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Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2 thoughts

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You can tell this is Takumi’s series after all, because it felt like I was playing the original trilogy. There’s something comfortable about the game and the characterization that is reminiscent of the first three games, and the buildup from the lackluster first game paid off here in a very well structured and 王道 Gyakuten Saiban game. Compared to the craziness of Gyakuten Saiban 6 the cases are relatively modest and the final reveals are quite predictable, but the latter is clearly intended due to how well the games laid out clues and foreshadowing.

Entire post is spoilers since it’s impossible to talk about a sequel without spoilers.

When Dai Gyakuten Saiban came out, it was a rather unsatisfying product as the trials were not as fun as the main series and the game ended up on a massive cliffhanger. People were mainly mad about the latter, but the dullness of the cases bothered me more as I felt the limits of the entertainment of mysteries devoid of scientific investigation methods. After Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2, I still think that recent entries of the main series still have the more exciting mysteries and trials, but the game better utilizes the limits of science compared to its prequel. The “blindness” that ensues from lack of scientific verification is actually quite refreshing now that I experience it again, I must have been really grumpy when writing thoughts for the previous game. Rather than magical tools like the main series, the “magic tools” in DGS2 are actually Holmes’ odd scientific inventions, which are advanced even for the steampunk-ish London setting. This game, in the background of its main plot, deals with the advancement of science and including scientific methods into investigations — much like how the entire spinoff duology is about opening up to a new era of court and law.

The trials are not as insane as the main series’, but DGS2 has the best laid-out structure of any recent Gyakuten Saiban game. Every case is either relevant to the underlying grand plot at hand, or is related to a case from the first game and shows a more interesting side to what was otherwise a really mundane case. My main beef with Gyakuten Saiban 6, despite enjoying it a whole lot, was its extremely uneven story structure that resulted in cases 1, 3, and 5 being great and 2 and 4 being obvious filler worse than some of the worst cases in the series’ history (my apologies to anyone who enjoyed circuses and magic, because I didn’t). Case 5 in GS6 was also extremely long because it was actually 2 cases where one led into the other, something that could have been split into two and have the first case be case 5 instead of giving us some thing with rakugo and soba. In DGS2, the extremely long last case is actually split into two “cases” in a very logical spot. The build-up, the foreshadowing, and the various plot threads and character arcs come together in a satisfying way that makes it evident that the entire duology was carefully planned from the beginning and the first game ultimately felt worth playing.

With that said, it’s not like any of the reveals or development in DGS2 are new or surprising for the series. That’s why I think it’s extremely 王道, as it feels like an expanded, more fleshed out version of the first Gyakuten Saiban taking place in London in the Meiji era. The major reveals are rather predictable since the game foreshadows them quite clearly, the SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH theme is apparent as usual, and the characters develop as you’d expect. 王道 can be a curse when you are in a long-running series of murder mystery games, but everything feels so good that I don’t even mind if the game pulls what most people would consider an extremely convenient twist (deus ex machina is the correct term, but I’ve grown to dislike that term as it became a tool to dismiss certain developments and situations even in contexts I thought were quite well foreshadowed or executed). In fact I was happy when a certain character [redacted] and extremely glad that the game decided to develop them further. The final case has a particularly interesting parallel with 1-4 in terms of the characters that step up onto the courtroom.

It has been vague spoilers up until this point, but I’ll be heading into real spoiler territory from hereon.

First of all, I’m glad about Asougi being alive. Even though it may seem like an awfully convenient development, with how prominent his character is to Naruhodou’s motivation and how much mystery there is left surrounding him, I really didn’t mind. Him coming back was obviously planned from the beginning, and him being “dead” had proper work done behind it. His job was clearly not over and this reveal was honestly not that hard to see. The friendship turned rivalry between him and Naruhodou is one of my favorite parts about DGS. Gyakuten Saiban tends to have good tension between rivals who were actually childhood friends, but the way the series has their bromance develop into an antagonistic situation and then a friendly rivalry is incredibly good. As for the main prosecutor Van Zieks, he feels like a realization of the prototype version of Edgeworth. In the original draft for Gyakuten Saiban 1, everyone’s favorite cravat-wearing prosecutor was supposed to be a more experienced ossan, and Van Zieks started out like a version of him closer to his original plan. He was portrayed as the typical ruthless prosecutor who looks down on the protagonist in the first game, but here you actually get to talk to him and dig deeper into the events that shaped his character. He ends up being a pretty good character and the player is provided ample opportunity to warm up to him. The part where you inspect his office with him there is the best.

Sherlock Holmes is a fun character as usual, from his sketchy deductions to his penchant for being THE・ご都合主義 character who saves trials when you are stuck. The identity of “”Watson”” was probably one of the more surprising twists in the game. The final 倫理と推理の実験劇場 where Holmes does his deductions with his true 相棒 is quite a hot-blooded moment. The tap dancing is suave.

Susato is lovely and possibly one of my favorite Gyakuten Saiban assistants. She isn’t at the center of some grand mystery, but she is actually trained to be a lawyer’s assistant and retains composure in hopeless situations to match Naruhodou’s overreactions. Her growth is always in the background to Naruhodou’s more conventional protagonist’s journey, but the way it leads to her crossdressing to stand in court and defend her friend in this game’s tutorial case is quite badass.  常に敬語が使うところは凄くいい。頭が切れて男装するまで法廷に立つ度胸が据われて、しかも言葉遣いは上品でなんて最高にかわいい。いやぁ、ブタ的な発言をする時は何故か自動的に日本語に切り替える体質になってる。

Ahem. The girls in Dai GyakuSai are pretty cute. That is all.

The trials are long, though there is only really one case that feels like it can be cut short. You have your usual Gyakuten Saiban dumb witness shenanigans where everyone is too dumb to arrive at very obvious conclusions, and stuff like new evidence popping up due to…a homeless witness stealing a piece of evidence from the crime scene thinking that he could sell it for money. There’s quite a bit of silly stuff that I consider the 醍醐味 of the series as I’m too far deep head-first to evaluate things that a normal user would see as flaws. It’s just very…GyakuSai.

I could tell who will be the last boss of the series the moment I met him in the first game. There is no surprise — you can sense it from just his 雰囲気. Yet the way the game plays out to the point where you face against him is very interesting. The time period and the fragile situation between the two countries that come into play serve as a very important background and motivation, as well as the “dark side of justice.” Various other Gyakuten Saiban games may have explored more interesting circumstances in the courtroom, but the way that the last case puts the final boss in the position of the judge in a confidential trial really throws the characters right into the middle of the dark side of law. This series is also a primitive implementation of the jury system discussed in GS4 and then promptly ignored in GS5 and 6 for flashier court gimmicks, and constantly shows the worst case scenario where the members selected for jury are just civilians who give zero fucks about the intricacies of a trial until something directly interests them.

A common ideology is that to fight the darkness one needs to become a deeper darkness, leading to a society built up on a foundation of lies and crime. This is the villain’s stance, and he did in fact do a good job “cleaning up” criminals who have managed to escape the confines of law. Laws are created and enforced by the very humans who have the means to cheat them, and they will be flawed and have room for evolution as long as they are not enforced by some kind of absolute being. The final trial takes place confidentially, and the gallery is made up solely of people in higher positions. At some points, you even see how easily the villain can get away with just a speech that can convince all these people in power to keep quiet for mutual benefit. Unlike the Japanese court in the main series, the court in London is controlled by the people. It’s an extremely interesting situation to watch, as law is powerless until an even higher power enforces it.

The search for the truth is a process that hurts everyone whose lives stand in the embrace of kind falsities. But, despite all the collateral damage that untangling all the mysteries causes, the series is unwavering in its very “safe” theme of the pursuit of truth.

It does indeed feel incredibly refreshing to unravel all the layers of covered up lies to find the truth, and cling on to the ideal that society doesn’t need a dark side. In the myriad of mystery ADV out there the Gyakuten Saiban franchise stands to be one of the most consistently optimistic and fun, in the regular pleasant meaning and not by my mildly masochistic standards. Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2 carries on this tradition extremely well, presenting character drama and issues that tie up in a satisfying way. The Dai Gyakuten Saiban duology truly felt like an adventure, with an inexperienced protagonist heading on a journey to an unknown land in a new era, meeting a colorful cast of characters, and ending on a reinvigorating sunrise as two friends cross swords and swear to exchange words in court once again. Dai GyakuSai uses its setting to provide a sense of wonder that is kind of difficult to have in a contemporary courtroom setting with adults in professional careers (despite how …unprofessional they sometimes act), especially in a long-running series. Takumi Shu decided that Phoenix Wright’s story ends with the original trilogy and wanted a new start, and Dai GyakuSai is where he truly gets it.

This post hasn’t been very coherent and all I did was talk about scenes I liked with the characters. Considering how I was actually trying when I started this blog many years ago and nowadays I just post whatever comes out of my mind, perhaps I should just use pastebin and twitter. I am too lazy to even add pictures. But the inertia from posting on this blog is too strong and I’m too lazy to write elsewhere. I’ve basically liked this series so much for so long, being level-headed when evaluating requires too much active effort. Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2 may not do anything crazy like Gyakuten Saiban 6, but it does have that “something” from the original Gyakuten Saiban that grabbed such a massive audience.

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Author: awesomecurry

A current engineering failure who likes RPGs and visual novels. Someone take me out of this unemployment...

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