Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gyakuten Saiban Blog Entry 4: Court Observation (2) (2001)

Title: Court Observation (2) / 「裁判傍聴 (2)」
Source: Gyakuten Saiban official site (down)

Summary: The fourth blog post of Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney 1 GBA) is a direct continuation of the previous post, about the team's little field trip to the courthouse. Takumi notices that some of the ideas he had about the courthouse were in fact not correct, but he still uses them in the game, because like he points out in a later post: the game isn't about realism or about portraying the Japanese court system. It's just a mystery game that just happens be set in a fictional courtroom.

Court Observation (2)

After witnessing the verdict of guilty of the defendant, we went to watch some other trials. We went higher up the crime ranks with illegal possession of drugs and death by professional negligence, and finally murder. A bloody knife was shown, and we heard about a really nasty motive for murder. Murder is really scary.

Observing real trials was a very meaningful experience. It made me realize the truth that crime is in fact really just the shadow side of our daily normal lives. And I also learned that the real court was slightly different to what I had actually imagined it to be.

  • The judge doesn’t use a gavel

I always thought of a gavel when I thought of a judge. And of course “Order, order.” I thought that these elements were absolutely necessary, but in reality, the judge is empty-handed. They don’t use gavels. They don’t even say: “Order, order.”

  • Professionals don’t like to use "Objection!"

“You probably have some grudge against the town where the defendant lives.”

The very biased comment of the prosecution was interrupted by the defense attorney who stood up. That’s it! Now comes the "Objection!", I thought. I leaned forward, expecting to finally hear a genuine “Objection!”. But the defense attorney just wore a half-smile, and scratched their head.

“Oh. Err, what you just said. It’s a bit, ah, you know?”

And the prosecutor seemed to understand what they meant and laughed back with a blush. “…I guess so. I’ll change my question.”

That’s not how it’s supposed to be! “Err, what you just said”!? You should’ve pointed your finger as you shouted “Objection!” It seems that in the actual courtroom, "Objection!" isn’t really popular.

By the way, reality is not at all reflected in Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney GBA). The judge keeps on using the gavel (it’s so big you might even call it a hammer), and the defense attorneys keeps on shouting "Objection!" like they’re possessed by some spirit. You might even question why we went to the courthouse in the first place. But the reason we went to the courtroom was so the team members could get to know each other better…


  1. The really interesting thing about this one is that in the US, "objection" is actually used quite often. (I went to a trial once where the prosecutor was slinging all kinds of borderline racist and invasive questions and the poor defense attorney had to object at practically everything - with most of the objections sustained! - and when the attorney was asking questions, he tried to get her to stop asking anything by making as many objections as possible). The difference between the use of objections in AA vs. US court law is that in AA the term is used for expressing any kind of disagreement to whatever someone says (including cross-examinations), rather than strictly court procedure violations that need to be entirely excised from the record. But in a case like the above, where the prosecutor was definitely stepping out of line, a US court would certainly have seen an objection.

    I believe American courts also use gavels, although only in limited amounts (most certainly not to shut up a loud gallery).

    Perhaps this is a cultural thing? (My understanding is that the perception of "objection" being used as often as it does even in Japan comes from American movies, in any case.)

    1. It's definitely a cultural (and legal) thing. Courts all over the world obviously work differently, and even a thing like a gavel probably has a cultural and historical background to it.

      But Takumi based the games on *his* image of the court he got from media and fiction, so yeah, it's just a stereotype, and not based on reality. That's why I never understand when people say Takumi intended the games to be a parody on the Japanese court system, because he has like written four or five blogs saying the exact opposite, admitting he knows nothing about it and that he just used a stereotype that isn't even Japanese ^_~'