When the Ace Attorney live-action movie was released back in February in Japan, I called it the best video game movie ever made. When it came out on Blu-ray in August, I watched it a few times, reaffirmed that it was an excellent movie, and gave it a prominent place on my video shelf. Last weekend, though, I finally got around to popping in the extras DVD that came with the Blu-ray.
The disk included an interview with Ace Attorney series creator, Shu Takumi, and a collection of trailers covering every Ace Attorney game. But the highlight of this extra disk is the thirty-minute, behind-the-scenes featurette.
While there are interviews with many of the cast and crew, most of the interesting bits come from the director, Takashi Miike. He begins by talking about the logistical problems of the film and even states that when first approached to direct, he thought it would be impossible to make. But soon enough he changed his mind. He loved the idea of how Ace Attorney makes the trials into a battle. On top of that, he loved that the characters were more than just black and white in their motivations—everyone was complex.
When it came down to the look of the movie, Miike decided to make it as close to the game as possible. He worried somewhat about it looking too much like cosplay, but he felt that the actors were good enough that audiences would see the characters, not the actors in cosplay.
Much of the featurette focuses on Miike and his type of hands-on directing. One quick scene even shows him teaching the fight choreography to one of the actors.
Another interesting part of the behind-the-scenes look at Ace Attorney deals with the film's numerous special effects. There are many different clips showing the film before and after the computer animators put in the CG effects (as well as some showing the step-by-step process of inserting them into the film). What was most surprising was seeing that, despite the heavy use of CG in the film, most of the CG items had practical stand-in effects.
For example, when Phoenix "throws" a CG evidence window, he's not just miming the action; two crew members are actually holding a board with a green screen on it and running with it in the direction he throws.
The featurette ends with an entertaining day-by-day montage showing what was shot during each of the 36 days of filming.
While not normally one for "making of" documentaries (many of which are just advertisements for the film itself), I found this one fascinating and a welcome addition to an already excellent movie. Let's hope that when Ace Attorney finally heads west, this will be included in that release as well.
Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 22, 2012, in Japan. There are currently plans for an international release, but no specific release date has been set.