things usually start, I’m noticing), I stumbled across a picture of this dude that looked awfully familiar, but it was live action and not animated. After a bit of research, I discovered that the picture was, in fact, from Ace Attorney and that the character was Phoenix Wright (the English version of his name, it’s Naruhodō Ryūichi in Japanese). The actor playing him was Hiroki Narimiya (who is awfully, awfully cute, but has since been shoved down lower on my list of favorite Japanese actors, sorry dude).
So, I did what any curious fangirl would do, and I downloaded the movie. Why? Because it’s not available with English subs anywhere to rent/stream/purchase (and believe me, I keep checking — I desperately want to own this movie). I found a fansubbed copy and fell in love almost immediately.
Now, I need to get a couple of things clear, prior to seeing this movie, the only thing I knew about AA was that Phoenix Wright said ‘OBJECTION’ a lot and had great, stereotypical anime hair and that it was originally a video game (and has since expanded to include a lot of other characters). I didn’t know anything about the game itself or the fandom surrounding the AA franchise. I was just interested in it because I’d heard of AA in passing and also, Hiroki Narimiya seemed pretty cute. This means, of course, that I loved the film without any hesitation because I had nothing to compare it to (there are complaints based on how it differs from the game, but obviously that wasn’t ever an issue for me).
The movie, Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban), is sort of the story of Phoenix Wright. He’s a new attorney and ends getting involved with a huge case when his partner is killed. Her sister is accused of murder and he must defend her. The movie stuffs a several of cases into the film (they all come from the game, I discovered later), but connects them loosely. Phoenix ends up going against his childhood BFF, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth (Mitsurugi Reiji, who is played by my friend D’s favorite Japanese actor, Takumi Saito), at one point and their interactions are endlessly amusing.
Obviously, there’s a lot of comedy and overacting, which works perfectly (and was a really good introduction to Japanese acting) in the context of the movie. It looks really, really snazzy, too. Like a comic book brought to life. After I’d watched the movie, I decided I needed more of the AA world. I discovered there were a bunch manga (about both Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth), and I now own all the English translated. Also, I emailed B and asked her if there was a game version on either iOS or Wii that I could play, she suggested iOS and I’ve been playing it (and loving it) on and off for a long time. I’m not very good, but it’s lots of fun (especially since I don’t have to interact with anything except the game itself).
Overall, it’s a super fun film. If you liked the game, you might enjoy see the characters in the live action context. Otherwise, I’m not really sure who this film appeals to (aside from fans of the actors). I loved it because it was ridiculous and funny and I had just enough background to understand it was an adaptation, but none of the hang ups of longtime fans. I really wish they’d release this movie with English subs, because I want to watch it again and again.