This classic GameCola article was originally published in April 2009.
Welcome to “Oh, the Humanity!”, the column that reviews various videogame-based spin-offs. Nobody’s heard from this column for a while, because the old columnist, Zack Huffman, had to quit for the sake of his sanity. In fact, I’m told that he still weeps uncontrollably at the thought of videogame movies. Unfortunately, this means that the task of warning everyone about videogame-based horrors has fallen to me.
Speaking of horrors, it’s time for a pop quiz, readers! Which of these two things is worse?
a) Paying $130,000 for a degree at Santa Clara University and being valedictorian of your department, only to end up applying for the cashier job at Round Table Pizza because the hundreds of people you’ve sent your resume to have completely ignored you.
b) Not getting the cashier job at Round Table Pizza.
Answer? They both suck. Trust me. I know. But something that sucks just as much is the SCU Career Center The Miles Edgeworth Files, a book based off the Phoenix Wright videogame series.
The Miles Edgeworth Files is a manga,1 which is a type of Japanese comic book. You read it from right to left, which is a stupid gimmick the traditional Japanese style. And while that’s a pretty good idea, it doesn’t work in translation, because Americans read from left to right. In this translation you have to read the pages from right to left while reading the text from left to right, which is guaranteed to make your brain explode if you try to understand it.
This book is a collection of twenty or so different comics, written and drawn by different people. Obviously, the best thing to do in a situation like this is what the Archie comics company does: establish a baseline for all illustrations. That way, even though the different comics don’t look identical, they look similar enough so that there’s no confusion.
And, double obviously, since these are all comics based off a videogame, the illustrations in the game are the baseline. The Edgeworth pictures in the comics should look like the Edgeworth pictures in the game, and the same with the other characters. Right? It makes perfect sense.
Sadly, this is not the case.
Each artist drew his or her own comic differently. Most of the artists favored the weird bobblehead-style characters shown above, presumably because lack of artistic talent doesn’t affect the quality of those pictures. Only about two of the stories have characters that look identical to their videogame counterparts.
And there’s no consistency between the stories. Edgeworth’s hair will switch from white to black to gray between stories, for no apparent reason whatsoever. What’s annoying is when the drawing styles switch in the comics themselves, and you end up seeing things like realistic Edgeworth talking to Bobblehead Gumshoe.
This is one of the better stories in the book.
OK, so maybe the picture quality isn’t ideal, and it’s hard to understand the plot. But it’s still a Phoenix Wright book, right? That means the stories are good.
Excuse me while I laugh harder than Detective Luke Atmey.
These stories read like bad fanfiction, instead of “official” casebooks, as the cover brags. Sure, sometimes the stories are based off the games, but more often than not, the stories are littered with confusing, out-of-character moments, like Edgeworth dressing up as Phoenix, Edgeworth returning to his twelve-year-old self, and Edgeworth dreaming about Maya while he takes a (cold?) shower.
Yeah…Edgeworth fantasizing about Maya. If Edgeworth were real, he’d probably sue for libel.
In all fairness, however, three or so of the stories are interesting/worth reading. Just like how only about three of the drawings look liked the videogame. I say Capcom fires everybody but those three artists if, God forbid, they decide to make another book.
Also if they decide to do another book, I think they should have pages larger than postcards. Maybe this just comes from reading too many full-page American strips, but they could have done a LOT better with bigger pages. That way, they wouldn’t have to spread each story across twenty pages, with an average of four panels per page. I mean, give me thirty minutes and a full piece of paper, and I bet I could do a halfway decent job at getting a story across in one page:
Anyway, in conclusion, I recommend buying this book if you work at a hospital that’s running low on vomit-inducing devices. Other than that, stay away. GameCola officially declares this Phoenix Wright manga to be something the Japanese producers should have never made.
Just like Apollo Justice.
1. Latin joke time! Why are they called manga? Quia magna non sunt! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Goodness, you weren’t kidding when you said this was like fanfiction. That drawing of Edgeworth in the shower…. Just, wow.
Yeah, that picture is my new desktop wallpaper.
That manga looks awesome. Has sort of a Dokuro-chan quality to it….
Phoenix/Franziska is definitely not my ship.
There wouldn’t be consistency, it’s an anthology.
I agree with everything you said except for the last part.
Apollo Justice was GLORIOUS.
Also, everyone knows Edgeworth really dreams up his bad Steel Samurai fanfiction in the shower. Duh.
Oh, no, Edgeworth definitely has a thing for Maya in that story. It’s sort of like Twilight, to be honest. After he freshens up in the shower, Edgeworth takes Maya on a romantic picnic in the woods of Kurain. Then a bear attacks, and Edgeworth heroically risks his life to save the woman he loves.
But at the very end, when Edgeworth and Maya are about to kiss, Phoenix shows up and ruins the moment. As they leave together, Maya tells Edgeworth that it will be “our little secret”.
@Michael: One word:
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s never explicitly played as romantic (aka not nearly at Twilight levels).
It’s supposedly more off a gratitude thing on Edgeworth’s part, and not knowing how to thank her for helping him during the trial (the time she got held in contempt of court).
But it IS still written really awkwardly, and the shower scene is baffling, and does leave the unfortunate implication of him “fantasizing” about her.
He doesn’t take her on a picnic. He gets her some Steel Samurai chocolate to thank her (again, it’s weird, but I guess they want to show that Edgeworth doesn’t realize this could be misconstrued as romantic? Either that or the writer doesn’t realize it and is stupid. Whatever.), but it turns out she’s in Kurain training, so Phoenix and Edgeworth go to Kurain themselves.
So far I’d say it isn’t so much horrible as just poorly delivered. But then it DOES get horrible. A bear attacks Maya and Edgeweorth saves her. Yeah. From a bear.
Here it is if you want to read it yourself: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=L491HDFP
It’s not great, but at least it’s just a fanbook so it’s not considered canon.
You know, unlike the much more Twilight-esque AAI2. ;D
@Paul: Maya and Edgeworth’s names both start with the same letter. Therefore, it is true love. Besides, I’m told that some women really like love stories about shy men who are too afraid to open up and discuss their feelings.
I don’t know why that’s the case, though. You’d think an overly shy guy who can’t tell you how he feels would rate low on the list of potential boyfriends.
@Pleady: Well, in the podcast, we apparently determined that Edgeworth is a superhero. It makes sense that he could stop a bear with his bare hands.
I’m going to guess that the original version of the Maya/Edgeworth story is a lot more romantic, but the bad translation made it more awkward and less enjoyable. Again, just like Ace Attorney Investigations!
haha, “Stupid Gimmick”. So, you’re saying that manga should be altered and dumbed down so that Westerners can understand it. Very nice.
I wouldn’t call it “dumbing down”, but it would certainly make the Japenese texts more accessible to Westerners if it was published in the way English is supposed to be read (left to right). You’ll notice that texts translated from Hebrew aren’t printed from right to left, for the sake of authenticity to the original language.