Phoenix Wright (character)
|Ace Attorney character|
Phoenix Wright as he appears in the first three Ace Attorney games
|First game||Gyakuten Saiban
Remade as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
|Created by||Shū Takumi|
|Designed by||Kumiko Suekane (AA1)
Tatsurō Iwamoto (AA4, AA5)
|Voiced by (English)||Ben "Gromin" Judd (AA1-AA4)
Sam Riegel (UMvC3), (AA5)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Shū Takumi (video games)
Takayuki Kondô (Promotional material)
Hiroki Narimiya (PLvAA)
Kōsuke Toriumi (UMvC3)
|Portrayed by||Tomu Ranju (musical)
Hiroki Narimiya (film)
Phoenix Wright, known as Ryūichi Naruhodō (成歩堂 龍一 Naruhodō Ryūichi?) in original Japanese language versions, is a fictional defense attorney in Capcom's Ace Attorney video game series. As of 2008, the series has sold 3 million copies and is Capcom's 11th best-selling series of all time. Phoenix has been featured as the main protagonist in the first three games of the series, appeared as a playable character in the fourth and appears as the main protagonist again for the fifth game. The character has also appeared in a manga adaptation of the series, a Japanese series of musicals, and crossover video games such as Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Conception and creation
The idea of a lawyer was conceived when director Shū Takumi was searching for ideas for a game in which the player could discover lies or contradictions in statements.
Phoenix Wright's Japanese given name, Ryūichi, alludes to the mythical dragon with its use of ryu (竜?). His Japanese surname, Naruhodō, references the Japanese expression naruhodo (成る程?), which equates to the English "I see". This phrase is often used in Japan to express attentiveness to the subject at hand. Shū Takumi chose the phrase to highlight Wright's inexperience; even though his name reads "I see", he may not in fact understand what is happening, something which may also be true of people using the phrase. It is also commonly used in mystery novels when investigating, a core gameplay concept of the series.
In English versions, Wright's name was localized to present a similar meaning to English-speaking audiences. His first name is also a mythical reference: to the phoenix, known for "rising from the ashes", an allusion to his almost impossible comebacks, or "turnabouts", during trials. In fact, the fifth case in the American version of the first game is titled, "Rise from the Ashes." His surname is a pun, allowing for wordplay (such as "Right, Wright?"). Early brainstorming suggestions for Phoenix's name included "Cole" and "Wilton", but "Phoenix" was chosen as a name that would "stand out". The nickname "Nick" was chosen based on its believability and similarity to the sound of "Phoenix".
Characteristics and backstory
At the time of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix is a rookie defense attorney, who usually accepts murder cases, attempting to exonerate his clients when there is seemingly incontrovertible evidence and testimony against them. Described as "goofy and single-minded", he often encounters unusual situations. Rather than simply arguing his case, Phoenix uses detective skills to gather relevant evidence and investigate the crime scene.
When he was in grade school, he was accused of stealing Miles Edgeworth's lunch money, and since he was in a small school, there was a class trial. During the trial, Larry Butz and Miles Edgeworth stood up for Wright, saying the teacher and students had no evidence of Wright's guilt. The class trial was dismissed and the three students became best friends until Edgeworth moved away after the murder of his father. It was later revealed that Larry Butz stole Edgeworth's $38 when Butz offered Edgeworth an envelope containing $38. While Wright was surprised, Edgeworth gave the appearance as if he knew all along Butz stole his money.
When he was in Ivy University, he found himself a murder suspect in which he was successfully defended by a defense attorney named Mia Fey. After growing up, Phoenix became a defense attorney himself under Mia's law firm. After Mia was murdered, Phoenix takes over the law firm, naming it Wright and co., and also takes Mia's little sister, a spirit medium named Maya, under his wing. As the years passed, Phoenix took on several cases to prove the innocence of those wrongly accused of murder. However, in one case, he inadvertently presented forged evidence to the court and was forced to turn in his badge. Adopting a young girl named Trucy Enigmar as his daughter, Phoenix set up the Wright Anything Talent Agency, hiring the talents of a rookie defense attorney named Apollo Justice after he successfully defends him in court. Phoenix continued to work behind the scenes, helping to implement a jury system to the fictional justice system.
After clearing his name, he retook the bar exam. In the fifth main game of the series, Dual Destinies, Phoenix regains his badge, and is once again a defense attorney. He has also retained Apollo Justice as a protegé, and takes newcomer Athena Cykes under his wing as the newest junior attorney for the Wright Anything Agency.
Ace Attorney video games
In the first game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix must contend with the loss of his mentor and fellow defense attorney Mia Fey. Throughout the game, Phoenix is hired to defend various people of murder, including his friend Larry Butz. The game culminates with Phoenix defending rival prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, and the conviction for murder of Robert Hammond, an old defense attorney.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix defends Maya Fey, the younger sister of his former mentor, and faces the prosecutor and daughter of Manfred von Karma, 18-year-old legal prodigy Franziska. In the game's climax, Maya is kidnapped by a hitman, forcing Phoenix to make the true killer admit his guilt. In the course of the game, Phoenix receives a magic Magatama that is able to reveal whether a person is hiding a secret in their mind.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, it is revealed that Phoenix was framed for the murder of his girlfriend's ex-lover while in college. He was defended by Mia Fey, who hadn't taken a case since her first one against Edgeworth the year before. Mia exposes the true murderer; Phoenix's girlfriend, Dahlia, who is later executed. Phoenix must also contend with the mysterious Godot, a prosecutor who appears to harbor a grudge towards him.
During a case seven years prior to the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, two months after Trials and Tribulations, he was forced to forfeit his attorney's badge after presenting evidence that, unbeknownst to him, was forged. Two weeks later, he adopted Trucy Enigmar after her father, his client Zak Enigmar, became a fugitive. Trucy then renames his office the "Wright Talent Agency", becoming its CEO and one half of the represented talent, with Phoenix being the other half. At the time Apollo Justice takes place, he works as a pianist and plays poker at the Borscht Bowl Club. After being accused of murder himself and being successfully defended by rookie defense attorney Apollo Justice, he hires Apollo, reopening his law office as the "Wright Anything Agency". Wright uses the "MASON System" computer program to assist the player in piecing together the evidence from both past and present for the game's final case, where the circumstances regarding the day he was disbarred are fully explained.
Wright returns as the main protagonist in the fifth mainline installment of the series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies. He works together on cases with both Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes, striving to put the "Dark Age of the Law" to an end once and for all.
Phoenix Wright appears in a Japanese manga adaptation of the series, written by Kenji Kuroda, illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa and published by Kodansha. The series is currently being published in the United States by Kodansha USA. An additional manga, published by Del Rey Manga, was released in the United States.
The developers of the crossover fighting game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, had wanted to include Phoenix along with Franziska von Karma as a character on the roster, but had trouble designing additional moves besides his finger-pointing gesture. Though they had come up with an attack that used his catch-phrase "Igiari!" ("Objection!" in English), with the letters themselves used to attack the opponent, they found that localization would have changed the four-character phrase (in kanji) to a nine-letter word and would have unbalanced the game. Phoenix was also considered for inclusion as a playable fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, appearing alongside Miles Edgeworth as a cameo in She-Hulk's arcade mode ending. He appears as a playable character in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. His fighting style sees him gather evidence on the field which he can use to either attack his opponent or save for a powerful courtroom confrontation.
Within his own series, Phoenix makes a cameo appearance in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, a game starring his longtime rival Miles Edgeworth, along with his assistant Maya Fey and her cousin Pearl. They appear on a boat during the third case of the game. Phoenix and Maya also makes a cameo appearance in Gyakuten Kenji 2. He also stars alongside Professor Layton in the 2012 Nintendo 3DS title, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, developed by Level-5.
Phoenix, along with Franziska von Karma, Mia Fey and Miles Edgeworth, appear as cards in the game SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS.
Phoenix Wright has generally been praised by critics for being a likeable character with a realistic profession. However, the older Phoenix Wright seen in Apollo Justice has been criticized as "aloof and inscrutable", with "his character's development...lost along the wayside." GameDaily called him the eighth greatest Capcom character, citing how he perseveres in the face of hardships. They also named him 20th on their "Top 25 Gaming Hunks." They included his hairstyle in the list of "weirdest hairstyles in gaming." Nintendo Power listed Phoenix as their 10th favourite hero, stating that while lawyers get a bad rap, Phoenix is one who defends the innocent. In 2009, GameSpot chose him as one of the characters to compete in their poll for the title of "All Time Greatest Game Hero". His appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was also positively received, with Metro GameCentral describing him as "the star of the show." In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 55th best hero in video games while UGO Networks ranked him as the 57th best hero in entertainment in 2010.
A Japanese musical based on the series, staged by the all-female troupe, Takarazuka Revue, cast actor Tomu Ranju as Phoenix Wright, using the English name rather than the Japanese "Ryūichi Naruhodō". A sequel, Gyakuten Saiban 2 - Truth Resurrected, Again, was produced after the first musical sold out on the first day.
Phoenix Wright's signature mannerisms, such as finger-pointing and cries of "Objection!", have become well-known, and were parodied in episodes of anime such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, and Maria Holic.
Additionally, Battler Ushiromiya in the visual novel "Umineko no Naku Koro ni" often extends a pointed finger when making accusations or pointing out contradictions, similar to how Phoenix does when he calls out objections.
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