Promo art for Gyakuten Saiban 5 --

Is it just me, or does the older Phoenix look like he's been taking fashion advice from someone else? A pocket watch and chain is not really something I am seeing Phoenix come up with all on his own. I'm thinking he's more the kind of guy who needed someone else to diplomatically broach the subject of ironing, frankly. Particularly given that even Maya chides him about the state of his office.

I would not be surprised if it turns out to be true, either. There is much snarkery afoot in the Ace Attorney fandom about Big Gay Lawyers; it happens with pretty much any work that runs with the dual themes of competition and friendship, as a lot of Ace Attorney stuff does. It doesn't hurt that Phoenix and Edgeworth are pretty much attached at the childhood, either -- it's a significant part of the setup for the last case of the original game that they were classmates in grade school, and that something Edgeworth did way back when was what sparked the idea of Phoenix becoming a defense attorney in the first place. He was quite put out when he ran into Edgeworth again and discovered that his old friend had become the "Demon Prosecutor", although it turns out that happened for a load of plot reasons and it all ended up okay anyway.

It also deals with a lot of that sheer, bloody-minded, undying loyalty that pops up often in Japanese works. Westerners aren't really used to long emotional declarations of attachment in contexts other than the romantic, particularly between adult men. You can translate it into English, but you can't really localize it into something more culturally common without losing the connotations of Big and Important; since the Big thing and the Important thing are usually also Big and Important to the plot, trying to smooth it over, awkward-American style, is apt to destroy your story. These things also tend to make your English-language players snicker, because apparently we're all still twelve and think it's the height of comedy to insinuate that two people might be attracted to one another. I got my paws on the second game and played it before I managed to find a copy of the first -- Edgeworth is absent for most of the cases, but he's mentioned from time to time, and even I thought Phoenix was suspiciously vehement about shutting people down with DON'T EVER SAY HIS NAME AGAIN WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS. If you didn't know better, you'd figure Edgeworth was the jerk ex-boyfriend who took the dog when he moved out.

Those of you who keep track of such sociological things may be interested to note that, unusually enough for such a mainstream series, there does not seem to be a "better" to know. Edgeworth's half of it, at least, seems to be canonical. Pink suit and froofy taste in tea notwithstanding, he's consistently mystified and sometimes very alarmed when other people (mostly Gumshoe) make the assumption that he's a veteran heartbreaker, who has to constantly step around the enormous piles of women who cast themselves at his feet. He's impervious to any attempt at hitting on him less overt than Wendy Oldbag, and she's not all that far below "earthquakes", "elevators," and "standing trial for a murder I didn't commit, again," on his list of Things I Prefer To Avoid. Beautiful women don't seem to discombobulate him any more than any other human beings do, when he's maneuvered into being social -- Phoenix, on the other hand, can get him stammering pretty quickly, and is the one person he doesn't habitually glare at. And also there was that time that someone asked the series creator about Edgeworth's 'ideal date' in an interview, and Takumi Shuu's answer was "Ryuuichi!" (i.e., Phoenix) and a lot of cackling.

Phoenix's end is a bit murkier. The main argument for it is the sheer amount of time and effort he pours into saving Edgeworth from himself -- although given the amount of fuss Phoenix makes about trying to contact him after not seeing him for the better part of fifteen years, and the magnitude of the disappointment he wrestles with when Edgeworth ignores all his letters, it's a better argument than you might at first think. The third game brings up a college girlfriend, and while he does seem to remember her fondly and still care for her when he meets her again, the ending makes it clear that for plot reasons, nothing is going to come of the meeting, at least not any time soon.

Other than that, Phoenix doesn't have any romantic foil, male or female, at any point in the series, despite being the protagonist. Not even a potential one. A couple of women manage to make him blush, and Maya's nine-year-old cousin is convinced that he and Maya should be together (which makes both of them wince, but they haven't the heart to disabuse her of the notion). Arguably, he was starting a nice little crush on Mia before her death put a damper on things. He seems to be quite alone when you see him in Apollo Justice, aside from Trucy. There's no real mention of what happened to the Feys, but it is heavily implied, if not outright stated, that he's still very much in contact with Edgeworth. That's not really definitive -- there are people I've been talking to for fifteen years, and I haven't dated any of them -- but combined with the lack of other prospects, it's fairly suggestive. I mean, even Gumshoe managed to get a girlfriend.

I also wouldn't hold my breath for any declarations of love any time soon. If Phoenix does have a thing for Miles, he's going to be the last one on the entire planet to notice. I'm including Edgeworth in that, and Edgeworth is the sort of person who has now spent three or four games aggressively refusing to notice when Phoenix's deceased partner is standing next to him in court. Godot stopped dead when that happened, but Edgeworth? Nope! He has good reason to remember Mia, too -- not only was she the victim in the first case he lost, to Phoenix Wright no less, but she was also the defense attorney in the first case he almost lost, before a witness took poison while still on the stand, and the whole thing spiraled into an unmitigated disaster. The first knocked his head completely out of whack, and the second is later refers to as his "worst nightmare in court"; you'd think he'd say something when Mia ostentatiously comes back from the dead to interfere in something else.