Man, Pinterest just ticked me off. It won't accept non-alphanumeric characters for board names. I wanted to call the 'random pretty drawings' one 色々のイロ and it wouldn't let me. The literal meaning of [色], iro, is "color"; the second whatzit in [色々] is a "repeat last kanji" mark, and iroiro means "various and sundry"; and the katakana [イロ], also iro, is short for irosutoreeshon, or "illustration", used often when talking about artbooks. I could transliterate it to "iroiro no IRO", but then it just looks stupid, and it loses a couple layers of pun. Spoilsports.

Continuing on the theme of horrendous puns, and my obsession with puzzle games, I'd like to take a moment to note how much glee Ace Attorney things give me every time I play them, and I realize the translation doesn't blow. It's almost like they hired someone competent to do this. There are other good localization groups out there -- Working Designs is often cited here, the localization/publishing team that brought out Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete for PSX, along with its successor company Gaijinworks, responsible for releasing Alundra and the Arc The Lad series to Playstation Network. Occasionally first-party publishers manage it with their own games, and by this I mostly mean not frigging Sony, whose Playstation RPG localizations were notorious for being context-free, typo-ridden messes. Wild Arms and Wild Arms 2 will make your head hurt, I promise.

Almost every name in Ace Attorney is meaningful somehow. Normally, I would expect most of that to be lost in localization -- technically, Japanese names can be smashed together out of any ol' kanji you care to use, and pronounced whatever way you tell the reader to read it. Even normal names use (mostly) the same kanji as everyday words. All of them have a meaning, although in many cases it's used so infrequently as a word that most people wouldn't think of it first when hearing the name. The English version manages to get these right very nearly every time. Other languages are spottier. I only know some of the major names in French; I know none of them in German, and so far as I know, the Spanish and Italian versions keep the English names.

Phoenix Wright's original name was 成歩堂 龍一, Naruhodou Ryuuichi. Most fan sites mention that his surname is a play on naruhodo, with a short vowel at the end, and almost all of them translate this as "I see", which is not quite accurate. There are a bajillion ways to make the 'aha, yeah, I got it' noise in Japanese, almost all of which are slightly but importantly different in meaning. (Virtually none of them have any relation to the actual act of eyeballing something -- the metaphor is handled differently in Japanese.) The naru of naruhodo is a verb that means to become, or to change into, and hodo is a formula or a plan or a pattern. It doesn't just mean, "uh-huh, I see," it specifically means, "oh! I see how that works!" or "I see how that fits together!" It references Phoenix's little ting! lightbulb moments in court, right before he smashes someone's testimony to bits.

His given name, Ryuuichi, is a reasonably common boy's name, although with several different spellings. The specific one used for him involves the character for "dragon". (The suffix is just the number one, and it's from somewhere back in the mists of time when this was a name for firstborn sons. There's no significance to that part of it in the games, so far as I know.) Dragons, of course, are heroic and magical and all that in Asian mythology, so what better to name your hero? The "Phoenix" thing, incidentally, isn't completely out of the blue -- Chinese mythology, which the Japanese imported wholesale, has a sort of animal god associated with each of the four compass points. One of them, Seiryuu, is a blue dragon, and another one, Suzaku, is known as the Vermilion (i.e., flaming) Bird or the King of Birds. So far as I know, it lacks the 'rising from its own ashes' aspect of the Greek phoenix, but matches up respectably well in most other ways. The characters who call him "Nick" in English call him "Ryu" or "Ryu-chan" in Japanese.

Along with that, Furio Tigre in Trials And Tribulations, whose entire gimmick was masquerading as Phoenix, takes his name from Byakko, the tiger who guards another one of the compass points. His given name in Japanese was 虎ノ助, Toranosuke. The tora piece is 'tiger', and the ending -suke is a common one on boys names. (Compare the protagonists of the Parodius games, a penguin named Pentarou, and an octopus named Takosuke. The octopus, incidentally, is not wearing the hakimachi you might expect -- he's got a pair of panties jammed onto his head with a bow in the front where the rising sun would normally be. Parodius is as weird as it sounds, but hilarious.) There's also a reference in the name of Shi-Long Lang in Ace Attorney Investigations; the Long part of his name is the same character for dragon as the Ryu in Ryuuichi, and he serves much the same function in Edgeworth's game as Phoenix normally does for him in court, which is to show up with spiky hair and argue with him incessantly.

Miles Edgeworth's name was originally 御剣 怜侍, Mitsurugi Reiji. You might recognize the name Mitsurugi if you play Soul Calibur, or even a few other things -- it's a surname that reeks of old, honorable, and probably rather stuffy samurai, in the same way that Edgeworth suggests starched collars and inherited money. The character 剣 can be read in quite a number of different ways, but all of them refer to some sort of sword. Reiji is also a perfectly plausible given name, although I've never seen it spelled like that before; it may or may not be a coincidence that that's also how the English word "rage" would be rendered phonetically, as Edgeworth throws some very impressive tantrums in court when he's finally popped a sprocket over something. More pertinently, the first character means 'cleverness' and the second one is 'time' -- "quick-witted" is approximately what they're going for here. His father, Gregory Edgworth, was 御剣 信, Mitsurugi Shin. Shin is not an uncommon given name, although that's not usually how a male would spell it, and the character means "true" in either the sense of a fact that is correct, or in the sense of being trustworthy or faithful.

The entire Fey family was originally 綾里家, the Ayasato-ke or "Ayasato clan". The first character is something to do with cloth -- as is everything else with that particular thing on the left-hand side of it -- and the second one is "village". The suggestion is basically that all of them were born and raised in Kurain and are an integral part of it, as much as it's a part of them. Mia was 千尋, Chihiro, "a thousand questions". Maya was 真宵, Mayoi, which is a legitimate name when spelled like that, but is a homophone for another word that means "lost" or "confused" or "wandering". Pearl is 春美, Harumi, a fairly common name that means "spring beauty". Phoenix and Maya call her Haru-chan in Japanese. Interestingly, Morgan Fey is a reference in English (to the sorceress Morgan le Fey in the Arthurian legends), but so far as I can tell, her Japanese name 綾里 キミ子, Ayasato Kimiko, isn't anything in particular. "Kimiko" there is spelled weirdly, though -- usually it would be all in katakana as キミコ, all in hiragana as きみこ, or in any one of a number of kanji spellings that end in -子, which is a common ending for female names.

Detective Dick Gumshoe's Japanese name is 糸鋸 圭介, Itonokogiri Keisuke. None of my name dictionaries specifically recognize the compound "Itonokogiri" as a name, but each of the characters is used by itself; they mean "thread" and "(wood) saw". Keisuke is a common men's name, even spelled like that. The pieces can be taken to mean "angle" and "concern oneself with, or insert oneself into", which is reasonable enough for a detective. They can also mean "square bit" and "jammed into" -- perhaps into, for example, a round hole. Which is also quite apt for Gumshoe. As a side note, his name in the French games is Dick Tectiv, which may not be quite as graceful as the English, but still works all right, as the French word is still détective.

The von Karmas are all 狩魔, Karuma, which is the same play on "karma" as in English. The two characters mean "hunting" and "sorcery". Franziska is 冥, Mei, a perfectly normal girl's name that happens to mean "darkness", and Manfred is 豪, Gou, another legitimate name that means "great" with the connotation of "overpowering". (The character, if you look at it, is a combination of two others -- the character for "high" or "tall" sitting atop the one for "family" or "house".) Allow me to assure you that they are also creepy as fuck in Japanese, although Franziska eventually starts to subdue the theatrics around Edgeworth and sometimes Phoenix, as she does in the localizations.

The sheer amount of screwballery in these things make me doubt if I could get through one in any reasonable time frame without having played it through in English first. I'm literate, but I'm not that literate.