SLA Screening date: October 12, 2012
Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Hiroki Narimiya, Mirei Kiritani, Takumi Saito, Ryo Ishibaski, Rei Dan
Scotland Loves Anime kicked off it’s 3rd year at the GFT with the astounding Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban), the movie adaptation of the popular Phoenix Wright game of the same name, directed by the famous Takashi Miike. Undoubtedly, the best video game film ever made, the acting, script and visuals are all spot on providing an entertaining two hour thrill ride. If you ever have the chance to see this film: do. You will not regret it.
The plot covers the main arc of the game but is simple enough to follow for newcomers. Phoenix Wright (Hiroki Narimiya) has just won his first trial with the help of colleague and mentor Maya Fey (Rei Dan). However, a few days later Maya is murdered with her sister Mia (Mirei Kiritani) suspected of the crime. Phoenix decides to defend Mia, placing him against hotshot prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth (Takumi Saito), an old classmate and childhood friend turned rival. This initial case is both an introduction to the characters, and trial layout and also provides an opening to the sinister mystery of the DL-6 case where everything intertwines.
So it’s important to note that this film is insane. Perhaps not as insane as Miike’s other projects but this incredible film thrives on the innate silliness of the Phoenix Wright series: from the outrageous hair styles to the confetti that fills the court room when Phoenix wins his case. The latter is especially silly as the film highlights the absurdity of this action by showing the consequences -disillusioned staff throwing shredded paper, cleaners slowly sweeping the debris of the near empty courtroom.
Ace Attorney somehow provides gritty realism, with scenes that are darker than it’s animated counterpart, juxtaposed with the theatricality of the 3 day trial event and the audience who manage to look more bizarre than the citizens of the Capitol in The Hunger Games. And the film keeps throwing these contrasts together. The funniest scene is quickly followed by the most heart-wrenching as Phoenix tries to cross examine an uncommunicative parrot which eventually reveals the sorrowful past of its owner.
These are all details that are found within the source material but Miike has managed to bring life and reality to these short interactive stories that no other medium can.
The reason that this live action film opened an animation festival is due to the visual effects provided by OLM, better known as the animation company behind Pokémon. The most notable use of these effects is in the trail system. When an attorney wishes to use evidence to make their point, a CG screen appears with an image of said evidence. To add to the drama, this screen is often literally thrown in the face of the opposition adding another layer of hilarity and perhaps the best use of a green screen ever.
Miike plans to have Ace Attorney subtitled and dubbed in as many languages as possible to make this film accessible to everyone. With the blu-ray already out in Japan, it is to be hoped this film will be available internationally very soon. This stunning mix of humour, drama, visual design, fantastic acting, gripping storytelling and countless moments of fanservice, makes Ace Attorney a film not to be missed.