It’s hard to describe the Ace Attorney video game series in a nutshell. On paper, you play as Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice, or in the latest game, Ryunosuke Naruhodo, defense attorneys and detectives who take cases that no one else believes in, using creative thinking and powerful observation to turn the tables and get innocent people a just verdict.
But it’s also more than that. The series is a fantastic mix of dark crime thriller and oddball comedy, throwing in some supernatural elements as well—almost like Twin Peaks meets Law & Order. And the latest game in the series has some classic, historical detective vibes (For an anime in that vein, check out Moriarty the Patriot!).
This cocktail of elements might not work under most circumstances, but Ace Attorney has managed to build a substantial fandom for itself, fitting right into that brand of shounen storytelling where the battles are not fought with fists, but with wits, making it a great gateway to games and anime like it.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is getting an English release this week (You can get it here!), and it follows Phoenix Wright’s ancestor Ryunosuke Naruhodo in late 19th century Japan and England in a sprawling detective adventure set before the events of the original series, where it’s up to him to uncover the truth through testimony and protect his clients!
To celebrate, we figured some Ace Attorney fans might be looking for some anime to check out in between their cases! Let’s take a look at some of the evidence.
First up, we have Death Note, an anime that stands as one of the best examples of a cerebral shounen, where power and fights are replaced with battles of the mind.
In this show, Light Yagami discovers a notebook that can kill whoever’s name is written in its pages, the Death Note. Light uses the Death Note to kill criminals and make a new world he plans to rule over as a god of justice, all while being pursued by the great and mysterious detective simply known as L.
Ace Attorney fans will find a lot to love in Death Note; both focus on two characters firing off evidence and contradictions in attempts to best the other—Light and L ringing similar to Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth—and both have a unique blend of the supernatural and investigative procedures that make what would be normal conversations exciting and dynamic.
Watch Death Note on Funimation!
The cases of each Ace Attorney game tend to circle around a specific group of people, and as the case unfolds, we find that some have connections to the overarching story of each game.
This style of interweaving story and overarching connections is one of the central elements of Durarara!!, which follows the citizens of Ikebukuro as they are affected by the various gangs, supernatural happenings and the exploits of Celty Sturluson, a Dullahan living in the city and working as a courier.
Tensions rise and seemingly separate plotlines converge to form an interweaving narrative that manages to juggle a huge cast of characters while still making all of them feel important and like they have a stake in the story.
This kind of connected-thread storytelling, as well as the mix of supernatural beings and fun/odd characters, all feel similar to the world of Ace Attorney, so if you want something with the same vibes as Ace Attorney, but with some key, interesting differences, check out Durarara!!
Watch Durarara!! on Funimation!
The Ace Attorney games are visual novels, or games where all of the gameplay is contained within the limits of text boxes and character portraits, but still just as engaging.
Steins;Gate is another visual novel game series, one that also got a stellar anime adaptation. But sharing a game genre isn’t the only thing that Ace Attorney fans will love about Steins;Gate. The two also share a similar cast of colorful characters, a great dynamic between their core groups and unique twists that keep you guessing the outcome of the story.
RELATED: The Many Worlds of Science in Anime
Steins;Gate follows Rintaro Okabe, a self-proclaimed mad scientist who, alongside his friends, runs the Future Gadget Lab that seeks to create sci-fi inventions. One day they manage to invent time travel, specifically the ability to send email back in time to change the events of the future, forming a fascinating story that fans of Ace Attorney’s twists and turns are sure to love.
Watch Steins;Gate on Funimation!
Similar to Steins;Gate (and from the same overarching series of Science Adventure titles), Robotics;Notes is another visual novel adaptation that Ace Attorney fans might find interesting, as it focuses on character dynamics, a huge part of the Ace Attorney series.
Specifically, it follows the exploits of Kaito Yashio and Akiho Senomiya, the only members of the Robot Research Club of their school. In their attempts to secure a budget and ensure their club is still running so they can finish the giant robot the club has been trying to build since its inception, they must gain new members, win a robot fighting competition and, oh yeah, save the world from a robot invasion.
It’s a fantastic mix of school life and sudden, wild tilts into science fiction that definitely exudes the same energy as Ace Attorney’s shifts between law drama and channeling the dead.
Watch Robotics;Notes on Funimation!
Danganronpa: The Animation
The two are remarkably similar: they’re both based on visual novels (though Danganronpa is much darker) center around murder trials, have large casts of wacky characters, and involve unique styles of mystery solving that take the mundanity of argument like it’s deciding the fate of the universe. But they’re not perfect copies, and what separates them may still entice Ace Attorney fans.
Danganronpa: The Animation follows students who have been trapped by mastermind Monokuma in Hope’s Peak, a high school of despair where they are locked forever unless they can kill a fellow student and not be found guilty in the resulting trial.
The students must play Monokuma’s sick, twisted game, or maybe find another way out in this psychological thriller that Ace Attorney lovers are sure to find familiar, flipping the premise a bit for an exciting, psychological thrill ride.
Watch Dangaronpa: The Animation on Funimation!
The World Ends with You The Animation
One of the many anime based on video games in this list, The World Ends with You The Animation may not appear to have a lot in common with Ace Attorney, but fans will definitely find reasons to enjoy it.
The World Ends with You The Animation follows Neku Sakuraba, a teenager who finds himself in an alternate version of Shibuya, learning that he has died and has been transported to what’s known as the Underground. Here, the Reapers’ Game is held, which gives all those in the Underground the chance to regain their life, and Neku and the other residents of the Underground must compete for the prize.
Ace Attorney fans who love the supernatural, spiritual and afterlife elements of the series will find a lot to enjoy from The World Ends with You The Animation—since it’s sort of the reverse of the games’ spirit medium elements—as well as the mysteries, twists and turns that the series has to offer.
Watch The World Ends with You The Animation on Funimation!
PERSONA5 the Animation
Overall, the Persona games are a great recommendation for anyone who loves Ace Attorney, and the anime adaptation of the fifth game, PERSONA5 the Animation, is definitely a great series for fans of both.
PERSONA5 the Animation follows Ren Amamiya, a high schooler who is serving a year’s probation for a wrongful accusation assault case, adapting to new surrounds that want nothing to do with him when he stumbles upon the Metaverse, a world where peoples’ hearts and inner demons manifest as palaces that must be conquered to change their hearts for the better.
The series combines action and psychology to form a unique hybrid of school life and espionage, a combination that Ace Attorney fans will find right up their alley with its commentary on corrupt justice systems and elevation of mental battles—similar to the games’ Psyche-Locks—and its cast of odd, but lovable characters.
Watch PERSONA5 the Animation on Funimation!
The series follows Narihisago, who is serving jail time as a detective gone rogue. However, while serving his time he is also used by the police to enter the fragmented minds of killers and stop them before they can make more victims.
The series main mechanic is very similar to Psyche-Locks in the Ace Attorney series, looking into the minds of witnesses and killers to find out the truth, taking standard detective and mystery narratives and giving them an elevated twist, making a normal job much more exciting and enticing.
Watch ID: INVADED on Funimation!
BONUS: Ace Attorney
For fans of the games (who maybe want a break from some of the turned-around thinking required to solve a case), the anime is a perfect companion series, and lets you relive all of the story, with some expanded bits that really bring the original trilogy to life and is a perfect place for Ace Attorney fans to start when looking for new anime.
Watch Ace Attorney on Funimation!