The Phoenix Wright series is filled with all kinds of colorful characters – attorneys, defendants, and, of course, witnesses all filled with quirks and often given punny names. So today I’m going to discuss some of my most and least favorite witnesses in the game. I’m limiting myself mostly to people who were only witnesses, without being defendants or main characters, in order to focus on these bizarre bystanders. Also it should be understood that I will be talking about these characters from the perspective of an American player, so I will only really look at their US localized personalities.
Lotta Hart is a charming, hot-headed southern gal with a knack for seeing things just wrong enough that it turns out to be helpful. This is true of most witnesses, but Lotta’s gotta camera. Lotta travels around hoping to make one of her gossip-seeking ventures pan out. From taking pictures of cryptozoological sightings to getting the scoop on some celebrity gossip, Lotta can smell a story a mile away, even if she has a hard time smelling it inches away. Her photos, more often than not, simply make cases more confusing. But the intrepid seekers of justice manage to untangle some of the snags she provides.
I really like this character. She manages to appear in several of the games and always has the feel of a familiar friend, no matter how prickly she may be towards Phoenix and the gang. Needless to say, this woman has a Lotta Hart.
Wendy Oldbag is another frequently recurring character in the Phoenix Wright series. She’s old, she’s crabby, she’s meddlesome and she develops starstruck crushes on young men. She starts out as a security guard in a movie studio, bragging about how long she had been there. After she um… leaves the studio, she goes on to do more security jobs, making subordinates and superiors alike suffer, and often getting in the way of a very flustered Miles Edgeworth, or as she calls him “Edgey-poo.” She also has a habit of speaking so much, so angrily that her text box will continue on its own at a fast pace with few or no spaces.
Ms. Oldbag is such a consistent crab apple that it’s hard not to have her grow on you. Besides, if you don’t get on her good side, she’s not going to help you with anything. Well, unless maybe you bribe her.
Adrian is introduced as the business manager of Matt Engarde, a big children’s action show star. Adrian is cool, collected and unflappable. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. The moment Phoenix finally finds the one flaw in her initial testimony, she begins to unravel. It turns out Adrian is actually sort of panicky by nature, but her admiration for her late mentor pushed her to assume her personality, hoping that she could make things in her life work better if she constantly projected an air of professionalism. Later, she also gets a job curating an exhibit for a department store (because it’s apparently the 60s).
I actually love Adrian’s character. She is a very interesting depiction of anxiety and mild PTSD. Her story of being controlled and potentially abused is handled pretty well, not getting so explicit that it feels fetishized. She’s also portrayed as being successful in both of her personas, showing that a person can adapt what traits they feel they need and still be respected.
Myriam Scuttlebutt is the editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper or rather, more correctly, gossip rag. She’s often seen around the Themis Legal Academy hiding in her box hoping to overhear some juicy secrets that she can then publish. This makes her a bit unpopular, which is a bit sad because Myriam’s attitude is actually a product of her insecurity. You see, Myriam’s jealous of the friendship shared by Juniper Woods, Robin Newman, and Hugh O’Connor.
Myriam is the type of character that always appeals to me. She’s a sort of outcast, a misunderstood loner, an obsessive side-character that manages to prove she’s more than her stereotype. But I’m sure you’re all wondering what she looks like inside the box. Well… Play Dual Destinies to find out!
Now we’re moving into my least favorite characters. This man, a creepy old patient who pretends to be the director of the clinic he’s staying at, is in the series at least twice. Phoenix and the gang do get valuable information from him, but not before he leers at any woman in the vicinity. He is designed to be a gross, old man and that definitely comes off, but it’s in a way that is too uncomfortable to find acceptable.
The “Director” likes to sexualize the female characters in the game and that, especially as his only personality trait, really turns me off to him. He serves no other purpose but to be pervy, and the information provided by him could easily have been given by a different character.
I read while looking for pictures for this article that Jean Armstrong was difficult to localize. I can understand why. Jean Armstrong is a very unnerving caricature of gay men, drag queens, and potentially women in general. His poses are exaggeratedly effeminate and are contrasted by his size and facial hair. He’s the queer who doesn’t pass. Characters will confuse him for a woman at first, but then get very uncomfortable when he starts hitting on them. He also pouts and holds up his hands in a simpering manner to express fear. On top of being the washed out chef at a poorly-run, bright pink, frilly French restaurant, it turns out further that Jean Armstrong is actually sneaky, devious, and unable to handle money.
I spent a lot of time during Jean Armstrong’s role telling myself “Well. Some people are really over the top, especially in this game! Maybe I’m being oversensitive.” But I just couldn’t shake the discomfort. Every time he pulled his arms up to his chest and danced about like a ninny, I just felt my stomach sink. To be honest, I don’t think the localization team had much to do with this. They just had a hard job to get done.
I’ll be honest, my gripe with Regina Berry isn’t necessarily the character herself, but rather the situations she finds herself in and how that is excused by her character. Regina is a naive girl who was raised in the circus by her father. During her time there she manages to attract two suitors, the famous magician Max Galactica and the ventriloquist Ben Woodman (though she’s more taken with the dummy Trilo Quist). Here’s the snag, Regina’s 16. Max is 21 (ick). Ben is 31 (NO!).
See this is where I think localization really dropped the ball. 16 is the age of consent in a handful of states, but by and large you aren’t an adult until 18 in the US. This may be different in Japan, but the Phoenix Wright games bent over backwards to change the location in the game from Japan to the US. This seems like a very big thing to overlook. I mean, what are we supposed to think when a naive, doe-eyed teenager is blithely unaware of the bitter love triangle she’s involved in between two grown men? While the difference in age between her and Max isn’t as enormous, it’s something that would have been a lot more acceptable to an American audience had she been just a little older, or he a little younger.
That’s my take on some of the Phoenix Wright characters, and I’m sure I’ll write more about them someday. I definitely left out a lot of people even within the confines of only witnesses. If you haven’t played the Phoenix Wright games yet, I definitely recommend starting from the first one and going forward. You can get the original trilogy in one set in the 3DS Shop.