A bit of indirection here as I'm going to be reviewing a manga release based on a video game IP. Phoenix Wright, for those unfamiliar with the series, is a loveable spiky haired defense attorney who gets involved in impossible cases yet miraculously is able to come out ahead. Surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, ridiculous storylines, and hints of the supernatural – the game series has endured itself to many adventure game fans.
How does the series hold up jumping from handheld video game system to paper? In short: It’s okay.
The art of the Phoenix Wright games has always been lively. Even though there is a staff of artists at Capcom, many of the art assets appear to be consistent with one another which help bring a unifying feel to the whole package. The manga itself consists of 24 separate creators who work in their own unique style. The shift between the different drawing styles and their storytelling pacing can be a bit jarring though it does allow for some visual gems to surface as there is quite a bit of variance. There are some I absolutely adored and others that I completely loathe. This is a personal preference though so depending on your preference of illustrations you may be more forgiving (or harsher).
The writing is probably where I have the biggest issue with this particular volume. The problem is that it requires you have played all 3 games to really understand and appreciate what's occurring. This shouldn’t be surprising but I always feel there's a bit of autonomy I feel is necessary for a good story to work. There are two separate stories in which they find a stray cat which makes me wonder if it’s a serious issue with abandoned animals in the world of Pheonix Wright or the artists didn’t really discuss their story ideas with one another. There isn’t much forward movement in the stories (where not much has changed in the universe) but I’m pretty sure this isn’t surprising to anyone.
The manga varies in price between 10-15 dollars currently. If you're a passing fan of the series or simply looking for new sequential stories to digest, I would NOT recommend picking this up. There are better investments available. However if you’re a die-hard fan and need something to fill in until “Perfect Prosecutor” arrives, it might be worth checking out. In essence it’s officially sanctioned fan fiction but the love of the characters is apparent in the stories and it was fun seeing their takes on the character.