If you’re a film buff who loves Takashi Miike or you’re a Nintendo gamer who reads all the gaming blogs, you have likely already heard the news: Miike will be directing the live action adaptation of the popular Gameboy game, Ace Attorney.
Ace Attorney is a unique “judicial battle game” whose original game play, inventive setting and captivating plot has captured audiences in Japan, as well as overseas.
The plot is set in a fictional court system in the near future. In this universe, court cases last only 3 days due to the overwhelming number of cases. The defense attorney must prove the defendant’s innocence within that time or else the defendant is found guilty. The protagonist is one such defense attorney named Phoenix Wright, or Naruhodo Ryuichi in Japanese. He starts off a rookie lawyer, fresh out of law school. However, with the support of Maya Fey, his assistant, and her spiritual powers, Pheonix wins case after case.
Takashi Miike, who will be directing the film, is globally renown for his gore-filled films such as Audition and Ichi the Killer and more recently for his mainstream films such as Crows Zero. Miike has also had experience adapting a video game to the silver screen. In 2007, he directed the well-received Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Japan Flix is a big fan of Miike and carries many of his films here on the site.
In the lead will be jdrama hearthrob Narimiya Hiroki. You may have seen Narimiya in the 2002 Nakama Yukie jdrama Gokusen, as the character Noda. He’s also made appearances in the 2004 Shibasaki Ko jdrama Orange Days, the 2005 Nakajima Miyuki film Nana, the 2007 Kimura Takuya jdrama Karei naru ichizoku, amongst others.
Joining Narimiya in the main cast are up-and-coming actor Saito Takumi of Shun Kin Sho and popular fashion model, Kiritani Mirei. Supporting them are a slew of solid actors such as: Emoto Akira, Dan Rei, Yo Kimiko, Ishibashi Ryo, and Kohinata Fumiyo.
Unfortunately, while Ace Attorney has exciting source material, director, and cast, the trailer is astonishingly bad.
Firstly, Phoenix’s hair looks like, at best, a disastrous cosplay and, at worst, a terrible porno.
I understand that the artists are trying to stay true to the look of the original game graphics, which are in a manga style. But any manga enthusiast knows that the characters are not drawn to be photorealistic. Manga uses its own language with medium-specific symbols and hyperbole. For example, when you see vertical lines drawn on a characters face, it represents despair, not actual physical lines. Likewise, no one expected Phoenix’s hair in the movie to stick up exactly as its drawn in the game.
This film is not the first of its kind to be guilty of this crime. 20th Century Boys immediately comes to mind. It’s especially disappointing to see Miike commit this error because Crows Zero was a brilliant adaptation.
Secondly, I’m concerned with the gimmicky action CG effects. Phoenix and his opponents throw blue, floating images of evidence at each other while they “battle” in court. While the trailer tries to maintain an air of realism in this dystopian sci-fi future, I cannot suspend my disbelief… nay, laughter at this hilarious showmanship.
Again, Miike was very successful at taking unrealistic manga violence and turning it into suspenseful and believable action in Crows Zero and Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Why did Ace Attorney end up this way?
Perhaps Miike will surprise us. Maybe Ace Attorney will pull off the funny hair, CG effects, and action. For now, don’t hold much hope for this film.
Ace Attorney comes out nationwide in theaters in Japan on February 11th. Let us know if you’re looking forward to it or not in the comments below.