Ace Attorney fan animation sparks community debate over a beloved character

Ace Attorney
(Image credit: Capcom, Speedoro)

Last week, YouTuber speedoru posted an animation based on the Ace Attorney games. It quickly reached more than a million views. But not everyone in the Ace Attorney fandom was pleased with its portrayal of some of the game’s characters.

The video runs a little under three minutes, but the contentious part - coming in just after the one minute mark - is brief. The 20 second or so fragment involves Geiru Toneido, a clown lady from the sixth game in the series, Spirit of Justice. In the game, she’s jokingly sexualised – one of her animations involves snapping her suspenders over her jiggling breasts, which later turn out to actually be balloons. Because she’s a clown. Get it? It’s juvenile and a little crude, but for better or for worse, that’s how Ace Attorney is.

Speedoru’s video makes the same joke, but it’s not the idea of a hot clown that has some members of the fandom disappointed. Instead, it’s the fact that fan-favourite character Miles Edgeworth instantly objectifies Toneido.

Edgeworth doesn’t really express attraction to anyone in the Ace Attorney games, and there are specific instances where he ignores or rejects women who come onto him. Because of this, he’s commonly considered gay and/or asexual by many members of the fandom. It’s not explicitly canon in the games themselves, but with the lack of representation of LGBTQ+ people in media, particularly when the games first released in the early 2000s, it’s understandable how this would become a very common and beloved fan interpretation.

Some of these fans were vocal about their dislike for the animation. “Edgeworth” briefly trended for me on Twitter over the weekend (although that’s probably biased by how many times I’ve tweeted about him myself). One representative tweet suggests that the fandom is pretty united in disliking the animation, while outsiders are the ones who find it funny. They say that the animation “corrupts [the game] into something unrecognisable.”

To be fair, it does do that. The animation has little in common with the game beyond the broad strokes of the courtroom and its blue- and red-suited lawyers. Speedoru themself doesn’t really seem to be a fan of the series, judging by the apology they Tweeted out for mixing up Edgeworth and Wright's legal roles. But that’s not really something fans need to be concerned about. There's still an entire series of games and reams of excellent fanfiction which portrays Edgeworth as gay and very much in love with Phoenix Wright.

It seems, then, that much of this whole situation has been overblown by the reaction to the reaction. The entire foundation of 'cringe culture' builds from people on the internet's desire to point and laugh at those who care too much. And because of that impulse, things can be blown out of proportion. For instance, a lot of the apparently dramatic takes people are pointing to, like this one calling the animation “an act of vandalism to the Ace Attorney fandom,” are jokes themselves. That user later stated they’re not a member of the fandom and found the whole thing funny. In summary: we’re all clowns online. Let’s just try to avoid bursting anyone’s balloons.

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Jay Castello is a freelance writer with more than five years experience specialising in online culture and video game communities. Their work - which covers everything from fanfiction to Twitch streaming - has appeared at sites including The Verge, Polygon, and Fanbyte. They also co-host Turnabout Breakdown, a podcast dedicated to dissecting the entire Ace Attorney series.