by Various; adapted by Alethea and Athena Nibley
published by Del Rey Manga; $14.95 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Official Casebook Volume 1: The Phoenix Wright Files is an anthology manga based on a popular video game series. Twenty-three authors give their interpretation of, and have fun with, the characters. The contributions range from four-panel strips to 24-page stories.
I haven’t played this game and know next to nothing about it. This definitely put me at a disadvantage reading this manga. Almost all of the stories are comedic in nature. The humor is based on the reader being familiar with the characters and their relationships within the game. (It’s probably most beneficial if you’re a fan of the series.)
As can be expected of anthologies, both artwork and storytelling cover a wide range of styles. Everything from slapstick humor with cartoony art to one serious piece with appropriately somber art. Honestly, all of it just kind of blended together after the third or fourth story. Nothing was particularly memorable or stood out as being exceptional in quality. Somewhere around page two hundred I found myself pretty bored with the book and counting the pages until I’d be finished. The manga also failed to inspire any further interest about the video game.
I recommend you stay away from this book unless you’re an ardent fan of the video game. (A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher for this review.)
Allow me a brief aside: The Nibley sisters, who translated this book, write an excellent biweekly column on being translators. It’s recommended reading for all manga fans. I’d also like to commend them on their use of “twitterpated” in this manga. Seriously, it was the perfect word.