Hi everyone! This is Janet Hsu, coming to you from Octoball Osaka, Japan! (Yes, yes – “octoballs” are technically called “ takoyaki ”, but that doesn’t change the fact that these Osaka delicacies are delish! …As long as you like octopus, that is.)
Back in 2001 when the first “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” was released in Japan as “Gyakuten Saiban” on the Game Boy Advance, the “Father of Ace Attorney” Mr. Shu Takumi wrote a series of dev blogs. Here are two of them from the archives for your reading pleasure!
The courthouse we went to was a rather large one, so there were over 50 courtrooms in it. At the reception counter near the entrance was a simple notebook, opened to the page where the day’s packed trial schedule had been written. There were crimes ranging from petty theft to outright murder. It was quite the sight to see them all listed there one after another like that.
“It might be a little tough to jump straight into a murder, so let’s observe something a little lighter first,” we thought, so we picked a trial where the verdict on an indecent exposure case was about to be handed down, and wandered on over.
…We only picked it because it was the one least likely to end up with the defendant receiving a harsh sentence. I swear.
It was a tiny courtroom where you could only seat about 20 people or so. The bailiff brought the defendant in. He was a gangly boy of about 17, scruffily dressed and with a pair of glasses on his face to match the pair of rusty handcuffs around his wrists, which were connected to the chain around his waist… It was suddenly all too vivid and real. The handcuffs and that chain around his waist, by the way, were removed while he was in court.
And then, the judge came into the room.
“Now then, let’s begin.”
The judge slowly and gently opened his notebook and began to read aloud what the young bespectacled man had done… He read it in a routine, business-like manner, but he took great care to be detailed and precise with the facts. His voice was even in tone, but also clear and commanding. By the time he had finished reading off the defendant’s third act of indecent exposure and started on the fourth, it was clear that these were just the tip of the iceberg.
How could one guy do so much, and all in the same month?! I was stunned. I glanced at the designer next to me who had been sketching the judge until that moment and saw that her hand had stopped moving. But this was no work of fiction; it was but a fraction of a long list of things that had really happened. I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that sometimes real life is weirder than anything we could ever dream up.
“Since this is your first time in court, you’ll simply be placed on probation. Do you understand what that means, young man?”
“Then I suggest you ask your lawyer to explain it to you.”
…The almost homely atmosphere also left a most peculiar impression on me.
After that trial, which we easily predicted would end in a guilty verdict, we decided to go sit in on a few more trials. To build up our courage, we worked our way up to illegal possession of an amphetamine, and professional negligence resulting in death, until finally, we sat in on a murder. A butcher knife covered in blood was pulled out and shown to the court, and we heard first-hand the vivid details of the defendant’s motive for the crime. The ordeal only confirmed what I have always suspected: murder is scary stuff.
Attending the trials proved to be a very meaningful experience. More than anything, it reminded me of the harsh truth that crime is a more relevant part of our daily lives than we’d like to think. That, and that real trials [in Japan] don’t exactly go like how I imagined them to. Namely:
-The judge doesn’t bang a wooden gavel
When I envision a trial, I had always thought it was a given that there would be the slamming of the judge’s gavel, followed by an “Order in the court!” but in the real world, judges don’t have anything to slam or pound with, and they don’t say “Order!” either.
-Real lawyers hate the word “Objection!”
“You actually harbor a deep-seated hatred for the town the defendant lives in, don’t you?”
The defense attorney watching the prosecution’s extremely biased cross-examination slowly stood up.
(Here we go! He’s going to say “Objection!” now!)
I was on the edge of my seat, thinking I would hear an “Objection!” in a real court of law, but… the defense attorney simply gave a wry smile and said, “You know, that just now was a little… Don’t you think?” as he shook his head from side to side. The prosecutor immediately knew what the defense was talking about, and gave an embarrassed laugh. “…Yeah, I guess so. Um… I retract my previous question.”
No! That’s not how it’s supposed to go! What was with that weak “that just now”?! Aren’t you supposed to extend your arm and point sharply with your index finger as you shout “Objection!” at the prosecution there?!
I guess the phrase “Objection!” isn’t as popular in the real world as I thought.
…Incidentally, we didn’t apply any of these real life “rules” to “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”. Not one. The judge in the game is constantly pounding away with his gigantic, hammer-sized gavel while the attorneys on both sides yell “Objection!” to the point of obsession with the word.
“Then what the heck did you attend those trials for?!” you might be wondering to yourself.
Well, to let you in on a little secret, the whole point of our little field trip was actually team-building… so there you go.
Thank you, Mr. Takumi from 2001 for your time. It’s interesting how something like a trip to a real courthouse can change one’s impression of the law. Now I feel like going to sit in on a few trials myself! Actually, the district courthouse is not 10 minutes by bike from the office… Hmm…
But before I go, I’d better get some character profiles in line for next time…
Edgeworth: You have a real penchant for forgetting things, don’t you?
Janet: What is it this time…? *sweatdrop*
Edgeworth: Tsk, tsk, tsk. I can think of three “it”s, actually.
Janet: *ponders*…Oh, right. Ahem! So, those of you lucky enough to be attending PAX Prime this weekend in Seattle, be sure to stop by the CAPCOM area and try out “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy”! You just might see Prosecutor Smugworth here in action for yourself!
Edgeworth: S-Smugworth?! You will withdraw that entirely inappropriate amalgamation of my name this instant!
Janet: And for those of you who can’t make it out to Seattle, but just can’t wait until this winter for more Phoenix-and-Maya-tag-teams-the-world action, there is a little something called “Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” for Nintendo 3DS coming out TOMORROW in North America! (About time, right?! Hope you guys enjoy the pun-tastic names in that game, too! Heh heh heh…)
Lastly, to round out the list of places where you can get your finger-pointing fix, I also totally recommend checking out “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies” for iOS (the dev team really outdid themselves with this version, imho).
On that note, I’ll be back next week with a look at a few of our protagonists. In the meantime, no matter how you spend your weekend, I hope it will be an “OBJECTION!”-filled one!