Capcom released ‘Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- Spirit of Justice’ in Japan last month to the delight of many fans. One of the main attractions of the game was that fan favourite Maya Fey made her comeback. Maya was absent in the last last two games despite her popularity as an aid to Phoenix Wright. But why was she such a popular, and vital, character for the first three games?
Maya Fey: Ace Assistant
Maya Fey debuts as the seventeen year old younger sister of Phoenix’s boss, Mia. She’s a spirit medium and the heir to the family of mediums living in Kurain village. Though she’s still in training through the first three games, she’s able to channel spirits periodically. Through this, she’s able to provide Phoenix which much needed assistance, usually when he believes it’s hopeless.
Phoenix and Maya don’t cross paths until his second case. When he finds Mia dead in her office, he must defend Maya in the case of her sister’s murder. Proving her innocent, however, is easier said than done. Redd White, the true murderer, then implicates Phoenix for the murder. This time, Maya manages to return the favour by successfully channelling Mia to give Phoenix the extra push he needs to break the case. Mia posthumously requests that Maya become Phoenix’s assistant now that he has inherited the law office. He accepts with a handshake and this cements their trusty alliance for the ‘Phoenix Wright’ trilogy.
Maya is generally appealing to most fans as a lovable yet intriguing character. At a glance, she comes across as a typical perky and plucky sidekick. She’s optimistic and cheery to the point where she sometimes comes across as silly. She can be quite feisty and stubborn when it comes to it and she inherits much of her sister’s evident tenacious attitude. Often her dialogue in court is simply to provide direction for the player. Taking Maya at face value, she doesn’t seem to differ much from any sidekick in a game like Ace Attorney.
However, in my opinion, what contributes to making Maya an interesting sidekick is her background. Due to disappearance of her mother when she was a toddler and her sister leaving the village to become a lawyer and subsequently dying, Maya has a huge responsibility. Due to become the next leader of the village, she must undergo intensive spirit medium training regularly. Her powers are still rudimentary and often she finds herself struggling to call spirits. She admits on several occasions that this makes her feel inadequate. The self esteem issues she has surrounding her powers make her surprisingly relatable. Although her issues surround something the majority of players would have no experience with, it is easy to relate to her emotional reactions.
Even her qualities that are not dissimilar to those of other sidekicks are likeable. Her optimism even in the darkest moments is uplifting for both Phoenix and the player. She is loyal and true-hearted, which are important qualities for any sidekick. She only leaves Phoenix when she absolutely must continue her medium training. Her no-nonsense, almost stubborn streak is enough to make even Edgeworth relent. A large portion of her dialogue is light-hearted and amusing too. She was the original initiator of the ongoing stepladder gag after all!
Maya is also a vital assistant to the protagonist and the player throughout the trilogy. Phoenix himself is gormless and finds himself backed into a corner more often than not in court. This is when having an assistant like Maya is incredibly convenient. One example is during ‘Turnabout Goodbyes’, the fourth case in the first Ace Attorney game. In day one of the trial, Phoenix backs himself so far into a corner that the prosecutor warns he will hold him in contempt if he makes any more pointless interruptions. Maya, however, interrupts for him and the he court holds her in contempt. But, due to her bravery, Phoenix is able to find a critical contradiction in the witness’ testimony.
Maya’s bravery perseveres throughout the series. It’s possibly most evident in ‘Bridge to the Turnabout,’ the last episode of the trilogy. She channels Dahlia Hawthorne to protect herself from the spirit’s volatile wrath, despite having been almost killed by her moments prior. While the channelling causes some confusion through the case, it luckily appears to save any more bloodshed. Despite having witnessed her mother’s death and having almost died herself, she gathers the strength to perform a taxing exercise even under a serious amount of pressure.
Ace Attorney is a series that contains many eccentric, yet wonderful characters. However, Maya is a fan favourite not just because she is a good sidekick and assistant but because she is an enthralling and engaging character too.
Writer, artist, perpetual holder of notions.