Ace Attorney Season 2 Series Review: Trials and Tribulations

Original Run: October 6, 2018 - March 30, 2019
Number of Episodes: 23
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery
Based on the Video Game Series: Ace Attorney

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ace Attorney Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.***

***All characters, locations, events, etc. will be referred to by their ENGLISH names provided said character, location, event, etc. made its original appearance in the Ace Attorney video games.***

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Series Synopsis

Court is back in session.

Rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright (voiced by Yuki Kaji) has been making quite a name for himself. Along with a quick wit, excellent observational skills, and a never give up attitude, Phoenix’s rise to fame has been fueled by his absolute dedication to proving his clients’ innocence. And with the help of his faithful assistant, the spirit medium Maya Fey (voiced by Aoi Yuki), there seems to be no challenge Phoenix can’t face.

That was until he arrived.

One day, a mysterious masked prosecutor name Godot (voiced by Hiroaki Hirata) comes gunning for Phoenix. Although he swears he has never met Godot before, Phoenix’s connection to this new rival goes back many years.

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You only lose when you stop your pursuit of the truth. Thus, to the bitter end, Phoenix will always see his job through.

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Series Positives

Ace Attorney Season 2 was a strange experience.

That strangeness didn’t come from watching this series, but rather from its mere existence, as well as my anticipation towards it. There are two things you need to know before you read any more of this review:

  1. I love the Ace Attorney video games. Therefore, the Ace Attorney anime is one of the few examples of me being familiar with a show’s source material.
  2. I didn’t much care for Ace Attorney Season 1.

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Because of the former – and despite the latter – I was looking forward to this installment, even though my hopes weren’t particularly high. Although I still would rather play the games than watch the anime, the existence of two seasons doesn’t surprise me. It will surprise me more if we don’t see a third entry to this series someday.

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After all, a continuation would most likely mean starting the Apollo Justice storyline (Ace Attorney Season 1 and Season 2 covered the original Ace Attorney trilogy). Plus, there’s the added hope of finally getting a decent Ace Attorney show. Of course, to get that good Ace Attorney anime, whatever comes next needs to keep doing what Season 2 began.

Oh, if you thought I was going to rail on this season, I’m not – yet. For you see, this was an improvement on Season 1, particularly in the second half of this installment.

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Without getting too much into the “why” for the moment, let me say the first nine episodes of this season – apart from episode six – were dull (for the gamer in me) and poorly executed (for the reviewer in me). These opening episodes suffered from the same problem, which made its predecessor disappointing.

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That changed in episode ten (and this was also the reason why episode six was worth excluding) when Ace Attorney the anime did something it didn’t do last time. This season introduced an original case.

Why was that important?

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This was crucial because this series finally released something which had been struggling to get out – the anime’s personality. This show finally capitalized on many of the advantages it had in its favor.

Part of what makes the Ace Attorney games so fun is how much character and life go into their stories. All of Season 1 and throughout the majority of Season 2’s beginning, everything was stiff and forced because the anime tried so hard to be as identical to the games as possible.

Why, though?

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This was an adaptation, and adaptations can change things around to better fit the medium they are being adapted to. What works for a video game doesn’t necessarily mean the same will work in an anime. About halfway through this season, that notion clicked. Once it did, this series became so much more enjoyable.

Getting past that wall allowed Season 2 to tackle what was the most important case of the original Ace Attorney trilogy. Even though both seasons were twenty-plus episodes long and Season 1 covered the events of the first two games, it was no shock to me that the third Ace Attorney title, Trials and Tribulations, would be stretched out to fill the entire second run.

That last case of the third game is an ordeal to get through, and I would argue Ace Attorney Season 2 brought it satisfyingly to life in anime form.

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To break away to another point, I don’t see how I can credit Season 2 for its characters. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but that wasn’t this show’s doing. Individuals such as Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey were great because they were great in the games. That said, what this series did do right wasn’t its characterizations, it was its casting.

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I would have failed to do this show justice if I didn’t mention the fantastic performances of both Yuki Kaji and Aoi Yuuki, who played Phoenix and Maya, respectively. They were that special element that gave the anime, and specifically this season, its life.

In short, due to this series finally finding something akin to its own identity, enlisting the work of some very talented voice actors, and – I’m not going to lie – employing some pretty decent animation in parts (again, this season’s final case was quite well done), I can give hope to a possible third season being watchable.

At the very least, Ace Attorney Season 2 was a step in the right direction.

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Series Negatives

Let me put it simply:

If I want to play an Ace Attorney game, then I’ll play a damn Ace Attorney game.

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Ace Attorney the anime, both Season 1 and Season 2, always seemed obligated to recreate their source material one-for-one. And I’m not talking about having the same story. Hell, if that were it, then this probably would have been a show worth remembering.

I’m talking every little detail was pulled straight from the games.

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How the characters moved, how they talked, their specific personality ticks, it was all perfectly redone here in the anime. Although that might sound impressive on the surface, keep in mind that the Ace Attorney series has never placed movement as a high priority. The way this show was constructed, and this was the case throughout the opening episodes of Season 2, everyone and everything looked forced into position; there were almost no natural movements.

Plus, since you are watching an anime and not playing a game, you don’t need to take a moment to pause and come up with the solution to a problem yourself. Therefore, it makes sense why the show version of Ace Attorney would run at a faster pace.

But since the anime was re-creating what was done in the games – which require you to stop and take a second to plan your next move – most confrontations felt hollow and lacked any punch.

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That was the main reason why I liked the final case in this season. It didn’t have all the mechanics seen in the games. Stuff had to get cut. That meant the show brought the game to its level instead of forcing itself to match the games’.

Naturally, the big concern you should all be having is:

Odyssey, would you even have noticed this if you hadn’t played the games?

That’s a good question, and I don’t know if I can confidently say “yes” to it. Thus, all I can stand by is the fact that the Ace Attorney anime struggled to be a good adaptation. While Season 2 did a lot more things right, it still never successfully left the games’ shadow.

That, more than anything, was what hurt this show the most.

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Final Thoughts

Could you skip the first installment and still do fine with the second?

Possibly.

This is a pretty interconnected story. Events and actions are often recalled, and there is an overarching narrative. However – and this could be because I know the games so well – this installment could stand on its own merits.

And that’s it.

This second season did have its own things to be proud of. There were plenty of fun new details, outstanding performances, and enough of a personality leaked out to let this show be its own entity.

However, if you want a true Ace Attorney experience, get yourself a copy of the games.

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With that said, I still don’t think I can give Ace Attorney Season 2 a firm recommendation, but a solid season three could very easily change my mind.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Ace Attorney Season 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you’ve liked what you read and want more anime content, please follow me at LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews or on Twitter @thelofzodyssey.

Also, be sure to subscribe here at The Outerhaven and never miss any of your video game, anime, and other nerdom news and content.

I’m LofZOdyssey, and I will see you next time.

Also Read: Pastel Memories Series Review: Recent Nostalgia

About The Author

James Devlahovich

LofZOdyssey has been an anime reviewer since 2015, an anime fan for much, much longer, and is currently based in Osaka, Japan. As a rule, there is no anime he is unwilling to review, and any series he starts, he must finish. Leave all the feedback -- positive and negative -- in the comments. Also, be sure to follow LofZOdyssey on Twitter @thelofzodyssey for more anime related content.