MP (militarypenguin) wrote,

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Ace Attorney replay progress: finished with T&T. This is the one game of the classic trilogy I haven't replayed in full until now, because it's far and away my least favorite. I still remember the great, draining disappointment I felt when I finished it seven years ago, and consequently, as silly as it sounds, it was hard for me to ever return to it. But! I did eventually return to it, and I have some revised opinions on it.

Here's the conclusion I've reached about Bridge to the Turnabout: everything about this case is great, except for the plot.

When it's not focused on the plot, it's terrific. The character interactions range from fascinating to hilarious, the characters themselves are all great, and it's really sweet just seeing the main cast come together and support on another as the case affects each and every one of them in some way. I loved seeing how far Franziska had come in her growth, demonstrated through small yet significant things like her ordering Edgeworth to take a break from work and get some air after he's still recovering from the earthquake, and coming to an understanding that pride can be both a trap and a necessity for one's work.

Playing as Edgeworth was easily the best segment of the game, easily one of my favorite segments of the series period. Playing as him against Franziska, especially when Larry came on to the witness stand, was one of the most fun courtroom segments in the series, too. Even though 3-5 isn’t my favorite case, it’s probably my favorite case we see Edgeworth in, as it takes place both after he’s gotten his act together, and in various situations that are both work-related and not, meaning we get to see more facets of his out-of-court personality. And it’s really fantastic—he can be calmly collecting details and giving snarky retorts one moment, and then stuttering, haphazardly agreeing to put on a hood, and punching his colleague out of impulse when the idea of a little kid committing a murder is suggested the next. I also really, really loved this scene that had completely escaped my memory:

It’s a strange and interesting development for Edgeworth, for all he’s come to terms with his past and role in life, to hold this harsh resentment towards spirit mediums. It's something that never would have occurred to me, and even though it's never really resolved by the end of the game, I really loved seeing what it revealed about Edgeworth's character--it's later implied in exchange with Phoenix recalling DL-6 that his anger at Misty wasn't at her not naming von Karma as the culprit, but naming Yanni, who was innocent of the crime, eventually ruining his life, even if there was no way of knowing von Karma did it. It's such a great touch. That, and I like seeing Edgeworth have his own moments of outbursts and irrationality.

And then with all that greatness comes the plot.

The problem with the plot is everything, every moment framed to be touching, falls apart when you realize how easily everything could have been resolved with through the simple means of communication. In Godot's case, it's partially justified, as he himself admits he could have consulted with Phoenix directly about the letter but let his selfish goals and arrogance get in the way of it. When it comes to Misty Fey, however, it's outright incomprehensible that she would rather risk her daughter's life than talk to her directly about the matter. It's even worse when Godot says she was willing to pay "the ultimate price" to save Maya--and then we learn from Bikini that Misty said, "After dishonoring the the good name of Kurain, I don't have the right to face my daughter." In other words, despite death being the "ultimate price" she was willing to pay, not facing her daughter was...somehow an even greater price that she was willing not to pay.

I'd really be fine with 3-5 focusing on horrible people if it acknowledged they were horrible people, but it has everyone from Phoenix to Maya scrambling to defend Godot and mourning over the loss of Misty, making it clear it wasn't the narrative's intent.

It sucks, because I really love the idea of Phoenix’s “final” case of the trilogy being one where he has to accuse a “good” person with “good” intentions of murder. Especially since, as I was replaying the games, I was getting really fed up with Phoenix’s constant “They’d never murder because they’re not that kind of person!” justifications, and seeing him have to face a harsh reality here would have been great, as well as demonstrate how far he’d come in his career. And for what it's worth, he does show a level of aggressiveness in the case he normally wouldn’t have after both hearing a tragic story and seeing his beloved friend in tears, begging him not to do it, all in the name of finding the truth. But then that falls to shambles when he, too, buys into Godot's story and wonders if justice really was served, even after the guy straight up admitted he was selfish and might not even have done what he did out of a need to protect Maya.

Godot's hatred of Phoenix for not protecting Mia is still balls-to-the-wall-ridiculous, but it'd be fathomable, again, if it was ever acknowledged as such. It's not--in fact, Phoenix even seems to buy into his reasoning when Godot tells him, "You were the only one there with her (when she was killed)" implying Phoenix was physically present when she was killed (which he wasn't, and instead of retorting with just that, Phoenix stutters "B-but it wasn't my fault!"). By that logic he should have gone after Maya (who was first to discover the body), too--whoops!

I'm fine with Godot's logic being illogical, what with him having been in a coma for 5 years, but it doesn't work when no one recognizes it as illogical, and instead nods along with him. Though when it comes down to it, I'd be more forgiving of his character overall if it weren't for his confrontation with Franziska--a scene that makes me see red to this day (and a line that is celebrated amongst fans as him "ripping her a new one").

Other complaints: not nearly enough Mia for a game about Mia (not even in her own cases), overuse of the track, "Search ~ Core 2002" that made me really sad because it's one of my favorite tracks and its first appearance in JFA was so effective that it needs to be used with utmost care--it wasn't (it even played during a completely non-threatening discovery in a filler case).

But that's enough complaining/revisiting old, unchanged opinions. My revised ones! I came out of this case with a much higher opinion of Bikini, Iris, and Dahlia this time around. I never disliked Bikini, just...pretty much forgot about her role in the story altogether, but I liked her her a lot this time around. What I really liked about her was that she was the only witness who loved and cared about the defendant dearly, yet still knew she had to testify to the truth, which was extremely refreshing in the face of all the witnesses that either lied (to incriminate the suspect or protect them) or had a failing memory. It gave her character some unexpected dimension, and I like how seriously she's taken throughout the game despite her initially cheery demeanor.

Iris! I initially thought she was a bland character, but my opinion really 180'd on replay. First, I really liked her dynamic with Edgeworth, the level of respect they treated one another with, and their eventual trust in each other. Phoenix and their relations to him are brought up surprisingly little, but it’s surprisingly effective in showing how he’s shaped them individually and how that played a part in shaping their trust in each other.

But the scene that really changed my mind about her was one that occurred at the beginning of the case (meaning, no, this isn't when Maya is channeling Dahlia who's pretending to be Iris):

This is another thing (why Iris hates working in a place that specializes in spirit channeling) that doesn't necessarily go resolved by the end of the game--it can be assumed that she's really referring to the rivalry between the family branches, but I like to think she's really speaking of job itself, because it leaves more to be interpreted about her character. Could she be referring to her own secretive resentment of being born without spiritual power, thus causing her own mother to abandon her? Or could it be it reminds her too much that her sister is now dead? Again, the game never provides a clear answer--and I'm glad it doesn't! The open-endedness of it, along with other aspects of Iris's character, are something I think the case needed more of in general.

Most strikingly, however, is that this is one of the few--possibly only--scenes we actually see Iris complain about something, even using a word as strong as "hate" to describe it; it goes against her sweet, innocent image and I love it. This, coupled with how far she's willing to go--to protect her sister, to protect Phoenix, to ensure Godot's plan works--makes for what could have been easily defined as Phoenix's sweet ex-girlfriend into something a lot more fascinating and worth discussing.

And I, of course, love that she's the only one who really understands why Dahlia became who she did, and still loves and admires her despite it. It kind of makes me wish I wish she'd been present in some way during Dahlia’s time on the witness stand—in particular, when she was about to be exorcized from Maya. It…would have been so effective…! (Albeit confusing, since they have the same sprites.)

Which brings me to Dahlia. My opinion on her as a villain hasn't changed--she doesn't incite anger in me in any way, her schemes didn't impress me, and I think for the "ultimate evil" and final boss of the trilogy, she's really underwhelming; the only time she really "worked" for me as a villain was when she was being channeled by Maya and didn't have to use her exaggerated cutesy act to wrap the court around her finger.

However! As a character I find her really interesting. I'll say one more opinion of mine that's remained unchanged about her, and that's that I felt more sorry for her than anything. She was denied love at birth, then had to live with her father who also denied her love, a step-sister who wasn't much better than she was (people seem to forget--Valerie was in on the scheme with Dahlia, and she was willing to have Fawles put on death row for it, not even bothering to tell him the truth until years later), and then her own death was used by her mother, who planned on having her killed in some way even if she hadn't landed on death row. Wow! This isn't to excuse her crimes in any way, or even say it's possible to redeem her (she expressed she had absolutely no regrets in what she did), but I honestly think the real tragedy of the case was that Dahlia had a chance to be raised with love (to go with Iris and live in Hazakura Temple--as Iris herself notes) and missed it.

But anyway, my thoughts on Dahlia: revised edition. She's really at her most fascinating when she's being channeled by Maya and we're given some insight on how her mind--and even morality--works. This scene, for example:

It’s interesting that Dahlia, proudly self-centered Dahlia, doesn’t bring up her own planned death for reasons why her mother was so horrible here, but the fact that someone she hardly knew was forced to carry their mother’s hopes and dreams. She even refers to Pearl as “that poor child”; this is especially significant as this is taking place when she’s being her “real” self and, with nothing to lose being dead, being completely honest. Again, not to imply that this makes Dahlia a better person, but I think it gives more dimension to her that goes unfortunately glossed over by fandom.

And then there's the sprites she's given by Iris, allowing her to express an unusual range of emotion beyond the expected "pure evil." For example:

Dahlia cooly says Morgan’s plan was nothing to be proud of, she understands that people who aren’t hateful and selfish like her won’t be able to understand why she did what she did (and doesn’t add any comments about looking down on them for it), and, most interestingly, when she says “For my own personal satisfaction!” she isn’t using her “evil” sprite, but a front-facing, serious one. I think she, too, knows that her actions are nothing to be proud of—the main thing that separates her from her mother is that she’s aware of that, that her actions are ultimately self-centered ones, and sees no meaning in trying to justify it in reasons someone like Phoenix could understand, when such reasons don’t exist.

And again, in this scene:

When Dahlia is using her “serious” sprite here, it's at an odd time; one you'd expect her to be be pulling out the “evil” sprite she uses in her next statement instead. It made me wonder just what’s going on through her head when she says the former. Likely, she doesn’t revel in the joy of killing someone (after all, she has a clear preference for simply poisoning the victim) but rather, what it means after she’s done the dirty deed.

I guess what I'm getting at through all my rambling about Dahlia is that, for someone presented and often interpreted as shallow and petty, she has a surprisingly complex mindset that goes overlooked.

And those are my long, rambling likely-to-be-edited thoughts on T&T 3-5. In conclusion, Misty Fey is the true villain of the series.
Tags: phoenix wright
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