Chapter 1: Introduction
Ace Attorney has given us many wonderful characters and dynamics over the years, but there’s always been something about the relationship between the series’ most recognisable faces that stands out. Narumitsu, also known as Wrightworth, Mitsunaru, Edgewright and a host of other names, is the popular slash ship between Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth.
Through the last nineteen years, Ace Attorney fans have been divided over the ship; some view their unique friendship as containing a romantic tone, while others argue that they are ‘just friends’ or more like brothers than boyfriends. I’ve also seen confusion in the past over why exactly people ship them, and if they have any canon basis at all.
The aim of this essay is to explore why they are so popular as an item, to serve as a comprehensive explanation and compilation of Narumitsu’s history and evidence and, hopefully, to be entertaining to both Narumitsu shippers and non-shippers alike. Of course, my views and experiences of Narumitsu aren’t universal, so I can’t claim to speak for all Narumitsu shippers in this essay- just myself. Feedback is always welcome.
SPOILER WARNING: This essay will contain SPOILERS for ALL LOCALISED ACE ATTORNEY GAMES, as well as ACE ATTORNEY INVESTIGATIONS 2 and the ACE ATTORNEY ANIME, and discusses the content of the ACE ATTORNEY MANGA, including the Kodansha Comics and the Anthologies, the ACE ATTORNEY MOVIE and the ACE ATTORNEY MUSICALS (Takarazuka Revue).
DISCLAIMER: I am an English-speaking fan, so I have limited knowledge of content which is not translated or localised into English. I have never played the games in Japanese, have only a rough idea of the Japanese climate around these issues and the games, and am basing some of my points on unofficial translations and second-hand accounts of content like the musicals, magazine articles, official Capcom statements, etc. However, I have tried to make this essay as accurate as possible.
This essay is dedicated to a certain IRL friend of mine for replying to my initial proposal of this essay with a sarcastic “Hmm ok”. He knows who he is. Special thanks also goes to the Narumitsu Discord for just generally being cool people.
Part 1: The Games
A) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
B) Ace Attorney: Justice for All
C) Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
D) Ace Attorney Investigations 1 & 2
E) Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
F) Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
G) Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice
H) Crossover Games
Part 2: The Anime
A) Season 1
B) Season 2
C) The Openings
D) The Flashback Episodes
E) The Signal Samurai
Part 3: The Expanded Universe
A) The Kodansha Comics Manga
B) The Phoenix Wright Files
C) The Miles Edgeworth Files
D) Gyakuten Saiban: The Movie
E) The Takarazuka Revue Musicals
F) Everything Else
Part 4: Outside of Canon
A) Official Merchandise
B) Official Art
C) The Creators
D) The Fans
Part 5: The Fun Stuff
A) Is Edgeworth Gay?
B) Romantic Tropes
C) Themes, Meta, and Parallels
D) The Flirtation Compilation
Chapter 2: Part One: The Games
Happy Narumitsu Week!!
Throughout the first three games (the Trilogy), Miles and Phoenix’s rivalry and friendship, as opposing lawyers and long-lost childhood friends, is a key point and ongoing character arc. Edgeworth appears in all the trilogy games, initially as an antagonist and later a key ally of Phoenix’s, and undergoes massive character development each time, constantly attributing his change from ‘demon prosecutor’ to single-minded truth-seeker to Phoenix’s influence. Phoenix, the protagonist, became an attorney through sheer motivation to meet Edgeworth again after he lost contact with him in fourth grade. Their relationship changes from adversaries, to a man and his saviour, to tentative allies, then to rivals, friends, and finally partners in the courtroom.
The Investigations games do not feature Phoenix in a speaking role, but are full of Miles alluding to him as ‘that man’, ‘a certain man’, ‘a certain defence attorney’ etc.; almost every reference he makes is with a great admiration, even going as far as to relate Phoenix to his late father. In a similar vein, Edgeworth does not appear in Ace Attorney 4, but we can easily see his continued presence in Phoenix’s life by reading between the lines.
Ace Attorney 5 and 6 feature Edgeworth’s return as the Chief Prosecutor, and Phoenix’s return to practicing law. The two are clearly still close friends, and we are told that they were in contact during Phoenix’s disbarment, with Nick occasionally joining Miles on legal visits to Europe. He prosecutes AA5’s final case against Phoenix and is implied to have a large part in helping get Phoenix’s badge back. AA6 has Nick investigating the final case with Edgeworth as his partner and features them facing off in a DLC case revolving around a client’s wedding.
Each and every game has something to contribute to the ship, so I’ll go through each game case by case and go through their journey together chronologically, basing arguments around points toward the ship that can be found in the games. This section is meant to be objective, but bear in mind that I’m a big enough shipper to write a seven-section essay, so don’t expect 100% neutrality. There will be paragraphs explaining the significance of each case in the overall Narumitsu journey, which may include and discuss out-of-canon, fanon, and my personal bias.
Section 1A: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
i) Turnabout Sisters
The murder trial of Mia Fey is when the duo first interact on-screen. Phoenix is a rookie defence attorney who’s only won one trial; Edgeworth is a prodigy who became a prosecutor at the age of 20, but is surrounded by rumours which accuse him of hiding evidence and manipulating witnesses. Phoenix clearly knows this, and when Detective Gumshoe tells him that Edgeworth is to be his opposition, he reacts with unusual aggression, calling him a “feared prosecutor” who “doesn’t feel pain, doesn’t feel remorse, and won’t stop until he gets his “guilty” verdict.” From the very first moment, it’s implied that Phoenix has some sort of personal backstory with Edgeworth. One of the things which makes the ship so compelling is the extent to which the game impresses their backstory on you, and it starts small, with this oddly personal attack on Edgeworth’s character.
Fast forward through the trial, and on the next day Phoenix is arrested for Mia’s murder in Maya’s place due to Redd White’s scheming. Edgeworth, presumably, is told about the change of suspects with very little time to prepare, but is also informed that “whatever Redd White says is going to be the absolute truth.” Despite seemingly being part of the corruption, something apparently doesn’t sit right for Edgeworth, and he does something contradictory to the impression we had of him before: he goes to warn Phoenix about the state of the trial. After monologuing briefly about the lies of the guilty and how he will do anything to get his verdict, he tells Phoenix not to expect any special treatment- giving us another hint at their history together.
Inwardly, it’s clear Edgeworth never truly believes Phoenix is guilty of killing Mia. This tiny insecurity (and subsequent loss) is what starts his gradual change into morality.
What does this mean for Narumitsu? Not much, yet- the two appear as adversaries with an unknown history, hardly on the grounds for romance. But Phoenix has brought Edgeworth down in court- something that no one else has ever managed- and this singles him out in Edgeworth’s mind.
ii) Turnabout Samurai
Gumshoe tells us about how Edgeworth doesn’t seem to be taking his defeat very well- “crushing paper cups of coffee” “Edgeworth’s outta control, pal” “sipping tea gloomily and staring out of the window”. Phoenix’s destruction of his ‘perfect win record’ seems to have sent him into a crisis of faith- and Edgeworth, probably for the first time in years, isn’t sure what to do.
The two face off in court one more time, and Phoenix fights with his usual stubborn vigour, but hits a wall after his battle of wits with Dee Vasquez- lacking definitive proof, her cross-examination is about to end, when Edgeworth objects out of nowhere- clearly on impulse and without much thought- “uh… indeed! Verily, I say… ergo!”- but he commits to it, and for the very first time Edgeworth teams up with Phoenix to find the truth, sacrificing victory by assisting him. (Compare this attitude to the sentiment he expressed just a few hours of gameplay before: “I will do anything to get my guilty verdict, Mr Wright. Anything.”)
After the trial ends, Edgeworth goes to the defendant lobby to talk to Phoenix. After a few moments of awkward chat, Phoenix thanks Edgeworth, who brushes it off and gets to the point: making a feeble attempt to remove Nick from his life, so he can force himself to keep living in the comfortingly straightforward moral hellscape of his demon-prosecutor mentality. Of course, because he hasn’t had to talk about his feelings for a decade and is pretty out of practice, he phrases it in possibly the most subtext-heavy way he can: “Thanks to you, I am saddled with unnecessary… feelings.” Finishing the conversation with a dramatic insistence that Phoenix ‘never show his face in front of him again’, Edgeworth makes his exit. Edgeworth’s uncertainty about his life choices and subsequent transformation is explicitly due to Phoenix’s actions and influence.
In terms of Narumitsu, ‘unnecessary feelings’ looks startlingly like a love confession out of context- but in reality, the context only makes it more romantic. Unease? Uncertainty? Phoenix has known Edgeworth for like… a month! And just through exposure to Phoenix, Edgeworth has gone through this change; where he used to always take the straightest path to victory and clearly not worry about the truth too much, he’s now been shaken up and thrown off balance so completely by one persistent guy that he’s started to question everything he’s believed for the past 15 years.
iii) Turnabout Goodbyes
The biggest giveaway that this case is about to take things to the next level with Phoenix and Edgeworth is Phoenix flat-out refusing to believe that Edgeworth could ever commit murder. Phoenix is shocked and angry at the mere suggestion of wrongdoing on Edgeworth’s part, and immediately rushes to the detention centre to offer his services as an attorney. He doesn’t even know anything about the case except the location. Now, I’ll admit this is something Nick does with all his friends when they get arrested, but he hasn’t even had any kind of positive on-screen interaction with Edgeworth yet! Anger is fairly unusual for Phoenix, but when Maya even implies that Edgeworth might be guilty, he snaps at her and quickly changes the subject. Nick’s usually a pretty placid guy; this is probably the most passionate reaction we’ve seen from him yet outside of court.
Edgeworth refuses to let Phoenix defend him, saying that “you in particular I cannot ask to do this”, and overall seeming unhappy that Nick had to “see him like this”. This is likely the first time Edgeworth has shown weakness in years, and these walls have been torn down by Phoenix in a matter of what, three months? Edgeworth doesn’t want Phoenix to see how weak he is, and he doesn’t want Phoenix getting too close to him or his past, presumably for fear that he’ll dig up even more ‘unnecessary feelings’ and irreversibly knock his life off course.
Afterwards, Nick and Maya meet up at the crime scene with Gumshoe, who has some pretty enlightening commentary on how Edgeworth’s been coping with his second loss. He is shocked that Edgeworth turned Phoenix’s offer down, telling us that Edgeworth wouldn’t stop talking about him after the trial (or saying his name, anyway). It’s been two months since Turnabout Samurai, but Phoenix seems to have become a sort of fixation for Edgeworth as the source of all his woes. That’s unusual, considering he’s the one who demanded Nick “never show his face in front of him again”- you’d think he would try to put Phoenix out of his mind, not start getting obsessive. (Although it’s not as though it’s unrequited- at one point Nick outright states that “his whole life has been leading up to this” (saving Edgeworth).)
Additionally, according to Gumshoe, everyone has turned their backs on Edgeworth except himself (close colleague of five years who is undyingly loyal to him) and… Phoenix. Given what we know (and how much we don’t) about Phoenix & Edgeworth’s backstory at this point in the game, we the player can’t help but find this unquestioning dedication unusual. And throughout the trial, that never changes in the slightest. Phoenix fights incredibly hard to win a Not Guilty for him despite everything that happens- facing off against a god of prosecution with a 40-year win streak, having to deal with completely indestructible evidence and testimony, not having Mia by his side for the first time, even having to resort to cross-examining a parrot and getting tased while trying to gather evidence, Phoenix never falters in his faith in Edgeworth. Even when Edgeworth’s DL-6 nightmare comes to light and he is convinced of his own guilt, Phoenix (with absolutely zero evidence, mind you) doesn’t believe it for a second. And on the final investigation day, when Maya asks why exactly he’s so defensive of someone who isn’t even nice to him and who he’s only really interacted with twice over a three-month period, Phoenix finally explains why he believes so unflinchingly in Edgeworth.
As Larry already mentioned a few days ago, he, Phoenix, and Edgeworth attended grade school together, although Edgeworth transferred school in fourth grade, shortly after the death of his father. One afternoon, $38 of Miles’ lunch money was stolen, and Phoenix was accused of the crime, leading to the class holding a ‘trial’ to decide whether he was guilty or not. In his trial, Phoenix’s classmates angrily accused him of the theft, despite having no evidence and despite Nick’s protests that he didn’t do it. Just as the teacher was about to force Phoenix to apologise, Edgeworth defended Phoenix from his classmates- objecting and calling the trial a sham, reminding them that they had no proof. Larry joined in as well and the trial soon dispersed. This event had a huge impact on Phoenix as a child, and was the beginning of his friendship with Edgeworth. From then on, the three were close friends until Edgeworth moved away to live with von Karma.
Phoenix tells us that he tried to get in contact with Edgeworth many times, but never got a reply; but one day he saw his face in the newspaper under the title of ‘Demon Prosecutor’. Very casually, he drops the bombshell that (since he was desperate to find out what happened to Edgeworth), he decided to become a lawyer just because he would get to meet Edgeworth again. Even though they hadn’t seen each other for over ten years. And even though Phoenix had known Miles for less than a year before he moved away… Huh.
Anyway. In the trial, Phoenix manages to take down Manfred von Karma and prove that he was behind both DL-6 and the current murder, proving Edgeworth innocent, just as Phoenix had always believed he was. Here’s the thing: Phoenix revealing the truth behind DL-6 didn’t just save Edgeworth’s life in the literal sense, it also started the healing process of fifteen years’ worth of bad dreams and emotional wounds. Phoenix is Miles Edgeworth’s saviour, and the games really do NOT let you forget it, especially in JfA and the AAI duology.
After the trial, Edgeworth is much happier and more unguarded than we’ve seen him all game, and (after a little bit of awkwardness) thanks Phoenix for defending him. Everybody arrives to celebrate Edgeworth’s victory, we discover that Larry was the true culprit behind the lunch-money theft, and at the end, Phoenix and Edgeworth are seen standing side by side, Miles with the first smile we’ve ever seen on his face.
What does Turnabout Goodbyes mean for Narumitsu? Almost everything. It’s the case which continues to define Edgeworth’s character and his relation to Phoenix to this day. It gives us Edgeworth’s softer side and Phoenix’s undying belief in Miles- it gives us their history together as childhood friends, it tells us that the reason Phoenix is a lawyer is so that he could see Edgeworth and save him from his demons, and it shows us that the power of their friendship is strong enough to tie their lives together even after literal decades. And, most importantly, it is the beginning of their relationship as partners, now that Edgeworth has been redeemed and is starting to transform into the truth-seeking prosecutor who we know and love. Without Turnabout Goodbyes, it’s almost certain that Narumitsu would never gain the credibility and popularity which it enjoys today.
iv) Rise from the Ashes
Rise from the Ashes is the final case in AA1, added post-T&T to encourage players to buy the DS version of the game and to build excitement for Ace Attorney 4. We see Phoenix face off against Edgeworth for a third time, this time not with Maya cheering him on, but Ema Skye, the younger sister of his client, Chief Prosecutor Lana Skye. While the two still argue with the same old conviction, there’s a distinct shift in their dynamic towards friendliness. When Nick gets stuck, Edgeworth gives him advice (“when you’re stuck with no place to go, return to the basics”); when it becomes necessary for Phoenix to call Edgeworth out on the forged evidence from two years ago, he internally apologises (“I’m sorry… I know it wasn’t your fault…”), and while they’re investigating, Edgeworth cooperates and answers Nick’s questions, though he’s pretty tight-lipped on the subject of the case (seeing as he’s the one prosecuting the trial). My point is that this case shows us the beginning of Phoenix and Edgeworth’s dynamic as partners in crime-solving, which is expanded on massively in Farewell, my Turnabout, the fourth case of JfA.
Some of aa1’s less emotionally charged Narumitsu moments are found when you’re investigating Edgeworth’s office. When Phoenix asks how Edgeworth is coping, he jokingly lampshades how Phoenix spends so much time being concerned for him that he hardly seems to do anything else- “first last year’s trial, and now this one- it seems all you do is worry about me.”
Another thing we see for the first time in this case is Edgeworth’s genuine smile. His arrogant court sprite shows him smirking victoriously (and this case also gives us a (slightly softer) out-of-court equivalent), but his genuine smile is much more introspective and shy, not meeting the player’s eyes. The extent to which he’s opened up (to Phoenix, at least) since Turnabout Samurai is really visible in this sprite. It also seems to be an expression he makes only in embarrassing and awkward situations… and when he’s expressing emotion to Phoenix (for example, “it seems all you do is worry about me,” and the “partners” line in T&T.) What’s more, there’s no equivalent to this sprite in the AAI games: this is a face that he seems to only make around Phoenix.
If you choose to examine the chessboard in Edgeworth’s office, it’s noted that the pieces are not the traditional white and black, but red and blue. Furthermore, the blue pieces (or at least the pawns) have ‘spiky’ hair, the red pieces (at least the knights) all have very sharp ‘edges’, and the red knights are surrounding the pawn. According to my research, chess sets such as this one (confirmed to be custom in aai2) cost a LOT. A customised board alone is upwards of $1000, and I couldn’t even find anywhere that sold custom-made chess pieces, never mind to the level of detail that involves small-scale symbolising you and your courtroom rival as the pieces. I doubt Edgeworth is the type to settle for cheap boards and pieces, either. The delivery time is a matter of a few months, but as Nick only met Edgeworth five months ago, he must have ordered it pretty soon after meeting him, post-Turnabout Samurai at the latest. TL;DR, Edgeworth apparently spent thousands of dollars to buy a custom-made, him vs. Phoenix-themed chess set, and displayed it in his office. Okay, Edgeworth. You do you.
Back on the topic of the case, Gant tells Phoenix and Edgeworth that they “make a good pair” as they work together to get him to tell them about the evidence room murder. Much later on, just as he’s about to be taken away for his crimes, he seems to be relatively assured in one thing- that the legal system will be safe without him. “Don’t worry! Now you have Wrighto… and Worthy. With these two around, you can’t go wrong… In fact, I can almost hear them now. The harmonious sounds of a new beginning!” Many characters comment on how the two of them working together is a great success for the legal system, because together, they are able to keep each other balanced and achieve things that they could not do apart. Lana touches on this: when Edgeworth is perturbed by Gant’s claim that they both hated crime and thus were alike, and that one day he would understand how difficult it was to go it alone, she points out that Edgeworth is not alone. The metaphor that she uses to illustrate this is the divided evidence list: Phoenix has one half, Edgeworth has the other, and when they are put together they solve the case. Of course, her comparing their teamwork to a divided evidence list made whole has the implication that Phoenix and Edgeworth themselves are two halves of a whole that complete each other- effectively the traditional ‘soulmate’ narrative.
Edgeworth, despite Lana’s reassurances, still wants to leave the Prosecutor’s Office after the trial, struck by Gant’s question: why do you stand in court? He leaves the office and then the country, leaving nothing but a note behind: ‘Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth chooses death.’
This wraps up the first game, and the only game where Edgeworth serves as the main prosecutor. However, this is only the very beginning of his story and of his journey with Phoenix Wright.
Section 1B: Justice for All
i) Edgeworth’s Suicide
Phoenix begins the game believing that Edgeworth has committed suicide, and whenever he is brought up, he reacts with anger and bitterness (“he clung to his foolish pride and died for it.”) He refuses to hear Edgeworth’s name mentioned, seemingly out of a combination of deep grief and bitterness. Bear in mind that he reacts like this even in Turnabout Big Top, almost a year after Edgeworth’s ‘death’. He seems to have settled into blaming Edgeworth for leaving, believing that he committed suicide because of the loss of his perfect win record. Phoenix is deeply hurt and angry about Edgeworth’s death, even a year on. However, we can’t say that Phoenix has fully lost faith in Edgeworth- his belief in him is still there, just dormant, as he tells Pearl when she asks about him: “well, he might have become a good person… eventually.”
ii) Farewell, My Turnabout
We learn that Edgeworth’s actually alive in the end of Turnabout Big Top, and he reappears to take the role of prosecutor for the final case. In my opinion, this case more than makes up for the lack of Narumitsu content in the rest of the game- it’s probably only surpassed by Turnabout Goodbyes in terms of development in their relationship.
The scene where Edgeworth shows up again is full of complicated emotions on Phoenix’s part- he is furious, acting like Edgeworth’s suicide was a personal rejection “I-I never wanted to see you again!” “I thought you had gone and died!”. The dynamic between them has shifted the other way. Instead of Phoenix reaching out to Edgeworth, in this case it’s the other way around: Edgeworth reaches out to Phoenix, trying to convince him to work with him towards the truth. “Your hatred for me is quite unhealthy, not to mention one-sided,” “you can’t win on your own at the trial tomorrow,” “working together is the definition of teamwork”; Edgeworth makes it pretty damn clear that he really wants to work together with Phoenix.
Compared to before, though, there’s much more honesty and openness between them. Edgeworth always used to hide his feelings while Phoenix wore his heart on his sleeve; but in this case they become more honest with each other, standing on the same emotional level and continuously trying to understand each other better. One example of this is the conversation they have about why they stand in court, and another is when Edgeworth freely and willingly shares evidence with Phoenix in order to help out with finding the truth.
Come the day of the trial, Franziska has been non-fatally shot in order to ‘help’ Phoenix get a not-guilty for Engarde, leaving Edgeworth to stand at the prosecutor’s bench. He even takes a moment to inform Phoenix that he’s going to show him his reason to stand in court, and Nick thinks to himself that he wants to see this answer. This is a pretty randomly emotional thing to do in a court of law, especially for Edgeworth, and especially in such a dire situation- it immediately ramps up the tension between them.
After the trial, the two of them have a conversation in which they call each other out for their odd behaviour in the trial. Even after such a long time apart, they can identify when the other is behaving strangely and aren’t afraid to discuss it openly between them- a level of emotional connection they couldn’t have even dreamed of in AA1. Before either of them has realised it, their bond of trust has become strong enough that they feel free to be open and honest, even when they’re angry at each other, about things that might risk the lives of innocents (Miles’ top secret de Killer information, Nick’s hostage Maya situation). The revelation that Engarde is actually guilty effectively places them on the same side, giving them free rein to work together as closely as they want, which they do gladly. They share information and evidence, work in tandem both in and out of court, help each other out wherever they can- they’re a great team when they actually coordinate and work together.
Actually, all of the long conversations they have are full of emotional baggage, philosophical legal discussions, and sheer sentiment. (Talk about ‘Phoenix Wright Wax Philosophical Power Hour’.) In talking about such deep and meaningful subjects together, the game creates a growing sense of understanding and emotional intimacy between them as they try and get to the core of each other’s mentality and especially their respective motivations to stand in court.
Finally, on the last trial day, we have one of the core parts of their relationship brought to the forefront into text- their mutual trust. The game goes out of its way to make a point of Phoenix and Edgeworth realising their trust in each other- not just as attorney and prosecutor, but also as colleagues, and as friends. The fact that this is phrased this as a huge emotional epiphany in a dire moment (as a realisation of love would be) doesn’t help either.
Not just trust, either: support. This trial establishes Phoenix and Edgeworth’s unfailing support for each other throughout all the emotional turmoil of the case. We know Edgeworth isn’t the best at expressing his emotions, but he always offers reassurance and guidance to Phoenix in and out of the courtroom. It isn’t wasted on Phoenix either: “As long as he’s standing across from me… I think things will be okay.” This case hammers home for the first time their unbreakable bond of faith and trust which holds them together, and how critical that bond is to both of them.
The trial ends, Engarde is declared guilty, Maya returns safely, and Edgeworth appears to talk with you. His monologue to Franziska about his perfect win record and his subsequent change confirms what we worked out in the first game, that Phoenix alone was the catalyst for his transformation. Additionally, this speech provides us with some touching insights into just how deeply Phoenix changed his perspective, and begins the trend of Edgeworth calling Wright ‘that man’, which is continued in the Investigations games. Phoenix’s stubbornness and undying faith in his clients and in him was the whole reason for Edgeworth’s sudden transformation- “A man appeared and stood fast against that selfish me.” “And then it was my turn to sit in the defendant’s chair. And I was saved… by that person I called my enemy…” “Before I knew it, I began to trust in that man as well.”
Phoenix does his fair share of emotional monologuing then as well, confessing how betrayed and angry he was that Edgeworth would run away after something like a broken win record. “When you disappeared, I felt… betrayed. The reason I decided to become a lawyer in the first place is because I believed in the things you said to me all those years ago…” This serves to confirm that Phoenix really did feel personal betrayal after Miles’ ‘suicide’, not just a more ambiguous anger/grief.
At the Gatewater feast scene, they share a heartfelt double apology, and a double thanks: Phoenix’s gratitude is so strong that he ‘feels words aren’t enough’. For the first time in the trilogy, you can see that they consider each other equals, and you can truly call them friends.
‘Farewell, my Turnabout’ is another key moment needed to understand Narumitsu. A large part of their dynamic is built on this one case; their cooperation in court and the importance of their mutual trust are both primary focuses of their story. Seeing this development (especially on Edgeworth’s end) is one of the series’ greatest emotional satisfactions, since in a way this is the conclusion of Edgeworth’s redemption arc.
Justice for All is the trilogy game which features Edgeworth least- he is ‘dead’ for most of it, after all- but in a way, it’s the most important for understanding who he actually is. His reason to stand in court, to find the truth, sticks with him as one of his defining character traits. His development with Phoenix, too, stays with him for the rest of the series, even regressing a little in the latest games. Nevertheless, this game serves to emphasise just how important their bond of trust is to the flow of the series and to the characters themselves.
Section 1C: Trials & Tribulations
As with Justice for All, Edgeworth is absent for most of the third game. He features as a flashback prosecutor in the fourth case, going against Mia Fey and ending up with no verdict due to the defendant’s death on the stand. Edgeworth appears as a playable character in the fifth case, serving as a defence attorney for a day while Phoenix is in the hospital. Thanks to Edgeworth’s absence until case 4, there are relatively few interactions that he and Phoenix share in the early game. However, we can still make some inferences about them through Phoenix’s actions and thoughts.
i) Turnabout Memories
The most obvious reference to Edgeworth is found in Turnabout Memories, which takes place seven years prior when Phoenix is a 21-year-old art student accused of murder. When he met Dahlia, he was in the library of the courthouse, eight months prior to the trial- meaning he was already considering studying law to meet Miles again. When you think about it, this means that becoming a lawyer wasn’t some spur-of-the-moment decision driven by sympathy for Edgeworth: Phoenix weighed up all of the costs (incredibly difficult bar exam, he has to switch his art degree, there’s no guarantee he’ll even interact with Edgeworth, he hasn’t seen him in ten years and none of his attempts to contact him were successful) and the benefits (helping people like Miles helped him, the slim chance of meeting Edgeworth again and even slimmer possibility of talking to him and finding out what happened), and he still decided that he would go for it, because Edgeworth was that important to him, even after such a long period of separation.
ii) Bridge to the Turnabout
Edgeworth, who has been abroad in Europe for most of the game, hears that Phoenix’s life is in danger and IMMEDIATELY charters a private jet to see if he’s alright. Miles is asleep, in bed, when he takes the call from Larry- let’s assume that he’s in Germany, for simplicity’s sake- and the flight time direct from Munich to Los Angeles is eleven hours. He makes it to the detention centre within fifteen hours. That means that Edgeworth got out of bed, packed luggage, chartered a jet, got to the airport, boarded, disembarked, found out where Phoenix was, travelled to the hospital, had the conversation where he got the badge and magatama, and made it to the detention centre in the space of just four hours in his hurry to make sure Phoenix was okay. This level of concern for someone else’s wellbeing is impressive, to say the very least, and it’s far beyond anything we’ve seen Edgeworth do before.
The missing hospital scene has been the source of lots of discussion in the past, as we never find out what passes between them there (in the games, at least), but what we do know is that Phoenix trusts Edgeworth with his two most important possessions in the world- his attorney’s badge, which he values so much that it ‘itches like a missing limb’ when it’s taken away in Apollo Justice, and his Magatama, which as far as he knows is irreplaceable, and which he relies on for most, if not all of his investigations.
When Edgeworth arrives at the detention centre, he talks with Iris, providing us with some very enlightening conversations between the two. When Iris asks what Phoenix is to Edgeworth, he replies with an unusual level of emotion, claiming that he is ‘a very dear and irreplaceable friend’. Honestly, this affirmation of their friendship is a testament to how far their relationship has developed since the series’ beginning: Phoenix, who Edgeworth originally thought was just an upstart who got lucky, is now “irreplaceable” to him, and he cares for Phoenix as one of the select few (if not THE most) important person in his life.
At the end of the investigation, Edgeworth attempts to break Iris’ psyche-locks about the secret she is trying to keep. If you present the wrong profile at the final stage of the locks, she asks Edgeworth if ‘he himself has a deep, dark secret in his heart’. He reacts affirmatively, thinking that the only way he can get rid of that dark secret is to reveal the truth behind her own secret. It’s never explicitly stated what the ‘deep secret’ in Edgeworth’s heart actually is. At first glance, I thought it might be the DL-6 incident- but that was resolved in the first game, and he wouldn’t still believe that he killed his own father. Then I thought the ‘darkness’ could be his lack of a reason to stand in court, which drove him to fake his death, but Farewell, My Turnabout made it pretty clear that he has absolutely no doubts about that either. So… just what is it? Well, Iris mentions his ‘secret’ because apparently it ‘takes one to know one’. Iris’ secret is that she dated Phoenix in college in disguise as Dahlia, and that she developed feelings for him in that time. If Iris’ secret is that she has romantic feelings for Phoenix Wright, what are we supposed to assume about Edgeworth? (Bear in mind that Iris had asked him what the relationship between them was just a few minutes ago.)
Edgeworth stands in court the next day, having gone to great lengths to organise Franziska as the prosecution and the regular judge’s brother as the Judge. He is perfectly aware of how much trouble he could get himself, Franziska, and Phoenix into if he is found out, and it’s implied that he’s putting his prosecutor’s badge on the line in order to defend Iris and help Phoenix out. The fact that Edgeworth is willing to risk his career if it will put Phoenix at ease is a sign of how much he wants him to be happy; for a guy who’s basically married to his work, it’s a huge gesture. His condition for defending Iris is based solely on what would make Phoenix happy: “he’s still suffering. You should go to him… Tell him the truth.” It seems like he cares about Phoenix and his peace of mind more than he cares about the safety of his own career.
During the trial, Edgeworth constantly thinks about and tries to emulate Phoenix- “there’s only one thing to do! Think like you!” “That’s what he’d do… That’s how Phoenix Wright would do this!” He admires Phoenix and his skills so much that it’s what his mind returns to each time he’s cornered: even Franziska notices it, telling him that he “reminds her of Phoenix Wright when he is cornered.” Edgeworth even assumes his identity, saying that “right now, I am Phoenix Wright, and I am indeed cornered…!” It’s safe to say that Phoenix has become something like an ideal among defence attorneys in Edgeworth’s eyes- and interestingly, he never once thinks about being like his father Gregory, nor achieving his childhood dream; just about helping Phoenix, and trying to be like him.
After Phoenix gets out of hospital and the player POV switches back over to him, Edgeworth sticks around to help him, using his influence as a prosecutor to investigate the Hawthorne case and retrieve Iris from prison, and ultimately wishing him well in the trial by addressing him as “partner”.
The game makes a point of the idea that they are now a team, with Edgeworth referring to their defence as a “we” and Iris as “our client”, and their teamwork is on an even closer level than in Farewell, my Turnabout. Their progress from enemies to friendly rivals to partners is especially evident in this case. While Phoenix is genuinely sorry that he can’t bring himself to tell Edgeworth about his past trauma surrounding Iris and Dahlia (a close parallel to Edgeworth’s reluctance to communicate with Phoenix in Turnabout Goodbyes), in every other aspect they freely share information and help each other reach the truth, eventually coming to the revelation about Iris and Dahlia’s connection at the same time. This behaviour contrasts strongly with the young Edgeworth we meet as Mia in the previous case, and serves as a display of just how far he has come thanks to Phoenix bringing Edgeworth to his senses and saving him from himself back in the first game.
Edgeworth often expresses concern for Phoenix and his health, gently telling him to “take care” before returning to the precinct and remarking on his sickliness several times afterwards. In the same manner, Phoenix thinks of and worries about Edgeworth immediately after the earthquake, complete with a fade to black and a flash of Edgeworth’s sprite with Phoenix thinking “I wonder if *he’s* alright…”. Simply from his expression, Franziska can tell he is thinking about Edgeworth, which seems a little odd considering the far more pressing matter that Maya may be trapped or dead in the event of the Inner Temple collapsing. Another moment where Phoenix worries for Edgeworth appears when he is forced to tell the court about Edgeworth letting Iris briefly escape, with a tender thought of “I’m sorry… I know you didn’t mean to… It wasn’t your fault…”. The game makes it clear that they are always concerned for each other, even in the most difficult situations.
Phoenix’s past with Edgeworth is brought up multiple times, with their conversations in the garden featuring several references to the DL-6 incident and Edgeworth’s past trauma (probably as exposition for any player who missed the first game), as well as Phoenix becoming an attorney simply for Edgeworth’s sake- “It’s because of you that I became one… Not that I have any regrets. I really don’t.” Phoenix repeatedly expresses a desire to comfort Edgeworth, thinking twice about being “prepared to hug it out with him”, imagining him “crying softly” to himself. Edgeworth offers Phoenix a heartfelt apology and thanks for his past mistakes and how Phoenix saved him: “…I’m sorry, Wright… There’s nothing else I can say… Not after you chose to become a lawyer for my sake… and not after you saved me…”, and in response, Phoenix is unable to express the depth of his care for Edgeworth out loud, silently thinking “You’re stronger than you think, so no more self-pity, okay?”
Additionally, Phoenix believes that there are only two people who truly understand Edgeworth- his foster sister, Franziska, and… Phoenix, who has only really been in his life for a few years. Even Gumshoe, his closest co-worker, is said to have a slightly skewed view of Edgeworth. He comments to Franziska that “people really don’t get Edgeworth, do they?” This follows on from his belief in Turnabout Goodbyes that he’s “the only one who knows the real Edgeworth.”
Finally, just before Phoenix is about to go into the last trial, Edgeworth wishes him luck and assures him of his belief in him: “I leave the rest in your capable hands… partner.” The word, while it can be used in a purely platonic and professional sense, also suggests the idea of a romantic relationship, especially between gay couples in a civil partnership. Combined with the history between them (which has been outlined in some detail here) and the fact that this is where the trilogy leaves their relationship, the line brings a definite sense of- well- partnership between them. They are unwavering allies, close childhood friends, courtroom rivals- two halves of a whole.
Bridge to the Turnabout, as the conclusion to the Trilogy, was always bound to highlight the friendship between Phoenix and Edgeworth, as that relationship is what drives their actions through the games. Edgeworth risking everything to put Phoenix at ease, the depth of their affection and care for one another, their partnership and unbreaking trust, how Edgeworth views Phoenix as an ideal and a saviour, the mystery of the missing hospital scene, and Edgeworth’s enigmatic “secret” which we never heard of again- all of this builds a case towards how the two might, potentially, become romantically involved following this trial. For the first time since they were children they are on equal footing, and may healthily progress in their relationship.
Trials and Tribulations may not hold the same weight for their relationship as the first two games did, but it is still an essential part of their journey, and is the last time they are seen together in a game before 2013, when Dual Destinies reintroduced Edgeworth to the main series.
Section 1D: Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations 1 and 2
The Investigations games are a spinoff duology for the DS, with Edgeworth as the protagonist, and do not feature Phoenix in a speaking role. Only Gumshoe, the von Karmas, Gregory Edgeworth, and certain joke witnesses such as Oldbag, Lotta, and Larry return from the main series. Phoenix’s name is never, ever mentioned in dialogue, and his only appearance is as a cameo background sprite which Edgeworth & co. invariably fail to notice. As such, there isn’t much point in going through the games case-by-case as with the Trilogy, so instead let’s first address the games’ two most important points towards Narumitsu, and then explore the little things which more slyly suggest Phoenix’s presence and impact on Edgeworth.
Please beware of spoilers for Ace Attorney Investigations 2.
i) “That Man”
During the duology, Edgeworth often cryptically refers to “a certain bluffing defence attorney”, and we can discover his true opinions of Phoenix by examining what he says. Prepare yourself for a lot of very heartfelt speeches, because it appears that whenever he gets the opportunity to talk about Phoenix to a group of people who have never met him, he will. This is much more pronounced in Investigations 2, with the first game leaning towards subtler, more sarcastic references to Phoenix.
In the first case of the first game, when he is revealing the truth behind Buddy Faith’s death, he thinks: “(Did I just say ‘contradiction’? He must be rubbing off on me.)” It seems like Edgeworth has spent enough time putting up with Phoenix’s wild tactics in court that he’s adopted some of them for himself.
In the second case, when examining the airplane’s magazine rack, Gumshoe makes a mistake when reading that results in Edgeworth comparing him to Phoenix, even if just to insult him- “Don’t tell me your English ability is at the same level as ‘him’…”. There is no other character in the scene or the case who this mysterious ‘him’ could be, leading to the logical conclusion that Edgeworth is thinking of and poking fun at Phoenix’s foolishness, even when he’s not around to hear. Later in the same case, when Mr. Lablanc threatens to sue him, he says that if it’s a “courtroom tango” he wants, he can recommend “a certain lawyer” for the job. The implication that Miles considers a courtroom battle to be similar to a tango- a traditional partners’ ballroom dance, generally considered to be passionate, intense, and even romantic- and, furthermore, specifically recommends Phoenix for this “tango”- has certain implications which are… not quite platonic.
The third case goes without any reference to Phoenix, and the fourth is a flashback to Miles’ ‘Demon Prosecutor’ days, (before they had reunited), but the fifth case contains the most obvious reference to Phoenix in the whole game. Aside from Edgeworth’s comments about the first Mask*deMasque’s trial- where he mentions how he was “apparently represented by that man,” and how “knowing him, I’m almost curious as to how insane that trial turned out to be”, an affectionate introspection on Phoenix’s peculiar ability to pick up weird cases- he finds himself backed into a corner during the final confrontation with Quercus Alba, and Edgeworth turns to his thoughts of Phoenix for inspiration. He comes up with the solution by imagining what Phoenix would do in such a situation- and the phrasing is pretty emotionally loaded, too. “In a situation like this… what would *that man* do? What would he, who can turn any situation around, do…? Turn it around…? That’s it! I must turn my way of thinking around!”
Investigations 2 is infamous for Edgeworth doing this, as, unlike in AAI1, the dialogue concerning Phoenix isn’t hidden away as little references. It really becomes clear how much Edgeworth admires him, and it’s impressed pretty heavily on the player that Edgeworth considers Phoenix his saviour.
The first mention of Nick is in the Imprisoned Turnabout, where Raymond Shields, who initially sees Edgeworth as a traitor to Gregory’s legacy, asks why Edgeworth underwent such a radical change from his Demon Prosecutor days to now. Edgeworth responds: “If I had to say, it would probably be… the courtroom itself. All the experiences I’ve had and all the people I’ve met inside the courtroom. And perhaps… reuniting with my old friends.” These ‘old friends’ can only be Larry and Phoenix, and, well… I wouldn’t exactly say Larry was the catalyst for Edgeworth’s redemption. The experiences of the courtroom he refers to are chiefly defined by Phoenix’s presence, and he essentially states that it is Phoenix- as a lawyer, and as a friend- who caused him to change. This may seem like reaching now, but it becomes far more obvious in later speeches. Ray then laughs and makes a teasing comment about how “no one would’ve thought [Edgeworth] would lay open [his] heart like that,” and remarks that Gregory would be surprised. Near the end of the case, when Edgeworth is about to corner Warden Roland, Edgeworth, on his smiling shrug sprite, thinks “(It almost feels like I’ve turned into a certain bluffing defence attorney.)” This is much in the same vein as his earlier comments about contradictions and turning his thinking around- when anything that relates to defending someone comes up, Edgeworth’s thoughts always turn to Phoenix.
The next time Edgeworth mentions Phoenix is much more obvious, and much more emotional. The fourth case is a rollercoaster of emotions, ending up with Justine Courtney- your rival for the majority of the game- and Edgeworth talking in the detention centre. She asks him why he pursues the truth above all else, even when the situation seems hopeless, and even when it puts Edgeworth’s own badge on the line. He replies that his younger self and Justine both had power, which made them believe that justice was on their side- but that “thanks to a certain man, my self-centred sense of justice was broken down,” and how his entire worldview and the way he sees people has changed thanks to Phoenix.
The importance of Phoenix in his life and in his redemption is stressed over and over in this game, and especially so in the final case- the Grand Turnabout. During Sebastian Debeste’s Logic Chess segment, Edgeworth discusses how to find one’s path in life with him, and says that “there was a time that I, too, did not seek the truth and continued to run away from it. However… thanks to a certain friend, I was able to realise my mistake.” Sebastian tearfully comments on how nice it must be to have someone like that. This is the second time the game has mentioned Phoenix as the source of Edgeworth’s redemption and Edgeworth’s belief that it is Phoenix who was responsible for freeing Edgeworth and enabling him to change.
Right at the end of the game, when all is said and done, Edgeworth reclaims his prosecutor’s badge, and Kay reflects on the lengths Edgeworth went to in order to save her. Edgeworth, after a long pause, simply says- “A certain man once said… the only ally a defendant has is their attorney. By trusting in their client, an attorney draws closer to the truth…” and, still talking about how wise and admirable Phoenix is, says, “The sight of that man still shines brilliantly in my eyes…” Uh, does this seem… excessively romantic to anyone else? Admiring your courtroom rival is one thing, believing that they were key to your salvation is another, but this? Seriously, Edgeworth?? “…Just as the image of my father fighting in court does. However, this is nothing more than that man and my father’s way of life.” (There’ll be more on the parallels between Gregory and Phoenix later.)
Then, when sympathising with the situation of that case’s murderer, Edgeworth thinks, “(The feeling of losing what’s important to you and being unable to believe in anything. I doubted everything during my lonely battles in those days…)”. We are shown him standing at the prosecutor’s bench, reciting his old phrase- “All that I can hope to do is get every defendant declared guilty!” Then, in a return to thought- “(The one who saved me was…)”, and we see a brightly coloured “Objection!”- the camera moves quickly over to the defence bench, only to cut away into white moments before we see Phoenix. The whole scene is… a lot to take in. It’s been said before, and I’ll probably say it again, but: Phoenix is Edgeworth’s saviour, and he will forever be grateful to him for it.
ii) Gregory and Phoenix
The plot of Investigations 2 involves Edgeworth’s dead father, Gregory Edgeworth, and one of the central conflicts Edgeworth must face is whether he wants to become an attorney like his father, or remain on the ‘prosecutor’s path’. Of course, this involves a lot of dramatic inner monologue about Gregory, what he meant to Edgeworth, and what he was like as a person and as an attorney.
It’s pretty well known that humans tend to be attracted to people who are similar to or else remind them of their parents (this is scientifically called positive sexual imprinting, and it’s actually really interesting, but I won’t get too deep into it here), and Ace Attorney Investigations 2 goes out of its way to show us how Edgeworth sees Gregory and Phoenix as similar. Throughout the game we are constantly reminded that Edgeworth views Phoenix as a hero among defence attorneys in a very similar way to how he saw his father as a hero when he was a child. The repeated parallels can tell us a lot about what Edgeworth thinks of his father, and how he compares Phoenix to him.
The most obvious example of Miles comparing them is at the end of the second game: as written above, he equates the sight of Phoenix to the image of his father fighting in the courtroom, saying that both visions “still shine brilliantly in [his] eyes”. There are several smaller comparisons made between them, too: Ray tells Edgeworth about Gregory’s courtroom tactic of “turning his thinking around”- which should sound familiar, as that’s exactly what Phoenix does to solve his cases. Edgeworth’s mind goes straight to that as well- “(Did my father do that too?)”- i.e. in addition to Phoenix, who is the only person this “too” could be referring to. Similarly, when characters reference Gregory- especially early in the game- it is often as an enigmatic “that man”, “that person”, or “him”. Again, this is sounding very familiar to the (literally) unspoken rule of treating Phoenix as he-who-must-not-be-named.
Back in T&T, I mentioned how Edgeworth doesn’t think of his father when defending Iris, only Phoenix; now, however, as he is actively trying to follow in his father’s footsteps with Ray, he is emulating Gregory. Whenever Edgeworth is acting like a defence attorney, whether here or in T&T, he tries to imitate one of two people- Gregory, his father and childhood idol… or Phoenix.
As points go, this one is slightly more meta than any explored earlier, but it fits best here as it concerns spoiler content for aai2. The comparison is still an interesting point to consider, though: in showing that Edgeworth places Phoenix on the same level as Gregory, we begin to gain an understanding of just how important he is in Edgeworth’s life.
iii) Little Things
On a more light-hearted note, the duology contains many smaller references to Phoenix as well as the obvious mentions of That Man and the heartfelt speeches. One of the more well-known is Phoenix’s cameos with Maya and Pearl. There is one in each game- in the third case of AAI, when standing on the bridge with Kay, Phoenix will go past behind their backs in a rowboat, Maya and Pearl sitting opposite from him, and in the final case of AAI2, when examining part of the film lot, the camera will pan upwards to show Phoenix squinting and Maya pointing and/or waving at someone in the Grand Tower. Of course, Edgeworth and Kay conveniently miss them every time. What’s relevant in this essay is the dialogue that comes up whenever these cameos happen- in the original Japanese they both refer to romance. In AAI-3, Edgeworth tells Kay that “they say that couples who cross this bridge together will find happiness,” to which she cheekily replies that “some things are better left uninvestigated- ignorance is bliss!”, and in AAI2-5, Kay says she “doesn’t see anybody special- at least on this side of the screen.” In the second case, the original Japanese uses a term that can also mean “special somebody,” in a more romantic sense. It seems that Phoenix only ever cameos whenever couples or romance is mentioned. Granted, once could just be a coincidence, but for it to happen both times? Why would the writers want us to associate Phoenix with references to romance in Edgeworth’s games?
The first Investigations game has a few hidden Narumitsu gems. Investigating the couch cushions in AAI-1 leads to Gumshoe telling Edgeworth about the dreams he has when napping on the couches, which are always about testifying and all end with “being trounced by a lawyer”. In response, Edgeworth thinks, “(Maybe I should give it a try sometime… to envision myself winning, naturally.)” Given the fact that the only lawyer Edgeworth has ever had a concentrated, personal desire to defeat is Phoenix Wright, this paints a rather interesting scene of Edgeworth wanting to dream about fighting and winning against Phoenix in court. Also of note is how Edgeworth only expresses the wish to have these dreams after Gumshoe mentions that the defence features in them. Very interesting indeed.
Another example comes in Turnabout Airlines, where we see the great revival of Edgeworth’s custom chess pieces. And, well- I’ll be damned if the chessboard Edgeworth has with him on the plane isn’t a different board to the one in his office. They both appear in the game, eliminating any possible inconsistency in art direction, and it’s stated that Edgeworth hasn’t returned to his office between getting off the plane and the beginning of Turnabout Visitor, yet the chessboard is already in his office. There’s really only one conclusion to this- Edgeworth has more than one incredibly expensive, custom-made, him-vs.-Phoenix-dedicated chess set. Having one just to keep in your office is pushing it a bit, sure, but it can still be interpreted as a simple declaration of rivalry and a competitive obsession to destroy Phoenix in court by someone who doesn’t worry about money, but this? This is a travel chessboard which he’s apparently taken with him to Europe- where he’s meant to be studying legal systems, and is probably not playing chess for fun with his colleagues- complete with the typical extra red knights so he can enact his fantasies of crushing Phoenix in court even when he’s abroad, and which he’s deemed important enough to take into his hand luggage, despite the board looking quite large (in comparison to his teacup). I’m really not sure what to say to you at this point, except that there’s more and it gets better. If you investigate the board with Rhoda- an airline assistant who has never met Phoenix and thus would never notice its symbolism- she’ll ask if there are too many red knights around the blue pawn. Edgeworth explains that “it simply shows that the blue pawn is no match for the red knights’ might.” However, if you investigate the board with Gumshoe, and he points out that there are too many red knights, and notes that the blue pawn is surrounded, Edgeworth insists that he is “seeing things” and the position is “just his imagination”. This emphasises just how shy Edgeworth is about anyone, even Gumshoe, realising that he spent so much time (and presumably money) on his weird him-and-Phoenix chess fantasies.
The final little nod to Phoenix comes in AAI2-3. Edgeworth, upon investigating the “fluorescent cloth” piece of evidence, will remark, in a tsundere-ish manner, that “I suppose this sort of colour is relaxing every once in a while”. The cloth in question is a deep, royal blue, and also happens to obviously be exactly the same colour as Phoenix’s suit. Edgeworth thinks the colour of Phoenix’s suit in particular is relaxing… every once in a while. Whatever you say, Edgeworth.
Alongside these references are a few interesting parallels between Edgeworth and Phoenix. This is less the text suggesting they should be compared (as with Phoenix and Gregory), but more in the way of the same things happening to them in entirely unrelated scenarios. The most obvious example of this is Edgeworth giving up his badge in the fourth case. Looking at the dates involved, the incident which briefly strips Edgeworth of his badge takes place almost exactly two weeks before Phoenix loses his (Apollo Justice would have been out for a good few years by the time of this game’s release). This gives the two of them even more in common, although Edgeworth reclaims his in a matter of days while Phoenix remains disbarred for years. A smaller, more fun one is Sahwit throwing his toupee at Edgeworth in the Imprisoned Turnabout, just as he did in the First Turnabout. He hits both Edgeworth and Phoenix straight in the face.
Upon first glance, one would naturally assume Investigations has nothing to tell us about Narumitsu, as Phoenix is barely even there. On the contrary- I believe the AAI duology gives us one of the greatest insights into what Edgeworth feels and thinks about Phoenix, and it’s fairly unerring in the fact that Edgeworth sees Phoenix as a saviour, an admirable and ideal defence attorney and opponent, and, of course, there’s the business with the repeated mentions of romance whenever Phoenix is in the background. We already knew from the Trilogy- from Phoenix’s unwavering dedication to saving Edgeworth in AA1, his anger and heartbreak over briefly losing him in AA2, and how much he cares about him in AA3- that Phoenix trusted, cared for, and valued Edgeworth, but- as ordinarily Edgeworth is quite a restrained and waspish guy, especially in the Trilogy’s time period- Investigations’ insight into his inner monologue is incredibly valuable, as the first time we’re able to see just how deeply Edgeworth reveres and values Phoenix.
Section 1E: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
After a seven-year timeskip, we find Phoenix disbarred, with an adopted daughter, a distinct lack of fashion sense, a new and evil friend named Kristoph, and no sign of Edgeworth or any of his other old friends whatsoever. This is the only game in the franchise to include Phoenix but not Edgeworth- excluding crossovers- but it is still possible to infer Edgeworth’s continued presence in Phoenix’s life by reading between the lines, and from what is said in later games about the two of them during this time.
And yeah, I know it was released before Investigations, so it probably should’ve been section 1D, but I thought it over and it seemed more sensible to follow their journey as chronologically as possible, so it’s here now.
i) Phoenix’s Influence
Despite having been disbarred for seven years, being viewed by the general public as the “Forgin’ Attorney”, and working within the confines of the Dark Age of the Law, Phoenix manages to have such influence in setting up a brand new trial system that he is even able to select what the case in question will be; he calls himself the “committee chair” of the Jurist system, and claims to be “in charge of the whole trial”. Additionally, he has access to the (presumably very complex) technology required to set up the MASON system, and is seen as trustworthy enough to act as its host and submit all the evidence that makes up the MASON investigation segments. How come a disgraced attorney who’s been playing poker in a basement for seven years can have this kind of influence? Well, one obvious answer is that he’s got a close ally with genuine legal influence who is working with him, supporting his actions and giving him the authority to take control of a murder trial of his choice under a brand-new system without being questioned. Considering Edgeworth was promoted to Chief Prosecutor barely two months after the events of Turnabout Succession… it’s reasonable to conclude that Edgeworth worked closely with Phoenix to set up the Jurist System and had a continued presence in his life. Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice all but confirm this, with Phoenix apologising for “all he put Edgeworth through” in the past seven years, and talking about how he went to Europe to study legal systems for an “old friend”.
ii) The Disbarment Era
During Apollo Justice, we go without any mention of trilogy characters, save Phoenix, Payne, the Judge, Gumshoe & Ema and (inexplicably) Dr Hotti. However, thanks to DD and SoJ, we know for a fact that Edgeworth remained close to Phoenix throughout the disbarment era. He invited him over to Europe for cases, became quite close to Trucy (as far as we can tell from their interactions in SoJ), worked together with Phoenix on the Jurist System and the Phantom case, and, as far as we know, there was never any break in their affection or period of doubt/animosity following Phoenix being accused of forging evidence. Thanks to AAI2 we know that Edgeworth was almost certainly still in the country when the Gramarye trial took place, and he likely stood by and supported Phoenix from the moment his badge was taken, creating an interesting new parallel: Edgeworth being the only one to believe in Phoenix’s inherent goodness and that he would never do something corrupt like forge evidence during this time, and Phoenix being the only one to believe in Edgeworth’s inherent goodness and that he would never become corrupt all the way back in his college days. Additionally, for him to be promoted to Chief Prosecutor at such a young age, he was most likely prosecuting in America for most of this period; it follows, therefore, that he must have been spending time with Phoenix during the disbarment. Not to mention the later games saying Phoenix went to Europe to help Edgeworth with legal cases, despite Edgeworth already having lots of friends who are a) accustomed to working abroad, b) not disbarred and disgraced in the legal community as a whole, and c) not trying to take care of a newly adopted daughter- Franziska comes to mind, as do several AAI characters like Lang, Gumshoe, Raymond Shields. It begs the question of why Edgeworth asked for Phoenix’s help specifically. Does he miss solving cases with him? Does he feel bad that Phoenix doesn’t get to do lawyer things anymore? Or does he just enjoy spending time with him more than he’d like to admit?
Much of the evidence for Narumitsu during the disbarment era comes from later games, as Apollo Justice was supposed to be a fresh start without the involvement of key players from the Trilogy, Phoenix being the exception. But overall, even in Phoenix’s darkest hour, we know that Edgeworth supported and stood with him, trusting him enough to enable him to create and chair an untested system on a real murder trial over what was basically a personal grievance, and offered a route of escape and reconnection with his old life in the form of legal visits to Europe.
Section 1F: Dual Destinies
Released after the Investigations duology, DD saw the reunion of our favourite lawyer duo onscreen and competing in the courtroom after a real-world period of eight years. Fittingly, Phoenix has also reclaimed his badge after eight in-game years, and Edgeworth has been promoted to Chief Prosecutor, though he doesn’t get much action in the courtroom anymore. As soon as the opening cutscene, we see Phoenix talking to Edgeworth over the phone, and he makes a return at the special request of a blackmailer to prosecute Athena (Phoenix’s newest employee), with Phoenix as his opposition, in a retrial of the incident which sparked the “Dark Age of the Law” (which basically covers the disbarment era).
i) The Prologue
The prologue itself doesn’t show us who Phoenix was talking to over the phone, but we learn in case 5 that the person on the other end of the line was Edgeworth, telling us quite a lot in hindsight. Firstly, Phoenix refers to Edgeworth’s “target [the Phantom] finally making a move,” and declares that “it’s time to bring it [the dark age of the law] to an end.” This is significant as confirmation that he and Edgeworth maintained close contact over the disbarment era, and that they were working together closely enough for Edgeworth to have informed him of some of the movements of the Phantom, which was top secret data. Confirming that he actually stayed close to Edgeworth and worked on cases with him even in such a dark and doubtful time as the disbarment era is a testament to how strong and enduring their bond of partnership is through difficult circumstances.
ii) Turnabout for Tomorrow
When Trucy is kidnapped alongside several other hostages and the courts are forced to hold a retrial of the UR-1 incident, Edgeworth steps in to stand as the prosecution, and enters the Space Centre to meet Phoenix in a wonderfully dramatic cutscene.
It’s clear that the two of them haven’t changed much or grown apart in the disbarment era- in fact, they’ve grown much closer. Phoenix apologises for “everything he put [Edgeworth] through”, and Edgeworth apologises for not being able to help get Phoenix’s badge back- to which Phoenix reassures him that it was his decision to stay disbarred for so long. That seems to imply Edgeworth offered to help with investigations into the forgery, but Phoenix turned him down; maddeningly, the Jurist System was never mentioned again after AJ, so the best way we can reconcile this with Edgeworth helping set up the jurist test trial is that he simply facilitated Phoenix’s machinations and left Kristoph’s actual takedown to Phoenix. Indeed, this would explain his lack of an actual appearance in AA4.
When Phoenix expresses concern for the hostages, Edgeworth reassures him that the law will deal with them, and states that he & Phoenix must never resort to crime, “even if people’s lives are on the line.” In response, Nick says “Edgeworth…” and thinks “(He may be a stickler for the rule of law, but I have no better ally in this world than him.)” That pretty much confirms the earlier deliberations on just how important Edgeworth became in his life during the disbarment era: Phoenix now sees Edgeworth as the best ally he has in the world. He even expresses concern for his stress levels several times, saying that he’s “sure the chief prosecutor has lost many a night’s rest” and repeatedly wondering whether his brow is getting even more furrowed from frowning than before.
Additionally, if you prevent frivolous evidence to him, Edgeworth will comment about how Phoenix never changes- a recurring line from the Trilogy. Despite everything that’s happened, Edgeworth didn’t think Phoenix had changed between childhood and AA1, and he still feels that Phoenix hasn’t changed a bit between his disbarment and now. Even after all this time- Edgeworth considers Phoenix to always be the same person underneath, despite all his outward changes in the time they’ve known each other.
It’s during this investigation that we finally learn why Phoenix decided to get his badge back in the first place- and, once again, it was so that he could help Edgeworth. As if one time wasn’t enough! We’re shown that Edgeworth visited the WAA a little while after the Misham trial with a “special request”: to clear Simon Blackquill of suspicion, and thus to bring an end to the Dark Age of the Law. The first time Phoenix decided to take the bar exam and become an attorney, his purpose was to meet Edgeworth and save him from the darkness he’d fallen into; this time, he took the bar exam at Edgeworth’s request to help him and the legal system as a whole. This means Phoenix has passed the bar exam and gotten his badge for Edgeworth’s sake not once, but TWICE.
Eventually, Phoenix finishes his investigation, and as the two promise to count on each other to reveal the truth, free the hostages and save Blackquill, Edgeworth confesses that despite the trial being unorthodox, “it’ll be good to face you in court again.” Similarly, Phoenix talks about how he has to “give the trial all his focus and strength” when talking to Pearl in the defendant lobby. It seems they genuinely enjoy facing one another in court (or as close as they can get to enjoyment in a murder trial, anyway) and look forward to the encounter, especially as they hadn’t faced off in court in over a decade.
From the very beginning of the trial, their chemistry is noted in-universe. Phoenix himself comments on the “immense tension” between them, the Judge gushes over how “invigorating” the “tense atmosphere” between them is, Fulbright agrees and comments on how he “now knows what they mean when they say ‘close enough to argue’”.
And honestly, he’s got a point- some of their dialogue could literally have been lifted from an old married couple’s bickering. They argue with the familiarity of two people who have been doing so for years and years and don’t intend to stop any time soon. Personal favourites include an argument over whether Edgeworth has a better aesthetic sense than Phoenix- “you are the last person who should be criticising my aesthetic sense!” “is that the theory your pitiful sense of aesthetics helped you come up with?” “Admit it, Mr. Edgeworth! My aesthetic sense is keener than yours!”- Edgeworth joking about how Phoenix is “as inflexible as ever”, Phoenix referring to Edgeworth blanking him as “getting the ‘hmph’ treatment”, as well as “getting the ‘sigh’ treatment”, and grumpily thinking “(Emotionalism? Don’t lecture ME on matters of the heart, Edgeworth!)” The way they argue feels different to the simple banter of two close friends, and certainly goes beyond two professionals debating in a court of law. Hell, if you state ‘the blood was wiped off the weapon’ at a certain point in the trial, Phoenix will outright call Edgeworth ‘Daddy’. It’s never remarked on, explained, or mentioned again, and there’s absolutely no in-universe reason for it, save that the writers wanted to make the sexual tension REALLY obvious.
However, despite their arguing, it’s clear- even in this trial, where they’re opponents- that they know and understand each other with the kind of familiarity that only comes from years of closeness. Phoenix knows all of Edgeworth’s tricks, thinking “(It’s never good when he plays things this straight,)” and Edgeworth knows Phoenix too well to be shocked at any of his wild proposals, saying that “nothing surprises me anymore with him.” Phoenix also trusts Edgeworth’s judgments when it comes to whether he’s hit upon a contradiction or not- “if Mr. Edgeworth doesn’t think there’s a contradiction, maybe there really isn’t…” and both simply see the debate as a way of uncovering the truth through countering each other’s points and ruling out the impossible. The inherent trust between them is reinforced in how they work together to reveal the truth. That’s shown most obviously at the end of the trial segment, where it seems they’ve reached the truth and Edgeworth immediately heads to the prosecutor’s office to locate the evidence that supports Nick’s argument.
On a lighter note, we get the first confirmation that Edgeworth and Trucy know each other here- as it’s stated that he attends Trucy’s magic shows, and regularly enough to refer to a specific show from “just the other day”. Furthermore, it’s implied that Phoenix is the one who invited him there, and he grumbles about how Edgeworth has “ruined the memory of a good day”. Being friends with a guy is one thing, and working closely with him is another, but regularly attending his daughter’s magic shows at his own invitation? This is stepping out of the range of platonic and into the territory of a closer, more familial connection.
At the end of the trial, Edgeworth thanks him, saying that he “owes him yet another debt of gratitude” for helping Blackquill and taking down the Phantom. Phoenix brushes it off, insisting that it was really Edgeworth and the police who did all the work by tracking the spy for so many years. Honestly, in my opinion, they’re both right- it was the combination of Edgeworth’s team and Phoenix’s team that was able to catch the Phantom; as always, it would have been impossible for either to do so alone. We also learn that Edgeworth secretly pulled strings to get Phoenix his badge back, which Phoenix finally figures out here, and Edgeworth brushes off with the insistence that he owes Nick a few favours, after all. And when Phoenix asks whether the two of them can now bring an end to the Dark Age of the Law, Edgeworth replies that “our sun will rise again.” Whether that’s the sun of the legal system which they have caused to rise, or the sun in their own lives specifically which is rising, is unclear. Phoenix reacts with a teasing comment about how Edgeworth “could have said that with a bigger smile”, and, surprisingly, Edgeworth seems to take it on board, saying that he’ll “think about it”. And Athena, who is able to read emotions, says “Ah, the complicated love-hate relationship between lifelong rivals!” I don’t know about you guys, but I wasn’t able to read any sense of hatred off that conversation… it stands to reason that Athena was able to sense the complex tangle of emotions between them as a “love-hate relationship”, even though at that moment the balance seemed rather more tipped towards love than hate.
The end credits feature Edgeworth reminiscing about how he now “owes Wright yet another debt of gratitude… but I will repay him one day. You can trust in that.” This promise to repay Phoenix for all he’s done for Edgeworth isn’t confirmed to have been fulfilled yet, but perhaps it doesn’t need to be- after all, we know that he had helped Phoenix for all those years through the disbarment era, and, who knows? Maybe Phoenix still feels in his debt as well.
Turnabout for Tomorrow is our introduction to what I like to refer to as “old married dads Narumitsu”- and the dialogue between them can occasionally stray into innuendo territory, which is something I’ll be getting into later. Since there’s so much else going on, the relationship between the two of them is not our main focus in the case, but upon close inspection we can discern quite a lot about what has- and what hasn’t- changed about their dynamic in the past eight years.
iii) Little Things
Edgeworth has picked up Phoenix’s nickname for Pearl, referring to her as “Pearls” several times during the Space Centre investigation. Apparently, he’s been hanging around Phoenix and the WAA enough to begin referring to Pearl with the same informality as Nick does. He is also familiar with Apollo, despite the two not meeting during Apollo Justice, and Apollo only working for the WAA for the last year or so.
In the Dual Destinies artbook, there’s a particularly interesting unused design for Phoenix, which features a white suit and a tie pin in the shape of a little silvery-blue chess knight. Very unusual, considering chess motifs aren’t Phoenix’s thing- they’re Edgeworth’s. And we already know Edgeworth’s history of documenting his rivalry with Phoenix through chessboards… which all has the rather non-platonic implication that it’s possible Edgeworth was involved in finding and choosing a new suit for Phoenix. Well, it is just an unused design after all, but the fact that the artists even thought of it, and it was approved enough to make it to the colour stage and into the artbook… if true, it adds a certain romantic depth to their relationship.
On the topic of design, the shift into 3D meant the courtroom environments had to be redone- and one interesting change to their design is the banners over each side of the courtroom. It’s easier to see in SoJ, but in the courtroom wide shots these banners are visible- on each side there is one coloured dark magenta, and one coloured royal blue. Those are… Phoenix and Edgeworth’s colours. This design choice was most likely deliberate- and from an in-universe perspective, as these banners are absent from Apollo Justice and they only appeared once it was certain Phoenix would be reclaiming his badge, it’s not impossible that it was Edgeworth himself who thought of putting their colours together in the courtroom. It would be quite a sentimental touch for someone as undemonstrative as Edgeworth.
Finally, Edgeworth still displays a chessboard in his office, and… well, it may simply be the lighting and art direction, but… it doesn’t quite look the same as the one in RftA, nor the one in AAI. The pieces have a silvery, pale sheen- the EXACT same colour as Phoenix’s concept art tie pin, but I digress- and, as they’re casting shadows, are likely in the sun, and would be bluer in reality than they appear in this cutscene. Yep: he owns YET ANOTHER Phoenix-vs.-him chessboard. Not to beat a dead horse, as you’ve heard this point twice before, but this is getting… sort of ridiculous. Since, as mentioned above, the boards take months to arrive and at the time Phoenix had only been back in the courtroom for five months or so, (plus this can’t still be a way for Edgeworth to enact some imaginary comeuppance), Edgeworth most likely got this chessboard to commemorate the event. And, as a finishing touch, the way the pieces catch the light looks suspiciously like crystal or glass- at the very least, they aren’t wood. These chess sets are not coming cheap. I never thought I’d pity Edgeworth’s wallet, but jeez.
Dual Destinies is more important than it might seem to the Narumitsu story, despite the fact that its story is not focused on the two of them, as earlier games have been. It tells us that Edgeworth remained a close friend and ally to Phoenix during the disbarment era, doing whatever he could to help Phoenix and get his badge back, and that Phoenix sees him as the closest ally he has in the world, choosing to retake the bar exam so they can work together again and teasing him with such affection that Athena picks up on it. Not to mention that it introduces the aspect of “bickering like an old married couple” into their courtroom debates, which recurs in AA6.
Section 1G: Spirit of Justice
Spirit of Justice is the most recent game in the main series, and, similarly to Dual Destinies, it features Edgeworth in the final case, this time helping Phoenix out and even investigating alongside him. Edgeworth goes up against Phoenix once again in the DLC case, and we basically see a continuation of their dynamic from DD.
i) Turnabout Revolution
After the civil trial is settled, Phoenix tells Apollo that Maya’s been kidnapped (again), and that he’s “had Edgeworth look into some things”- including where Maya might be and research on the case, which is presumably why Pearl says she saw him investigating in Kurain Village earlier. Apparently, Edgeworth dropped his incredibly busy job to head up to the mountains and personally investigate at Phoenix’s request. When it becomes clear that the cast needs to head to Khura’in to find Maya and fulfil the kidnapper’s demands, Edgeworth informs them that he’s already chartered a private jet for their sake. Bear in mind, Edgeworth has no personal stake in this except wanting to rescue Maya and wanting to help Phoenix; there was really no need for him to go along to Khura’in with them- he’s a busy man, after all- but he did nevertheless. On top of all of this, he “does whatever is necessary to hide that Dhurke Sahdmadhi is on board”: i.e., he literally breaks the law to transport a known terrorist who he’s never met before halfway across the world, apparently without a second thought, simply because Phoenix needs him to in order to save Maya. This is especially unusual for Edgeworth, who is supposedly single-mindedly dedicated to his job and the law.
It’s also quite notable that Phoenix’s first action upon learning Maya was in danger was to contact Edgeworth and ask him for help, apparently calling him before he even got on the plane home. It seems he wasn’t exaggerating when he said he had no greater ally in the world than Edgeworth. Edgeworth was also the only person he trusted enough to tell about Maya’s situation; Phoenix didn’t even tell Pearl, one of Maya’s only remaining relatives.
Once they arrive in Khura’in Edgeworth leaves to go and get permission from the royal family and the other necessary officials for the cast to investigate the murder and find Maya. Once Maya is found and taken to hospital to recover, Phoenix splits up from the team and returns to Tehm’pul Temple, where he meets Edgeworth again. As always, the two of them express a considerable level of care for each other: Edgeworth gently asks if Phoenix is all right when he’s stressing about Maya’s condition, and Phoenix regularly expresses gratitude for everything Edgeworth’s done for him, saying that he “can’t thank him enough”, even thinking that he would have been “so lost without him these past few days”. We learn that Phoenix has been gossiping with Gumshoe about Edgeworth’s investigations, and that Edgeworth had noticed Phoenix was gone- though he deflects Phoenix’s teasing remark over if he missed him with a quick “As if.”
One particularly interesting piece of dialogue at Tehm’pul Temple comes when you investigate the temple itself. Phoenix tells Edgeworth that there were no hotels available, so the temple is “our home for tonight”, and Edgeworth says it’ll do: “it’s a bed to sleep in and a roof over our heads.” Phoenix responds that there are no beds, and “we’ll have to sleep on the floor with a bunch of strangers.” Yep- in a turn of incredibly contrived phrasing, Edgeworth heavily implies that he and Phoenix would sleep in a bed. One, singular bed. The mention of having a single roof for the two of them, and a single bed in the same sentence… plus Phoenix referring to the way they sleep as a single entity, and referring to “our home”… are we so sure this is a simple case of accidentally suggestive phrasing after all? (The Japanese text doesn’t clarify this; Edgeworth says that “we did come here in a hurry. I don’t mind as long as there’s a bed.” which still lends itself to the interpretation.)
Phoenix is invited for an audience before Ga’ran, and when Edgeworth asks if he can come along, the guard says that Ga’ran has already foreseen and approved this request, thanks to her tremendous spiritual power. Here’s the thing, though- Ga’ran has no spiritual power. So how was she able to tell with certainty that Edgeworth would want to accompany Phoenix to the throne room? Somehow, the queen knew that wherever Phoenix went Edgeworth would likely follow, apparently because they just… give off those vibes to everyone who sees them. Interesting. And despite the history of the Khura’inese legal system reviving sore memories for both of them, they are close enough to joke about the patterns without worrying they’ll hurt each other’s feelings- “He falsified evidence to win his own case… and trust in the legal system plummeted.” “Now why does that sound so familiar?” “Yeah, I wonder, aha-ha-ha…”, and “(Perfect prosecutors and their perfect trials, huh…)” “Let’s not get started down THIS path…”.
During the investigation, Phoenix jokes that he and Edgeworth are “tourists”, Edgeworth says that it’s “unfortunate” they have to investigate instead of just going on a sightseeing trip together, and Phoenix reacts to his quip that sightseeing with Nick isn’t at the top of his list with a sarcastic “(As if you have the luxury to be so picky, Edgeworth.)” Phoenix is pretty confident that Edgeworth doesn’t have anyone he’d rather choose to sightsee with, despite Edgeworth’s own remarks. The two continuously banter back-and-forth, with Edgeworth ribbing Phoenix about his lack of a brain-to-mouth filter and his qualities as a boss, and Phoenix poking fun at Edgeworth’s grey hair, suggesting that he start using Inga’s hair dye. Compare this to Trials and Tribulations, the last time they worked on a case together, where Edgeworth is very sensitive about Phoenix “coming to laugh at him,”; their relationship has reached the mutual roasting stage, where they’re close enough to smoothly exchange quips and feel neither guilty nor upset. Hell, the game itself lampshades how far their relationship has evolved and developed since the early days by having Edgeworth get sappy over the fact that they’re investigating together: “I never thought the day would come when we would be investigating side-by-side.” Of course, Phoenix picks up on his unusual behaviour at once and says he “never thought the day would come when you’d get sentimental on me.” Edgeworth is flustered by Phoenix’s remark and quickly changes the subject- “Nghrk! Come on, Wright! Time’s a-wasting!”. It seems like Edgeworth is embarrassed at being caught out in his sentimentality about his relationship with Phoenix. In the menu, this segment is called Phoenix & Edgeworth; incidentally, it’s the only section in either DD or SoJ to contain two names, as the earlier games did not offer the option of loading particular sections of gameplay.
(This definitely isn’t their first time investigating together, either- The Rite of Turnabout shows us Phoenix has picked up Edgeworth’s catchphrase of “investigate every suspicious-looking nook and cranny” from the Investigations games, a reinforcement of the suggestion that he and Edgeworth investigated and worked together frequently in the disbarment years.)
Additionally, Apollo describes Edgeworth in the Court Record as “Mr. Wright’s best friend,” first and foremost. This is essentially confirmation that Edgeworth became and has remained Phoenix’s best friend for the past decade, to the point that Apollo knows this after only a year or two, meaning that they have been demonstrably friendly even around other people.
The end of the case adds some final fuel to the fire, with Trucy’s sudden appearance and the reveal that she has employed “the old Let’s-Stow-Away-In-Mr.-Edgeworth’s-Suitcase trick” (as described by Edgeworth himself), which is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it implies that Phoenix’s visits to Europe were trips he & Edgeworth would go on together from home, rather than Phoenix flying over occasionally to meet Edgeworth in Europe, as Trucy must have had a chance to sneak into Edgeworth’s suitcase while it was in the country, still able to be opened, or even while being packed; and also that Phoenix was apparently intending to go on these trips with Edgeworth alone. Secondly, it paints a picture of Trucy, Phoenix, and Edgeworth travelling together in Europe in a very family-like unit, where Phoenix and Edgeworth are parents bringing their daughter along on their legal adventures. And finally, it suggests that Phoenix went on so many of these trips, and Trucy tagged along so often, that Edgeworth can refer to the trick as “old” like it’s happened many times before.
Finally, in the last cutscene, we see the gang flying back home from Khura’in, with Trucy sleeping on Edgeworth’s shoulder. Unusually, Edgeworth seems to accept this- we never see him have this much physical contact with any other character, and he doesn’t strike me as the sort of guy who will let just anyone rest on his shoulder. The combination of Trucy being comfortable enough with Edgeworth to fall asleep while resting on his shoulder, and Edgeworth being comfortable enough with Trucy to let her do so without trying to shift her to a more healthy sleeping position or even move her (it is a private jet, after all, surely it wouldn’t be too hard to just recline her seat) has very paternal connotations. I certainly can’t remember the last time I fell asleep on the shoulder of someone who wasn’t my parent. Of course, if Trucy is close enough to Edgeworth for him to be like a father, what does that say about her actual dad’s relationship with Edgeworth? Especially considering that Phoenix is the only thing really linking Trucy and Edgeworth- this isn’t a case of two unrelated parties both being father figures to a child. It’s never outright confirmed that Trucy sees Edgeworth as a father figure, but who knows? We haven’t yet seen how they interact in canon beyond these two scenes, which seem to speak for themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, Turnabout Revolution is very much plot-driven, and in the end it’s Apollo’s story, not Phoenix or Edgeworth’s, but it still contains several landmarks for their development. The two investigating together, Edgeworth doing everything he can to help out Phoenix and his office, the information about Phoenix’s connection with Edgeworth during the 7-year gap and Trucy’s closeness to Edgeworth; all of this is useful to help us paint a picture of how the two see each other.
ii) Turnabout Time Traveller
In terms of Narumitsu, this case is most notable for the infamous marriage discussion between Phoenix and Edgeworth. Miles comments on how romantic an airship is as a wedding venue, and Nick, startled, asks if he’s feeling okay. Edgeworth asks if he’s “not allowed to think such a thing”, and Nick, quite flustered, asks if he’s “thinking of finally settling down and getting married”. Edgeworth reassures him that he has “no intention” of marrying anyone, and Phoenix replies that he has no plans to get married, even if he wanted to. When they’ve both confirmed that they’ve got no plans to marry, Phoenix thinks “(At least now I know how Edgeworth feels about marriage… Not that it has anything to do with the case.)” It makes me think that Phoenix has been actively wondering about Edgeworth’s love life, and his opinion on marriage, to the point of letting it distract him from the case. Not just Phoenix, either: Edgeworth also goes out of his way to inquire into Phoenix’s love life, suggesting some curiosity on his end as well. This is unusual for both of them: Phoenix has never displayed interest in anyone else’s love life, and Edgeworth dislikes talking about love in general, as demonstrated multiple times in this case where he repeatedly insists that he will never get married- however, he does not insist that he will never fall in love. This is especially notable because at the time of SoJ’s release- and even now- same-sex couples cannot get legally married in Japan. This conversation should only be taken as a suggestion of ‘not wanting to marry a woman’, and is better interpreted as an indication that Edgeworth is gay than a confirmation of aromanticism.
The two of them keep up their banter from Turnabout Revolution, with Nick calling him Mr. Chief Prosecutor and remarking on his furrowed eyebrows (again), Miles teasing him about not having any clients, and Phoenix calling Edgeworth “inflexible”. When Edgeworth insists that he’s mellowed out a little over the years, Nick thinks “(Honestly, Edgeworth, are you that blind to yourself?)”, and overall it serves to heighten the sense of familiarity and closeness between them to the point that they seem to know each other better than they know themselves.
The trial, too, is full of moments like this between them. Phoenix calls Edgeworth “cocky as ever”, and Edgeworth accuses him of “sweating buckets like a rookie, even after all these years”; he refers to Phoenix’s bluffing as “smooth talk” and their trials together as “outings”, as if the two of them are going on some fun excursion whenever they’re assigned to a case together. Even further, Edgeworth wonders whether “the promise of seeing that miserable look on his face is what brought me to court today,” which is a lot to unpack on its own, but especially when followed with “it’s certainly made all my stress and worries as the chief prosecutor just melt away.” So we have Edgeworth implying that part of the reason he even went to court was to… see Phoenix’s face? And that getting to gain the upper hand on him in court is like a relaxing pastime which distracts him from his job and helps him unwind. Someone died for this! Again, the level to which they get carried away in basically trying to diss each other mid-trial is a testament to the incredible chemistry between them and how much they enjoy each other’s company. They even manage to slip in a few double-entendre lines: “Mr. Wright only makes that ridiculous face when his back is pressed against the wall.” How would you know, Edgeworth? Have you been pressing Phoenix against many walls lately? There was absolutely no reason to make that line as suggestive as it is. Their conversation about the “power of love” also contains elements of this, although it’s not quite as intense.
As this is a trial surrounding a wedding, the arguments they have inevitably fall onto romantic topics. One of these is the argument about flowers. In the first, Edgeworth and Phoenix argue about what colour Ellen’s bouquet was, with Edgeworth insisting that it doesn’t matter and flowers are “all the same”; after a brief reprimand from the Judge about how this particular flower is very important to him personally, Phoenix retorts that he should “let it go, Mr. Edgeworth. It’s clear you don’t know much about flowers. It’s not like you have anyone you’d actually give any to, after all. But perhaps you should study up on them, just in case the opportunity presents itself.” Edgeworth then points out that “this is coming from the man who only knows the name of three types of flowers”- which suggests that he and Phoenix have probably discussed flowers before, and Edgeworth has randomly retained this insignificant piece of information about Phoenix’s opinion on flowers. Furthermore, Phoenix suggesting that Edgeworth just might be presented with the “opportunity” to give someone flowers in the near future reads awfully like him testing the waters to suggest the possibility of Edgeworth “giving flowers to” (i.e. getting involved with) someone, presumably him.
And yet, even among all this charged arguing and energetic debating, it is still blindingly clear how much they care about each other. Near the end of the trial, when Phoenix had come close to cornering the true culprit, he finds himself under attack from the witness as usual- “there are malignant tumours in this courtroom, lesions oozing with false charges! The tumours are one idiotic lawyer, and one useless prosecutor!”- and throughout most of the verbal abuse Edgeworth stays relatively relaxed, reacting coolly to his threats to “incise” the two of them from the legal world, and being only slightly affronted at Nichody’s insults against him. But as soon as Nichody begins to accuse Phoenix, who’s finally onto something, of “infecting the judicial body with virulent accusations” Edgeworth immediately orders him to be quiet and let the court hear Nick out- to the point that he doesn’t even let Nichody finish his sentence. Another moment like this comes in near the very end of the trial, where Edgeworth refuses to go for victory at Nichody’s suggestion and instead allows Phoenix to continue questioning, thereby giving him the chance to unveil the truth and get Ellen to go free. Now, I admit that this is not out of the ordinary for Edgeworth, who has been single-minded about pursuing the truth since JfA. What is particularly interesting is the way Phoenix decides to thank him for helping out- “Speaking of the wedding… maybe I should ask [the Sprockets] to invite Edgeworth.” Maya is understandably surprised that he would do something like that- after all, he had been trying to get Ellen declared guilty for the past two days- but says, “If that’s how you feel about it, Nick, maybe you should try to get him invited!” And in the end, he does- Edgeworth is standing with Phoenix and Larry at the wedding reception.
Turnabout Time Traveller is how we leave the Narumitsu dynamic for now- two men who are lifelong rivals, courtroom partners, and the best of friends; closer to each other than anyone else, trading thinly veiled innuendos in a court of law.
This is as far as we go with canonical games. It’s been altogether too long since the last Ace Attorney game- Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2 came out in August 2017, for God’s sake- and as 100%, indisputable ‘canon’ goes, this is where we stop. However, I assure you that we’re nowhere near finished yet- the Ace Attorney universe is bigger than it might look, and the evidence supporting Narumitsu permeates all types of AA content.
Section 1H: Crossover Games
The three main crossovers Ace Attorney has had with other games are Phoenix and Maya’s appearance in Project X Zone 2, Phoenix’s cameos and playability in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and, of course, the crossover game with Professor Layton. In every one of these crossovers Edgeworth has made appearances with varying degrees of importance; UMvC3 has him appear very briefly in She-Hulk’s ending, Project X Zone has him make a quick cameo when he prosecutes a certain case during the game, and PLvsAA has him make an appearance at the end of the credits, and in an extra DLC episode. What can I say? He’s a very popular character. I’ll be going through each appearance briefly, and how it adds to Narumitsu- because trust me, even the briefest cameo interactions between these two have near-romantic undertones.
i) Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney
PLvsAA is not considered canon, as the timelines involved can’t possibly match up, and the plot itself is very farfetched, even for Professor Layton (which is known for its ridiculous plot twists and complex stories). However, it is the best-known AA crossover, and Shu Takumi, the original writer of the series, worked on it himself.
Edgeworth only appears at the very end of the credits, where we see him prosecuting a case against Phoenix and Maya. He taunts Phoenix about being “in a holiday kind of mood”, and calls Phoenix’s “Objection” an “utterly annoying spell” which he’s “almost missed”. This is Trilogy Edgeworth, bear in mind; that’s basically Edgeworth-speak for admitting that he genuinely missed Phoenix while he was away in London.
The bulk of this game’s Edgeworth content is in the eleventh short DLC episode, named “Fire Festival” (no, not that one). These episodes are not very serious and intermittently break the fourth wall, but are still official- Shu Takumi wrote this one personally.
Edgeworth makes an appearance as a prospective competitor at the Miss Bezella Pageant, which includes a puzzle-solving section, among other categories. He interacts with Layton- highbrow British snarkiness ensues- and complains about his reputation as a “prodigy prosecutor” online. Edgeworth insists that it’s unfair “after all the hard work I’ve done… I’ve always supported you (Phoenix) behind the scenes!” Which, when you think about it, is quite a sweet thing to say; he dislikes being called a “prodigy”, but he feels that his hard work for Phoenix is a more important part of his character. Maya then slyly suggests they start calling him “Nick’s Secret Fanboy Edgeworth” instead- and Edgeworth, instead of being affronted or trying to deny it, simply looks dejected and replies “You always have to rub salt into a wound…”. This seems to suggest that his feelings about Phoenix and his lasting support for him are a sore subject which he’s past the point of denying. And when everyone’s heading off to join the pageant, Nick sends them off with a “Go nuts, guys. I’ll be cheering for you, Edg- um, both of you.” Phoenix totally forgot about Layton- who is definitely his friend by this point, as they’d travelled together for a good two weeks during the game’s events- and went to wish luck to Edgeworth only. Is it just force of habit from cheering Edgeworth on? Has his tunnel-vision has reached the point that he forgets everyone else once Edgeworth is on the scene? Let’s think about just what a pageant is for a second- in the sense of a contest, it’s generally a beauty competition, where participants are judged partially on their physical attractiveness. And in the Miss Bezella Pageant, where contestants are supposed to try and “resemble Bezella”- whatever that means- it’s likely this is also the case. So, upon breaking this down, Phoenix had intended to cheer for Edgeworth alone in a beauty competition. …Okay then.
ii) Project X Zone 2
Edgeworth only cameos very briefly in this game, being magically summoned to prosecute a case against Phoenix, but when he shows up he and Wright display an obvious and implicit trust as courtroom partners, talking about the truth and smiling at each other as they reaffirm their mutual understanding- “If you’re trying to impress upon me the significance of this case, you need not bother.” “Edgeworth?” “Now that I’m standing here at the bench, the importance of the case has no bearing. Isn’t that true, Wright?” “You said it, Edgeworth. All that matters here… is the truth.” “Just as long as you understand.”
iii) Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom
Edgeworth’s appearance here is less of a cameo and more of a brief Easter egg. During She-Hulk’s ending, she begins to oversee a case where Phoenix and Edgeworth are prosecutor and attorney respectively. However, as she taps the bench with her gavel it snaps in half, startling Phoenix and Edgeworth… who instinctively jump into each other’s arms. It may be just a little cameo, but if this ending is to be believed, the concept that their first instinct upon being scared is to seek physical comfort from each other is quite sweet.
The games themselves do an excellent job of telling their story, whether it’s the main focus or something that can be inferred from what’s going on in the background. I began to ship Narumitsu tentatively at the end of Turnabout Samurai- the “unnecessary feelings” line rang a few bells for me, as it did for many others- and by the end of Turnabout Goodbyes I was fully invested. Since then it’s gone on to be probably my top ship of all time, to the extent that I’m sitting here with a thirty-page Word document, wondering what exactly I’m doing with my life.
But in terms of Narumitsu, we’ve only just gotten started. We’ve barely scraped the surface of the multitudes of reasons to ship them and the evidence supporting the possibility that they could be confirmed as canon one day.
Chapter 3: Part Two: The Anime
How's Narumitsu Week going for everybody? There's so much wonderful fanart and fic coming out that I can hardly keep up, lol.
This part is focused on the 2016 anime, and what it added to the series in terms of Narumitsu. Enjoy!
The Ace Attorney anime ran for two seasons from 2016-19, scheduled to coincide with the times that the games’ actual events happened according to the Ace Attorney timeline. Season One covered the events of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (episodes 1-12) and Justice for All (episodes 14-24), with a flashback episode bridging the two: Turnabout Promise, an episode centred around the friendship of Phoenix, Miles, and Larry when they were children. Season Two covered Trials and Tribulations, with episode 6 (Sound the Turnabout Melody) being a flashback to Edgeworth’s life in the von Karma household and Phoenix’s attempt to reach him over the radio, episodes 10-12 being an anime-only case about a murder which took place on a train (with Edgeworth appearing to help solve the case from America- the anime tends to stick with the original setting of Japan, instead of the localised “Japanifornia” setting), so I’ll be referring to it as such- and episode 14 (Hear the Waves of Turnabout) being an episode focused around the Fey family.
Despite being a relatively straight (lol) adaptation of the games, the anime provides a startling amount of new content in terms of Narumitsu. Between the re-localisation allowing the two of them to use first names at times of high tension, some intriguing choices in cinematography and the opening animations, and the new content providing extra material for discussion, there’s plenty to talk about beyond what already appears in the games.
The most memorable addition to the friendship between Phoenix and Edgeworth is the creation and presence of a matched set of keychains from their childhood favourite TV show, the Signal Samurai. Larry also has a keychain, but we only ever see it in one episode, and never while he’s an adult- however, Phoenix and Miles still have their keychains at the time of the anime’s end.
Since the anime is pretty much the same as the games, with some minor variations and small pieces of additional content, it is considered “canon-adjacent”. I’ll be tracking through the retellings of the games and the changes they made which add subtext to their relationship, then commenting on the openings, and looking at the flashback episodes and comprehensively going through the subplot around the Signal Samurai keychains. I’ll try to keep things as objective as possible.
All dialogue referenced is from the dubbed version of the anime.
Section 2A: Season One
The anime’s retelling of the first two games brings in a new spin on the dynamic between Phoenix and Edgeworth, with extra scenes and dialogue altering their portrayal slightly. This is most obvious in how the anime makes a point of them being equal and opposite, as well as the extra emphasis put on their childhood together, the occasional use of first names in the dub, and certain choices in lighting and cinematography.
i) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Episodes 1-12)
Even before Phoenix and Edgeworth meet in the courtroom, we’re getting implications of the unique duality the two share. On the train, Phoenix reads through a headline about Edgeworth’s recent win in court, and notes that his own victory is just a footnote; he comments on how they’re “like night and day”. The anime actively draws attention to Phoenix and Edgeworth as two perfect opposites, two halves of a whole, even this early on. This incident on its own isn’t much good as evidence, but through the series the theme is reinforced several times, and comes very close to a traditional soulmate narrative.
As usual, Gumshoe tells Phoenix that Edgeworth will be prosecuting during Turnabout Sisters. Assuring him of his defeat, and seeing how Phoenix’s eyes widen at the sound of Edgeworth’s name, he asks Phoenix if “that name” is “making him sweat”; and Phoenix, in a dazed and breathless voice, replies “Honestly… yeah.” During the exchange, we get a close-up shot of Phoenix’s eyes widening, and, in his mind’s eye, Edgeworth turning his head back to stare into the camera, surrounded by blinding light with his bangs waving in some invisible wind. The combination of this with Phoenix saying that the sound of Edgeworth’s name makes him “sweat” gives a pretty telling insight into how Phoenix imagines Edgeworth. At the end of the same episode he enters the court for the first time, and after a very dramatic entrance, we see a shot of Edgeworth staring up at the Judge’s bench, illuminated by sunlight streaming through the window, the golden light making him appear radiant. This shot is implied to be from Phoenix’s point of view. One of the most notable additions the anime makes comes in here- Phoenix referring to Edgeworth by his first name (in the dub only). On paper this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but adult Phoenix and Edgeworth never use each other’s first names, in any media; it’s always just “Wright” or “Edgeworth” with no title or honorific. So when Phoenix declares internally that he “has plenty of surprises for you, Miles” the moment suddenly feels more important.
The added scenes in Turnabout Samurai also do a good job of emphasising how defeat at Phoenix’s hands has caused Edgeworth to change. We see Edgeworth visit von Karma’s office right before the trial, where Manfred lectures him about the importance of victory- and tells him to “cast your feelings aside. The only victory is conviction.” These ‘feelings’, presumably the famous unnecessary ones, show up much earlier here than in the games. Speaking of the “unnecessary feelings” scene (which was kept in almost word-for-word) Edgeworth actually calls him “Phoenix”: “Listen, Phoenix. If I see you again, it will be far too soon for me.” It’s just a simple change of name, but with the history, tension, and tendency towards last names between the two of them, the change feels very significant. I don’t have time to talk about every time they go on a first-name basis, but it’s also notable that the only two people to consistently use Edgeworth’s first name in the anime are Franziska (his de facto sister) and Phoenix himself. (Manfred, Larry, and Tristan Turnbull use his name once or twice, but never with any regularity.)
At the very end of the case, Phoenix reflects on how “this case changed something inside me forever. Who knows, maybe it was the same for him too.” However, nothing particularly notable has actually happened to Phoenix in this case except Edgeworth going rogue and jumping to help him find the truth. This adds a brand new perspective to the event- until now, the focus had been on how Edgeworth’s change had impacted Edgeworth himself, but this line shows that the event affected Phoenix just as much by offering him hope that his old friend was still in there under Edgeworth’s tough exterior. And during this montage, we see two matching keychains- one blue, on Phoenix’s work bag, and one red, on Edgeworth’s desk. (I’ll talk more about the Signal Samurai later; Phoenix’s is visible on his bag during Turnabout Sisters, but attention is only drawn to it at the start of this case. They symbolise Phoenix and Edgeworth’s friendship throughout the series.)
Turnabout Goodbyes didn’t offer many changes to the events of the game, or at least, not where Narumitsu is concerned. However, some differences stand out. One is Gumshoe’s surprise that Edgeworth refused Phoenix’s defence; in the games he just says that Edgeworth was repeating his name and wouldn’t stop talking about him, but in the anime he explains how Edgeworth “kept complimenting you,” and how he “didn’t even know he was capable of that”. The notion that Edgeworth was actually praising Phoenix after Turnabout Samurai, and wouldn’t stop- even though he had told Phoenix he wanted nothing to do with him- confirms that Edgeworth was talking about Phoenix from a place of amazement and admiration, not just anger and frustration at being defeated. Maya quickly picks up on it, mischievously asking what Phoenix did to impress Edgeworth so much. In a similar way, she comments on how “sweet” it is that Phoenix is “still willing to risk everything for him [Edgeworth] now.” The anime makes it much clearer that if Nick loses this case, he also loses any reputation he has as an attorney- it talks about how taking such a high-profile trial is “risking everything” for Phoenix, but that he does it gladly for Edgeworth’s sake.
The story that Phoenix tells Maya about Edgeworth leaving is accompanied by oil-painting-esque fiery sunset backdrops, with the two of them holding up their respective keychains. We also learn that Phoenix not only went through law school to save Edgeworth, but even followed and documented his legal career, creating a scrapbook of all the times Edgeworth appeared in newspapers which was extensive enough to fill a binder (in a very Edgeworth-like pink). Not to mention Phoenix’s narration about how “time and distance may eat away at it, but I believe true friendship can survive those things…” “I still believe in the boy who stood up for me all those years ago. And now, I have the power to stand up for him. So I will. I’ll fight for him as hard as I can.” Taken all together, the scene has a very sentimental, evocative atmosphere, making a point of the intensity of Phoenix’s feelings and determination to save Edgeworth. This intensity continues even when Edgeworth has given up on himself, with Phoenix spending the recess tirelessly searching through at least ten thick-looking binders for anything that might help him save Edgeworth. The dedication and determination Phoenix has to help Edgeworth, no matter what, is made even clearer in the anime than the games.
Another notable difference between the anime and the games is how the two of them take down von Karma. While the games have Phoenix take on von Karma without much input from Edgeworth, who is still undergoing his crisis of faith, the anime’s retelling has Edgeworth team up with Phoenix from the defendant’s chair after helping Maya steal the DL-6 bullet. They work in perfect harmony- complete with anime speed lines in their respective colours, speaking in unison, and of course, ridiculously dramatic pointing.
Their discussion in the defendant lobby is also altered slightly from the games, with Phoenix- having pushed Larry off him (rip) to go and speak with Miles- offering a handshake to Edgeworth, who calls him “Phoenix,” and after some hesitation, “…old friend.” We’ll never know quite how long that handshake would have gone on if Larry hadn’t jumped in to joke about Edgeworth “finally smiling”, as the two never actually shook hands and kind of just… clasped each other’s hands while staring into each other’s eyes and smiling… Larry’s speculation that perhaps Phoenix “owed Edgeworth lunch” may not be too far off the mark.
ii) Justice for All (Episodes 14-24)
Phoenix’s wistful narration of Edgeworth’s disappearance is made all the more melancholy by the animated visual of Edgeworth, long black coat billowing, in complete darkness save Edgeworth glowing as he briefly looks back at Phoenix. This is implied to be how Phoenix recalls Edgeworth’s disappearance- even when he’s been abandoned so suddenly, Phoenix sees Edgeworth as luminous, just as he did before his first trial against him.
The events of Farewell, My Turnabout are emotional and subtext-heavy already, and the anime does a decent job of capturing that. Nevertheless, there are some changes that come from the switch to animation; for one, Edgeworth is shown to be more in tune with Phoenix’s emotions, sensing his distress and going out of his way to check he’s alright (“You clearly didn’t want the trial to be adjourned today. …Is something wrong?”) and, when Phoenix doesn’t reply and just looks at him tearfully, he seems to wordlessly understand and invites him and Pearl for “a chat” in the defendant lobby. Later in the investigation, when the camera is found in the bear, Edgeworth assures Phoenix that he will look into it. As he leaves, they glance at each other for a brief moment, and Phoenix’s eyes widen while the background turns a bright white, obscuring everything but them for a few seconds. I’m fairly sure this is the equivalent of the “I… trust him?” moment from the games- a moment of mutual understanding where something unspoken passes between them- but seeing it animated, and wordless, is… really something. After this silent exchange, Phoenix says “Thank you” gently. In the space of just three or four seconds, a sense of emotional communion between them has been established- it really has to be seen to be believed.
This is a good time to mention just how well Edgeworth and Phoenix’s courtroom balance between tension and teamwork translates to the screen. With the two communicating solely through eye contact several times, one with Phoenix simply just thinking at him and Edgeworth seeming to understand, and Edgeworth assuring Adrian that he is “not like them (Franziska/his corrupt colleagues)- and what’s more, neither is the defence”, it is just as evident in the anime as in the games that the two of them know each other so closely that they’re able to communicate with a look and cooperate even while arguing.
Phoenix also calls on Edgeworth’s help multiple times in this case, the bond of partnership beginning to creep into scene- in the ending narration after he discovers Engarde’s guilt, for example. “What IS justice in this case? And how can I still fight for it, knowing the truth? Help me, Edgeworth!” When looking for the right thing to do, he turns to the ‘answer’ Edgeworth found- and to Edgeworth himself. This leads into the office scene, after Edgeworth has waited for him outside the detention centre, seeming to know that Phoenix has just gone through the emotional ordeal of discovering that Engarde is guilty.
The office scene is based off Phoenix and Edgeworth’s discussion in the police department, moved to a quieter and more private space, with just the two of them talking alone in Edgeworth’s office over a cup of tea. The entire scene is filled with open and heartfelt discussion between them. Phoenix asks Edgeworth what he’s supposed to do, and Edgeworth says it’s completely up to him, and he can’t make the decision for him. He explains himself and his disappearance, makes Phoenix a cup of tea, and they talk about the truth and heroism and saving people. Much of the dialogue is taken pretty much directly from the games, so there’s not much point in my writing it all out. The conversation ends with Phoenix thanking him, and saying “You know, I like the new you.” Edgeworth, with a genuine smile, responds “You helped me find myself, so thank you.” The affection and friendship between them is evident in the scene, and this is only intensified by the voice-acting and setting of the scene. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the sofa Phoenix is sitting on has a red, heart-like shape, only clearly visible when he’s telling Edgeworth that he “likes the new him”?
The final scene between the two of them takes place not in the Gatewater Hotel like the games, but on the courtroom steps. Here is when the discussion about “trust” actually takes place, with Edgeworth telling Franziska about how his defeat at Phoenix’s hands had changed him, saying “We must trust each other, and be firm in our belief that we’re all fighting for the truth,” and that Phoenix “already knew that”, which is “why he couldn’t accept how [Edgeworth] had changed”. Phoenix expresses how he “became a lawyer because of you” and how Edgeworth had “changed his life forever”, as well as his feeling of betrayal when Edgeworth disappeared. Then he admits that he was wrong- that Edgeworth had “sacrificed your ego, admitted to the world that you were wrong; you realised that you couldn’t do it alone!” He points at Edgeworth in an objection-style position, and Edgeworth reaches out a fist as though he caught the objection. And then Phoenix confesses that “you saved my life.” This scene has it all- dramatic lighting through the courthouse windows, a slow and gentle version of Phoenix’s anime objection leitmotif; overall, it comes out to be perhaps one of the most important Narumitsu scenes in the whole season. Phoenix believes that Edgeworth saved his life and changed him forever, and Edgeworth believes that Phoenix saved his life and changed him forever. The mutual devotion and reverence they have for each other, the idea that they are essential to each other’s lives and cannot exist without one another- in this scene, it’s all but outright stated. Not to mention Franziska’s following line about how the two of them are “foolish- two losers licking each other’s wounds!”
On the whole, there’s not a lot to talk about regarding Narumitsu in the anime’s first season, since there’s not much new content beyond what happens in-game. However, their dynamic is given added depth by the more sympathetic portrayal of Edgeworth, and the constant cinematography of Phoenix visualising Edgeworth bathed in or giving off light suggests how Phoenix sees him as some kind of dazzling inspirational figure. With the dub giving them occasional moments of a first-name basis, the bond between them translates very well from the games to the anime, perhaps seeming even stronger.
Section 2B: Season 2
Season 2 gave us an anime-exclusive case featuring Phoenix and Miles, as well as another flashback episode which will be addressed later. Since this season covers only Trials and Tribulations, Edgeworth only shows up during Bridge to the Turnabout, but the season pulls its weight for Narumitsu regardless.
i) Northward, Turnabout Express
This is an anime-only exclusive case where Phoenix and Maya are invited for a trip on an exclusive express train, but end up being roped into a murder case where Phoenix is recruited as the attorney in a locomotive court of law. Meanwhile, Edgeworth is abroad in America- Europe, if you prefer the localisation- and receives a message from Gumshoe telling him about the train trial, asking him to look into it. This ends with him watching a live broadcast of the trial from the American prosecutor’s office- and, eventually, teaming up with Phoenix to solve a case from halfway across the world, with no small share of dramatics.
For one, the fact that their bond of trust and teamwork is so strong that they can solve a case together, halfway across the world from each other, more or less over Skype is really a testament to how synchronised and unified they are. Similarly to the end of Turnabout Goodbyes, the two of them point and shout in unison, and their teamwork is so moving that Gumshoe actually squees and flushes in excitement- “These two are working together across the Pacific! So cool, man!”- covering his eyes like the sheer emotion of it is going to make him cry.
Despite the two of them uncovering the truth of his innocence, Richman believes that he will still be considered a fugitive following the incident, and activates the countdown for a bomb to go off so he can die with dignity. Everybody rushes to leave the car before Richman disconnects the coupling, but Phoenix and Maya stay behind to convince Richman to come with them. As soon as Richman uncouples the car and puts Phoenix and Maya in immediate danger, Edgeworth’s expression, calm and collected throughout the whole bomb threat and countdown, becomes uncharacteristically alarmed. The two persuade Richman to stay alive with the help of the American Chief Prosecutor, and Phoenix, last to leave the car, wastes a precious few seconds to look back wordlessly at Edgeworth, who smiles in relief before the connection ends and Phoenix gets to safety with seconds to spare.
Additionally, Phoenix uses Edgeworth’s first name throughout the whole episode, which is quite a nice sign of how much closer and more comfortable they are with each other during this period, and suggests the continuation of an off-screen friendship even while Edgeworth is abroad.
ii) Bridge to the Turnabout
This is Edgeworth’s only appearance in the latter half of the season, barring Turnabout Beginnings (where Phoenix is absent). Turnabout Memories has Phoenix briefly allude to Edgeworth, saying “I’ve been taking law classes and it’s got me thinking- if I become a lawyer, there’s a friend I could help.” There are several points of discussion that separate the anime’s adaptation from the games: the most obvious being the inclusion of the infamous “missing hospital scene” where Phoenix hands his badge and Magatama over to Edgeworth.
The scene itself is under thirty seconds long, but it features Edgeworth flat-out lying and claiming he “just happened to be back in the country”, when we already know from the games that he’d chartered a private jet to be there- plus the fact that he’s sleeping in a hotel, and that judging by the timestamps and the time zone he’s in is four hours ahead of Japan (though I genuinely have no idea where he is, the only places in that time zone are New Zealand and part of Russia) he definitely had not just “happened to be back in the country, only for a bit”. Seems like Edgeworth doesn’t want Phoenix to know just how far he would go to ensure he’s alright. Secondly, Phoenix’s encouragements to Edgeworth are quite sweet, in a way: “But I’m a prosecutor!” “I know. A great one… I know you can do this.” Apparently, that’s all the convincing Edgeworth needs to risk his job and masquerade as a defence attorney for Phoenix. Finally- and chalk it down to animation errors if you want, but- in every shot we see of Phoenix’s hospital shirt, it’s buttoned up to a little under his collarbone. In Edgeworth’s mind, however, when he visualises Phoenix giving the badge to him, he apparently imagines the shirt buttoned so low that you can actually see the line of his pecs. (What the fuck, Miles?) The original storyboard for this sequence is also partially visible in a promotional photo from Cloverworks, revealing that Phoenix was, at one point, supposed to have a flush on his face as he offered the badge to Edgeworth.
During the interview with Iris and subsequent investigation, Edgeworth thinks several times to himself about Phoenix and what he would do, in accordance with the games. He tells Iris that “he acted strangely when your name came up in our conversation- he couldn’t hide it from me.” Putting aside how this is a good example of Edgeworth and Phoenix knowing each other so well that it’s very difficult for them to keep secrets from each other, Iris fires a question back- “Do you consider him to be a friend, Mr. Edgeworth?” Immediately, Edgeworth answers- “Without a doubt. One of my oldest.” This line is slightly changed from the games, but it still conveys the genuine friendship he and Phoenix share. His internal monologue becomes pointed at Phoenix several times, as he stares out of the window and thinks about how he’ll “have to take a different approach in this trial- so I’ll do things your way, Wright.” When he’s thinking about all the evidence against Iris, and how desperate the situation is for him, he turns, and everything fades out except him. He narrates wonderingly “Is this how Wright felt every time he stood in court for one of his clients?” An image of Phoenix looking back and smiling at him appears, glowing slightly. We’ve seen plenty of examples where Phoenix visualises Edgeworth as radiant, but this is the first time we find that Edgeworth sees Phoenix in the same way. “The sight of that man still shines brilliantly in my eyes,” indeed.
The most significant instance of Edgeworth thinking about Phoenix comes during the trial, where Edgeworth thinks, “I have a hunch, but can I prove it? No, it doesn’t matter if I can, because I must! After all, that’s the way Wright would approach the situation, I’m sure of it!” An apparition of Phoenix appears and moves over Edgeworth, combining the two of them as Edgeworth channels Phoenix (metaphorically, for once in the series), and gains new resolve to turn the case around. Needless to say this is going beyond simple admiration of his courtroom technique. This is Edgeworth feeling as if Phoenix is an ideal, and what’s more, that his ability to defend a client comes from Phoenix directly. There’s certainly an element of one soul inhabiting two bodies here- the compatibility of two people being so strong that they are like one person at times. (Well, I guess Phoenix’s first thought upon wanting to “clone himself” was to get Edgeworth to help him out.)
Once court is adjourned, and Edgeworth has gazed up at the sky and thought “I’ve done all I can here. Wright, the rest is up to you” as in the games, we cut to him giving the badge back to Phoenix, who thanks him, Edgeworth brushing it off with an insistence that “all he did was buy more time.” He expresses concern for Phoenix’s health in his roundabout way, asking if he’s sure he’s ready to leave the hospital with a mixture of unease and uncertainty on his face. This concern isn’t unfounded, either, as Phoenix falls to the floor in a coughing fit moments later. Edgeworth smiles and remarks “So stubborn. I’ve always admired that,” and Phoenix replies hoarsely “It’s something the two of us have in common!” It’s really quite rare for Edgeworth to compliment someone, even rarer for him to confess to admiring them. Especially when the person in question is crouched on the ground and coughing their lungs out. Edgeworth then leaves to go to the precinct and research Iris, referring to her as “our client” just like in the games and grumbling about how it’s “perfectly obvious he won’t be getting that [information] from Phoenix”.
Edgeworth turns up again later, meeting Phoenix at the mountain gate and letting him vent about his fears for Maya’s life. Just like the office scene from season 1, the emotionally heavy conversation between them is moved for the express purpose of making the scene more atmospheric- from the Inner Temple with the police moving around the crime scene, to just the two of them in the garden under the full moon. Together, the two of them find the blade in the staff (almost entirely by accident), and before Edgeworth leaves to get the blood on the sword checked out, he tells Phoenix what he’d discovered about Iris’ identity. Phoenix calls attention to the similarities between himself and Edgeworth- “a woman I’m certain you can’t erase from your thoughts either.” “Yeah, she’s hard to forget. Yet another thing the two of us have in common, I suppose.” Furthermore, the way Edgeworth breaks the news of Dahlia’s death to Phoenix is much gentler than in the games; while previously he just flat-out stated she’d been executed and then made an awkward joke about “her metabolic processes being of interest only to historians”, here he quietly explains that she “is no more,” and tactfully expresses sympathy for Phoenix- “This must be quite a shock to you. My apologies.” This is in line with Edgeworth’s continuing presentation in the anime as much more sensitive to Phoenix’s emotions and sympathetic as a character.
The notorious “partners” line is here too, left almost entirely untouched. Edgeworth raises a hand in farewell, and says “I’m going now. I suppose the rest is up to you-” he turns back and smiles- “partner.” Phoenix grins in response, saying “Right. I came here to win.” Pearl looks up at him and smiles widely, flushing a little.
As usual, Edgeworth appears for the final time at the end of the case, when he congratulates Phoenix and holds out his hand, struggling for words before warmly saying “Listen, Wright. You did well. Excellent work!” Phoenix clasps his outstretched hand with both of his, and we get back-to-back shots of the two of them smiling, sighing, and gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. Just like after Turnabout Goodbyes, who knows how long that moment would have gone on if Larry hadn’t suddenly appeared- although we never actually see the two detach from the handshake, as they continue to hold hands through both Larry and Gumshoe’s appearances, the camera cuts away as Franziska appears, and the two are still standing shoulder-to-shoulder when they appear in frame, with their hands close enough that they could conceivably still be holding hands until the moment Phoenix pulls the Master’s Talisman out of his pocket.
On the whole, the anime’s second season definitely qualifies for its fair share of moments between these two, though perhaps not to the degree of the games and the anime’s first season (only to be expected, seeing as the two don’t share much screen time in Trials and Tribulations). The bulk of the anime’s significant moments between these two are in the two flashback episodes- Turnabout Melody and Turnabout Promise- and in the existence of the Signal Samurai keychains, which I have pointedly avoided talking about in favour of a more in-depth commentary later.
Section 2C: The Opening Credits
Like most anime, the Ace Attorney anime has a unique animation about a minute & a half long in which the opening credits play before an episode. Not even the openings for this anime are free from subtext between these two. I’ll only be covering the first three openings here, as the endings tend to focus on the Feys, and the fourth opening and ending are more focused on the bonds between all the characters, with less time given to Phoenix and Edgeworth specifically.
i) OP 1: Gyakuten Winner
Edgeworth is walking on the beach and stops to look behind him at Phoenix, who has finally stopped after running for the whole intro and is breathing hard, reflecting how the reason he’s been running all this time is to reach Edgeworth. A glowing golden chain appears, joining the two of them by the wrist- which in itself is very evocative of “red string of fate” imagery and narrative about soulmates being connected by an unbreakable bond. In symbolic language, a linked chain (such as the one connecting the two of them) can “sometimes symbolise an eternal connection with an ideal or loved one. A linked chain has been a symbol of marriage because of the immortal connection soulmates share. In this light, the chain stands for eternal love- especially in marriage”. Looking for alternate interpretations only turned up oppression, imprisonment, and divine connection, none of which seem to fit the two of them, especially since the chain is literally “eternally connecting” the two of them. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. The two are then raised up on opposite sides of a set of scales, signifying their status as equals and opposites in a court of law.
ii) OP 2: Life is Wonderful
We see that both of them have their Signal Samurai keychains attached to their bags as they go about their day, Phoenix in Japan and Edgeworth in America. This is especially significant for Edgeworth; he values his rekindled friendship with Phoenix so much that he takes the memento everywhere with him, even halfway across the world. As if they share a psychic connection, the two suddenly stop, turn, and face each other (or they would if they weren’t on opposite sides of the world). They both smile and it cuts to the two of them in court: showing their eyes in the typical “cross-examination beginning” style, but panning down to show the two of them are smiling widely, and illustrating how they genuinely enjoy going against each other in court.
iii) OP 3: Never Lose
As Phoenix walks in front of a sky backdrop, with his suit jacket dramatically whipped open by the wind, he stops and looks up to see Edgeworth- who turns, and, catching sight of Phoenix, smiles at him warmly. It’s probably one of the most openly affectionate smiles we’ve seen from Edgeworth. Also notable are the lyrics at that moment- “My evidence is that I’m never by myself”, highlighting how they never abandon or give up on each other. The two of them, in static “objection” poses, move towards and past each other to stand pointing together, back to back, instead of at each other; a visual representation of how they’ve moved to stand on the same side and fight for the truth together. I feel like I should mention that Edgeworth, despite featuring prominently, appears in only one episode while this opening is being used.
An opening is just an opening, after all- it’s even less canon than the anime. But still, a group of people sat there, sequenced and animated Phoenix being connected to Edgeworth by a glowing golden chain, and got it approved as official content, so… take it how you like. An opening is supposed to give a good idea of what the anime’s tone is like and the characters involved, so it’s not insignificant that Phoenix and Edgeworth’s relationship features so prominently.
Section 2D: The Flashback Episodes
The flashback episodes are by far the most significant episodes for Narumitsu in the whole anime. By giving them (and Larry, of course) and two episodes dedicated to their friendship as children and how that has affected them as adults, the anime offers us a look into how deeply their care for each other runs, and how incapable they are of forgetting each other.
i) Turnabout Promise
The episode opens on Phoenix reminiscing about the day of the class trial, at the beginning of September 2001. (This is the first time we get a concrete date of when the class trial happened, and it somehow makes Phoenix’s devotion to finding and saving Miles even funnier- he only knew him for three months in fourth grade!) The start of the flashback shows Phoenix and Edgeworth literally run into each other on a street corner, both dropping their books everywhere (which, by the way, is an incredibly stereotypical way for love interests to meet in both Western and Japanese media) and Edgeworth smiles slightly at Phoenix before picking up his books and walking away.
After some reminiscing on the class trial, with no noteworthy changes to the game, Phoenix, Miles and Larry find and attempt to return a lost dog, ending in Edgeworth taking the dog home. Larry claims the money from the class trial after a short time and spends it on winning a matched set of Signal Samurai keychains, now that Edgeworth has gotten into the show at their recommendation; and shortly afterwards the DL-6 incident happens. When Manfred arrives to take Edgeworth to his home, telling him to “take only what he truly needs”, Edgeworth takes his keychain with him. However, Manfred forces him to leave it behind as “it has no place in the von Karma household”. Phoenix and Larry appear, running to catch up to Edgeworth but not managing to make it to the car in time. While Larry immediately accuses Edgeworth of being a “jerk” who left without telling them and abandoned the symbol of their friendship, Phoenix is completely silent until he sees that Edgeworth left the keychain, which he immediately grabs- running to find Edgeworth, even though it’s the middle of winter, raining hard, Edgeworth is in a car, and he’s only nine years old.
Once Larry finally catches up to Phoenix at the train crossing, Nick explains that he’s taking the keychain back to Edgeworth, and lets his hands get stomped on to protect Edgeworth’s keychain- “You’re wrong… he would never throw our friendship away!”. It must have been pretty vicious, as well, seeing how his hands tremble after the impact and Larry falls over from the misjudged landing. He’s willing to go to extreme, even impossible lengths, and to let himself get hurt, if it means he can get to say goodbye to Edgeworth. Larry throws down his keychain and leaves Nick alone, which is in itself a sign that his friendship with Edgeworth and Phoenix is somehow not at the same level as their friendship with each other.
During Phoenix’s montage of his friendship with Edgeworth- where everything is bathed in white or golden light- he declares to himself that Edgeworth would never throw away their friendship. “This represents our friendship, it’s not garbage. There’s gotta be an explanation!”
We see Edgeworth sneak out of von Karma’s house to get his keychain, and the lights turn on in the city as it becomes night. Edgeworth flat-out runs all the way from the von Karmas’ house to his own to retrieve his keychain. Phoenix appears behind him with wet hair, meaning he’s most likely been walking around waiting for Edgeworth all evening- and it’s night at this point. He must have been in the rain for hours.
Phoenix tells Edgeworth that he knew he would come back because he had left a trail of dog food for Missile to follow home, and that he was sure Edgeworth would never willingly abandon their friendship. We can see Phoenix’s unshakeable faith in Edgeworth already manifesting a whole fifteen years before the first game. Miles listens to this whole explanation with tears shining in his eyes, and holds the keychain close to his heart when Phoenix gives it back to him. Phoenix tells Edgeworth how there was “something I knew you’d never leave behind”, and that “you and me will be friends forever”. He offers his hand for Edgeworth to take, and Miles tearfully agrees, “Okay. Forever.” And as far as I can tell, they haven’t broken that promise yet- they’re still friends, almost thirty years later.
The episode closes with Phoenix looking at his keychain in the present day and thinking about how his friendship with Edgeworth has been restored. We see Edgeworth himself leave his “chooses death” note and say to himself “I guess this is goodbye… once again.” In the JPN subs he specifically says “Wright,” confirming that Edgeworth was thinking of Phoenix when he left the note. As he goes to leave the office, he suddenly turns back and takes his keychain- even when trying to cut ties to his past self, he can’t bear to abandon his friendship with Phoenix.
ii) Sound the Turnabout Melody
This episode revolves around Phoenix sending a message to Edgeworth over the radio when they’re twelve or thirteen years old. It’s really… quite something. This is going to get long, so buckle in.
We open on Phoenix and Maya, having made a wonderfully cringey advert for the Wright & Co. Law Offices, going for a meal in a diner when the radio starts to play the Signal Samurai theme. Phoenix is immediately distracted, and Maya recognises the theme as “your song”, revealing that he “still has the figures” from the show. Phoenix confesses that he “just kinda has a thing for radio,” and when Maya asks if there’s a story behind that, he takes his Signal Samurai keychain from the inside of his suit jacket. For starters, he reaches specifically into his left breast pocket- right next to his heart. He’s carrying the symbol of his friendship with Edgeworth… as close to his heart as possible. This means he must have moved it between season 1 (where it was on his bag, and later in his drawer) and begun carrying it in his pocket after Farewell, my Turnabout.
We begin a flashback of Phoenix in middle school, three years after Edgeworth left, who talks to Larry about Rainbow Samurai, but Larry brushes him off and tells him that he prefers radio now. He invites Phoenix to listen with him on the roof, and as Nick leans over his Signal Samurai keychain falls out of his pocket. This in itself is pretty interesting- even before he’s gotten the resolve to go and help Edgeworth, he carries his keychain everywhere, including to school with him, since Edgeworth’s friendship is still THAT important to him even years after they’ve lost contact.
When Larry notices it, Phoenix begins to blush furiously and snatches it back. Is it really so embarrassing for your best friend to find out you’re carrying around a keepsake from your childhood? We never actually see Larry’s keychain after Turnabout Promise, and he says that he “bets my life old Edgey-boy’s thrown his in the trash by now.” Phoenix vehemently defends Edgeworth for leaving without telling them, and after some reminiscence on the DL-6 incident, we see what he’s doing in the von Karma household- listening to the radio on his earphones.
After some incredibly cute five-year-old Franziska content, Phoenix hears mention of a “special request” on the radio, and his mind immediately jumps to how to contact Edgeworth; he’s clearly been thinking about how to get in touch with Edgeworth for a while now. The message gets to Edgeworth when he’s looking for Missile in Lordly Tailor after he ran off; it’s pure coincidence- or maybe fate?- that he happens to be listening to that particular station, at that particular time, when Phoenix’s message comes on. The sound of the Signal Samurai theme sends Edgeworth into a sudden flashback of his time spent with Larry and Nick, his keychain, and the three of them sitting by the river in the twilight. Miles tells them about wanting to “become a defence lawyer just like my dad” (tying into the episode’s wider theme of Edgeworth deciding his future during his time with the von Karmas) and Phoenix gasps and smiles in amazement, a huge blush growing on his face. …There is absolutely no reason for Nick to be blushing in this scene. He’s not embarrassed or being praised, nor shy or upset… (if only there was another situation in which people blush). Speaking of which, when Phoenix moves closer and eagerly tells him that “you’d be amazing! I can’t wait to watch you battle in court!” Miles looks stunned at his enthusiasm and then starts grinning and blushing back. Bear in mind we only see Larry in the wide shot when they’re sitting down; he looks to be asleep and is completely irrelevant to this exchange. You can’t even see him on the path in the shots of Miles. This is a conversation that’s very important to Phoenix and Miles, but Larry is not part of it; there’s something different about the friendship between the two of them, something that causes them to blush when they think about spending their future together. Huh… if only we knew what it was. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Edgeworth is drawn out of his internal conflict by the announcer declaring that the request came from “Signal Blue,” and we see his eyes widen in surprise. As she begins to read out the message, her voice fades over into Phoenix’s, who we see working and gazing out of a window wistfully during class, presumably thinking about the message; he tells Edgeworth that he and Larry miss him and his puppy, and that he wishes they were all together to play Signal Samurai again. He then reassures him that “it doesn’t matter where you live, I’ve always got your back and I’m rooting for you. We’ll meet again one day, I know it.” The radio DJ calls it a “heartfelt message” and that she “hopes Red and Blue meet again too! Darlin’ Dee’s cheering for you!” Edgeworth remarks that Phoenix “never changes. I’m glad.”
Edgeworth’s reaction to the message puts a brand-new perspective on Phoenix “trying to reach out to him I don’t know how many times”- in the games, the suggestion was that Edgeworth received these messages and ignored them, or else the messages (which lots of people assume to be letters, though I don’t recall that being stated anywhere?) were intercepted by Manfred before they reached Miles. But here we have a message that Edgeworth actually receives and reacts positively to, leaving us free to assume that at least one or two like this reached Edgeworth and served as a source of comfort- he didn’t ignore or reject them, Phoenix just didn’t know his address, so he had to use an unconventional method of getting through to him.
Suddenly he hears Missile barking, goes to catch him, and confronts a woman trying to steal a dog for reward money. By chance, von Karma sees Miles arguing with her, and this persuades him to cancel the orphanage deal and allow Edgeworth to be trained by him as part of the von Karma prosecutor family. At the end Edgeworth reveals that he’s had the Signal Samurai keychain in his pocket the whole time- never forgetting Phoenix’s friendship even during his days as von Karma’s disciple- and there is a wide shot as he stares out into the distance and says “Well, you helped me out once again… my friend.” He walks on and we cut to a wide shot of Phoenix under the same sky, turning suddenly as if to look at Miles, despite being on the opposite side of the country. Yeah… the soulmate subtext is strong with this one. Seeming to sense & hear each other over long distances? Mirroring shots of the two of them under the same sky at twilight? And even this isn’t the end of this episode’s many, many moments for the two of them, because after the credits end, there is a short post-credits scene (which I can’t find dubbed, for some reason) where Maya uploads their advert to the internet and it’s found by a few “American” lawyers. Edgeworth goes over to their monitor to look and his expression changes to shock, then a soft smile; and a moment later we see the number of “likes”- represented, aptly, by a little blue heart- go from zero to one, and then a shot of Edgeworth smiling down at his phone. The heavy implication is that he is the one who liked the video. The episode closes on the image of the crescent moon shining in the sky over the city. “The moon is beautiful”, indeed…
There’s even more to this episode that meets the eye once you start looking at it closely. First of all, there’s Phoenix’s change from initial dismissal of the radio to listening to and “having a thing for” it by the end; he began to like it because the radio allowed him to feel closer to Edgeworth. Meanwhile, Larry likes it because it allows him to feel close to the DJ… who he has a crush on. The place where Edgeworth stops, hears the Signal Samurai theme, and has his flashback to Phoenix is directly in front of a poster starring two male action leads, one of whom is smirking, and their faces are… really quite close together. The text underneath them is dark blue fading into pinkish red, Phoenix and Edgeworth’s signature colours. On another note, the reason Missile ran off to begin with was to chase another lost Pomeranian, and they were staring at each other pretty intently when Miles found them. So I guess you could say this episode was motivated by… puppy love?
Jokes aside, there’s one final important thing this episode gives us. We already know that Nick began studying as an attorney because he wanted to find out what happened to Edgeworth and save him; this episode tells us that Edgeworth would not be a prosecutor if Phoenix hadn’t sent him that message on the radio. Without the presence of the Signal Samurai theme, he wouldn’t have taken down Goldie, Manfred would have sent him to the orphanage he was negotiating with throughout the episode, and he would probably have chosen a different path in life. Edgeworth even attributes his success in finding the truth to Phoenix’s help, reminiscing on how he “helped him out”. The two of them indirectly caused each other’s career paths, and thus have been hugely influencing each other’s lives constantly, even when separated by distance and time. Without Phoenix, Edgeworth would never have become a prosecutor; without Edgeworth, Phoenix would never have become an attorney. They are completely essential to each other’s very nature: one would not- cannot- exist without the other.
Section 2E: The Signal Samurai
I’ve spent enough time dancing around this, and you probably already know what these are. I saved this point for last so I could go through it chronologically; in essence, these keychains symbolise Phoenix and Edgeworth (and Larry, to a lesser extent)’s friendship, and the keychains’ movements and appearances throughout the anime and timeline reflect this.
Chronologically, the first time we see the keychains is in Turnabout Promise. The trio get them as a prize from a machine when Larry claims Edgeworth’s $37 after the waiting period is up. Larry and Phoenix take the Signal Yellow and Signal Blue keychains, and Miles takes Signal Red, admitting that he’d asked his dad to let him watch the show after Larry and Phoenix recommended it. The three keep their keychains- calling it the “symbol of their friendship”- until in December tragedy strikes and the DL-6 incident occurs. Manfred arrives to take Edgeworth in and tells him to bring “only what he truly needs”. Miles takes his Signal Red keychain with him, but when von Karma sees it he deems it to have “no place in the von Karma household” and takes it from him, throwing it onto the lid of a nearby bin.
Phoenix and Larry see that the keychain has been abandoned, and Larry assumes the worst- that Edgeworth willingly gave it up and abandoned their friendship. Phoenix, however, believes Edgeworth would never abandon their friendship and runs to bring it back to him, even with Larry telling him to give up and trying to destroy the keychain. Phoenix lets his hands get stomped on to defend the keychain and continues to search for Miles.
Edgeworth, on the other hand, sneaks out of von Karma’s house in the night to run back, following a trail he’d laid earlier so he can retrieve the keychain and running into Phoenix, who gives him the keychain back and exchanges a promise with him to be “friends forever”.
The final incidence concerning the Signal Samurai in this time period is Phoenix and Edgeworth’s discussion of Edgeworth’s future as an attorney, and Phoenix’s future of supporting his dream and watching him battle in court. This memory is specifically tied to the Signal Samurai theme tune for Edgeworth, although the keychains do not appear, and the memory seems to be important to Edgeworth in a similar way as the class trial is for Phoenix (if a little less impactful).
There’s not too much to say about the presence and impact of the keychains here, except to explain where they came from and what they mean to Phoenix, Edgeworth and Larry. However, it’s very notable that we never once see Larry’s keychain after this time period. From here on out, the keychains are something that only have an impact on Phoenix and Edgeworth’s friendship, as their friendship with each other has a unique, more profound quality compared to their friendship with Larry. Taking on the metaphor of the keychains for their friendship, Phoenix and Edgeworth refuse to abandon each other at any cost; von Karma forbids Edgeworth’s friendship with Phoenix from having a place in his home, but he defies him, hiding and keeping it anyway. In the meantime, the two continue to value their keychains as a symbol of the bond between them, still existing when they are separated by distance and time.
Three years on from their separation, the two continue to treasure their keychains, carrying them everywhere in their pockets, even to school. Phoenix reaches Edgeworth through a message on the radio, using their nicknames of Signal Red and Blue and getting his attention with the Signal Samurai theme song. When Larry catches sight of his keychain, Phoenix reacts with a fierce blush and snatches it away from him like a schoolgirl trying to hide a love note from her nosy friends. The logical assumption is that these two kept the keychains close to them or on their person for fifteen years before they reunited; Edgeworth’s hidden in his pocket or on his desk, and Phoenix’s in his pocket or on his bag; even while apart, they never forgot each other.
This takes us to the events of the first game. Phoenix’s keychain is attached to his bag, and it’s gone through some significant wear and tear. It’s visible as a background detail attached to Phoenix’s bag (thus continuing to go everywhere with him) in Turnabout Sisters and attention is first drawn to it at the beginning of Turnabout Samurai, though an explanation of what it is isn’t offered until the end of the case, where we see Edgeworth watching the new episode of Steel Samurai… with a very familiar-looking red keychain on his desk next to him. Unlike Nick’s, it’s pristine, representing how he has most likely had to hide this symbol of friendship away while living under von Karma.
The keychain shows up again at the very beginning of Turnabout Goodbyes. Phoenix wakes up from a nightmare about the class trial and only relaxes once he catches sight of it, smiling slightly in relief. Again, this is showing how the keychain’s presence is soothing for Phoenix, and how his memories of friendship with Edgeworth are a source of great comfort for him. We get an idea of the keychains’ symbolism when Nick & Maya run into Larry at Gourd Lake, with Larry recalling how they used to be called the “three Signal Samurai” in elementary school. (Incidentally, this would have been a perfect time for Larry to show that he still has his keychain… but it isn’t even brought up. Nor does Phoenix show his keychain to him or even mention it. At this point, the keychain subplot is very much about Phoenix and Edgeworth’s connection alone.)
While Phoenix passionately tells Maya about how Edgeworth is suffering and why he wants to save him- the class trial- he holds the keychain in his hand, since the story is inherently tied to the keepsake as the origin of Phoenix’s friendship with Edgeworth. The montage of Edgeworth leaving, with a backdrop of an incredibly sentimental oil-painting-esque fiery sunset, shows him holding up the red keychain while young Phoenix looks back solemnly and holds up his blue one, like a silent declaration that their friendship will continue even when separated and that they will never forget each other. Honestly, the whole energy of the scene is… really difficult to describe. Phoenix monologuing over it about how “true friendship” can overcome time and distance doesn’t help either.
At the very end of the Goodbyes trial, Phoenix shows his keychain to Edgeworth, who reacts in amazement, and when asked if he still has his red one, responds with an unbelievably tsundere-like “Um… maybe. I mean, I don’t know where it is…” while the camera shows that it’s SITTING ON HIS DESK, in plain view, where he can always see it. Why would he still be shy about admitting that he still cherishes his friendship with Phoenix? Does he want Phoenix not to know how important that childhood encounter really was for him? Is it somehow embarrassing for him to admit he cares about Phoenix? I wonder…
Well, that aside, the first half of season 1 certainly has the stronger presence of the keychains, which is only to be expected seeing as it focuses entirely on Phoenix saving Edgeworth and revealing their history together. That’s not to say they disappear entirely after 2016, though.
Edgeworth is abroad for the whole of this year- sadly, the anime never adapted Rise from the Ashes- and Phoenix believes him dead. At the beginning and end of the 2001 flashback episode, we see Phoenix quietly reminiscing on his friendship with Edgeworth, smiling and thinking about how now their friendship is restored. Ironically, we then cut to Edgeworth leaving his “suicide” note, and his own keychain is visible, left on the desk with the note… only for Edgeworth to change his mind at the very last second, turn back, and take it with him. Even when he’s determined to change himself and “choose death” for his past self, he cannot bear to abandon his friendship with Phoenix- and though the friendship itself is temporarily lost, he continues to value and keep the keychain close to him in the hope that they can become friends again once he returns.
After Phoenix finds out that Edgeworth has disappeared, we are given a scene where Phoenix, angry, abandoned, and close to tears, shuts his keychain away in his desk drawer and stops carrying it with him. This is a show of how badly Phoenix took Edgeworth’s “death”; he’s had that keychain on his person since the day Edgeworth and he were separated as kids, and now he is putting it away from his sight as a way to avoid thinking about Edgeworth at all. This is a continuation of Phoenix’s grief in JfA manifesting as denial- not that Edgeworth is dead, but denial that he ever even existed in Phoenix’s life. Eventually Maya finds the keychain, and since she’s a fan of the Samurai series, she brings it along to the Gatewater Hotel and has it with her during her kidnapping.
Finally, the scene at the end of Turnabout Big Top shows that Edgeworth has attached his keychain to his suitcase and taken it to Europe with him. This shows how the new Edgeworth sees his friendship with Phoenix: while the past him was always forced to keep the keychain hidden and store it covertly on his desk or in his pocket, the new Edgeworth wants his friendship with Phoenix to be something everyone can see, proudly displaying it on his bag. He takes it everywhere with him, halfway across the world- his connection to Phoenix is something he’s unwilling to leave behind again.
The intro for the second half of season one shows the keychains attached to Phoenix and Edgeworth’s bags. While this technically cannot be canon- there is no period of time where Edgeworth is abroad and Phoenix has his keychain attached to his bag- it is still a nice indication of how they carry their friendship everywhere with them, especially in light of them immediately having some sort of mental connection on opposite sides of the world.
iii) 2018 and Beyond
Once Farewell, my Turnabout ends, we don’t see the keychains again except at the beginning of Turnabout Melody, where Phoenix, beginning to reminisce about how his love of radio began, pulls the keychain from the pocket directly over his heart. I can only assume that after discovering that Edgeworth was alive, he moved the keychain from his bag to this pocket; perhaps a representation of the change in Phoenix’s focus. When he was using his abilities and position as a lawyer to seek out and save Edgeworth, it was on his bag, where his evidence and files are kept; when he refused to think of Edgeworth, and didn’t want to see the keychain, he hid it away in his desk. Now that his friendship with Edgeworth is restored and the two are closer than ever, he keeps the keychain… as close to his heart as possible. I don’t actually know where Edgeworth’s keychain goes, as the shots of his suitcase during Bridge to the Turnabout have it absent, but it’s a safe assumption that he, too, is carrying it on his person; perhaps it’s also next to his heart, like Phoenix’s.
Whether you see them as basically the equivalent of a friendship bracelet for Phoenix and Edgeworth, or a clever way of displaying the state of their friendship, the show still felt that it was so necessary to hammer home the intensity of their friendship to add a whole subplot around them. Making up for lost time and development from the games to TV wasn’t something the anime was particularly good at, so the fact that they spent precious time adding this subplot highlights how important it is to the story that a viewer grasps the depth of the relationship between Phoenix and Edgeworth.
Overall, the whole anime adds a LOT of new content and new subtext for Narumitsu. The shift from game to screen did everything in its power to capture the feeling of camaraderie and the complexity of the relationship between Phoenix and Edgeworth- and did a damn good job, in my opinion. They especially pushed through a lot of evidence for Phoenix and Edgeworth being two sides of the same coin, even two halves of a whole, inextricably linked by fate, and created a very solid foundation to argue they may even be soulmates. And let’s not forget that this isn’t a project that went unsupervised by Capcom staff- Shu Takumi himself was script supervisor, meaning he probably personally approved everything that occurs in the anime. The chains that bind Phoenix and Edgeworth- whether they be golden chains or keychains- are made ever more evident by the anime.
But of course that’s not the end of it. There is yet more official Ace Attorney content, in almost any format you can possibly think of, and it contains some of the most obvious and glaring hints toward Narumitsu yet. The games and anime, while easily the most accessible content, are only the beginning.
Chapter 4: Part Three: The Expanded Universe
It's finally Narumitsu Day where I live! Today's part focuses on the expanded universe of the Ace Attorney series, including the manga, movie, musicals, and more. This was my favourite part to write and research, so I hope you enjoy it too!
Ace Attorney has a relatively long history, being almost twenty years old at the time I’m writing this, and with it comes a deluge of stage plays, official manga, audio dramas, 4koma, not one but THREE musicals, and even a (in my opinion criminally underrated) live-action movie.
Everything I’m discussing has been at the very least licensed by Capcom, and a good portion of it is either supervised or written by Takumi. Because much of the content is far less mainstream than the games and anime, often lacking official (or even unofficial) English translations, there is less obligation to adhere to the continuity and tone of canon, and it’s far easier to slip in a hint or two towards Narumitsu without the backlash and reaction that may come from placing something similar in the games themselves.
It varies between types of content, but most of the content outside the games and anime is not intended to be interpreted as canon, and at best, is a case of “it’s canon if you want it to be”, so I’m treating the expanded universe content as simply “official”- not canon.
This section will begin to integrate a bit of meta and comparison, rather than direct reasoning around their relationship, so some points will come down to interpretation and may be somewhat subjective/up for debate. However, I’ll try to restrain myself and keep within the realm of reason.
Obviously, spoiler warning for literally any AA content you can think of except the DGS games.
Section 3A: The Kodansha Comics Manga
Most of this manga is case-based, and often Edgeworth won’t appear at all, as is usual with regular AA games. Edgeworth’s Investigations manga, in the tradition of the games, don’t focus on or mention Phoenix whatsoever (although if you’re a Gumshoe fan, they’re definitely worth a look). Despite this, Phoenix’s manga does contain some hidden Narumitsu gems- not that many, though, so I’ll keep this as short as I can.
The beginning of the manga contains introductions for each character returning from the AA games, which of course includes Phoenix and Edgeworth. Already, Edgeworth is described as “Phoenix’s greatest rival”, cementing his status as… well, just that; Phoenix’s best and most suited opponent. In a similar vein, the blurb calls Edgeworth “Phoenix’s arch-nemesis”… (hey, isn’t that a little harsh?!)
The intro also explains that “he and Phoenix knew each other as children,” and calls them “the best of friends, bound together by trust”. Aww.
The first case to involve Edgeworth as the prosecutor- Turnabout Gallows- is quite complex, involving a building full of spiders and an upside-down crime scene, and as soon as Edgeworth appears things only get more difficult for Phoenix.
The moment he appears, sunlight shines down on Edgeworth to illuminate him in Phoenix’s vision, à la the anime’s habit of bathing Edgeworth in light whenever Phoenix looks at him or imagines him. Phoenix introduces Edgeworth as “my greatest and most powerful rival”.
Their courtroom tension translates surprisingly well to the page. Edgeworth even helps Phoenix out, tricking the killer into confessing to arson during the recess and thus implicating him as the murderer. When Nick asks after the trial if he knew something like that would happen all along, he simply smiles and walks away.
Oh, and he also goes to the trouble to send the Wright & Co. a petty letter- which Phoenix seems weirdly excited to get- saying nothing but “You need to improve!” accompanied by a visual of him laughing at Phoenix. It’s the thought that counts, I guess.
A few cases later, at the end of Turnabout Prophecy, Edgeworth is seen walking by the lake with Phoenix, Maya and the defendant of the case, Russi Clover. They run into one of the fortune tellers from early in the story, who’s already been shown to predict the future accurately (he tells Nick that he will become a piano player within three years, and we all know how that turns out) and, seeing them walking together, declares that “This is a surprise. You are bound by a strong, thick bond… so your fortune says.” You could argue that this is meant to refer to all four of them, but there are a few flaws in this. Firstly, Russi and Edgeworth never interact again- it’d be odd for this “bond” to exist between them as well as between the other three. Secondly, the thing which caught the fortune-teller’s eye was the panel before, whose focus was Phoenix and Edgeworth specifically; Russi and Maya were further in the background. Thirdly, there is absolutely no other reason for Edgeworth to be in this scene. He doesn’t appear anywhere else in this volume or story; Franziska is the prosecutor for both of Russi’s trials. So it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that this “strong, thick bond” concerns Edgeworth directly, and his connection to Phoenix (who even questions “who exactly he meant by ‘you’”).
Beyond that there isn’t much else worth talking about. The manga goes a little way towards showing that they’re good friends even outside of work, by having Phoenix invite Edgeworth (cravat-free for once) to the beetroot party (please… don’t question it) and teasingly tell Nick that he “expected more from him” in the trial. As mentioned before, the manga is far more focused on the cases than the connections and relationships between the characters.
However, that’s not to say this is the only manga-based AA content. And it certainly isn’t the one with the heaviest implications of Narumitsu…
Section 3B: Del Rey Anthology Casebooks- The Phoenix Wright Files
The anthology casebooks are a collection of roughly 20 short stories or “doujin”, each made by a different writer, and usually focus on a small, slice-of-life story about the main cast. Two were released in English- one based around Phoenix’s life, and one based around Edgeworth’s. This section is concerned with the Phoenix anthology- and yes, the sheer volume of Narumitsu content was enough to warrant the two being separated. Enjoy.
i) Progress Towards Tomorrow
The very first story opens on Maya asking Phoenix why he became a defence attorney, remarking that it’s a little weird to base a career on his class trial as a kid. He begins to doubt himself, thinking that maybe he was never cut out to be a lawyer, and reminiscing on how “they (Larry/Edgeworth) helped me. I was so grateful to them, I wanted to repay them someday. And… I’ve been able to repay my debt by defending them both in court. But that’s not really why I became a lawyer.” Okay, so that’s one possibility gone. Nick didn’t become an attorney to repay a debt. What’s the next thing his mind goes to? “Even in college, I thought I would be an artist. I didn’t think for a second about studying to be a lawyer.” So it wasn’t some ambition he had in the back of his mind after his “class trial”.
“Oh yeah! It was that article. I saw that article about Edgeworth being the youngest man to become a prosecuting attorney. I hadn’t seen him in years. The grown-up Edgeworth was in the news… but for some reason he looked so sad. I got the feeling that he was, from inside the picture, asking me for help.” …Oh. So his reason was… Edgeworth looked sad in a newspaper, and it left such a serious impression on Phoenix that he changed his major at 21 years old, a good two or three years into art school… for the simple reason of making sure Edgeworth was okay?!
“Yeah! That’s when I decided… that I would help Edgeworth! I’m such a simpleton. It was all just so I could help out a friend. And then I became a defence attorney.” …His face on the next panel suggests that he hasn’t once realised what an incredibly shaky basis this is for a career; he’s just been going for Edgeworth this whole time without a second thought, and now that he’s saved him, he doesn’t really know what to do next.
Just on time, Edgeworth appears to pick up some paperwork from the courthouse, and asks him what he was thinking about so deeply. When Nick explains that he was thinking about why he became an attorney, Edgeworth is unusually interested- “Oh-ho! How fascinating. I would very much like to hear your reason.”- even attempting to intimidate him into telling him.
Here’s the thing: Phoenix awkwardly dodges the question, weakly telling him that “I-it’s nothing special. I just wanted to help people, is all.” Why would he not tell him?! There must be some underlying reason for his reluctance to tell Edgeworth how far he went to check up on him. Edgeworth, for his part, is very disappointed by the answer, whispering to himself- “I see. I would have thought…” and then brushing past him. Phoenix tries to stop him leaving, and Edgeworth, unsatisfied, tells him “it’s nothing. That just wasn’t what I expected. If that is what you really think, then I have nothing more to say. Excuse me.”
How come Edgeworth expects some special reason or important story out of Phoenix? Why is he so disappointed by the reason he’s given? The high standards he holds him to are a display of the high esteem he holds Phoenix in- I’ve talked before about how Edgeworth comes close to idolising Phoenix at times, and this is a rare example of him showing it to his face, however roundabout he is about it. Phoenix wonders something similar- “he didn’t… know what I was thinking earlier, did he…? Maybe he knows something I don’t?” (Again, why is he so afraid that Edgeworth might know what he did for him?) He ends up running after and calling out to Edgeworth to wait, asking if they can talk after Edgeworth has picked up his papers. Edgeworth agrees.
The story cuts to the two in the Wright & Co., where Phoenix apologises for bringing him such a long way, and asks Edgeworth why he became a prosecutor. (Edgeworth never actually answers this question.) The conversation turns to whether Phoenix is really helping anyone, with Phoenix believing that he doesn’t have any noble reason, only wanted to help his friends, and generally doubts himself and his skills as an attorney.
Edgeworth, however, responds with an impassioned argument that Phoenix actually is a great attorney. “You really can help people. You believe in your clients. You work hard to reveal the truth, thus helping them. That’s good enough. You do it naturally, without thinking, so you haven’t realised. You saved me by doing things your way. Don’t you think that’s fine evidence? And it’s the same with your other clients; they were grateful, weren’t they?” Throughout this whole speech Phoenix is doubting himself, thinking “I’m happy to hear Edgeworth say that, but he’s wrong. I haven’t done anything.” He begins to defend his assertion of not being good enough, on the basis that Edgeworth and Maya and Mia are always helping him, and he’s just scraping by; Edgeworth responds with another speech.
“Don’t you think you’ve missed something? I am a prosecutor; I would never help you. Yes, I may have given you some leads, but it was you who had the ability to make use of those leads and come out victorious, Wright. You were able to save your clients because you are who you are. I don’t know what has you so confused. Where’s your confidence? The Phoenix Wright I know… is, without a doubt, a true defence attorney.” Phoenix appears stunned and touched by the praise, thanking Edgeworth, who says he’ll show him no mercy in court next time they meet with a rare smile.
This story is mainly about Phoenix himself and his motivation for being an attorney now that his goal of saving Edgeworth is achieved; and, given how inextricably tied Edgeworth is to Phoenix being an attorney, it only makes sense that he would be the one to motivate him to keep going as a lawyer. Once again, in a moment of extreme doubt and darkness for Phoenix, Edgeworth has helped him out. There’s also a very strong sense of Phoenix wanting to leave a good impression on Edgeworth.
On Edgeworth’s end, too, this reveals a new depth of passion about Phoenix’s skills as an attorney; his pep talk, as well as his obvious high regard of Phoenix and his declaration that Phoenix is “a true defence attorney, without a doubt”, as well as his ardent effort to convince him of how great he is, are all signs of his unwavering trust and belief in Phoenix.
ii) Everything Else
Edgeworth doesn’t interact with Phoenix much after in this first story in the volume, but there are a few bits and pieces scattered through the casebook.
There’s a mix-up of papers between Larry, Edgeworth and Phoenix, where Phoenix attempts to guilt-trip Edgeworth into believing he didn’t look at his documents (“you believed in me back then… meanie!”) It doesn’t work, but it’s the thought that counts. At the end, Maya remarks “Wow, they really are friends…” when Phoenix offers to show Edgeworth his papers in exchange.
Maya recommends “capturing your clients’ hearts” by giving them a rare Steel Samurai trading card, and Edgeworth immediately bursts through the door, yelling “What?! Did you say Ultra-Rare Steel Samurai trading card?!” He comments on how “if my greatest rival doesn’t get to appear in court, I don’t get to show off my skills,” before realising- “C-come to think of it!! For some reason I, the genius prosecutor, have never beaten Wright!? Does this mean I am destined to fail… as long as Wright appears in court?” I mean… he’s not exactly wrong. Still, it’s gratifying to hear that Edgeworth considers Phoenix his greatest rival, as well as the other way around.
Phoenix also goes to court while ill, leading Edgeworth to praise his “willpower” for facing him with a cold. He changes tune once Phoenix can’t even yell ‘objection’, telling him to “get some sleep first! And get well!”, but, seeing Phoenix’s determination, thinks with a smile “Yes, that’s the Wright I know! That’s my riva-“ before he’s interrupted by Phoenix’s used mask flying across the courtroom and hitting him in the face. He’s… slightly less complimentary after that. Still, he’s seen holding Phoenix up at the end of the trial, looking at him fondly. He even goes to see him while he’s sick, winking and calling him “a lucky man” to have so many good friends.
Like I said, it’s really the first story which caught my attention in this one. Edgeworth reassuring Phoenix and trying to boost his spirits, letting him know just how highly he thinks of him as an attorney in such a forceful, unusually emotional way is the Narumitsu highlight of the book. But honestly, this pales in comparison to the second casebook.
Section 3C: The Miles Edgeworth Files
This is the same concept as the Phoenix Wright Files, except focusing on Edgeworth’s life. Oddly enough, this doesn’t mean it’s Investigations-era and characters: a large majority of this casebook revolves around Edgeworth’s connection to Phoenix. And believe me, it goes all the way with it. We might be here for a while.
i) Yesterday’s Enemy, Today’s
Starting from the end, the blurb refers to Edgeworth as Phoenix’s “only one… true rival,” again with the idea of the two being destined equals and opposites.
The very first story is set during RftA, and the title is already a giveaway that Nick is going to be heavily involved. Phoenix enters Edgeworth’s office as he’s throwing away his drafted letter of resignation; he panics when he sees it, Edgeworth complains about his “objection”, cutting him off and saying “I want to hear it even less outside of court”; and Phoenix mutters that “I don’t want to hear you say objection, either…”.
Later on, he and Ema catch sight of Edgeworth at a magazine kiosk, looking at free employment magazines- they actually run across the road to catch him- and Edgeworth knocks Phoenix over with the magazine, complaining that he “hears enough of your ‘hold it’ in court!”
He explains that he only looks at them to get an idea of the economy, and, upon sarcastically saying that surely Phoenix does the same, suddenly comes to an epiphany. Accompanied by a full half-page of Nick looking back over his shoulder and smiling warmly at him- “His calibre… a man of his calibre beat me twice… and saved me.” This is followed immediately by a panel of Edgeworth standing in shock at this realisation. Phoenix awkwardly asks Edgeworth if he wants to join him and Ema for lunch, and, surprisingly, he accepts.
The three go to eat at a ramen stand, where Edgeworth ends up footing the bill. Although Phoenix tricked him, he isn’t angry, just saying, “you should have said so. I could have gone to my favourite high-class French restaurant.” The conversation turns to Lana’s trial; Edgeworth admits that he doesn’t think she’s guilty. Phoenix puts a hand on his back and tells him to relax, joking that “this means I’m gonna beat you again”- then, quite suddenly, says “Edgeworth! You have to keep prosecuting,” reasoning that if Lana comes back to see that Edgeworth is gone, she’ll blame herself. He gets so carried away in trying to lift Edgeworth’s spirits that he ends up actually saying “if you quit, it will be Lana’s fault”- which causes Ema to yell at him, of course.
Despite that, Edgeworth is struck by the comment, and explains that “I never once said I was going to quit. Rather, I can’t quit.” And, over a half-page illustration of him smiling, surrounded by what can only be described as “shoujo bubbles”, he explains- “Not until I defeat you… Wright.” The final panel shows Phoenix sitting stunned, Ema grinning in admiration, and a vision of the moon and stars.
Okay, now I’ve explained it, I’ll break this down a little. Moving past their
incredibly domestic argument about saying “objection” outside of court, this first story shows how Phoenix really, deeply cares about Edgeworth continuing his career as a prosecutor, giving him a pep talk and motivating him to stay as a prosecutor. If this feels familiar, it’s because Edgeworth did the exact same for him in the first story of the Phoenix Wright Files. As I’ve said before, the two are key to each other’s motivations, especially at this time: the desire to defeat Phoenix drives Edgeworth to continue prosecuting, and the desire to save people like Edgeworth drives Phoenix to be a defence attorney. And the two remind each other of that fact when times get tough. Edgeworth’s amazement at the fact that Phoenix was able to defeat and then save him can’t go unnoticed either. This is the beginning of his intense admiration of Phoenix, and, perhaps, his shock at how deep the emotion Phoenix brings out in him is.
ii) Over Again
Unlike with the first volume, things do NOT calm down after the first story.
This one opens with Edgeworth struggling over doubts about being a prosecutor (again) following RftA. He’s been having nightmares about what Gant said to him, and has lost his footing as a prosecutor.
Luckily for him, this hasn’t gone unnoticed, as we see Phoenix has actually treated Gumshoe to lunch for the sole reason of asking if Edgeworth’s okay. (“He won’t answer my emails. He won’t answer his phone. And it doesn’t look like he’s in court much these days… the case with Chief Gant happened right after the DL-6 case, so… I was wondering if he’s okay.”) I know Edgeworth himself said “it seems all you do is worry about me”, but seriously?! To the point of bribing Gumshoe?! The two talk a little more about Edgeworth, Phoenix wondering what he’s thinking with a sad expression, and Gumshoe says “I couldn’t ask him myself, but Mr. Edgeworth might talk to you, pal.” So he won’t talk even to Gumshoe, his closest confidant at this time, but Gumshoe believes that if it was Phoenix asking, there’s a chance he might open up? Um… does Gumshoe know something we don’t about Edgeworth’s opinion of Nick?
Actually, Gumshoe is so convinced that talking to Phoenix will help Edgeworth that he lies and tells him that Phoenix has stolen a file from him, thus forcing Edgeworth to go to Nick’s office and demand it back. Nick takes the opportunity to talk to him, making tea for the two of them. Edgeworth comments on a drawing of the courtroom Maya made, which Phoenix has put up on the wall
with the energy of someone sticking their kid’s drawing on the fridge to remind him why he became a lawyer.
Phoenix figures out what’s wrong with Edgeworth pretty quickly; he’s been sorting out his old cases and not taking new ones, which means he’s intending to quit. Edgeworth tries to insist that it’s “none of your business,” but Phoenix counters that “it IS my business”- he’s certainly very invested into Edgeworth’s life, huh?- and Edgeworth turns bright red (in anger? Or something else?). Internally, he thinks “This is why… I didn’t want to see him. He cuts right into the one thing I don’t want him to touch… and pulls out emotions I cannot give vent to.” Sorry, he what?! What emotions are those, then…? “Unease and uncertainty” isn’t going to get you out of this one, Edgeworth…
Edgeworth then opens up to Phoenix, confessing that he’s been doubting himself and feeling alone, fearing that he would become like Gant one day. But upon Edgeworth saying “Being told you’re not alone… is not the same as truly feeling you’re not alone. I- I still…”, Phoenix reaches out to grab his hand, vehemently asking, “Can you really say that Lana and Ema and Detective Gumshoe and Maya and Larry and I… weren’t there with you in any of the twenty-odd years of your life?!”
The next panel is of Edgeworth’s face, looking stunned, with Phoenix’s hand holding his out of shot and the wind blowing through his hair. He launches into another emotional inner monologue: “if I let go of his hand now… I may never get a friend like him again.” But, in the end, he does snatch his hand away, and tells Phoenix “If… If I disappear from before you again, don’t come after me, Wright. I think.. that’s what I need.” (The fact that he even had to tell him not to try and follow him… Edgeworth must have known that if he hadn’t asked Phoenix to let him disappear, he would have stopped at nothing to find him.) Ignoring Phoenix’s confused reaction, and taking Maya’s drawing of the courtroom with him, he reminisces to himself that “this man… out of all the possibilities that lay before him, chose to be a defence attorney. He’s not here because this is the only thing he knows. …I want to choose, from all the possibilities, to be here.”
At the very end, we learn that this conversation segues directly into Edgeworth leaving the “chooses death” note, which shifts it from an event of deep despair into something Edgeworth did because he wanted to become more like Phoenix. At the very end, he thinks to himself, with a gentle smile on his face: “I wonder if he’ll ever understand. I can do things over again the next time we meet- as a prosecutor… and as a friend.”
Interestingly, this attributes Edgeworth’s disappearance not just to a desire to become a better and fairer prosecutor, but also to a desire to be a better friend for Phoenix. He seems to feel almost as though he doesn’t deserve Nick’s friendship (I may never get a friend like him again), sensing a unique and special quality in it that he thinks he hasn’t really earned.
On Phoenix’s end, he’s desperate to make sure Edgeworth is okay, enthusiastically telling him that he isn’t alone, “pulling out emotions I cannot give vent to”. His friendship with Edgeworth is portrayed as deep enough that Gumshoe believes Phoenix alone would be able to find out what’s wrong; and he indirectly gives Edgeworth the inspiration to become a better prosecutor and friend.
Oh, and it doesn’t really help that the whole thing reads like an amicable break-up (“don’t come after me, Wright… I think that’s what I need…”) which certainly adds to Nick behaving like a jilted ex during JfA.
iii) Turnabout Tomorrows
After a sweet story where Edgeworth tries to protect Pearl from seeing the end of a sad movie and getting upset is the third major Narumitsu story of the volume.
Gumshoe and Edgeworth go out on a “group date” (which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be platonic, but either way, Edgeworth doesn’t seem very happy about it) with two unnamed girls, and at the end of the evening the two leave, exhausted. Gumshoe is upset because Maggey (who he very obviously has a crush on in the games) showed up unexpectedly and he missed a chance to hang out with her; Edgeworth is just tired out from having to socialise. However, instead of thinking about- I don’t know, the girls Gumshoe just took him on a “date” with- he tilts his head up to look at the stars, and thinks-
“For some reason, whenever I’m tired, I’m reminded of you…” The stars in the sky, for their part, very clearly form Phoenix’s image. I, uh… I’m really not sure what I can say to you at this point. Whenever Edgeworth is tired, he thinks about Phoenix. And this association is strong enough that he begins to SEE HIM IN THE STARS. In fact, he gets so distracted looking at the heavenly image of Phoenix in the night sky, that he slips and falls, I shit you not, on a banana peel.
Well, that aside (though I grant you it’s a difficult thing to move past), Edgeworth begins to think about how difficult it is to live in the “darkness” of not knowing the truth, and how “there was a time when I, too, suffered in the darkness of my fifteen-year nightmare…” over a black panel- and then, an all-white panel with the grey silhouette of Phoenix over it- “And… he shined the light of truth on it.” You already know where I’m going with this, so I won’t bother elaborating; Phoenix is Edgeworth’s saviour. I can’t really say any more about it than I already have, but it is gratifying to see his admiration of Phoenix make its way into the manga.
After the main story is wrapped up- long story short, the pre-teen son of a killer he had convicted tries to kill him, but is stopped by his friend and the cast on Edgeworth’s arm- Edgeworth addresses the boy’s friend: “You were trying to stop your friend, weren’t you? You’re a good friend. You boys take care of each other.” The two boys very clearly parallel Phoenix and Edgeworth, albeit with appearance and backstory switched. One has dark and untidy hair, dresses casually, but lost his father in a criminal case and is suffering for it; the other has silvery, neat hair that covers his eyes at certain angles, dresses quite formally, and is trying to save his friend from becoming a murderer.
Edgeworth sees the parallels, and smiles as he watches them leave (“…If you have friends, people you can trust, no matter how hard today may be, tomorrow you can turn everything around.” over images of the boys leaving and Edgeworth’s moment of truth in Turnabout Samurai). He then asks Gumshoe if he can be the one to plan their next group date. The two other people he invites are… Phoenix and Larry. He even cracks a joke about “making it up to them at a later ‘date’”. The story ends with a large image of Phoenix looking back and grinning, saying “Edgeworth! Let’s go!”, with a narration of “Tomorrow… those friends will take you to that tomorrow. I am truly glad I met you all.”
iv) Mr. Edgeworth’s Turnabout Day Off
Somehow this one manages to be even MORE intense than Tomorrows.
Phoenix is kidnapped by a witness who’s trying to prevent him from finding evidence before the trial, so Maya and Gumshoe decide to solve the issue by getting Edgeworth to help them investigate while wearing Phoenix’s suit and styling his hair in the same way. For some reason this works, and yet Edgeworth is still thinking about Phoenix, wondering “Wright… do you always have this much fun on the job?”
At the end of the day, Phoenix returns to the office after being released. Edgeworth’s way of saying ‘welcome back’ is to stare down at Phoenix in a panel that puts their faces very close together, causing Phoenix to blush slightly, and say “I’m glad you’re safe.” Understandably, Phoenix freaks out at being faced with a doppelganger of himself, but when Maya explains that “it’s Mr. Edgeworth; he dressed as you and investigated with us,” Phoenix’s reaction to the news is particularly telling.
Blushing, he asks, “Don’t tell me, Edgeworth. You love m…?” And Edgeworth, in response, says “Don’t finish that sentence,” with sweat going down his face. What sort of an answer is that?!? It would have been so simple to say “don’t be ridiculous” or “of course not”- why dodge the question and not simply deny the accusation?? Is something going to happen if Edgeworth allows him to finish the sentence? Well, I suppose… Phoenix does have his Magatama at this point- and Edgeworth knows what it does, as context points to this story occurring after T&T. Were Edgeworth to lie about whether he loved him or not, Phoenix would certainly know. Why dodge the question, then?
Moreover, what’s with Phoenix blushing as he says it? It’s not a teasing remark, he’s clearly taking it seriously as a possibility; his expression is genuinely anxious. Well, I’m sure that if we all put our heads together, we might be able to come up with a reason why Phoenix would ask, and why Edgeworth would carefully avoid answering. Hmmm.
Edgeworth unsubtly escapes from the situation by throwing a thick file of evidence at him, the record for the next day’s trial. Phoenix thanks him enthusiastically- hugging him tightly (“Thank you!! I’m so happy I could weep for joy!”), and Gumshoe even begins to cry at the emotional reunion (“*sob* What a touching climax, pal!”). Phoenix asks Edgeworth to come out to eat with them, which seems to strike him slightly, but he declines, leaving the office. His inner monologue returns- “…I’ve always gotten everything. But to think there was something so nearby that was not given to me… Hmph.”- over an image of Phoenix smiling and eating with Maya and Gumshoe. What is this “nearby thing”? It seems to be the ability to have fun while investigating, but who knows? Maybe Edgeworth’s just lonely.
As a final touch, while Edgeworth steps out onto the road, it begins to snow. He remarks on it, looking sad- “Snow… How ironic. Here, it’s almost spring.” In Japan, snowfall usually symbolises impermanence, sentimentality and vulnerability, in a similar way to cherry blossoms; typically, they symbolise having a problem and being unable to do anything about it. And in cinematography, snow beginning to fall is often shorthand for a character falling in love, or passing a romantic milestone. This is most likely symbolic snowfall, seeing as Edgeworth even mentions how unusual it is. And for it to be “ironic”… what about the situation makes snow falling ironic? Perhaps the connotations that snow generally brings?
It is incredibly easy to read unrequited love into this story (though perhaps not so unrequited as Edgeworth might believe). From dodging Phoenix’s blunt question of “don’t tell me you love me?”, to the two staring into each other’s eyes and Phoenix hugging him, to the snow at the end… It’s certainly a plausible interpretation, in my opinion.
v) Distant Memories
This is the final story with major subtext between them, though it’s certainly not the end of the book’s Narumitsu moments.
Edgeworth is being plagued by dreams: a memory from just after his father died, where a mysterious dark-haired boy offers him an umbrella while he’s crying in the rain, saying that it doesn’t matter since he’s soaked already.
Present-day Edgeworth goes to Phoenix’s office to see if he knows who that boy might have been: he thinks that “that time of my life was so painful and so sad… I was more than a little touched by that act of kindness. I’m sure that boy was trying to cheer me up without knowing what had happened. But here I am in his debt, and I can’t even remember him.” He tells Phoenix about the dream and how he can’t remember the boy’s face for the life of him, and how he thought it might come back to him if he talked about it; Phoenix is about to say something before Pearl declares that Edgeworth must be suffering from amnesia. Without further ado, she and Maya begin to chase him with a comically large mallet and a spiked baseball bat respectively (claiming that the shock will cure his amnesia), driving him to Gourd Lake and managing to smack him into the lake itself. As he sinks into the lake, he recalls the memory of the mysterious boy again…
And wakes up in an unknown apartment, tucked onto a sofa with a blanket. A man with wet hair appears (complete with “kirakira” sparkles), and tells him that he “had a heck of a time pulling you out, but the important thing is that you’re okay.” Naturally, Edgeworth doesn’t recognise him until he shakes out and blow-dries his hair, revealing that the man is Phoenix himself.
This leads Edgeworth to yet another revelation- the boy who lent him that umbrella so long ago was Phoenix. He grumbles about how Edgeworth forgot to give it back to him before he moved away, and even forgot his face: meanwhile Edgeworth is just staring at him, stunned.
He begins to blush angrily, thinking “So I’ll be indebted to this man for my whole life…? I won’t let it end like this!” Phoenix sarcastically comments that he could at least say thank you, and Edgeworth, flustered, immediately responds that he’s “deeply grateful”.
From this story, we can draw several points of interest. Firstly, Phoenix lending Edgeworth an umbrella, of all things: two people sharing an umbrella is, especially in Japanese culture, seen as inherently romantic. While this story dodges it by having Nick simply give the umbrella to Edgeworth, the significance of the umbrella cannot be ignored. In fact, the theme of sharing an umbrella in romance is so prevalent that a red umbrella is often held over the couple at traditional Japanese weddings. Having Phoenix and Edgeworth share an umbrella, then… well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.
Secondly, Phoenix diving into the river to save Edgeworth- compared to his standoffish behaviour in this story, and his rather lukewarm pursuit of Pearl and Maya, it’s a very dramatic action to take. Not just that, but even taking him back to his own apartment (there are towels, blankets and a hairdryer on hand; plus Edgeworth doesn’t recognise his surroundings) and going so far as to tuck him in on the sofa… what a gallant rescue for a guy who is a sworn rival. Especially since Nick’s been acting tsundere-like all story (“what are you doing having a leisurely teatime in my office?!” “Sheesh. I even lent you my umbrella… thanks a lot.” “Not that I care, but you could at least say thank you.”)
Even the authors’ comments page at the back of the book points it out- “Ghack… I read over my manga again and it was such a shoujo manga… what is this (laugh)”. I guess Phoenix/Edgeworth worms its way into the most unexpected places. (“Shoujo manga” is a genre aimed mostly at young women, typically focusing on personal/romantic relationships, and is where the “boys’ love” genre has its origins.)
vi) Little Things
Those are the five major Narumitsu-focused stories in the casebook, but there are many smaller talking points scattered throughout.
For example, in Prosecutor’s Lies, Edgeworth wiretaps the Wright & Co. Law Offices in a complicated plan to prevent Pearl having to see a movie which ends sadly. During this, he hears a conversation between Larry and Phoenix where Nick asks to borrow his TV and Larry calls it “a request from my best friend”. Edgeworth, with an irritated expression, thinks “Suddenly they’re best friends…?” A page later, Phoenix says “Put the bill in Edgeworth’s name!” and Larry responds “Roger that! I’ll be there ASAP, compadre!” Instead of objecting to the part where Phoenix tries to foist Larry’s bills onto him, his first thought is “Since when were they compadres…?” He seems genuinely upset by the thought that Phoenix’s best friend might be Larry, and not him. Jealousy isn’t good for you, Edgeworth…
(The wiretap in question has a very unique shape. It resembles the Blue Badger, but the face, head, colouring and shape are wrong: we never see this souvenir again, except in two particular pieces of official art which will be discussed later. Keep in mind that this story has Edgeworth turn it into a wiretap.)
On that note, this casebook goes a good way towards suggesting that Edgeworth has a close, found family-esque relationship to the Feys, just as Phoenix does. Going to extreme lengths to prevent Pearl seeing the sad ending to a movie, risking his life and chasing a bear off the edge of a cliff to save Maya, deciding to make curry for Pearl and Maya so they can move past the sadness they associated with it in Bridge to the Turnabout (curry was replaced by gravy in the localisation to make the wordplay work in English), even taking Maya on as a protégé briefly so she can earn some pocket money, and stopping to get noodles with her while she’s fighting with Nick. It seems irrelevant on the surface, but a large part of the appeal of Narumitsu is the sense that they could be “dads”- co-parents (especially in Pearl’s case; with Maya it’s more of a sibling thing) to the messy found family of the Trilogy and of the later games. By giving Edgeworth that connection to the Feys, it makes his status in their little family more plausible.
During Turnabout Day Off, Phoenix catches Edgeworth moments before he falls off a cliff (they’re bringing supplies to Maya in the mountains), and Edgeworth has a moment of brief angst as he watches Phoenix walk away ahead of him- “(…Even now, why can’t I just… say thank you?)”
In Edgeworth’s Affliction, he loses a bet and is forced to deep-clean the Wright & Co. Law Offices. Unfortunately, they don’t have any aprons except Maya’s maid costume from Tres Bien, so he wears that instead. Hungover, Phoenix asks him how he learned so many tricks for cleaning, and Edgeworth replies that he learned them out of necessity in Europe. Phoenix is amazed, and exclaims “You’re incredible! I respect you with all my heart!” Edgeworth doesn’t take it very well, calling him a drunkard and telling him to get out of the way, but I suppose it’s the thought that counts.
Dinner, Edgeworth Style opens on a particularly interesting note, with Edgeworth saying “Well, Wright, you did help me out. Dinner’s on me tonight. I hope you enjoy it…” (with a borderline seductive smirk), before noticing that Phoenix has brought along Maya and Larry, lured by the prospect of free food. His mood immediately drops and he passive-aggressively orders them the most expensive things on the menu. So… Edgeworth attempts to take his courtroom opponent out for dinner, just the two of them, referring to “tonight” as if this is something they do frequently, offering to pay for him, and getting irritated when other people come along. Does this sound like a date to anyone else? For me, the most telling thing is that Edgeworth is annoyed by Phoenix’s “entourage”. It’s not like he’s struggling for money- the opposite, in fact- and it’s not like he isn’t close friends with Maya and Larry. Maya was probably co-counselling Phoenix in the trial, so it’s not a matter of just wanting to treat the defence as thanks for their help. It’s specifically Phoenix who he wants to have a nice, exclusive dinner with. Hmm.
One of the final touches of Narumitsu in the volume is the discovery that apparently, before he goes to bed on the night before a court case, Edgeworth dramatically points and shouts as if Phoenix can hear him. “I will be the one laughing in court tomorrow! Say your prayers, Wright!!” …It has a much less dramatic impact when Edgeworth’s in his pyjamas.
Finally is a 4koma about Edgeworth pointing out the “if I could get rolls of cash by bringing people things on trays, why would I still be prosecuting?” contradiction from Farewell, and then following through with it- opening a “prosecutor café”. He is the manager, and he employs Phoenix as a waiter, wearing a tux: and Edgeworth, telling him to get to work, comments under his breath that “that outfit suits you.” Huh. So Edgeworth likes how Phoenix looks in a tux. …Okay then.
Honestly, when I got the casebooks last year I expected a silly pair of books full of cute 4koma… not the closest Narumitsu has ever gotten to canon! From the two of them supporting each other unconditionally through times of stress, to Edgeworth seeing Phoenix in the stars, to Phoenix asking if Edgeworth loves him, to the two of them sharing an umbrella and Edgeworth asking Phoenix out for a one-on-one dinner… it’s definitely one of the high points of the AA expanded universe, at least in terms of Narumitsu.
Section 3D: Gyakuten Saiban- The Movie
The 2012 Ace Attorney movie is a retelling of the first game, albeit with a lot of content cut out to fit within the 90-minute runtime. Honestly, there isn’t that much new content in the way of Narumitsu, but it’s still worth talking about, even for the sheer tension the shift of tone and medium creates. Tragically, the subtitled version of the first movie was removed from YouTube a week or so before writing, meaning I only have my initial notes. Therefore, if there is any inaccuracy in quotes or plot details, I apologise. This is also where fanmade, unofficial translation comes into play; so while the content itself is approved by Capcom, the precise wording of the translation isn’t.
The movie only truly covers Turnabout Sisters and Turnabout Goodbyes; Larry’s case is covered quickly at the opening, and Turnabout Samurai makes a brief appearance where Edgeworth is cross-examining a woman similar to Dee Vasquez.
The first major moment between Phoenix and Edgeworth, then, is when they meet for the first time. Unlike in the games, they meet on the courthouse steps instead of in the courtroom itself- as they face each other, Phoenix tries to ask him why he became a prosecutor, moving towards him. Edgeworth cannot bear to look at him, avoiding his gaze and quickly walking away as soon as Phoenix gets closer. This immediately establishes history and emotional tension between them, far more quickly than in the games.
Turnabout Sisters stays mostly the same, save Maya being a lot more gloomy than in the games and Redd White changing from an overly flashy businessman to a discount Professor Snape with a megaphone, but Turnabout Goodbyes is where things really start to kick off.
When Phoenix finds out that Edgeworth has been arrested from the TV, he doesn’t even stop to explain the situation to Maya like in the games- he just mutters “Tell me this is a lie,” and runs to the detention centre so fast that he ends up leaving her behind. He was so worried, alarmed and incredulous at Edgeworth even being suspected of murder that he forgot everything else and ran immediately to check up on him.
Their conversations in the detention centre are also changed slightly. Due to the darker, sadder tone of the movie compared to the games, Edgeworth is portrayed as more of a tragic character than a full-blown antagonist, and his dialogue and interactions with Phoenix are changed somewhat. One such alteration is the line “I didn’t want you to see me like this… Not you.” This frames Edgeworth’s unwillingness to meet Phoenix less as a desire to appear weak in front of an enemy, but as a more personal wish to leave him out of the case, as if he can’t bear the thought of Phoenix especially finding out about his past. The fact that it’s just the two of them alone in the detention centre certainly doesn’t detract from this either.
The speech Phoenix gives about the class trial is directed to Edgeworth here, rather than to Larry and Maya, and is much more impassioned than in the game. Edgeworth even interrupts it with a soft “Wright…”, where it looks as though he’s almost smiling. Something about having their interactions put into a movie where their reactions can be seen in real-time makes the sense of soft familiarity and distant affection so much clearer; there is a LOT of gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, inside and out of court, and a few instances of apparently telepathic communication, such as when Phoenix points out the contradiction about Polly’s name and Edgeworth locks eyes with him and nods.
The final crowning jewel of the movie is, without a doubt, the handshake. After being acquitted, Edgeworth offers his hand to Phoenix to shake in the defendant lobby. Phoenix is unusually shy to take it, glancing at the hand a few times before standing up, wiping his palms nervously, even making a few false starts before he gathers the courage to actually shake his hand. This… does not have the air of a business handshake. When he finally does shake hands with him, it’s very gentle, they’re holding a deep gaze, and angelic choirs are singing in the background. The movie literally could not do anything more to tell you this handshake is a sign of their friendship being mended- like the protagonists finally kissing at the end of a romantic movie, except it’s two lawyers shaking hands tenderly.
We even see the two hanging out together at Gourd Lake when they find out that Larry was the one who stole Edgeworth’s lunch money all those years ago. While the credits roll, Phoenix is walking up to the courtroom in a direct parallel shot to Edgeworth at the beginning of the movie; as he reaches the top of the stairs and sees Edgeworth, though, he slows down a little and his expression changes to one of amazement, even wonder; the two stare intensely at each other for an unreasonably long time… and then Edgeworth smiles slowly, for the first time in the movie. Phoenix returns it gently. This is a murder trial! Someone is dead! These two are supposed to be opponents in a court of law- not sharing secret, affectionate smiles moments before entering the courtroom! The credits even feature Edgeworth lightly teasing Phoenix that “My methods neither violate nor contradict the law… but they do seem to irritate you,” with a wide smirk on his face.
Looking over the movie again, it certainly pulls its weight on the Narumitsu front, even if it falls behind on other aspects. I guess that just goes to show how important Phoenix’s rekindled friendship with Edgeworth is to the overall story. Watching their reactions play out on screen with live actors, rather than through limited sprites or clunky animations, definitely adds to the experience. And, of course, the intense atmosphere between them- especially during the handshake and their interactions in the credits- is a treat to see live.
Section 3E: The Takarazuka Revue Musicals
Ace Attorney has the honour of being the very first videogame adapted to a musical production by a famous, all-female Japanese theatre troupe called the Takarazuka Revue. They performed three musicals from 2009 to 2013- two based on the Phoenix Wright trilogy, and one based on Edgeworth.
The first musical is available with Chinese and English subtitles on YouTube; the other two are on there too, but without subtitles. Since I don’t speak Japanese, it’s impossible for me to talk about them except from English reviews, so I will only be discussing the first musical in detail.
The Truth Reborn, as the first musical is known, is based on 1-5 and features a brand-new love interest for Phoenix, a woman named Leona Clyde. (I know this is a Narumitsu essay! I promise that it’s relevant.) The second focuses on Phoenix recovering from grief after Leona dies suddenly and tragically, and the third is about Edgeworth time travelling to face off against his father, who is a corrupt defence attorney. (The Gregory disrespect is unreal. I’m horrified...)
i) Leona Clyde
This one requires a bit of backstory. One of the Takarazuka Revue’s most iron-clad traditions is the absolute necessity of a heterosexual romance. As the group is made entirely of actresses, naturally they fill the male roles as well: therefore, a male-female love story is mandatory to show off the actresses’ talent. (Incidentally, the Edgeworth musical is the only piece of AA media to ever give Edgeworth a female love interest; he’s really only straight when absolutely necessary…). Naturally, the AA musicals were no different- however, they were presented with a problem. There is no heterosexual love story in the first AA game; thus, they had to invent one.
So let’s talk about Phoenix’s love interest for the first musical; a government attorney named Leona Clyde. On the surface, she appears to be a variant of Lana Skye from Rise from the Ashes; her name, a sister she forged evidence for to protect from being accused of murder, her corrupt boss being the real villain, etc. However, whatever way you look at it, Lana Skye was not a love interest for Phoenix. So how did they make Lana into Leona, a feasible love interest for Phoenix?
…They gave her Edgeworth’s backstory.
Leona’s arc, her personality, her history with Phoenix, the way Phoenix interacts with her: most, if not all of it was lifted directly from Edgeworth. I’ll take you through the similarities one by one.
Leona and Phoenix met when she stood up for him in the class trial. The two of them became friends after that, and Leona’s passion to become a defence attorney like her parents inspired Phoenix to follow a similar path. (Unlike Edgeworth, Leona sticks around until university, where she and Phoenix briefly date.) They are then separated by circumstances beyond their control; and soon after, despite her passion to become a defence attorney, Phoenix learns that Leona has pursued an entirely different job in the legal field as a lawyer for a government official. After this period of separation, Phoenix learns through the news that Leona has been arrested for murder: he immediately rushes to defend her. He learns that she has become cold and unfriendly during their separation, but firmly believes that she is the same Leona underneath. He refuses to give up on her despite her insistence that he mustn’t defend her, and continues to believe in her no matter what, even in the face of her own confession. Phoenix eventually wins her a not guilty verdict, and the two, now reconciled, become close again. Unfortunately, before the second musical even begins, Leona dies, leaving Phoenix bitter and heartbroken. Unlike Edgeworth, she never comes back.
Give or take a few words, you can trade Leona for Edgeworth anywhere in that backstory and give a completely accurate retelling of Turnabout Goodbyes. What makes Leona a love interest for Phoenix, and not Edgeworth? The only significant difference is gender. Like it or not, The Truth Reborn pretty much confirms that if Edgeworth was a girl, Narumitsu would be canon by the end of the first game. It is literally only a matter of gender and heteronormativity. Phoenix and Edgeworth’s backstory is viewed as inherently romantic when performed between a boy and a girl.
There are even pieces of dialogue which are almost verbatim lifted from Phoenix’s interactions with Edgeworth.
Firstly, the announcement on the TV: “The suspect is one of the governor’s legal advisors, Leona Clyde, age 24.” Phoenix: “Leona… a murderer? No way!” He immediately rushes out of the office, leaving Maya behind in his haste. Compare that to the beginning of Turnabout Goodbyes. “The suspect’s name is Miles Edgeworth, age 24. Edgeworth was an up-and-coming prosecution attorney, known for his skill and connections.” Phoenix: “What’s going on?! Edgeworth would never do something like—”. In the movie’s version of Turnabout Goodbyes, Phoenix even leaves Maya behind like in the musical.
Secondly, Phoenix’s demand to defend Leona. “Leona… I will defend you!” “No, you won’t. Don’t ever come here again-” “I’ll come as many times as I have to! You of all people should know. Until you write that request, I’m not giving up!” Compare to Phoenix’s dogged persistence in trying to let Edgeworth defend him- “Edgeworth. Let me defend you.” “Hah! Haha. Good one, Wright. But I’m not that hard up, not yet.” And, as he promises Leona, he returns to the detention centre to offer his defence to Edgeworth until he eventually gives Phoenix the letter of request.
Additionally, Leona’s motivation to become an attorney was driven by a desire to make her dead parents proud. “Both my parents were lawyers. If I failed law school, it’d be a disgrace to their memory.” Coincidentally, her passion to become an attorney inspired Phoenix- “Watching you chase your dream inspired me to become a lawyer.” Who else do we know whose passion inspired Phoenix to become a defence attorney, whose parents were attorneys, and who wanted to become a lawyer because he wanted to be like them? Oh, yeah! “Edgeworth and I talked after that class trial. That’s when I heard his father was a defence attorney. I remember, his eyes would shine when he talked about his father.” “That’s why?! That’s why you became a defence attorney!? To meet Edgeworth?!” Hell, you could even argue that Leona motivating Phoenix to become an attorney by her passion for it is less romantic than Edgeworth motivating Phoenix to become attorney through sheer desire to see him again.
My personal favourite piece of dialogue is the confession of love between them that honestly just sounds like it’s been borrowed from a Narumitsu fanfic. “But I’m pushy, selfish, only care about my work… You’d get tired of me.” “That’s what I’ve always admired about you! That’s who I’ve been chasing all these years. That’s the only person… who I love.” Pushy, selfish, only cares about their work? Those are literally Edgeworth’s defining character traits. A person who Phoenix has always admired? A person who he’s been chasing for fifteen years? That’s Edgeworth, word-for-word. “The only person that he loves”? I wonder…
Phoenix snaps at Maya when she so much as suggests Leona might actually be guilty, just as he does in the games when she says Edgeworth might be guilty. Lotta is also a witness in the case, giving it an extra link to Turnabout Goodbyes. Hell, the musical itself draws direct parallels between Edgeworth and Leona- “Why do people change? Leona’s complete transformation shocked me. She used to be so kind, so full of life! Now she’s as cold as ice. Like you.” Phoenix’s sense of confusion and almost-betrayal at Edgeworth’s change is shifted towards Leona instead. He does it again later, talking about how both he and Leona changed from their childhood selves- “the old you and Leona felt more human to me.”
For the second musical, Takumi got involved in the script, and Leona is unceremoniously killed in an accident offstage. This drives Phoenix into grief, which he does not escape until the events of the second musical. …Now doesn’t that sound familiar? The death of a childhood friend who you’ve only just reunited and reconciled with- the only difference being that Leona doesn’t come back.
It’s completely undeniable that Leona’s history with Phoenix and Phoenix’s history with Edgeworth are, in essence, exactly the same- but one is romantic and the other isn’t, purely by virtue of their gender. This is, in my opinion, one of the strongest pieces of evidence that in a less homophobic world Narumitsu would easily be canon, and indeed could have been canon by the end of the first game.
Honestly, I can’t begrudge the writers for inventing Leona. Apparently the writer played the first four AA games (Apollo Justice had only just been released) four times before sitting down to write the musical. The only reason she exists in the first place is because it is absolutely mandatory for Takarazuka performances to have a M/F romance. If anything, I’m impressed that they basically confirmed there’s no stronger love story in AA1 than the potential one between Phoenix and Edgeworth- it would have been pretty easy to just not invent a new love interest and make the romance between Phoenix and one of AA1’s many female characters, for instance, but the writer really just… looked at these games and had no idea how to write a romance for Phoenix without heavily borrowing from Edgeworth.
ii) The Truth Reborn
Despite the love story being between Phoenix and Leona, there’s still a respectable amount of content between Phoenix and Edgeworth in the musical.
At the start of My Rules, Edgeworth’s main motif song for the musical, it is Phoenix who begins the song, singing about how Edgeworth is “shrouded in scarlet solitude” and “a crimson blaze that consumes darkness.” The dance itself- where several dancers, dressed as Edgeworth, constantly pick Phoenix up and manoeuvre him into their dance, while likely meant to imitate how Edgeworth is usually in control during a trial and Phoenix cannot help but go along with his reasoning, can also come off kind of… sensual at times.
Midway through the musical, Edgeworth even goes to visit the Wright & Co.; despite this being the equivalent of Turnabout Sisters Edgeworth, Nick doesn’t react adversely at all, even offering him coffee, and listens to him patiently and compassionately. Edgeworth calls him “the exception to the rule” that people are made to change, and says he’ll phone ahead to allow Phoenix into the case archives, despite the fact that they’ve just had a fairly heated argument. After he leaves, Phoenix passionately tells Maya about how he believes Edgeworth still has his humanity somewhere- clutching his heart- and is only stopped by Larry’s sudden interruption.
Due to the compressed story and the fact that most of Edgeworth’s development is given to Leona, his change of heart from “all defendants are guilty” to “the truth is what matters” is far quicker than in the games, taking place over just one trial. He tells Phoenix that “You said to believe in others. …I suppose I’ll believe in you.” And, somehow, against all the odds, the writers have STILL managed to wedge a variant of the “unnecessary feelings” line into the musical: “If anyone should say thank you, it’s me. You awakened within me those once cherished emotions I had discarded… I see visions of a distant, nostalgic past.”
Sadly, that’s all I’ll be able to comment on in the way of the musicals. The second and third, though I gave them a quick look, are impossible for me to understand and discuss without English subtitles. Sorry :(.
That’s the last of the major extracanonical works for Ace Attorney (or at least, the last of the ones I can actually talk about without going all the way and learning Japanese.) However, there are a few smaller bits and pieces to talk about before moving on.
Section 3F: Everything Else
Like I said earlier, the world of Ace Attorney is a big place. Audio dramas, 4koma, stage shows: the list keeps going, and it’s here where some of the most iconic little bits of Narumitsu are scattered.
i) Audio Dramas
Turnabout Combination, the Trilogy audio drama released in 2014, is based around Edgeworth teaming up with Phoenix to try and prevent the Chief Prosecutor’s daughter from dating a boy involved with one of the local gangs. Apparently, upon learning that the case had to do with romance, Edgeworth immediately went to Phoenix for advice and assistance.
Maya is very excited at the prospect of Phoenix and Edgeworth teaming up, jokingly saying they need a team name- with a sly grin, she names them “Team Edgewright” (Mitsuhodou in the Japanese version). Portmanteauing the names of two people is usually a way to denote a ship… and Phoenix and Edgeworth seem to know this, shouting her down and generally seeming embarrassed over the whole affair. Still, this doesn’t stop her from continuing to call them that throughout the whole drama. The two of them even get a double Objection together at the end. Incidentally, Edgewright is actually a (somewhat uncommon) nickname for Phoenix/Edgeworth in the fandom. Searching for “Mitsuhodou” in hiragana also yielded results for the ship.
In Turnabout Exorcism, one of the two SoJ audio dramas, Phoenix poses as an exorcist to help solve a case. While pretending to exorcise a spirit, he actually starts chanting a version of Kay Faraday’s signature Yatagarasu rhyme. (Maya, for her part, is pretty confused, asking “Where are you getting this from?!”) If he’s memorised Kay’s rhyme, that means he’s been hanging out with Edgeworth enough to spend a good amount of time around her, presumably during their investigations together, which only goes further to prove how much time they spent together in the disbarment era.
Turnabout Training, the other SoJ audio drama, features Edgeworth mentoring and evaluating Athena and Apollo for a salary raise at Phoenix’s request. Edgeworth, for all his talk of how busy he is and how he’s very stressed with his intense workload, frequently goes out of his way to spend time providing teaching opportunities for the two of them. He goes full dad mode(tm) when scolding them for dropping papers and running in the hallways; he even stands as the lead prosecutor on a case, “even though it’s highly irregular, for your purposes”. It’s very difficult to imagine him taking on all this extra work for anyone else but Phoenix. Apollo and Athena end up going rogue, jumping to the defendant’s aid and managing to get him a lighter sentence- and in the end, Edgeworth admits that his earlier harshness, and Phoenix’s request for him to teach them, had been a way to show them that “the defence and prosecution have to go all-out with each other in a trial to reveal the truth.” No explanation as to why Edgeworth was like “anything for you wright lol” when Nick basically asked him to babysit his employees for a week. He eventually decides that they have both earned the salary raise, and says he’ll “discuss things with Wright”- even thinking to himself- “(Wright… Your subordinates have both grown into respectable attorneys, as you’ve surmised.)” Like I mentioned earlier, a big part of Narumitsu’s appeal comes down to the found family aspect. Establishing Edgeworth as a mentor figure for Apollo and Athena alongside Phoenix aids greatly in that.
4koma, or four-panel comics, are generally light-hearted joke comics. There’s a multitude of 4koma for the Ace Attorney series, of course, and some even outright acknowledge and joke about Narumitsu. Translation credit is to akechiclanscans.
One of these is, of course, the notorious “Ambition” 4koma. Long story short, it’s about Maya drawing Mitsunaru doujin. The first three panels, with a stereotypical, BL-esque style, show a misspelled “Objektion!” with roses surrounding it, the Judge with a croissant-like beard as he overrules the objection and Phoenix struggling under a guilty verdict, before Edgeworth, dressed in princely clothes, appears to offer his hand to Phoenix, saying “Wright, do your best…” and Phoenix responding “After all, I’m a useless man, Edgeworth.” The final panel shows that meanwhile, in the Wright & Co., Phoenix has found the manga and is grumbling about “What’s going on with this manga? Also they misspelled Objection…”. Maya freezes mid-step with an artist’s beret, denoting that SHE’s the one who drew the comic.
So many questions from so few panels! Why is Maya drawing Phoenix/Edgeworth doujin and leaving it around the office? Why is Phoenix’s first objection to the comic “they misspelled Objection” and not “But I’m not dating Edgeworth”? And what sneaky Narumitsu fan got into Capcom to draw something like this?! …Well, I suppose the last question has an answer… Shu Takumi made it. The actual creator of the series wrote a 4koma suggesting that Maya ships Phoenix/Edgeworth. I mean, there was the whole “Team Edgewright” debacle earlier. And Maya teasing Edgeworth about being Phoenix’s “secret fanboy”, both instances written by Takumi… Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised after all.
Another 4koma features Edgeworth’s point about how “if I could get rolls of cash by being a waiter, why would I be standing around here prosecuting?” Phoenix, starry-eyed, counters it with a very personal appeal to Edgeworth’s better nature- “Even if you could make tons of cash, you and I both know you’d still be a prosecutor. Because! A flame which is seeking earnestly for the truth burns in your heart! And no amount of money could ever put that flame out!!!” Edgeworth, embarrassed by the praise and blushing furiously, retorts “That’s the worst counter-argument I’ve ever heard!”
Phoenix also has a nightmare about Edgeworth’s clothes, of all things- he dreams that in 8 years, Edgeworth’s frills become even longer and more elaborate, with ruffled sleeves and heart-shaped glasses, before waking in a cold sweat. That’s, uh… interesting subject matter for nightmare fuel, Phoenix. You doing okay?
Ending on a sweet note, we learn that Phoenix knew what Edgeworth’s least favourite food- his “weakness”- was as a child, and can recall this fact fifteen years later. (It’s bell peppers, by the way.) The plan to defeat Edgeworth through peppers sadly fails, with Edgeworth triumphantly declaring that he can eat them now.
The extended Ace Attorney canon is honestly a gift. I was really surprised to see that the games and anime are just the tip of the iceberg, yet so much of the extended universe weaves neatly and naturally into the games’ story. Of course, this carries over to the connections and relationships of the characters, too, including the Narumitsu dynamic. From the very existence of Leona Clyde, to the tiny hints scattered through the audio dramas, to the jokes about Phoenix/Edgeworth that could never be slipped into the game but make it into here, to the 260 glorious pages of the Miles Edgeworth Files- literally nothing is safe from these two.
This is as far as canon- or material that might be canon- goes. From here, things get a little vaguer on what is official, what is not, what could have happened and what definitely couldn’t. Luckily that gives me the freedom to be a little looser with my interpretations of what the various Narumitsu-shaped puzzle pieces could mean, and help answer the question of whether those pieces might form a coherent and credible image.
Chapter 5: Part Four: Outside of Canon
In today's part, I'm discussing all the out-of-canon and real-world factors and events that shaped and gave support to Narumitsu over the years! This includes stuff like magazine articles and the rings, plus what the creators themselves think of the ship.
And reading back over this... you really CAN see my sanity degrading through the whole chapter, lol. Sorry about that.
Hope you enjoy!
The world of Ace Attorney isn’t confined to its universe- it also has a rich history of interviews, official art and merchandise, short non-canon stories, and Tokyo Game Show sketches, with a host of creators, writers and artists working to create the games we know today. This section is a little different from the ones before, because it primarily deals not with “is there basis for these two in canon?” but “is there basis that Capcom may make these two canon someday?”. They’re surprisingly different questions, despite seeming similar on the surface.
As such, this section is going to be a mixture of analysis of promotional material, the meaning behind certain marketing choices, a closer look at what exactly was going on behind the scenes when these games were made as told by interviews and the histories of the creators themselves, and even a look at the fandom’s impact on the games’ course and the ever-growing fan support for Narumitsu.
Section 4A: Official Merchandise
Ace Attorney has almost any merchandise you can think of, especially in Japan (we in the English-speaking fandom reluctantly consign ourselves to proxy buying, long shipping times, and staggering prices), ranging from phone pouches to perfume to wine to napkins. What does this have to do with Phoenix/Edgeworth? …Not that much, honestly. But there are a few points of discussion.
The first is, obviously, the rings.
In September 2018, Ace Attorney announced a collaboration with Material Crown, a Japanese company which often produces themed jewellery for anime, games and other media. The jewellery in question was themed after specific characters, especially in the DGS games; the first wave included necklaces for Asougi, Ryuunosuke, and Holmes, as well as for Apollo and Klavier, alongside… a pair of beautiful, engagement-like rings for Phoenix and Edgeworth.
This, of course, led many people to a certain question: Are these… Phoenix and Edgeworth’s wedding rings? Honestly, it doesn’t seem impossible. Thanks to the lack of new content, we honestly can’t prove if these rings are canon or not; and it’s true that they resemble engagement rings (a plain gold band with a few jewels in the middle), that their rings are the only ones to be shown and marketed together, and they are the only mainline AA characters to have them. The only other characters with rings are DGS characters (Holmes, the Masked Disciple, Ryuunosuke and van Zieks), which were all advertised individually. Phoenix and Edgeworth’s rings are the only ones to be shown laid over each other in advertisements, as a couple’s typically are.
Of course, it’s a fairly subjective point of view. It’d be easy to argue that this is just another piece of merchandise, with no real meaning behind it. But still… how many other totally platonic fictional friendships get official commemorative rings?!
That’s to say nothing of the plethora of other official merchandise featuring them and them alone, with themed wristwatches, wine glasses and bottles, napkins, towels, women’s shoes, etc., etc., etc…
Did I make this section just so I could talk about the rings? Yes. But to be fair, they’re worth talking about. (Is it gay for you and the homie to have matching wedding rings? Local videogame lawyers unsure.)
Section 4B: Official Art
Of course, with a long history of games comes a long history of official art. Ace Attorney as a franchise has had several talented artists and art directors working on it through the years, most notably Kumiko Suekane (AA1), Tatsuro Iwamoto (AA2/3, AAI1&2), Kazuya Nuri (RftA, AA4, PLvsAA, DGS1&2), and Takuro Fuse (AA5/6). This art is often accompanied by short stories by Takumi, background cameos or sneaky details in the piece, and can raise some very interesting questions.
What does this have to do with Narumitsu? Well, as I’ve said, Phoenix/Edgeworth is everywhere. Official art is no different. I ultimately decided to put this section here due to the art being less like a part of extended Ace Attorney canon, and more like a fun, supplementary illustration that offers a snapshot into something that may have happened. Most Narumitsu official art is based in trilogy-era, since the art for AA4 onwards mostly features the younger cast.
Of the official art we’ve been given, there are two particular illustrations with a recurring character who never shows up in-game: a blue and chartreuse doll, vaguely resembling the Blue Badger. In the first, Edgeworth has apparently won the doll from a shooting game at a street fair; in the other, it’s… on the floor next to Phoenix’s bed as he hurries to get dressed. His bed is also scattered with party poppers and empty packets of food, which could indicate that it’s the day after the street fair, given that he was carrying similar trinkets and snacks in the festival art. There’s really only one or two interpretations of this, and all of them are… interesting.
One, Edgeworth, having won the doll, gave the plush to Phoenix as a gift, in a stereotypical boy-wins-a-prize-for-his-crush-at-a-fair scenario. And Phoenix kept it. …In his bedroom.
Two, Edgeworth brought the plush back to Nick’s house himself, and somehow it ended up on the floor of Phoenix’s bedroom. Hmm.
This is also where a certain detail from the last section comes into play. Remember the wiretap in the Miles Edgeworth Files? …This is the same doll. Phoenix himself learns that it’s a wiretap after Edgeworth brings it to the office, recalling that it’s a “souvenir” which he left for them; if you factor in this story, it confirms that a) Edgeworth is the one who gave this doll to Phoenix, b) this doll is a listening device controlled by Edgeworth, and c) fully knowing this, Phoenix brought it to his home and kept it in his bedroom. I mean, I’m not going to judge, but… really?!
There’s also a considerable number of illustrations where the primary focus is Phoenix and/or Edgeworth gazing longingly at each other. One shows Phoenix, Maya and Pearl sending Edgeworth off at the airport, with Maya waving enthusiastically and Phoenix gazing up at the leaving plane with a wistful, fond expression; another shows Edgeworth looking back over his shoulder and smiling at Phoenix in the park, with the wind blowing between them; and the last shows Phoenix looking back in concern as aa1-era Edgeworth walks through the courthouse halls, with a soft golden light between them. The book where the last one is originally found actually has a quote from Henry Ward Beecher accompanying the art: “It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. If you are angry with a man, or hate him, it is not hard to go to him and stab him with words; but to so love a man that you cannot bear to see the stain of a sin upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words- that is friendship.” That sums up Phoenix’s relationship to Edgeworth during trilogy-era pretty well... Phoenix loves Edgeworth so much that he couldn’t bear to see him corrupted and sad, so he changed his whole life to speak to him and try to lift him out of his despair… (…Honestly. Why am I even writing this essay. Capcom’s already doing my job for me…)
There’s also lots of art showing the two of them hanging out together, sometimes alone and sometimes with Maya and Pearl along for the ride: we definitely get the impression that they’re very close friends from their interactions here, from Phoenix and Edgeworth hanging out in a café together with Maya, to Edgeworth intermittently showing up at the Wright & Co. to do paperwork, chat, and even share a meal with Phoenix, to Phoenix & Edgeworth sitting and eating together on White Day and at hatsumode. The Capcom Heroes 2012 calendar, aside from the incredibly cute cover illustration of Bratworth and Feenie in never-before-seen outfits, features a picture of Phoenix and Edgeworth as the July-August illustration. The illustration shows Phoenix and Edgeworth sitting together in the office, late at night, Phoenix without his suit jacket and top button undone, leaning back with his legs on the desk and looking over at Edgeworth with an expression somewhere between sly and fond. Huh, I wonder what they’re doing together so late, alone, with not a scrap of paperwork in sight.
Some of this art even has stories written by Takumi to go along with them (translation credit goes to silverssimstuff on Wordpress). There are a few which catch my eye in the Narumitsu sense- first, the Valentine’s Day art of Phoenix, Larry and Edgeworth as kids. The story for this one has Nick explain that he dislikes Valentine’s Day because, when he was younger, he received a chocolate from a girl in his class which should have gone to Edgeworth but was mistakenly placed on his desk. Knowing that Nick had a crush on the girl, Edgeworth handed it straight back. The prevailing memory from this incident? …“You see, I received a chocolate from Edgeworth that day.” What a weird thing to focus on… Of course, everyone listening immediately assumes they were romantically involved. Maya is surprised, but Larry tearfully apologises and says he “should have known better” before Phoenix hastily explains the situation.
It happens again, unbelievably, on White Day. (Traditionally in Japan, on Valentine’s Day women give presents to men, and on White Day men give presents to women.) Through a series of contrived mistakes and rejections, Phoenix claims that he “received a sweet from Edgeworth, that day.” Again, Maya reacts with surprise, and Larry tearfully says he should have known better- although this time, Edgeworth is present, and hastily tells Phoenix to stop causing misunderstandings. Phoenix, having attempted to give a sweet to a girl, has it handed back to him by Edgeworth, and again, the memory that sticks with him is of Edgeworth giving him the sweet. The universe repeatedly managing to get them to give gifts to each other in traditionally romantic situations is… just coincidence, right?
The story accompanying the beach art also has Pearl and Maya accidentally buy a pair of too-small bikini bottoms for Phoenix from the Shopping King mall, and Edgeworth sarcastically joking that “whatever happens, you will certainly be the Beach King.” …It’s a pretty out-of-nowhere remark to make, all things considered.
For the 15th anniversary, official art was released showing the trilogy cast in Western formal dress, naturally including Phoenix and Edgeworth. Interestingly, the two of them are positioned as would be traditional for a married couple in a Victorian family portrait; one partner seated with the children and other family members, and the other standing behind them, with their hand on the back of the chair. Coincidence? Probably, but it’s a fun thing to think about. (Also take into account their very dignified matching pocket squares.)
That brings me, of course, to the infamous Phoenix Wright chocolate statue art; the gang are constructing a chocolate statue of Phoenix for Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th is circled on the calendar in the background), including Edgeworth, who is making the chocolate in a frilly pink apron, with a photo of Nick coming out of the shower lying next to him. Why does Edgeworth have it?! He’s not the one sculpting, he doesn’t need the reference. Well, perhaps the picture belongs to him? That only begs the question of where, when and why he acquired a photo of Nick’s bare chest. Maybe he just wants to look at it? I guess some things are better left to the imagination.
The final piece of art I’ll talk about actually comes from a blog post by Janet Hsu; early concept art for 9-year-old Edgeworth. There’ll be lots of discussion of interviews and blog posts later, but it seemed better to put this here: a sketch of young Phoenix accompanying little Miles, averting his eyes and blushing in embarrassment. In the interview, Edgeworth even openly remarks on it- “What is Wright doing there, blushing like that?!” Hsu answers that “you’ll have to ask your designer, Ms. Suekane, because I’m not going to speculate.” (Luckily, I love speculating!) This blush has literally one explanation, which is Phoenix having a crush on Edgeworth when they were children. Taking into account Kumiko Suekane’s track record- which I’ll explain in a little while- this conclusion is incredibly likely.
Honestly, it’s kind of impressive how much Narumitsu evidence is lying around in the photos, from the blue doll to Takumi’s stories to the intermittent blush in concept art. I’m willing to bet that if we ever got a similar volume of fanbooks and anniversary art for the sequels, there would be plenty of subtext there as well.
Section 4C: The Creators
I can argue the details and cry irrefutable evidence all I want, but none of that matters if there’s hard evidence from the creators themselves that they firmly oppose Narumitsu and never, at any point, had the intention to make them shippable or put subtext between them. However, that is in no way, shape or form the case. A series with a long history naturally has a long backlog of interviews, social media presence, and magazine coverage; and yes, a LOT of it goes towards teasing and explicitly pointing out Narumitsu, often in ways that don’t remotely come off as a joke. The development staff of Ace Attorney is definitely aware of how the subtext in Phoenix and Edgeworth’s interactions and rivalry is seen, and of the fanbase that has built around them since the first game was released. In some cases they’ve simply let it be and accepted that portion of the fandom, and in other cases they’ve actually leaned into it- not even in a queerbaiting way, but in a way that hints that they know exactly what they’re doing and are actively encouraging a Narumitsu interpretation.
i) Official Social Media
Let’s start with the most accessible portal of communication between the Ace Attorney staff and their fanbase: social media. Their English Twitter and Facebook accounts are pretty dead these days, all things considered, but they tend to become much more active around releases and new games.
The AA social media often showcases fanart, cosplay, and other fanworks, but generally avoids non-canon-compliant content such as ships. The only ship art I could find on either platform is one piece of fairly casual Miego fanart (a canon ship) and… a load of Narumitsu.
Twitter, Christmas Eve, 2015. The account posts a picture of Phoenix and Edgeworth celebrating Christmas together with an interpretation of Edgeworth’s dog Pess, with “Happy Holidays” written above them adorned by hearts. It’s pretty clearly a piece of ship art- the artist themself is a DeviantArt user named soopabunnie, who is not only a Narumitsu shipper, but the moderator of a Phoenix x Edgeworth group on DeviantArt.
Facebook, Valentine’s Day, 2014. The post is captioned “Affection! Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!” and the art accompanying it is… of Phoenix embracing Edgeworth enthusiastically, both blushing, with a heart in a speech bubble, a cute pink background, and “I love you” written in HUGE font written over both of them. I’m… really not sure what to say at this point. We are literally at the level of the official social media openly expressing that they’re in love. It can’t really get more canon than that without outright confirming a romance in-game.
Moreover, the “I love you” art was posted FIRST. Meaning this wasn’t a one-off incident before the person running the social media was told to knock it off, but they posted this and then were not only allowed, but likely encouraged to keep going.
And it doesn’t end there either. The official Twitter openly drew attention to the much-memed “unnecessary feelings” line TWICE: once on Feb 18th 2016, accompanied by fanart from Tumblr user tomatomagica of Edgeworth saying the line while blushing, and again on May 10th 2019 with a screencap of the HD version of the line. Both times were accompanied by a comment encouraging Edgeworth to embrace his emotions: “don’t look so down! Feel how it feels to feel, Edgeworth!” and “Feel how it feels to feel feelings, Edgeworth.”
The Japanese social media gets in on it as well, posting about the anime’s season 1 finale about “Mitsurugi [Edgeworth] pouring Naruhodou [Wright] hot… tea.” “To pour hot love” (“熱い愛情を注ぐ”) is a Japanese phrase meaning “to shower with affection” in a romantic sense. (Credit for the find and translation goes to dear-and-indispensable-friend on tumblr).
Overall, it’s a pretty damning compilation of evidence showing that whoever runs the Twitter and Facebook accounts- and, by extension, the impression that Capcom wants to give about their official stance on the fandom’s activity- is very heavily leaning towards Narumitsu. They repost and retweet fanart all the time, but the only pieces that ever fall anywhere near the realm of “shippy” are always Narumitsu. How very interesting…
The interviews are, in a way, the most precious pieces of evidence for Narumitsu outside the games, because they show us exactly what the writers, developers, and artists think of their creation and of the fans who have grown around it. And yes, they do end up talking about Narumitsu… and what they say is quite telling. Credit for all translation goes to the gyakutensaibanlibrary Blogspot, where all of these interviews can be found.
It’s true that initially, Takumi didn’t intend Phoenix/Edgeworth to be read as romantic; however, despite this, he accepts and even encourages the interpretation. The most obvious evidence for this is in his discussion with Atsushi Inaba, the producer of the first three AA games, and Tatsuro Iwamoto, one of the main AA artists.
Inaba mentions that he stumbled across BL (Boys’ Love; in other words, Japanese m/m slash art and fanfic, also commonly called “yaoi”) of Phoenix and Edgeworth. He seems to have been startled, but not disgusted by the idea- “I was surprised, but it did seem like the game was loved by everyone. I took a look at those sites with a grin on my face.” Iwamoto and Takumi tell similar stories, where Takumi “saw people getting excited about them on an internet forum” (the more things change…) and Iwamoto “just looked for the keywords Gyakuten Saiban [Ace Attorney] but stumbled upon material like that.” Inaba then begins to talk about how they didn’t really intend to “make characters appeal especially to women” (i.e. with Boys’ Love subtext)… only for Takumi to cut him off with a “But I did try that!” To Inaba’s surprise, he goes on to explain how he thought “it’d be good for Naruhodou and Mitsurugi to talk about their warm friendship” in the final episode, but ultimately ended up cutting the scene when Suekane, resident yaoi expert- more on that later- told him that he “did it all wrong”. Iwamoto agrees that “it’d be better if you came up with it unconsciously.”
So let’s sort the facts out here. Takumi… actively tried to put Narumitsu subtext in the game, and only took it out because Suekane said he “did it wrong”. He actually attempted to embrace and encourage the ship, and admits so in an interview. (Incidentally, there is speculation that this is where the mysterious hospital scene in Bridge to the Turnabout disappeared to; that scene was supposed to be where the “discussion of warm friendship” between the two of them took place. I personally feel this makes the most sense.) Especially for a writer like Takumi, who tends to avoid the romance angle entirely- for example the DGS games, one of his most recent works, did not contain any (heterosexual) romance whatsoever- this is a huge signpost for approval of a ship.
This isn’t the only example of Takumi showing approval for Narumitsu, either. He mentions that Phoenix was originally studying Shakespeare, and planned to go to England to study acting, but “a newspaper article about Edgeworth caught his eye, so he changed courses and started studying to be a defence attorney to meet Edgeworth.” The interviewer asks if this means he changes his mind often, and Takumi responds that “he’s just the type who goes straight for something and stick to it once he’s convinced. Like with the type of person he falls for” (referring to an earlier part of the interview discussing Phoenix’s romantic taste). …Pretty interesting choice, to directly compare Phoenix’s pursuit of Edgeworth to his dedication in love. Not just that, but upon being asked who he finds cuter, Takumi admits that he can’t quite find Phoenix “cute” due to his tendency to project onto him, and says that from Phoenix’s perspective, “he’s probably thinking that Edgeworth is a pretty cute guy.” He also openly acknowledges the ship: “I tried to paint a picture of the intensely strong bond of friendship that two men can share, but I wonder if that’s what fans got out of it? There seem to be those who would suggest that Phoenix and Edgeworth’s “intensely strong bond” is more of an “intensely passionate bond” of sorts…”: overall, despite admitting that writing a homoerotic dynamic wasn’t his original intention, he in no way disapproves of, rejects, dismisses or mocks the interpretation- leaving us free to see it as we like.
Iwamoto, the art director for most of the Trilogy, upon learning that lots of BL fans liked Ace Attorney, apparently did his own research into the genre, and (according to Inaba) he actually really enjoyed it. There’s an anecdote about how “Mr Iwamoto reads Boys’ Love for research”, Takumi calling it “just his own hobby” and Inaba suggesting that it is both “hobby and work”. He goes on to talk about how he doesn’t ever borrow Iwamoto’s books to read, because “it’s Iwamoto’s precious collection, so he gets angry when you touch them. He has two copies of everything, one for use and one for his collection.” …Wow. Between Iwamoto and Suekane, it’s incredible that Ace Attorney hasn’t launched into full-blown yaoi proportions already (though I guess the hands do come close at times). It’s also important to note that the art director, on AA games at least, can often have an impact on how the plot progresses. I don’t know how involved Iwamoto got with the plot of the games he worked on, but I do know that Suekane heavily altered Edgeworth right at the very beginning of AA1’s development, Nuri had enough influence on the DGS script to suggest entirely new characters and settings to Takumi, and Fuse was even the co-director for SoJ. The personality and creative tastes of the art directors are far from irrelevant to the plot direction of the game- so if the artist likes BL themes, those same themes will find their way into the game.
I’ve also heard rumours of an interview where Kumiko Suekane suggests that Edgeworth “doesn’t like women, but finds Phoenix rather attractive”. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find this interview for myself, apart from an unsourced Livejournal post, so please take it with a grain of salt- but it does sound like something Suekane would say.
iii) Magazine Coverage
And the list of official promotional content heavily suggesting Narumitsu doesn’t end there, either. Official Nintendo magazines, both Japanese and English, are all littered with Narumitsu: sometimes subtle, sometimes suggestive, and sometimes in an official list of the best Nintendo couples.
The list in question is a feature from the 72nd issue of the British magazine Nintendo Gamer, on pages 66-71, titled the Top 25 Nintendo Couples; the article itself is intended to be funny, and has a mixture of canon pairings (Zelda/Link, Layton/Claire, Lego Padmé/Lego Anakin- yes, really) and joke pairings (Mario/cake, Travis Touchdown/himself, Iwata/Sakurai); however, unlike some of the other pairings on the list, it isn’t really treated as a joke. Phoenix/Edgeworth has the third biggest section after Link/Zelda and Wario/money, and, notably, is the only non-het/non-other ship on the list that does not involve real people.
A certain promotional article for the anime does something similar. The May 2016 edition of Newtype magazine, a monthly anime publication in Japan, contained a feature with three articles each focusing on a recent anime- and more specifically, on duos within those anime. One of these was Phoenix and Edgeworth. The article itself remains untranslated, supposedly only covering the story of the anime up to Turnabout Samurai, but it’s the title of the feature which catches my attention: “Soul x Mate”, in huge red font, over images of the two of them in office chairs. As if that isn’t suggestive enough on its own, the other two pairings are Rokuro/Benio from Twin Star Exorcist and Hibiki/Ren from Anne-Happy Go Lucky, both of whom are confirmed to have at least some level of attraction, and actually share distinctive qualities with Narumitsu.
Starting with Twin Star Exorcist: Benio and Rokuro are exorcists who are destined to fall in love and have a child who will end a thousand-year war. The two, despite butting heads and having conflicting personalities (Rokuro is cheerfully reckless and always helps those in need, while Benio is colder and quieter, only becoming passionate and competitive when it comes to her job, exorcism- sound familiar?) eventually do get married and become the titular Twin Star Exorcists.
On the same note, Hibiki and Ren, two secondary characters in Anne-Happy Go Lucky, have been inseparable best friends since childhood. Hibiki, however, has a huge crush on Ren, who remains mostly oblivious- although some promotional art suggests her feelings may not be unrequited.
So here we have two pairings with canonical romantic interest in one another, described by the article as “soul mates”… and Phoenix/Edgeworth. It’s really not a tremendous leap of logic to presume this similarity might extend to the two of them.
The final article I’ll mention here is a mock character interview from the July 2016 issue of Nintendo Dream, a Japanese magazine dedicated to Nintendo, where the interviewer asks what Phoenix’s favourite food is. Trucy jumps in to respond that it’s apples, and then slyly says “It must feel nice crunching through all that red stuff. Though you said it would be even better if it had white frills on it.” Phoenix denies ever saying something like that, and Trucy, confused, talks about how he used to “often eat apples after trials back then… you bit into them with a look like they were your enemy. Or at least, that’s what Miss Fey told me.” Phoenix realises what’s going on and, mortified, tells Trucy not to trust Maya. (Credit for translation goes to riamuyumemi on twitter.)
So, according to Maya- who has already teased Phoenix and Edgeworth about their relationship in the past- Phoenix used to finish trials, presumably after facing Edgeworth in court, and, as a way to vent his aggression and frustration, would… eat apples angrily. “As though they were Edgeworth.” Entirely putting aside the other connotations of “eating” someone, this is a giant flag for unresolved tension of a not-quite-platonic nature. And Maya’s comment about the apples having “frills”- the same word used to describe Edgeworth’s cravat in the JPN version of the games- only further provokes this.
It’s pretty undeniable that the general trend in magazine coverage of Ace Attorney, though it generally steers clear of ships like most Ace Attorney promotional content, leans towards Phoenix/Edgeworth when talking about the series’ romances. Whether this is because they’re aware of Narumitsu having the largest following among AA ships, because they’re attempting to queerbait the audience, or because they genuinely want to express that they could be a canon couple one day is unclear. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter- it’s evidence, and evidence is everything.
(By the way, purely as a matter of coincidence, I learned during my in-depth research (i.e. fandom wikia) that Hibiki from Anne-Happy canonically loves apples. I have to admit I laughed…)
iv) Kumiko Suekane
Before I move on, there’s one person who we have to thank for almost everything I’ve mentioned here: the original artist for the first Ace Attorney game, a woman named Kumiko Suekane.
When Ace Attorney was in early development, Edgeworth was still planned to be the antagonist, who Phoenix would oppose in court. However, if you’ve ever seen some of AA1’s earliest concept art, it’s obvious that this man was not the Miles we know today. Resembling a cross between Pokémon’s Giovanni and Manfred von Karma, he was 16 years older than Phoenix, had no history with him, and was supposed to come off as a “tragic but unlikeable character”.
It’s hard to discern the exact order of events, but Edgeworth seemingly remained this way up until a certain pitch meeting with Capcom, where Suekane doodled a comic about Edgeworth enjoying the Steel Samurai. Takumi had the idea to change Edgeworth’s character into one who could be redeemed, and who the player and Phoenix could sympathise with. Suekane readily agreed, already dissatisfied with Edgeworth’s design and age; in an interview from 2005 she explains that she couldn’t quite buy their rivalry in Edgeworth’s current state, because he had to “stand equal to him [Phoenix] in a certain way… characters close in age are much better recognisable as rivals and that makes it easier for people to get into the story of the game.”
The input that Suekane had on the first game’s story and on Phoenix and Edgeworth’s history can’t be understated: but the question is what does this have to do with Narumitsu?
Well… remember when I called Suekane Ace Attorney’s “resident yaoi expert”? That wasn’t an exaggeration. Suekane isn’t just a fan of yaoi and BL manga, she’s a professional writer of it. There are dozens of doujinshi and yaoi manga to her name, sometimes under a penname, sometimes her original work, and sometimes based on properties like Tiger & Bunny (a superhero shonen anime) or Haikyuu (a popular shonen about volleyball). Dear god, the Haikyuu doujin. There’s so much of it. It’s genuinely frightening.
It is highly likely that not only was Suekane aware of EXACTLY how Edgeworth and Phoenix’s relationship was going to go over in BL circles and on the shippers’ side of the internet- Takumi himself has an interview where he admits his suspicions that Suekane had anticipated the fan reaction- but that she influenced Edgeworth’s character and backstory in an overt attempt to appeal to BL fans and make Narumitsu shippable.
This is huge- as I mentioned earlier, the influence the art director has on the games is surprisingly strong. Suekane was the one who made Mia into Phoenix’s mentor rather than a generic victim, she is the one who made Edgeworth who he is today, and I believe she was almost fully responsible for Phoenix/Edgeworth, entirely aware of how the two of them would come across, and intentionally created a dynamic that would catch the eye of m/m shippers.
I’ve even heard people say that some of her original BL works contain slash pairings that bear a startling resemblance to Narumitsu. While I personally am unwilling to trawl through dozens of pages of yaoi for evidence that she based her original BL on Phoenix/Edgeworth, the ships she writes for in both Haikyuu and Lion & Bunny share remarkable resemblances to Narumitsu. Iwaizumi/Oikawa are close childhood friends and make a point of their flawless trust in each other. Barnaby/Kotetsu are frequently described as partners and even share the reversed “red oni, blue oni” dynamic with Narumitsu (where the “red” half is cold and the “blue” half is passionate).
Obviously I have no way to determine how much of a role Suekane played in making Phoenix and Edgeworth childhood friends, nor in making Phoenix’s motivations revolve around Edgeworth for the majority of the game; the class trial story, at least, is from Takumi’s own experience, and I doubt we will ever learn more than what the old interviews can tell us. Suekane herself has left Capcom; she seems to be working on a project of her own, named Versailles of the Dead, a manga with the truly fascinating premise of “Marie Antoinette’s twin brother cross-dresses to marry Louis XVI in Marie’s place after her carriage is attacked and she is killed by zombies on her way to France”. Yes, really.
It is abundantly clear, however, that Suekane fully expected and intended for Phoenix/Edgeworth to be shipped and gain a large fandom following, and made efforts towards encouraging and validating that interpretation.
With all of this put together, we’re given a picture of a franchise whose social media posts art blatantly declaring that they’re in love, whose own creator attempted to put intentional subtext between them, whose magazines and promotional material class them among romantic couples and declare them “soulmates”, whose art designer is a known BL artist and almost certainly shipped Narumitsu and purposefully intensified their relationship… it all comes together into a damning, undeniably Phoenix-and-Edgeworth-shaped jigsaw. Bear in mind that this game came out in 2001, and was aiming to appeal to a wide audience, including children (sadly, although m/m pairings are in no way more suggestive than m/f ones, they are often treated that way by censors); they were a lot less free to openly imply a romantic connection between two men than they would be today. I genuinely believe that in a world free from homophobia, or even in a world where either Edgeworth or Phoenix were female (such as the musicals), Narumitsu would already be canon.
Section 4D: The Fans
I’m not exaggerating when I say that people from all over the world ship Narumitsu. It’s the preferred ship of the fandom in both the West and in Japan.
Starting with the Western fandom: usually it would be difficult to tell just how many people like a certain ship, but luckily, the talented user aceattorneyshipping on tumblr already held a poll among most of the fans’ major sites, detailing not only the statistics of certain ships’ popularity, (including Narumitsu) are, but the distribution of which platforms ship it most, what level of exclusivity there is among ships, how the length of time in fandom corresponds with shipping, as well as other statistics such as favourite attorneys and prosecutors.
I’ll only be talking about the raw numbers of popularity, and it’s also important to note that this survey was held a few years ago in mid-2016, during the run-up to SoJ. The platforms the survey was conducted on included sites like court-records, (which have more or less died out in favour of forum sites like Discord and social media like Twitter or Amino, neither of which were included), so these numbers are probably less accurate now (more on that later).
Narumitsu was, at the time of the survey, the second most popular ship on the survey, beaten out only by Maggey/Gumshoe (which is pseudo-canon, so literally everyone ships it). It gained about 595 votes out of 941 participants. That’s a shipping percentage of 63%; no other ship even came close. The next most popular is Mia/Diego, a canon ship, with twenty fewer votes.
There is also evidence to suggest the number of Narumitsu shippers has only increased with the release of the Trilogy on multiple platforms. According to numbers I took from Ao3 (user-only fics excluded) from 2017 to July 2020, the percentage of fics which are tagged as Narumitsu has been steadily increasing. In 2017, the year after the survey was conducted, 24% of the fics completed that year were tagged as Phoenix/Edgeworth; in 2018 that number moved to 28%, then leapt to 37% in 2019 with the release of the Trilogy, and the percentage of Narumitsu fics in 2020 stands at 40% as I write this. The Narumitsu tag on Ao3 is currently at around 3400 fics; in comparison, Klavier/Apollo, the second most written ship on the site, stands at almost a third of that with roughly 1300 fics.
It isn’t only the English-speaking fanbase, either. Ao3’s Narumitsu tag contains significant language diversity, with 4% of fic being non-English. This includes fic written in Chinese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, French, Finnish and Brazilian Portuguese. And that’s just on Ao3, a primarily English-speaking site! (I’ve also heard that the Korean fandom is quite fond of Narumitsu, though I’m lacking in sources.)
The subtext between Phoenix and Edgeworth isn’t lost on many of the Youtubers who play through the Trilogy, the most famous example of this probably being the Game Grumps. Other popular Youtubers who consistently joked about the ship throughout the game include JohneAwesome, Press Buttons ‘n Talk, and lucahjin. Most of the playthroughs I’ve seen make some sort of comment or joke about Narumitsu, usually at “unnecessary feelings” or the class trial confession (although special mention has to go to one Japanese youtuber who let out a scandalised “oh! Mi-chan! [The Japanese version of Oldbag’s ‘Edgey-poo’]” at the T&T “partners” line.)
Even the voice actors for the anime pick up the hints. This comes through especially in the bloopers and outtakes, which include in-character gems such as Phoenix’s VA Eric Vale answering Turnbull’s “Edgeworth, you say?” with “That’s right. He and I used to do some pretty gay stuff,” Edgeworth’s VA Christopher Wehkamp solemnly announcing to Iris that Phoenix “requested I do him” before bursting into laughter, and Vale suggesting that “later we [Phoenix & Edgeworth] can maybe hang out a little bit… maybe date, or something.”
As for the Japanese fandom, Narumitsu also seems to be the ship of choice. It got such a big reaction among fans that it was the first thing the developers noticed when searching for the games online. I’ve already explained how the BL community reacted to Phoenix/Edgeworth, but there are some other statistics showing their popularity. The community seems to at least enjoy their dynamic as investigation partners; an official poll on the best investigation duo in SoJ had Phoenix and Edgeworth win by a huge margin, coming in at 230 votes, beating Phoenix and Maya- the more classic investigation duo- by 90 points.
The question is what this has to do with Narumitsu’s credibility as a ship: well, it serves to prove two points. Firstly, that if Capcom were ever to get off their coward throne and make Narumitsu canon, the majority of the fandom would embrace it. There is no significant anti-Narumitsu group, nor any argument against it on a level deeper than unsubstantiated debate over characters’ sexuality. The generally pro-Narumitsu attitude among fans (especially newer fans) means making it canon would probably boost their sales, if anything. Do I believe they would ever do this? Probably not yet. But in the future, it will certainly be a possibility- and who knows, sometimes the miracle does happen.
(Another thing about the popularity of Narumitsu- Capcom’s awareness of the fans’ attitudes mean creating alternative canon love interests for Phoenix and Edgeworth would be incredibly dangerous in terms of sales. They’d lose a significant chunk of their fans overnight, and Capcom knows this. The prevalence of Narumitsu serves almost as a barrier against an out-and-out ship sinking).
Secondly, this popularity shows that I am far from the only person to have noticed the subtext (and sometimes outright text) between Phoenix and Edgeworth. In every single language Ace Attorney has ever been released in, and in some which it hasn’t been, there are fans dedicated enough to create fanworks and fanfiction about them. The concept that all Narumitsu fans must be “yaoi fangirls” who are just overusing their shipping goggles and will find any excuse for two attractive men to kiss is patently untrue. (Although I do plead guilty to breaking out the old shipping goggles every now and then. Can you really blame me?) While I’m certainly not denying that fans like that exist, they in no way make up the majority of Narumitsu shippers. The ship is as popular as it is because there is actual romantic tension and potential there.
In conclusion, even outside of canon, Capcom, the creators, and the fans all project one cohesive impression: the ship which is most greatly approved of, suggested, encouraged, and shipped is Narumitsu. The official merchandise ships it. The official art ships it. The official social media ships it. Takumi endorses it and liked it enough to try and put it in T&T. Official magazines treat them like an official couple. Well over half the fanbase buys into the idea that they could be romantically involved. No matter which way you look at it, Narumitsu is the ship with the strongest base of evidence and support at every turn, and this lines up perfectly with their depiction in the games.
This part is the last section where I have to be relatively neutral and objective, which is good, because I’m about reaching breaking point in the seriousness department. I believe that on every level, Narumitsu is the most viable, most strongly evidenced, and most easily readable ship in the games. The matter of whether it will actually become canon or not is a whole other can of worms that I’m not going to open here, as it concerns real-world politics more than the actual dynamic of the pairing. But who knows? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at least implied that they got together in a later game- we’d have to be incredibly lucky for an on-screen kiss, but something simple like adding the respective merchandise ring to each lawyer’s sprite or subtly implying they live together would be doable. Ace Attorney celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, and I’m hoping we’ll get Ace Attorney 7 at some point in 2021; we’ll just have to see what happens when we get there.
Chapter 6: Part Five: The Fun Stuff
Finally, the part where I can go absolutely bonkers. I'll be talking about everything I couldn't fit in the rest of the essay, including meta, discussion of romantic tropes and how they apply to Narumitsu, and a compilation of all the times they flirt in the games (because honestly, it deserved a section to itself).
Today's part will be the last; thanks so much to all of you for your support, and please enjoy the rest of Narumitsu Week!
Now that I’ve lain out all the evidence pointing to our two favourite lawyers being a potential couple, I’ll address some of the meta around Narumitsu, subjective stuff I couldn’t fit into the main sections including a rundown of all the tropes the two fit neatly into (spoiler alert: there are a LOT of them), an analysis of the evidence showing Edgeworth is gay- not aromantic, not “married to his job”, but actually attracted to men- a compilation of all the borderline innuendo between them that didn’t make it into the respective sections for the sake of conserving time, and, because I’m petty and it needs to be pointed out, a counter of all the times the two of them dramatically say/whisper/treat each other’s names as a whole sentence.
Bear in mind that I’m likely to randomly drop spoilers from the main series games, though I’ll give a warning when I mention anything from a not-officially-localised game.
Section 5A: Is Edgeworth Gay?
Just kidding, I do have actual reasoning behind this.
i) Edgeworth Isn’t Attracted to Women
It’s pretty obvious that whenever Edgeworth interacts with, is flirted with, or is approached by women attempting to flirt with him, his reactions to their flirting range from indignant to completely oblivious. Women who are noted in-universe to be particularly attractive have absolutely no effect on him: from April May, to Angel Starr, to Dahlia Hawthorne, any and every female character who relies on charm or capturing the attention of men find a brick wall in Edgeworth. About the only woman whose affections he notices is Oldbag, and that’s only because she’s… well, Oldbag. He’s somewhere between apprehensive and confused at learning he has female admirers, wondering if he “really inspires such frothing desire from the female masses” in Bridge to the Turnabout.
This is especially notable in his own games, particularly Turnabout Airlines, where we are given gems such as “Oh, now I get it. Maybe you’ve ‘got your eye’ on Ms Rhoda…” “Of course I’m keeping an eye on her. I can’t very well let her escape, can I?” “Never mind…”, “I can’t think of a single reason why I’d want to buy you anything,” (addressed to a woman who literally wears her flight attendant uniform open to seduce the pilot) and a particular comment about the female flight attendants’ room: “One would think that [women’s] perfume ‘smells great’, however, to me it simply smells… not that I have any interest in what lies behind this door.” The comment in English can be read as him just disliking the smell of perfume, but the way the Japanese version is phrased was interpreted by many fans as not just being disinterested in perfume, but women in general.
The only time Edgeworth has ever shown even remote interest in any woman is during his Takarazuka musical, which, as I have stressed earlier, is absolutely obligated to have the protagonist in a m/f romance. Hell, the romance itself is far less prominent than in other Takarazuka plays; the woman in question doesn’t even kiss him, simply giving him a rose which he keeps to the end of the play, and the traditional couple’s dance at the end of the play is given to a different pair of characters.
So, Edgeworth is definitely not interested in women. That leaves us with two broad possibilities: he is aroace (not to be confused with asexual, which refers to lack of sexual attraction and still connotes the possibility of romantic love; aroace is a term referring to those who experience neither romantic nor sexual attraction), or he is gay.
ii) Edgeworth Is Attracted to Men
Now this is the point of contention. Is Edgeworth gay or
European disinterested in romance entirely? Surprisingly, there’s far more evidence for the first possibility than you’d think.
Returning to Turnabout Airlines, talking to the (male) passenger surrounded by bottles gives you this exchange: the passenger asks “How about it? How about a glass together?” and Edgeworth, without a second thought, assumes he is the one getting hit on- and responds with an uncharacteristically polite “Um, sorry, but I must decline.” There is literally no other flirtatious interaction which Edgeworth responds to with such awareness and civility. He doesn’t even notice Rhoda’s crush on him for the entire case! The passenger, on his part, replies “I wasn’t talking to you! I was asking the cute attendant!”. A case later, he also seems to react to Agent Lang taunting him and calling him a “pretty boy”, but makes little effort to discourage him from doing so.
Then, of course, there is the marriage conversation in SoJ’s DLC. People seem to believe this is a one-hit-kill of any and all Edgeworth ships. It is not. The line about wishing to remain unwed is almost exactly the same in the Japanese version, and in Japan, there is still no such thing as same-sex marriage. If the writers had been attempting to convey that he is simply uninterested in romance, why not just have him say that he has no intention of falling in love, ever? (It’s also important to note that we are never given a statement on whether same-sex marriage even exists in Japanifornia. As it stands, Ace Attorney’s semi-fictional hybrid country resembles Japan somewhat more than it resembles California; who’s to say same-sex marriage does exist there? Criminal law, at least, follows Japanese convention. We’ve never seen a canonical married gay couple in modern-day Japanifornia. It’s sad to say, but it’s a fair bet that as it stands, two men can’t get married in the Ace Attorney universe.)
Also- and I think I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll say it again- Edgeworth only ever objects to the prospect of “getting married”. Sure, he’s irritated by Phoenix trying to bring up the power of love as evidence in a court of law, but his refutations revolve around the idea of him getting married and “settling down” (i.e. starting a family with a woman), not the idea of falling in love. It is marriage, and heterosexual marriage in particular, which disinterests him.
Not to mention that from a more subjective standpoint of queer-coding, Edgeworth hits several boxes for stereotypes. While this is obviously ineffective at determining someone’s sexuality in real life, giving fictional characters certain traits can be viewed as a hint towards their sexuality- like a certain hairstyle on a lesbian or a piercing in a certain ear for a gay man. Bearing in mind that this is Suekane, an experienced BL artist, that we’re talking about- she knew what she was doing.
Edgeworth wears nothing but pink and frills, and clearly takes interest in the way he looks. He solves a murder in his manga series simply by judging a girl’s choice in shoes. In terms of Japanese culture, he slots right into the “bishonen” stereotype, what English-speakers would call a “pretty boy” (and, as Suekane had experience with yaoi- which bishonen frequently overlaps with- this was probably intentional). He’s noted in-universe to be particularly attractive, but he barely notices girls and has clearly never dated one. To me, his narrative of growing up in a strict household like von Karma’s also has a certain resonance with the narrative of the closet. All in all, he fits pretty solidly into the stereotype of a gay character. Again, none of this is proof he is gay; someone can check all these boxes and more and still be straight. But combined with all the evidence above… Edgeworth being coded specifically as a gay man is the most logical conclusion.
Okay, so Edgeworth’s gay. Is Phoenix bisexual? …Honestly, we have no hard evidence one way or the other. We’ve only ever really seen him be attracted to women, but those instances are relatively few and far between; he notices people like April and Angel, was definitely in love with Dahlia/Iris, and has crushes on a few girls in the casebooks. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to be particularly heteronormative; he pretty clearly thought Lana and Mia had dated, is quite confident when he declares White and Grossberg must be lovers, and easily picks up on Max flirting with him in Big Top (although his reaction is, understandably, one of disgust.) Bisexual people can be anywhere on the Kinsey scale, and were Phoenix to be confirmed or hinted to be bisexual he would be no exception. And, of course, there’s the way he interacts with Edgeworth.
Ultimately, neither of these characters’ sexualities have been confirmed. It’s pretty likely that Edgeworth is gay; it is not impossible for Phoenix to be bisexual. Sexuality, therefore, is in no way a hurdle for Narumitsu.
Section 5B: Romantic Tropes
Phoenix and Edgeworth’s journey strongly resembles the beats of a romance, and the tropes and clichés that pop up around them reflect this. I spent a little while on TVtropes compiling 40 of the most fitting and typically romantic tropes that also apply to the two of them, running with the assumption that their arc can be read as romantic. A big part of the reason why Narumitsu is so shippable is that almost every part of their story features moments that are widely recognised in media as natural signposts and set-ups for an inherently romantic story, and I wanted to showcase just how many of these moments there actually are.
Air Voyance- in one of Suekane’s companion arts, Phoenix and Edgeworth seem to make eye contact and smile to each other while Edgeworth’s plane is taking off. This is a fairly cliché farewell scene for love interests.
Ambiguously Gay- Edgeworth; see above. Despite everything pointing to it, his sexuality has never been confirmed one way or the other.
Anger Born of Worry- Phoenix has this in droves following Edgeworth’s “suicide” and subsequent return in JfA. He’s absolutely furious until the two of them finally get to talk it out. Edgeworth also makes some very irritated comments about Phoenix’s skill at getting into danger during Bridge to the Turnabout- justified, since he flew halfway across the world to check if he was alright.
Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other- They get a moment of this at the end of Turnabout for Tomorrow. After arguing in court for the whole case, their switch to thanking each other and talking about how they’re going to fix the legal system together is enough to make Athena comment on their “complicated love-hate relationship.”
Battle Couple- Even though they’re on opposite sides of the courtroom, from JfA the two fight together to find the truth. Witnesses like Vasquez and Adrian quickly learn how scary they are when they start working together, rather than against each other.
Belligerent Sexual Tension- So much of it that I have to make a whole section to properly document it. Especially obvious in the courtroom. Highlights include Edgeworth out-of-nowhere suggesting Phoenix strip in the courtroom in JfA, Phoenix randomly calling Edgeworth things like “sir” and “Daddy” in DD, and Edgeworth confidently assuring the court of how Phoenix looks “when his back is pressed against the wall” in SoJ.
Caught His Heart on His Sleeve- where a love interest grabs the other’s sleeve to stop them for an emotionally charged discussion. Phoenix does this to Edgeworth- holding him by the wrist, of all places- in the casebooks, while asking why he really feels alone when he has people who support him.
Childhood Friend Romance- Were they to get together, they would be one of these. Meeting a childhood friend after a long time apart is a pretty common romantic setup, as is going to great lengths specifically to meet this friend again.
Defrosting Ice King- After the second game, Edgeworth is this, and he’s definitely made some progress after the seven-year-gap… although not too much. The one responsible for this defrosting? Phoenix, obviously.
Enemies to Lovers- Narumitsu is slightly softer variant of rivals to lovers. Having a rival who you alone are able to defeat, eventually redeeming them and becoming friends? This is another common path for pairings to follow which Narumitsu fits into well.
Fan-Preferred Couple- Statistically this. See section 4D; a majority percentage of the fandom ships Narumitsu, with no other non-canon pairing even coming close to it.
Friendly Rivalry- Obviously, and especially following the Trilogy. The two take their face-offs in court very seriously, but spend half the time making fun of each other instead of actually solving the case.
Foe Romance Subtext- Edgeworth is technically the antagonist of AA1, and takes the role of Phoenix’s opponent for most of their courtroom interactions, making any romantic subtext between them this by default.
Held Gaze- Any time these two are animated, live-action, or in a comic/official art together, a lot of profound eye contact ensues. Special mentions go to the prolonged gaze at the end of the movie, the scene in the manga where Phoenix and Edgeworth look deeply into each other’s eyes before Phoenix asks Edgeworth if he loves him, and their final handshake at the end of the anime, which cuts to both their faces and then long shots of them staring at each other.
The Glomp- I wish I was joking. In the casebooks, Phoenix does actually tackle-hug Edgeworth right after Maya and Gumshoe explain the situation with Edgeworth wearing Phoenix’s suit, enthusiastically thanking him.
Inconvenient Attraction- Edgeworth for Phoenix; and he’s mad about it, if that long-winded speech on “unnecessary feelings” means anything.
I Owe You My Life- A satisfying double-edged example. After Edgeworth saves Phoenix during the class trial, Phoenix feels indebted to him and goes so far as to become a lawyer to pay him back. Likewise, after Phoenix saves Edgeworth during Turnabout Goodbyes, he is cemented as a saviour and a hero in Edgeworth’s eyes. The two spend most of the timeline doing elaborate and somewhat excessive favours for each other.
Like an Old Married Couple- Especially during Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice. The two constantly banter about everything from whose aesthetic taste is better to whether Edgeworth should dye his hair black to who is more inflexible. Even Fulbright- a guy who (spoiler alert) feels no emotion- jokes about how they exemplify the phrase “close enough to argue”.
Longing Look- Especially notable in some of Suekane’s official art. The courthouse hallways art with the Beecher quote from earlier shows Phoenix looking back with a hurt, almost heartbroken expression at Edgeworth as he passes. See also the art of the two at Gourd Lake and of Edgeworth’s plane taking off. Phoenix and Edgeworth seeming to look at each other over impossible distances at the end of Turnabout Melody could also qualify as this.
Love Redeems- Phoenix’s dedication to saving Edgeworth from his suffering prompts his transformation from the antagonistic “demon prosecutor” to a truth-seeking prosecutor and close ally of Phoenix’s. Edgeworth himself mentions how it was Phoenix’s tenacity and desire to save him which brought him to the pursuit of truth, at the end of Justice for All.
Married to The Job- or so Edgeworth seems to be. Despite this, we frequently see him put his job on hold to help Phoenix (SoJ), take out time to do favours for him (training Apollo and Athena), and risk his job doing ridiculous things to assist him (Bridge to the Turnabout).
The Not-Love Interest- Edgeworth fills a role the love interest would normally have, as seen in the musical retelling where Leona takes his place and the story magically becomes a romance through the power of heteronormativity. Unlike his female counterpart, he does not get together with Phoenix at the end of the story... not yet, at least.
The Only One I Trust- They are this to each other. Edgeworth is the only person Phoenix trusts in emergencies like Phoenix being blackmailed or hospitalised, and Phoenix is the only person Edgeworth trusts to help him bring down the Dark Age of the Law or help him out in Europe even when disbarred.
Opposites Attract- They’re very different people. Phoenix is naturally friendly and passionate about helping people; Edgeworth is more aloof and comes off as unapproachable. Phoenix wears a cheap blue suit and complains about money shortage, while Edgeworth is implied to be affluent and wears fancy red suits. Their jobs are opposite- prosecutor and defence attorney. Phoenix even lampshades them as being “like night and day” in the anime. Despite this, they are best friends, eternal rivals, and an unstoppable team.
The Power of Trust- The trust between them is developed to a point where they know they can count on each other for anything. They feel free to fight all-out in court because Phoenix fully trusts Edgeworth to pursue the guilty, and Edgeworth fully trusts Phoenix to defend the innocent.
Puppy Love- Phoenix and Edgeworth as kids; shout-out to the anime for actually having a subplot where an actual puppy chases and befriends another puppy, over the main plot of Phoenix trying to reach out for Edgeworth.
Patient Childhood Love Interest- Technically you could consider Phoenix or Edgeworth one of these. They’ve certainly got the “patient” part down- it’s been 27 years since they met in canon and since then, in one way or another, they have not stopped reaching out to, helping, and relying on each other.
Queer Romance- Both Phoenix and Edgeworth are men, making any romance arc between them this by definition.
Red String of Fate- The golden chains that link them by the wrist in the first OP of the anime greatly resemble soulmate and red-string imagery, as an unbreakable link between two people which ties their lives and fates together.
Relationship Writing Fumble- At least in the first game. Takumi admits that he didn’t actually expect fans to react to Phoenix and Edgeworth in the way they did, and the subtext between them was (initially) accidental. That didn’t stop him trying to add a scene with intentional subtext between them in T&T later.
Rescue Romance- Phoenix dedicates a considerable portion of his life to saving Edgeworth from his “nightmare”, and Edgeworth sees him as a saviour in return, making their romance this. Edgeworth also rescues Phoenix at their very first meeting, saving him in the class trial, so in a way they both fulfil both roles for each other.
Rivalry as Courtship- It’s lucky they’re opponents, because they wouldn’t be able to get away with half the BS they do if it couldn’t be mistaken for aggression- for example, angrily eating apples because they remind you of your rival (to simulate defeating him, of course) and banter such as “I’ll find the hole in your argument somehow!” “You can press as hard as you’d like. Just hurry up.” (Yes, this is an actual string of dialogue in JfA.)
Snow Means Love- At the very end of the chapter where Edgeworth dresses up as Phoenix to investigate, he reflects on how he was missing out on “something so near”, over an image of Phoenix smiling sheepishly with Gumshoe and Maya. Snow begins to fall and he comments on how strange it is, since it’s nearly spring.
Shipper on Deck- Especially in extracanonical material, Maya. From telling Trucy about Nick’s apple-eating antics (and judging by Phoenix’s response, god knows what else she’s said), to Takumi’s 4koma where she draws Phoenix/Edgeworth doujin, to her quips about “Team Edgewright” and “Nick’s Secret Fanboy Edgeworth”, she consistently takes on this role for them.
Ship Tease- At this point, the developers have caught on to the popularity of Narumitsu, and slip in the occasional fanservice-y moment like the marriage conversation, the deliberate innuendos and the merchandise rings. Takumi even admits to trying this during T&T. It’s also notable that they don’t do this for any other old-cast pairing (though Apollo gets ship-teased a whole lot, for some reason).
Tsundere- Edgeworth. He’s normally harsh, aloof and irritable, and has difficulty expressing his emotions (“whooooooop!”) but he slowly begins to be a little more open and honest with his feelings by the end of the trilogy. …Only towards Phoenix, though. He returns to his snarkier and more recalcitrant self during Investigations, albeit with the added bonus of seeing his internal monologue.
Twice Shy- AKA mutual pining. As I mentioned earlier, it’s been 27 years. Assuming they haven’t gotten together off-screen, the two of them frequently go through major upheavals and life tragedies- DL-6, Edgeworth’s trip to Europe, Phoenix’s disbarment, etc., which would dissuade them from confessing and starting a relationship, in spite of any mutual attraction they might share. By Dual Destinies era, either they’re together or it’s been so long that they’re hesitant of upsetting the status quo between them. It makes for an equally frustrating and entertaining story.
Umbrella of Togetherness- While the two never technically share the umbrella at any given time, Phoenix lends an umbrella to Edgeworth when he’s crying in the rain after DL-6. The gesture moves Edgeworth to the point that he dreams about the scene again during the Trilogy.
Undying Loyalty- The two of them have never given up on each other for a second after their realisation of trust at the end of JfA. Even before that, Phoenix refused to give up on Edgeworth for fifteen years and became a lawyer simply to see him again.
Will They or Won’t They?- It’s nearing twenty years since Ace Attorney first came out, and this question still looms; is Capcom willing to take the risk and canonise a relationship between them? If Ace Attorney 7 happens, I have no doubt we’ll be given a few more scenes teasing and hinting at Narumitsu, but the question of how far that will go is still a mystery.
These aren’t all the tropes that could hypothetically be applied to Narumitsu, but I didn’t want to spend too much time detailing every single romantic cliché they adhere to, so I chose the ones that fit best and had the least amount of overlap. Still, I’m frequently amazed by how many typically romantic dynamics and layers their relationship has, and these tropes are a great way to express that.
Section 5C: Meta and Parallels
This is a weird one- mostly a section for things I couldn’t fit into the main essay due to either being too subjective, requiring too much analysis, dealing with things that happen in alternate-language versions of the games, or just being impossible to fit into one category. It’s split into two parts- parallels which Phoenix and Edgeworth have with pre-existing characters and romances in the games, and meta about how Ace Attorney’s global releases dealt with Phoenix/Edgeworth through different cultural lenses, the possibility and precedent for queer subtext and romance in AA, and some other minor details in their characters.
The world of AA very rarely features romance; it’s either something that happened in the past to further the current story (Iris/Phoenix, Mia/Diego), or a romance that is ongoing with one-off characters, usually established and at the stage of marriage (Ron/Desiree, Sorin/Ellen). The only thing that could properly be considered an explicitly romantic arc in the Trilogy is Maggey and Gumshoe, and the only time a romance with a main character was hinted at was Juniper’s short-lived crush on Apollo (before she was promptly exiled to Capcom’s basement).
Despite this general aversion to love, Phoenix and Edgeworth manage to bear undeniable similarities to the few couples that do exist in this universe, both from a storytelling and character perspective.
One of the most well-known of these is Iris’ undeniable similarities to Edgeworth, specifically in the way she relates to Phoenix and exists in his life.
The most obvious example of this is one I’ve already mentioned- Edgeworth’s secret. Upon presenting the wrong profile at the end of Iris’ psyche-locks, she asks if Edgeworth has “a deep, dark secret in your heart” as it “takes one to know one”, and Edgeworth responds with alarm, wondering “how she knew about that” and if she’s “peering into my soul”. He admits that “there is a deep-seated darkness in my heart,” but the only way he can “get rid of it” is by uncovering the truth behind her own secret.
So, Edgeworth has a deeply rooted “secret” that can only be dispelled by unveiling Iris’ secret and getting her to confess what she did and felt for Phoenix. This secret is in some way similar to Iris’: the original Japanese has her say “I’m the same… that’s how I know,” and refer to the secret as “very deep within his heart”. As a character, Edgeworth has mostly confronted his trauma; his secret cannot be related to DL-6, nor his loss of purpose before JfA, as he’s already found answers to those particular angsts. This secret couldn’t be some buried memory or traumatic event, either, because Iris going to Phoenix and telling him the truth isn’t going to get rid of that- more likely, it is some sort of a feeling or emotion which he has in common with Iris, one which has been interrupted due to circumstances outside their control, which is intrinsically related to Phoenix, his happiness, and the end of his suffering.
I wonder what kind of deep-seated, repressed emotion he could “get rid of” by setting Phoenix up with Iris to prevent him suffering any longer. The answer should already be pretty obvious, but the similarities run still deeper.
After the trial where Dahlia was found guilty, Iris had to suddenly disappear from Phoenix’s life. Phoenix felt understandably betrayed, and felt that the “Dollie” he met in the courtroom was like a totally different person than before, insisting to Mia that she was not the Dahlia he knew.
After the trial where Edgeworth was found innocent, he too disappeared from Phoenix’s life. Phoenix once again felt betrayed, feeling as though the Edgeworth he had fought against had become a different person, as shown by his insistence that he believed that “the real Edgeworth” still existed.
In a similar way, Phoenix has no intention of visiting Hazakura Temple with Maya and Pearl until he sees Iris’ face in a newspaper, as a shrine maiden- a context that makes no sense to him. To find out what happened, he decides to go with them and ask her personally.
Phoenix also has no intention of becoming a defence attorney until one day he sees Edgeworth’s face in a newspaper, as a feared prosecutor- a context that, again, makes no sense to him. To find out what happened, he decided to study law so he could ask him personally… sound familiar?
And both times when Iris/Dollie is arrested, Phoenix is absolutely insistent that she would never commit murder. In Turnabout Memories, he takes the stand to testify that Dahlia would never do something like commit murder, and in Bridge to the Turnabout he goes as far as enlisting Edgeworth’s help to defend her when he’s in hospital. Never for a second does he entertain the possibility that the Dahlia he dated was a murderer.
When Edgeworth is arrested, Phoenix is again insistent that he’d never do something like that. He defends him with everything he’s got, even through Edgeworth’s own confession, and doesn’t allow anyone- even Maya- to imply Edgeworth might have actually done it.
In short, he values and treats the two of them in exactly the same way: a girl he dated and clearly once loved, and… Edgeworth.
Going back to their elusive shared “secret”: Edgeworth was previously in a very similar situation to Iris, where he didn’t want Phoenix in particular to know about his past- his refusal to let Phoenix defend him in Turnabout Goodbyes: “You of all people I cannot ask to do this”. We’re never given a concrete answer on why exactly Edgeworth didn’t want Phoenix to get involved, but examining his interactions with Iris gives us a hint. Iris didn’t want Phoenix to know her traumatic past because “he holds a special place in your heart”- she’s afraid telling the truth of her crime will damage her relationship with him… which is reminiscent of Edgeworth’s indecisiveness over whether to tell Phoenix about the nightmare he has about his own “crime”.
This “secret” isn’t just about Iris not wanting to shatter Phoenix’s belief in her, either; it’s also about her lingering feelings for him. This is resolved by the end of the case, where both Phoenix and Iris have gotten closure on their relationship… but for Edgeworth, it’s a different story. That deep secret is still there after the case is resolved. The truth about DL-6 has come out, but Iris sees that Edgeworth is still the same as her- the easiest explanation is that he hasn’t confronted and accepted his feelings about Phoenix, out of fear that it will damage their relationship.
And remember this is the case where Takumi tried to appeal to BL fans with a cut conversation between them about their “warm friendship”, which would probably have been part of the missing hospital scene. Imagine a game where Edgeworth chartering the private jet, the hospital conversation, and this “deep secret” scene happened almost consecutively!
As an added bonus, Edgeworth is unusually nosy about Iris and Phoenix in this case. For someone who tends to ignore romance, he makes a number of curious remarks about whether “something’s going on between the two of you”, and a few that could be read as downright jealous: “Iris gave you that hood, didn’t she?” and when Phoenix replies that “it helped my fever go down quicker, I’m sure of it”, Edgeworth looks angry and says, “So you say! But your face is white as a sheet, and sweat is running down your cheek!”
Also of note is the fact that Phoenix only put his heart into trying to find and save Edgeworth after Dahlia/Iris had left his life. Putting the timeline of events into order, it seems he had been studying law on the side before he met Dahlia (he encountered her in the courthouse), pursued art full-time while he was convinced she was the love of his life, and then switched to law- i.e. reaching out to Edgeworth- only after they broke up and Nick realised that he could help people as an attorney like Mia. It seems sensible to assume Phoenix’s romantic relationship with Dahlia interfered with his pursuit of Edgeworth- perhaps because he felt this would have been akin to cheating, or because Dahlia briefly replaced Edgeworth in his mind.
Another well-known parallel concerns the third case of Justice for All, and there was originally an excellent post about it by gaylawyers on tumblr, though it seems to be gone now. One of the major themes of JfA is loss, especially how different people deal with loss: and a distinction is drawn between people who deal with loss by bottling everything up and refusing to acknowledge the issue, and people who deal with loss through anger and a desperate drive for vengeance.
Examples of the first camp include Regina Berry, who stuck to the idea that people “become stars” when they die, Adrian Andrews, who manufactured a perfect and cool demeanour after attempting suicide, and Phoenix Wright, who refuses to hear or speak about Edgeworth following his “death”.
Those in the second camp include Mimi Miney and Acro, who constructed revenge murder plots out of anger at the death of their siblings, and Franziska von Karma, who aimed to defeat Phoenix in court in an attempt to bring back her pseudo-brother.
It’s on the parallels of Regina, Phoenix, Acro and Franziska in Turnabout Big Top that I want to focus on.
Before the case, Regina had mistakenly caused Bat, a fellow circus performer, to become comatose- possibly permanently. She did not openly take blame for the accident- though it’s implied she knew it was her fault- and dealt with the loss by brushing it off, saying that Bat had become a star in the sky following the accident that made him as good as dead. Bat’s brother Acro, grieving and furious, could not accept this, and concocted a plan to take vengeance on Regina which ultimately failed.
In the same way, Phoenix, having saved Edgeworth and uprooted his entire sense of justice and morality, was indirectly responsible for him faking his death and heading to Europe. Phoenix refused to acknowledge what had happened and pretended as though Edgeworth didn’t exist- refusing to hear or say his name, trying to avoid thinking about him. Edgeworth’s sister, Franziska, was furious and would do anything to get her brother to return, so she constructed a plan to “avenge” him and force him to come back.
We are obviously meant to make the link between Franziska and Acro. The conversation outside the lodging house where the player learns what exactly happened to Edgeworth, Franziska explains herself, and Phoenix is blamed for Edgeworth’s “death” (“It’s your fault he is gone.”) happens directly before you meet Acro, from whom you learn what happened to Bat, why he is in a wheelchair, and that Acro blames Regina for Bat’s “death”.
The less obvious link, however, is between Phoenix and Regina. Both avoided their feelings of responsibility for the respective “deaths”, both coped by pretending it didn’t happen, and both were accused of being at fault for what happened to the victim, despite never intending any harm.
What does this have to do with Narumitsu? It comes down to the relationship between the characters. Bat is Acro’s brother, Franziska is Edgeworth’s sister. Bat was in love with Regina, and Regina agreed to go out with him before his accident… so what were Edgeworth and Phoenix to each other, again?
The final couple where a case could be made for a parallel is Ellen and Sorin from SoJ’s DLC case. Ellen draws several of her character traits directly from Phoenix- especially his “Feenie” incarnation- and Sorin bears undeniable similarities to Edgeworth. And of course, they end up getting married at the end of the case, with Phoenix and Edgeworth invited to their wedding.
Starting with Ellen- a big crybaby with a plot-relevant necklace and a stubborn, undying loyalty to Sorin, complete with a refusal to acknowledge that he could commit murder. She comes from a less affluent background than Sorin, she is more emotionally intelligent than him, her hair (following her transformation) has the exact same silhouette as Phoenix’s, and I generally get the sense that she was deliberately meant to invoke Feenie vibes as a way to make the player suspect Sorin.
Sorin, on the other hand, is emotionally distant and aloof, expresses affection in roundabout ways, is more intellectual than Ellen and comes from a very wealthy family. His suit is almost the exact same colour as Edgeworth’s, albeit slightly more muted; he wears glasses and a bow-tie, both staples of assorted Edgeworth designs, and he blames himself for the death of a close family member to the point of developing a mental disorder (Edgeworth’s PTSD over earthquakes/elevators vs. Sorin’s memory disorder).
And then of course there’s Phoenix saying “(Honestly, I’d have been so lost without him these past few days.)” against Sorin, just one case later, telling Ellen “Please come home. I’m… lost without you.”
The similarities are more trivial than some of the other examples here, but they still exist- and with the backdrop of the case filled with subtle gay subtext (more on that later), the near-marital banter of Phoenix and Edgeworth, and the loaded conversation about marriage between them, it’s just another piece of fuel for the fire.
Just as a warning- at one point in this section, I will drop no-context DGS2 spoilers concerning certain characters’ relationships. No names will be mentioned, nor any details of the murders/plot development, but the spoiler will be isolated and clearly marked with asterisks.
First, let’s talk about the way Narumitsu comes across in other languages. So far the Trilogy has been released in Japanese (the original text), English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, and also has an unofficial Brazilian Portuguese translation. People speaking all these languages and more ship Narumitsu, as shown in the fandom section; this, of course, requires the text to have a certain amount of variation between languages to achieve the same overall effect in different cultural contexts.
The most important of these is the Japanese, as the original text best preserves the authors’ intention. If I were to go through every single difference between the texts we’d be here forever, so I’ll just mention the most significant and impactful changes.
First is the infamous “partners” line at the end of T&T: here, Edgeworth refers to Phoenix as his “aibou”, and whenever I see Japanese let’s players reach this line they usually react in the same way English-speakers do to “unnecessary feelings”- a long pause, a gasp, disbelieving laughter, or a joke about Narumitsu. The reason for this may be in the ambiguity surrounding the word “aibou” in Japanese. While the word itself literally just means “partner” and isn’t supposed to be used in a romantic setting, some sources claim it can be used in a similar way to the English word- as in a romantic partner. In contrast, the word Edgeworth uses when referring to Franziska as “a good partner” earlier in the case is “patona”, which has a much more professional/businesslike sense. The word choice was almost certainly a deliberate one.
Moving over to Dual Destinies, looking at Edgeworth’s profile while playing as Apollo refers to Edgeworth as Phoenix’s “best friend”; in Japanese, the word used is “osananajimi”. This word is defined as “a friend with whom one shares the special and intimate understanding that comes from having known each other since childhood.” What’s more, the word is used almost exclusively in romance anime and when referring to love interests, enough to make it onto TVtropes as an alternate definition of the “patient childhood love interest”; look up the term, and you’d be very hard pressed to find a platonic example. So for the game to describe Edgeworth as Phoenix’s “osananajimi” adds further depth to their relationship and how it’s perceived by people like Apollo.
Finally, Ace Attorney is not a franchise which is flippant about word choice and honorifics- for example, quite a few plot points revolve around Pearl’s inability to read kanji well and how she misinterprets things, like with Ami’s urn and the “gravely roast” line in T&T. Its own manga contains a list of honorifics and their meaning in the back, despite never actually using any honorifics in the localised text. The final entry in this list is the blank suffix, which Phoenix and Edgeworth use with each other. The manga explains that a lack of honorific means “the speaker has permission to address the person in a very intimate way. Usually, only family, spouses, or very close friends have this kind of permission.” Edgeworth and Phoenix have been using it for each other almost since day one. While they refer to each other more politely in court, their interaction outside of it is almost always without honorifics. This pronounced lack of formality just adds to the sense of closeness between them.
Other languages do similar things in terms of formality, especially those with formal and informal “you” pronouns. The one which is most well-known is the pronoun switch in French at the very end of Farewell, my Turnabout, at the Gatewater dinner scene. As Edgeworth- sorry, “Benjamin Hunter”- tries to leave, Phoenix stops him and thanks him for his help- using the informal pronoun “tu” for the first time. Edgeworth reappears and the conversation continues, with Edgeworth also using informal speech. Generally, the formal pronoun “vous” is used in professional and polite situations, while tu is used between friends, family and people who are “equal” to you like classmates or colleagues. While not containing any sort of romantic implication, it’s a very good way to express that they truly became friends again at the end of JfA, and add some weight to a scene that isn’t talked about very often in English.
The Italian version of the games has Edgeworth use the informal pronoun at the end of Turnabout Samurai, in the unnecessary feelings scene, though he presumably sticks to formality in the courtroom. Interestingly, the Korean version of the games supposedly contains another instance of Edgeworth referring to Phoenix with his first name- “Ryuichi”- when talking about them “meeting again” during the unnecessary feelings scene, presumably as he reminisces on his childhood with Phoenix. This, along with when Phoenix explains how Edgeworth saved him in the class trial, seems to be the only instance in any AA game’s translation where either of them refer to the other by first name.
The other thing I wanted to talk about was the likelihood of Capcom and the AA developers ever openly confirming them as being in love. While it does seem that gay characters and pairings are becoming more accepted in media- Danganronpa, for example, has confirmed several of their characters to be LGBT/attracted to characters of the same sex, and the general perception of m/m pairings in media has changed significantly since 2001 (at least in the West- Japan seems to be the same, but obviously I don’t live there and don’t have an insider’s perspective)- the question is whether a major company like Capcom would allow a major asset like Ace Attorney to contain openly gay characters.
Well, the truth is that AA has been straying further and further into the realm of LGBT subtext all the time, on the part of both of the main writers: Adrian Andrews is all but confirmed to have been attracted to Celeste, a minor female character in PLvsAA is attracted to another girl even following the reveal that she’d been cross-dressing as a boy, Lana claimed that Mia was “attracted to” her, Aura was confirmed to have been in love with Metis Cykes and it’s implied that Metis loved her back, Turnabout Storyteller (accidentally) gave us our first canonically trans character in Kisegawa, one of Uendo’s alters- a woman with a male body- and there’s a very easy case to be made that multiple major AA characters were written with queercoding in mind, such as Nahyuta (designed to “transcend gender”), Klavier (writes songs that refer to a “boyfriend” and flirts openly with Apollo), and Maya (gets excited over magazines with “skimpily dressed women” and expresses a desire to propose to Regina Berry), to name a few.
**********DGS2 SPOILERS APPROACHING*******
This is especially obvious in the most recent game in the series, DGS2, where a girl is openly and explicitly attracted to a major female character (treated as no more of a joke than Juniper/Apollo), and two major male characters are treated as partners, joint foster fathers- their respective children consider each other siblings- and have a relationship important enough to completely redefine a major game mechanic.
**********END OF DGS2 SPOILERS**********
In short, Ace Attorney has only gotten closer and closer to openly canonising LGBT relationships. The writers don’t seem to mind LGBT subtext in the slightest, even embracing it in parts. While I feel expecting an on-screen kiss and spoken “I love you”s would be wishful thinking, I wouldn’t be at all shocked for a new Ace Attorney game to heavily imply Phoenix and Edgeworth are together or treat them as a couple- after all, it would hardly feel like it came out of nowhere.
Speaking of gay subtext, there are definitely some metaphors to be brought out of the games and the anime, which only ever seem to feature in the episodes where Phoenix and Edgeworth are having important, touching, and undeniably romantic moments. The two major ones I’ll talk about here are Turnabout Melody and Turnabout Time Traveller. (Of course, it’d be easy to write all this off as coincidence, if only there wasn’t so damn much of it.)
Starting with Turnabout Melody, let’s talk about the Rainbow Samurai and the radio as metaphorical devices for sexuality. Phoenix loves watching the Rainbow Samurai, but Larry much prefers to listen to the girl on the radio. Eventually, Phoenix grows to like the radio as well, in part since it helped him feel close to Edgeworth, but doesn’t lose his love for the Samurai series either. Edgeworth, on the other hand, clearly would like to watch the Rainbow Samurai, but cannot due to the strictness of the von Karma household. And in the end, it’s the Samurai series which causes Phoenix to be able to reach Edgeworth over the radio in the first place. It’s extraordinarily easy to make the case that liking the Rainbow Samurai is a metaphor for being gay, given both Larry’s distaste for it and that, from what we see, the show is literally about a group of supermen in spandex wearing the colours of the rainbow as rainbow-coloured explosions go off behind them.
The other major bits of subtext are in Turnabout Time Traveller. I’ve already talked about how this case all but confirmed Edgeworth was gay, provided a surprising Narumitsu mirror in Ellen and Sorin, and is the source of some of the most high quality married-couple bickering in the whole series. However, this case also gives us a fairly in-your-face reference to a gay couple: the two bulls on the airship, openly described as a (romantic) “couple” in Japanese. They are part of the plot, wherein a wooden bull and a cow were supposed to be at the wedding reception to symbolise both the husband and wife, but due to a case-related mix-up two bulls ended up at the reception instead. This wouldn’t be so significant on its own… if Sprocket Aviation’s logo didn’t literally contain the gay pride flag. Granted, the version used is the old 7-stripe variant, but upon comparison they are exactly the same colours. It’s uncanny. Add this to the fact that underneath this logo and this couple of bulls Phoenix and Edgeworth have an incredibly charged conversation about getting married, and a very interesting picture indeed begins to surface.
Suffice it to say that both text and subtext agree that Narumitsu is the most likely ship to become canon, that it is entirely possible the AA devs would accept a gay couple becoming canon given the track record of the rest of the franchise, that Phoenix and Edgeworth fit the romantic standards set by pre-existing couples in the series, and that yes, they absolutely could be canon someday.
One more particularly notable thing about Phoenix/Edgeworth (which other m/m couples have been sunk by before) is that there is not a single piece of media, interview, meta or dialogue that refers to or suggests them as a “brotherly” relationship. And it’s not like AA stays away from found family either: Maya refers to herself as Phoenix’s sister, Franziska refers to Edgeworth as her brother, Apollo is treated as Phoenix’s kid by several characters (often to his irritation), and it’s an overall staple of the franchise- it would be overwhelmingly easy for them to claim a fraternal relationship between Phoenix and Edgeworth, but they never have. There’s never so much as a joking exchange where they call each other “bro”. Their bond is obviously not brotherly, but still one of unconditional and deep trust, tireless devotion, and the sort of intense rivalry that makes you two halves of a whole- it’s only sensible that a romantic connection could easily take a place alongside these.
Section 5D: The Flirtation Compilation
i) “It Makes Sense in Context”… And Sometimes it Doesn’t
What’s a good old-fashioned courtroom rivalry without a deluge of lines that sound incredibly gay out of context?
A lot of this is just stuff I was hesitant to point out in earlier sections since they rely on pretty subjective interpretations, but I couldn’t bear to leave it out. When it comes down to it… these two flirt a LOT. Even in the middle of murder trials, apparently. This shifts from an atmosphere of general romantic tension in JfA to more of an old-married-couple’s bickering in DD and SoJ, but it undeniably exists- especially in later games, where it seems the localisation team has caught wind of Narumitsu’s popularity and started inserting random innuendo in their dialogue, either just for kicks, as fanservice, or as a subtle approval of the ship.
The first game features the fan-favourite line “Thanks to you I am saddled with… unnecessary feelings,” which, while not romantic in context, looks awfully like a stunted love confession on its own. Edgeworth also confidently reassures Phoenix “Nice try, but I’m not that hard up… not yet,” when Nick offers to defend him.
Farewell, my Turnabout is where this kicks off properly. From Edgeworth wistfully remarking that he “can’t believe anyone would reach for straws like this- but it is you…” and claiming that his “wastefulness is such a familiar feeling that it’s almost… comforting”, to Phoenix thinking to himself, “(I feel as though words aren’t enough here. I wonder if there’s anything I can give him to express how I feel…?)” before handing him a whip, which is insanely suggestive out of context, this case apparently can’t help but have them flirt at every available opportunity. Presenting a wrong option in court can also lead to Edgeworth, out of nowhere, recommending that “you should be stripped naked and run about for making a mockery of this court!” There’s also a completely inexplicable bit of dialogue before a cross-examination, wherein Phoenix, asked by Edgeworth if he’s “ready to give in yet”, confidently tells Edgeworth that he’ll “find the hole in your argument somehow”. Edgeworth smirks and responds that “you can press as hard as you’d like. Just hurry up with your usual pointless questions.” Phoenix ends this exchange by literally growling at him. I’m really not one to look too deeply at this sort of exchange but… for God’s sake. Get a room.
T&T doesn’t contain any instances of the two going head-to-head in court, so we are spared from the charged banter of JfA, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely out of the woods. Edgeworth tells Phoenix “You’re a defence attorney. I’m a prosecutor. It wouldn’t be right for us to discuss things so… intimately,” in the garden, which looks on its own like Nick’s just asked a personal or painful question, or like Edgeworth’s turning him down for a date. Nope, this is his stock reaction to irrelevant evidence. You could show him the latest issue of “Oh! Cult!” and he’d start going on about it “not being right” for them to talk intimately. There’s also the line where Phoenix brings up Franziska and Edgeworth recommends that Phoenix “let her have her way,” because “it would make a great anecdote about my trip.” Ah, yes… watching your best friend get whipped. Truly, the finest conversation starter for a nice evening dinner.
This gets taken up to eleven in DD and SoJ. Turnabout for Tomorrow’s trial kicks off with Phoenix thinking about the “immense tension between us”, and contains a lengthy argument about which of the two of them has a better aesthetic sense; Nick also internally acts outraged that Edgeworth would lecture him on “matters of the heart”, and Edgeworth admits that “nothing surprises me anymore” when it comes to Phoenix. There are also a few instances of Phoenix complaining about “getting the hmph treatment” and “getting the *sigh* treatment”, which is so insufferably domestic they might as well be arguing over who has to do the dishes. Then, of course, there is the instance that Phoenix fails to pull off a bluff, and Edgeworth smugly tells him that “your credibility phoned just now and told me to tell you to ‘put a sock in it’.” Phoenix, looking defeated, says “Y-yes, Daddy…” There is absolutely no reason for Nick to call Edgeworth “Daddy” here. The trial doesn’t concern any fathers except Phoenix. It’s not a continuation of some previous joke. Phoenix just straight-up calls Edgeworth ‘Daddy’ in the middle of a murder trial with absolutely NO context, and then it’s never brought up again. Even Fulbright points out that the way they argue has made him understand “what they mean by ‘close enough to argue’” when the two start quarrelling over Edgeworth cutting Phoenix off mid-point.
Turnabout Revolution and Time Traveller somehow get even more intense on the married couple bickering. Their joint investigation segment has Edgeworth tease Phoenix about his brain-to-mouth filter “shutting off the moment you step out of the courtroom”, as well as Phoenix jokingly offering Inga’s black hairspray to Edgeworth so he can dye it.
Things really start to get ridiculous once they’re back in the courtroom in Turnabout Time Traveller, though: on separate occasions both Phoenix and Edgeworth complain about the other being “inflexible” (“you are the last person who should be calling anybody inflexible!” “(As inflexible as ever, I see.)”, which is obviously referring to the personality trait in context, but looks like something else entirely on its own. Edgeworth quite confidently tells Phoenix that his “smooth talk” won’t work on him, and jokes that he’s “gotten rusty since our last outing,” as if they’re out on a date and not, you know, trying a high-profile murder case. He even makes taunting remarks about Phoenix “sweating buckets like a rookie, even after all these years,” and how “maybe the promise of seeing that miserable look on his face… is what brought me back to court,” since it’s “made all my stress and woes as chief prosecutor just melt away.” Phoenix grumpily tells Maya that he’ll “give him something to stress over before we’re through today”. He gets his fair share of ribbing in later, between smugly telling Edgeworth about how he “used that logic ability you love so much” and annoying the hell out of Edgeworth by using “the power of love” as an argument in court.
The most memorable argument is, of course, the one about flowers. Edgeworth asserts that all flowers are the same, and Phoenix tells him to let it go- and that he clearly doesn’t know much about flowers, since “it’s not like you have anyone you’d actually give any to”. This could just be interpreted as Edgeworth not having a significant other he would give flowers to, but the inclusion of the word “actually” opens up the possibility that Phoenix is just grumpy because Edgeworth never gives him flowers. Even running with the first interpretation, Phoenix’s following line about how “you should study up on them, just in case the opportunity presents itself” can easily be read as Phoenix testing the waters for the possibility of offering such an opportunity himself. The atmosphere as a whole does a very good job of pushing the “old married couple” dynamic.
For a PG series that mostly stays away from romantic entanglement and ship-teasing, Ace Attorney sure likes to stick a load of innuendo and pointless mid-trial flirting between Phoenix & Edgeworth. I rest my case.
ii) The Name-Whisper Count
Phoenix once reacted with shock to Gumshoe saying he “can’t stop thinking about” Jean Armstrong, immediately assuming a romantic interest before Gumshoe shoots the possibility down. Quite hypocritical, seeing as he himself apparently can’t stop thinking about Edgeworth.
In other words, I ranked all of the AA cases where both of them feature according to how many times Phoenix or Edgeworth dramatically said, whispered, thought, or shouted each other’s names.
This isn’t just “every time Phoenix and Edgeworth say each other’s names”, either; I may be grasping here, but I’m not that desperate. The criteria for the count includes every instance of their name isolated as a sentence, (“Edgeworth.” and “Edgeworth!”), every instance of their name followed or surrounded by ellipses, (“Wright…” or “…Wright…”), and every instance of their name when the sentence is made entirely of the name being repeated, (i.e. “Wright, Wright, Wright.” gains 3 points.)
The data comes out of Slyzer’s YouTube playthroughs, as they cover all “press” segments and investigation options- of course, playing on my own would enable me to spam an infinite loop of name-whispers and I’m trying to do this fairly.
Finally, it’s true that some of this data comes down to the length of the cases in question, but I found a much stronger correlation between how many times they tenderly say each other’s names and how important the case is to their overall journey/how much it focuses on the two of them.
Turnabout Time Traveller and Turnabout Sisters draw for last place, both with only 2 instances of Phoenix and Edgeworth saying each other’s names dramatically, followed shortly by both Turnabout Revolution and Turnabout Samurai, with just 3 instances in both.
From this we jump quite drastically to Turnabout for Tomorrow, where the two of them gain a total of 15 name-whispers; this is followed by Bridge to the Turnabout and Rise from the Ashes with 17 each.
Turnabout Goodbyes comes in second place, with its 23 name-whispers; but by far the case with the most incidences of Phoenix and Edgeworth treating each other’s names as a whole damn sentence is Farewell, my Turnabout, with an unbelievable 44 times- plus a bonus 4 mentions of “that man”, which is a speech made directly to Phoenix’s face and yet still manages to capture the sense of intense yearning™ from the That Man speeches in the AAI games.
That clocks up to a total of 126 times in only nine cases that the two of them have used each other’s names as a whole sentence. On its own, this does seem totally irrelevant, but it’s important to see this in the wider context of the tension between them. I can’t place exactly what gives off the energy of romantic tension between them, but I believe the fact that such a dialogue-based game has two of the main characters frequently whisper each other’s names definitely contributes to it.
As I mentioned earlier, this part is just a way to wrap up all of the loose ends from the games which were less than objective/rely on one already having the impression of a romantic relationship between them. I’ve gone through everything between them in the games, the anime, the extended canon; I’ve analysed what happened and what continues to happen behind the scenes to make the two of them this way; and I’ve looked into how someone like me, who ships Narumitsu, interprets the games and its themes, features and plot progression. And this still isn’t everything out there supporting Narumitsu! I’m entirely sure there must be other sneaky lines in interviews and translated game variants, more analysis to be made on things like subtext and canon couple parallels, a more accurate look at the possibility Capcom might make them canon from the perspective of someone who actually knows what Japanese society is like- but this is all I can offer for now.
I set out on this essay to prove that Narumitsu actually does have an incredible and undeniable canon basis; I feel I’ve more than made my point. This isn’t the end, either. As we approach the 20th anniversary of AA, and by extension the 20th anniversary of Phoenix/Edgeworth, I have no doubt we’ll see at least some new content between them- even if it’s just a piece of official art where they’re hanging out together with the rest of their family, or a short story where they joke about their past together. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Ace Attorney’s world is not one where romance is the main focus. When it comes down to it, the game would clearly much rather focus on elaborate murders, complex family drama, and the power of friendship/found family. And yet Narumitsu is, without question, the most likely ship to become canon among the main cast.
The games give us a dizzying canon basis: two childhood friends who are separated by tragedy, yet refuse to forget each other, ultimately leading to Phoenix changing the course of his life to ensure Edgeworth is alright, and saving him from the nightmare that he’s been living in for 15 years; after a year of heartbreak where Edgeworth comes to terms with how he’s been changed by Phoenix, they reunite and establish both a friendly rivalry and an absolute, unconditional trust in each other, which eventually becomes an unstoppable partnership; Edgeworth continues to hold Phoenix in incredibly high esteem, and, when Phoenix is disbarred, sticks by him and remains a constant ally. They spend more time together than ever before; Phoenix frequently travels abroad with him and Edgeworth grows close to Phoenix’s adopted daughter, eventually doing everything within his power to get Phoenix’s badge back and let him stand in court again. Their partnership and rivalry is still an integral part of their relationship, and their deep sense of mutual affection and trust continues until today. They are lifelong friends, one-true-rivals, mutual admirers, unconditional allies, and, above all, partners- but also something more, a sense of unusual intimacy and a mysterious tension hanging over them; something that hasn’t quite come to fruition on screen yet, a thinly-veiled romance that undeniably exists and will have to be confronted someday.
The anime did nothing but encourage us to read their relationship as containing potential for romance- from the keychains, to the openings, to the entirety of Turnabout Melody, it adds fuel wherever it can and shows that Capcom has absolutely no interest in shooting down Narumitsu as things currently stand.
Ace Attorney media like the manga, movie, and musicals do everything but tell us they’re in love. Introducing a love interest who is more or less a female Edgeworth, allowing stories about Phoenix and Edgeworth sharing umbrellas and talking about love, the sheer intensity between them in the movie; despite how easy it would be to veto these things, Capcom allows it.
In fact, Capcom themselves don’t stop at subtext, but go right ahead with things like Valentine’s Day posts stating that they love each other, actual honest-to-god engagement rings, and the creators making in-universe jokes about Maya shipping Narumitsu. There is significant reason to believe that certain staff went out with the express intention of making Phoenix/Edgeworth an appealing ship. Takumi himself openly admits to trying to encourage a Narumitsu audience with certain scenes.
They have explicitly coded Edgeworth as gay, built their relationship off every romantic trope in the book, slowly ramped up towards canon LGBT characters and relationships with every passing game, added innuendo between them wherever they could, and have a fanbase full of people who would quickly embrace the canonisation of a relationship between Phoenix and Edgeworth- there is only one conclusion.
Phoenix/Edgeworth has literally everything going for it.
It is the most logical conclusion to both characters’ arcs, to the point that I feel the series would be somewhat incomplete without confirming their relationship. Honestly, it would be nothing but satisfying to see the two as husbands, as father figures to the newer generation of attorneys- finally tying together both halves of the found family tree- as a power couple who are legends in the legal world, as soulmates who complete each other: perfect opposites and two halves of a whole who are bound by fate (or golden chains) and, most importantly, there is no doubt they would be happy together. For Phoenix to be with Edgeworth, someone who would do anything for him, would never turn his back on him, and who he trusts with everything he has- and on the other end, for Edgeworth to be with Phoenix, someone who knows what he’s thinking and understands his history without any need for explanation, who he can be emotionally open with, who cares deeply about his wellbeing and loves him unconditionally- it would be ideal for both of them. They mean the world to each other- their relationship is one of wholehearted, unconditional and absolute love.
(Narumitsu means a lot to me as well, honestly. It’s been my favourite ship since I was 12, and the first thing I can ever actually remember shipping in earnest- but somehow it’s impossible to get tired of. Having the evidence lain out here, I can say with certainty that my feelings are unlikely to ever change, no matter what happens.)
In the end, they’re just a pair of fictional lawyers in a niche video game. Who can say whether or not Capcom will choose to explicitly establish a romance between them? I can’t even claim to have covered all the Narumitsu evidence that exists- because trust me, there is a LOT of it. I guarantee that by the time this is published I’ll already be kicking myself over something I missed. But until then, I can say with absolute certainty that if any ship in AA will be canon, it’s Narumitsu. All we need to do is wait and see.
That ends this essay, and with it my contribution to Narumitsu Week this year!
I hope you guys have enjoyed reading this! Honestly, I mostly just wanted to put all the evidence in perspective so I could go back and use this as a reference, but hopefully you guys have found it entertaining too.
Kudos is always greatly appreciated, and if you think there's something I missed, something more to talk about, or just want to chat, leave a comment or come talk with me on the Narumitsu Discord.
Enjoy the rest of Narumitsu Week!!