What They Say:
Only one name strikes fear into the hearts of evildoers everywhere: Phoenix Wright, ace attorney. Join Phoenix Wright and his adorable assistant Maya - plus Miles Edgeworth, Detective Gumshoe, Franziska von Karma, and others - as they investigate twenty intriguing cases. Find out why Phoenix Wright has devoted his life to fighting injustice!
What We Say:
(If by some chance you've been living in a cave for the last few years and don't know who Phoenix Wright is or why we love his games, you should stop reading this review, go get the games and play them, thus becoming a member of the cultish, obsessive fanbase. Then you can go buy this book. Go on, you'll be glad you did.)
More formally known as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook, this is a collection of more than twenty official doujinshi shorts and 4-panel strips. In fact, that's really the best thing about it: that the stories themselves are created by a varied group of fans. Artists who generally know what it means to show affection and understanding of characters not of their making, and who can create believable stories without stepping outside canon characterizations – or veering wildly from them – with equal ease. Anything less wouldn't do the series justice, so rooted it is in addictive stories and peculiar characters. And sometimes you just want to revisit your favorite characters and watch as they interact with each other in new ways, and that's where doujinshi anthologies like these really shine. All the characters you'd hope to see – and probably some you'll wish were forgotten! – make an appearance in these pages, and they're so true to their game counterparts that it's in clear evidence that each and every contributor is a Phoenix Wright fan down to the bone.
Whether you like the wacky humor, the wacky characters, or the wacky story plots, the comics here all make good use of these components. Some encourage you to look deeper at the characters, while others are just plain silly. But whether the members of Wright & Co Law Offices are on the case of lost kittens, uncovering secrets of the past, or enduring decidedly dangerous waterfall training, you can take comfort in knowing that Maya will always be up for a jumbo ramen challenge! The Casebook is about fifty percent longer than most manga releases, and since the stories are unconnected and short, it's a great book to leave out for spurts of casual quick reads. I'm not sure I can pick a favorite story, but the peashooter and Missile the police puppy bits come pretty close. My only complaint is that there's not enough Miles Edgeworth! Lucky for me, he'll counter with volume two!
What about how it looks? Well, this collection showcases the talents of twenty separate creators. I saw some familiar names, but others were complete unknowns to me. A bit like Phoenix himself, the artwork is not always especially competent but is, at least, confident. Artistic styles range from cutesy and humorous to reasonably faithful renditions, with plenty falling in between. As for the text, Del Rey has wisely chosen to the match the localization to that of the North American game releases, so save your naruhodos for the imports. The one thing Del Rey couldn't get around, however, is Maya's love of miso ramen, but they've included a note in the translation section for those who didn't know her Japanese counterpart wasn't originally a big fan of hamburgers. Text replacement looks good, in so much as I can judge by a galley proof, and SFX are subtitled as per Del Rey's usual process.
So, what's the verdict? As with any anthology there are both hits and misses in here, and where each story falls is like to vary from reader to reader. Some people will like the whole book and others might not, but I guarantee that if you're any sort of Phoenix Wright fan, you'll find something good in this collection.
This write-up is based on an advance galley proof; Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook will be officially available on September 30th.