Sunday, September 13, 2009

King of Prosecutors: What Makes Edgeworth Unique

It could be said that Miles Edgeworth, the series’ first main prosecutor and Phoenix Wright’s closest friend, is a pretty popular character, well-loved for his suave demeanor and witty performances in court. At the very least, he was the prosecutor chosen to star in Capcom’s spin-off game, Gyakuten Kenji, as opposed to someone else. However, there are arguably at least a few other qualities that set him apart from the other three main prosecutors—Franziska von Karma, Godot and Klavier Gavin—and my interest in Edgeworth as a character has led me to write about these.

Perhaps most striking about Edgeworth is that he is the only prosecutor who does not seek the protagonist out for his own personal reasons. Just the opposite, Phoenix is the one seeking Edgeworth out so he can confront him about the “demon prosecutor” rumors. This stands in stark contrast to the other three, who (at least initially) go up against the protagonist with their own personal vendettas: Franziska wants to beat Phoenix as “revenge” against Edgeworth; Godot wishes to do the same out of contempt for Phoenix’s character and the fact that he blames Phoenix for Mia’s death; even Klavier first faces Apollo with the express intent of appraising the skill of “the little boy who bested [his] brother.” As further proof that he sought out Apollo, Klavier states that he had to “cancel a show or two” to be there, but that “[he] wouldn’t miss this day in court for the world.”

A characteristic of Edgeworth which is just as noticeable is that, at least compared to the other three, he treats his opponent rather humanely and respectfully. It is true that he fairly frequently belittles Phoenix, often with a condescending smile, but it is just as true that Phoenix often does and says things in court that are deserving of at least some degree of scorn. Franziska and Godot, meanwhile, are nowhere in the same universe as common civility. Franziska mercilessly whips Phoenix and childishly calls him a fool countless times, while Godot does not even deign to get Phoenix’s name right, insults him at almost every opportunity, and even throws his mug full of scalding hot coffee at him on occasion. Though Klavier is definitely more civil than the other two, even he is somewhat contemptuous, often mocking Apollo without provocation and calling him “Herr Forehead.” (On a related note, another indication of Klavier’s slightly scarred character is that he laughs when he informs Wocky Kitaki that he could die soon. Granted, Wocky is the son of gangsters, reasonably suspected of murder and a punk to boot, but still.)

One last quality that distinguishes Edgeworth is that he has no real gimmick (unless you want to count his frilly cravat and manner of dress in general), no quirk to associate with him, no memorable theme song. Franziska, though she has no theme either, definitely has her whip, which has got to be the definition of the words “gimmick” and “quirk.” Godot, too, will forever be remembered for his iconic coffee mug (and the plethora of questionable coffee metaphors that came with it) almost as much as for his catchy theme. Klavier more than holds his end up too, with his rock-star side job and persona, complete with a rockin’ theme. With such flamboyance and swagger coming from the other three, Edgeworth looks pretty plain in comparison, but his character shines all the more because he relies on no gimmick to be compelling.

In closing, the reader may be wondering why I bothered writing this, since I don’t really have anything new to say. I must admit this essay was born primarily out of my love for Edgeworth as a character. He is, in fact, my favorite character in the entire series, and as such I have a tendency to compare him with the others, particularly the main prosecutors. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Edgeworth was quite different from the prosecutors who followed him, so I laid out the differences in writing simply because they interested me. You may not have found anything I wrote of interest, but I hope you did.


  1. Well, I think that perhaps the problem is that they created the perfect rival character to Pheonix in the first game, and that in both having already hit upon the best complement to Pheonix and not wanting to be repetitve, they resorted to gimmicks to prevent later prosecuters from being boring Edgeworth clones.

    I come from more of an anime-and-manga background than from a videogaming background like you probably do, so I noticed that
    a. the Courtroom sections of the game do not just resemble animanga in general, but resemble popular shounen series such as Naruto and Yugioh, with the use of streaked backgrounds for dramatic moments, extreme poses and facial expressions when characters are in the heat of "battle", lots of shouting, and the whole thing bounces back and forth like two shounen characters playing XTREME CHESS... except that in Ace Attorney, they're debating instead of calling out their attacks or bragging about their special techniques. Which is how I noticed B.
    b. Edgeworth's personality, background, and character development was very much along the lines of the rival to the protagonist in a shounen series: morally amigious, but good deep inside or has a potential for good; once had the same high ideals as the protagonist but had those ideals warped by circumstances beyond his control; the protagonist is moved to battle with the rival because he is worried about the rival and/or wants to save the rival; is serious, stoic-seeming, and loner in contrast to the more friendly, emotional, and social protagonist; undergoes a character arc exploring his guilt and redeption; etc. While a shounen protagonist (in Ace Attorney's case, Pheonix) may have many opponents, they tend to have only one true "rival" who is most important and fits many of the above descritions. (Also, opponents who are not true rivals in shounen animanga in general tend to be based much more on gimmics than rivals. )

    If Ace Attorney is half-shounen anime, and Pheonix already has the perfect rival, than all later prosecutors must simply be opponents (and thus be less compelling, and thus be more gimmicky), otherwise Edgeworth's prominence in Pheonix's "opponent roster" will be cheapened and the other prosecutors will end up too similar to Edgeworth for audiences -- the second argument aplies even once the series is given a new protagonist and thus an opportunity to have his own rival.

    I have no idea where my argument has gone with this, but, um, I'm sorry for spamming your blog with my stupid stupid imput.

  2. On the contrary, I think your comments were enlightening. You've definitely got a point with the shounen comparison (I'm at least somewhat familiar with such manga, so I agree that the games do have some of its qualities). Thanks very much for reading and responding!

  3. That's it. We need more prosecutors like Edgeworth(but not Edgeworth clones). The other prosecutors, without their gimmicks, have no such `original personality' (including Payne).

    (I hope this is understandable...)

  4. Very well put! He is my favourite character in the series, and I found myself nodding along with almost all the points you made.