So, for the last “episode” of Ace Attorney week on Royal Jelly, I am going to share what is one of the best fanfiction stories I have ever, well… read. Ever. Hands down. And that’s a lot for me because I’ve written two successful series myself in the past. But the author of “Jumping to Conclusions”, SuperCornflake, (gotta love the ff.net handles) completely nailed it.
So, fair warning before we go any further… if you’re an Ace Attorney fan, but you don’t like alt pairings (which are non-canon pairings you don’t see in the official game/anime, as the image above suggests), this blog post is probably not for you. Feel free to skip this one, because the fanfic I’m about to review is a story about the two male leads finding themselves in a romance. …And it was SO awesome, because it was so beautifully done.
I think reading a solidly good fanfiction is one of the more pristine experiences of life, like looking at a painting that really speaks to you. And since this blog is about all things geek-chic and navigating your way into new geeky or trendy things you might not have known about at first, if you’re not sure what fanfiction is, I’ve done a quick write up to explain it. For everyone else who does know about fanfiction, feel free to hop down to Why I Loved “Jumping to Conclusions” below.
And Why a Phoenix-Miles Pairing?
A quick bit of context for those unfamiliar with Ace Attorney or the subculture of an anime/game fandom… I explained earlier this week that Miles Edgeworth and Phoenix Wright are the lead characters for the first Ace Attorney games. They have a complex friendship, while living and practicing law in ‘Japanifornia’. And of course, if a ‘special complex friendship’ appears in the world of anime at all, that also means that fans have, naturally, developed a favorite pairing (romantic couple) based on that. When it comes to anime, people pair up whomever they like, regardless of most restrictions, and just enjoy kind of ‘rooting for their team.’ So in the world of Ace Attorney, you do have… Phoenix-Miles pairing fans. Even though that’s not really what’s going on in the game/anime, some people are already on that train. And they may even argue with you, ‘that the subtext in the second season was pretty clear,’ which is a very well-timed ‘Ship Happens’ reference on my part. (I swear, I link to that video once a week… I’m such a fangirl.)
And something else I want to point out—Miles Edgeworth, who is set as the ‘handsome, rival prosecutor’ and definitely gave off that vibe in the anime, is curious because he is not a ‘ladykiller’ type of character. Not that every handsome anime antagonist is, but to be fair, often they can be. The video game/show writers seemed to carefully avoid that with Miles. He’s very attractive and about as morally compelling—he seems like a knight-in-shining-armor just as much as Phoenix is, from what I saw in the anime. But then again, when you have a handsome protagonist character not really paired up with anyone, who has a best friend who changed his whole life to just find Miles again… you’ve got a pairing right there. It’s just… so there. It’s so obviously an option in the mind of a fan. And I honestly think I’m on team ‘Miles-Phoenix’ now myself. I became hooked after reading “Jumping to Conclusions.” And you should read it, too. I mean, seriously, read this fanfic.
Why I Loved “Jumping to Conclusions”
And now, to get all serious. (Don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers that don’t already exist in the author’s intro, in chapter 1.)
I had the great, great blessing of encountering this incredible story about Ace Attorney when I went hunting for some fanfiction about the game. And yes, I’m talking about the very delicately, deliberately written fanfiction by SuperCornflake that deserves many accolades in my book… “Jumping to Conclusions”.
“Jumping to Conclusions” is special on a lot of levels. The author mentions a few times throughout in the notes that they were going through a tough time while writing, but were determined to finish. And, it sounded like there was a five-year gap and then another one-year gap if you can imagine, between chapters of the story being added, and also loads and loads of fans commenting on how much they loved the story and how badly they wanted to see more chapters.
And not because it’s lemony (a fanfiction-related word meaning the story is mostly about adult scenes, sexual scenes) which your mind may leap to if I’m talking about a fanfic featuring your typical ‘male leads placed in a non-cannon romance by a superfan.’ That’s the usual assumption if a friend walks up to you and says, “Oh my God, I just read the best dude1-dude2 pairing fanfic.”
No, “Jumping to Conclusions” is the opposite of that. It is a solidly warm and powerful story about falling in love with a close friend. At its core, it’s not so much that it’s the bubbly defense attorney Phoenix and the stern Miles getting together. The story is compelling because we get to watch two male friends discover their feelings in a believable, meaningful way. The author makes it clear at the start that a friend specifically asked them to write a story where the more canon pairing of (as far as I know) of Phoenix and Maya (his legal assistant) gives way to a deeper relationship between Phoenix and his lifelong friend, Miles. And Maya goes off to pursue her own adorable romantic interest as well…
The first few chapters feel like an homage to Ace Attorney itself, and you get to run into all the fun main characters you could want from the first few Ace Attorney games. Larry Butz, Franziska Von Karma, little Pearls, Godot… and the tension between Phoenix and Miles as long-time friends and rivals was done very carefully. Miles’ insecurities and anxiety worked so well, and really made me ache for him and his personal struggles. Miles is a character who has experienced the murder of a loved one when young. And Phoenix, with his bright, sarcastic personality was also so fun to watch, especially when he kept trying to wind Miles up with his jokes—very funny ones, but your teeth were always set on edge, terribly worried about how sensitive Miles would take it. So there were also a lot of great ‘laugh out loud’ scenes when these two men were ripping on each other. One moment, you wanted Phoenix to win. Another chapter, another scene later, and you’re hoping Miles will finally shut up Phoenix’s sass-mouth. And there are tons of good meme-worthy quotes, too. I loved Phoenix telling geekier Miles, “Be careful, your power level is showing.”
And then, about halfway through the story, a tragic turn puts the focus directly on the two male leads. And that, I think, is where I sat up and clutched the phone in my hand. I couldn’t believe what was happening. What felt a bit like a fluffy Saturday morning cartoon (and it was still refreshing, still intriguing at the start) had just built up into an ‘Oh God, what is going to happen to them? Please don’t let anything happen to them!’ saga. It just… did that, almost out of nowhere. I will admit now, I was so gripped by the sudden, painful twist, with hopes for the couple built up so high at the start… I had to stop reading it. I really didn’t intend to finish. I got… mad. I honestly did. Somewhere, the characters came off the page and I really worried about them. I couldn’t take it that this special thing might not happen. How the heck did the author do that to me? I thought I was cuddled up to an iced strawberry green tea at Starbucks, you know that nice Starbucks stand with the huge, plush pleather couches in the mall? Yeah, that. And I was listening to I Ship It, on my iPod, having a perfect moment, I still remember that, and reading this lovely little story… then bam! A good storyteller can do that to you, with quite humble tools.
Eventually, about a week later, I tiptoed back in, and I’m so glad that I dared to. By then, after the tragedy calmed down, the tension between Miles and Phoenix had built up as this exceptional slow burn that had me shouting “Argh! Please, just tell him how you feel! You’re sooo close!” at the screen, still smiling, still swiping down to read even more. I was enraptured by the tiny acts of kindness that meant everything, the gentle confessions, such as ‘I want you to feel comfortable around me,’ that had the same impact as giant boulder revelations… How can I put it… I was moved by how just the action of, for instance, helping an injured friend put his sweater on, can be so perfectly intimate. And when you previously felt forbidden to touch. Lovely job, Supercornflake. I hope you’re reading this.
Also, the whole story was told in this very logical, natural way. When I started, I assumed Miles and Phoenix would just… crash into each other and go, ‘Oh hey, so let’s do this.’ That was based on stereotypes of lemony fanfics I’d heard about in the past. But this writer almost pursued the story like a court case—which is quite right, considering Ace Attorney itself, where this is all coming from. It seems that the other romantic interests canon to the series were set up as fans would expect, and then each were explored, and then carefully and organically removed, as these two men slowly gravitated closer and closer together. In the end, it just made perfect sense. And that’s how real love is, when you’ve left exes and painful memories of other romances behind. They can’t compare.
As a writer, I always look closely at technique because I’m still learning myself, and I want to understand how other people do it. SuperCornflake was so talented with descriptions, with humor and really making you feel like you’re there. The author stepped directly into these characters and was able to describe them, step-by-step through their days as they worried, observed other people in context of their own insecurities as we all do, or second-guessed others’ intentions, or were in denial about the love right in front of them… and I swear, if I say anymore, I’ll spoil it.
In the end, “Jumping to Conclusions” is simply about two men who are surprised by their feelings for one another and their journey to overcome past heartbreak, trauma and misconceptions about attraction. They are exploring their sexualities. I think fans frequently write these kinds of stories, even if mainstream culture may not be aware of that… I knew about alt pairings and that they were being explored and written about in fan circles, but I’d never actually read one before. This was my first experience with one, and a story about a same-sex couple finding their way to one another was… how to express it? It left me shook. God, I think that phrase is over-used these days. Really, I was mesmerized.
Well, to compare it, I guess Brokeback Mountain comes to mind but… no, you just have to read “Jumping to Conclusions,” it’s really unique. Commenters kept telling the author they should consider writing professionally, and it’s funny how people can have all this talent, all this wondrous vision inside of themselves and then shrug and say, something like, ‘Thanks, but oh, it’s nothing. I’m just having fun.’ Makes you want to say ‘Daaaaw…’ and love humans again.
So, to SuperCornflake, if you’re reading… this is one of the best fanfictions I’ve ever read. I’ve written a couple fanfic series myself that I’m proud of, and I’ve read other fanfics that have wowed me over the years—but you’ve done something I’ve never seen anyone else do. So delicate, so deliberate, so vivid. I hope you make it safely through your rough patch and definitely consider adapting this story into something you can sign your name to and make a career out of, if you’re inclined. You’re definitely a talented writer and you deserve it.
Well… I started out giggling over Ace Attorney this week, in its fun, kinda janky awesomeness… and now, by week’s end, I’m feeling pensive and just content that life is so nice. That stories like Ace Attorney even exist to begin with. I still hope you can get into Ace Attorney if you’re looking for something new to become a fan of. And I really, really hope that you get into it if you’ve never been tempted by an anime or a fanfiction before.
Now, I feel safe confessing… I am madly in love with this whole Ace Attorney thing and can’t wait to experience even more. I can’t wait to get the games, and then get all the references. I remember when I watched the Phoenix Wright the Musical comments video (it comes up on its own after you watch the musical) and the Random Encounters folks said something interesting that comes to mind now: It’s good to know if fan-made media, like that musical, inspire people to explore the games they’re based off of. I think RE’s goal was to pass that information on to the companies out there and so have more opportunities to make fan videos. And that’s a good goal. Well, this whole week, I’ve been the poster child of that kind of experience. One really good music video on YouTube, The Turntable Turnabout brought me all of this joy. And among these experiences and links and silly videos I’ve shared all week… was a great love story I will never, ever forget. I still can’t believe it. Aaand, the best part is, it’s not even finished yet! So there are more chapters to come…
I appreciate how sweet and weird and strong Ace Attorney is. And ending on this note is good too, because everyone keeps saying Ace Attorney is also known for the emotional element between its characters. So I’m glad I found one last, impactful piece of the fandom to share with you all, that shows off how… kind it can be.
Hope you enjoyed the crazy Ace Attorney Week. I had a blast!
Your bonus challenge is to get off the fence right now and go read “Jumping to Conclusions”, especially if you’re not familiar with Ace Attorney. Then, I want you to go comment on SuperCornflake’s amazing story. I can’t wait to re-read this fanfic myself, so you’ll be seeing my comments there soon, as well!