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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
The two meet in Turnabout Sisters, where Maya is accused of murdering her older sister, Mia Fey. After the lawyer Maya requested turns her case down, Phoenix is adamant to defend her, and Maya later agrees to have him as her defense.
During the trial, Phoenix attempts to get Maya acquitted to the point he himself gets arrested for the murder. At one point, Phoenix appears to be backed into a corner. This causes Maya to channel the spirit of her sister, which both saves Phoenix, and gets Mia's murderer caught.
Maya later finds a note from her sister asking her to meet Phoenix at the office later. Maya shakes Phoenix's hand, calling him "Nick," taken from the nickname Phoenix's friend, Larry Butz calls Phoenix. Maya then remarks that they go out to get burgers, her favorite food.
In Turnabout Samurai, Maya is presented to be the goofball and comedic relief character, who tries her best to keep things interesting. Phoenix does not appreciate it at first, but eventually, he learns to enjoy it and gets a bit more used to her personality.
In Turnabout Goodbyes, Maya calls out part of a shady testimony by objecting, causing the prosecutor in said trial, Manfred von Karma, to have Phoenix be thrown out for creating a ruckus. Maya, however, takes blame of this, declaring herself as the one who made the outburst, putting herself in contempt of court in place of Phoenix. The court accepts this, and Phoenix tries his best to not let her sacrifice be in vain.
During the investigation, the duo run into Manfred von Karma, who pulls a taser on them to obtain evidence he wants to conceal. Just as he's about to electrocute Phoenix, Maya jumps into the way, letting herself be electrocuted instead of Phoenix himself. This doesn't do much though, as von Karma still manages to escape with all the evidence, aside from a bullet Maya had managed to take. Maya later admits she thinks she is useless, both as a spirit medium and as an assistant.
The next morning, after winning the trial, he finds out that Maya is gone, having left him a note saying that she had to leave to go train. Phoenix proves to Maya that she isn't useless, showing her the bullet she took that helped the former win the trial. Phoenix manages to change Maya's mind, but Maya still wants to train and become a better spirit medium so she could help Phoenix more.
In Rise from the Ashes, for two months following the previous case, Phoenix is revealed to have not taken any cases since Maya left. That is the case, until Phoenix takes Lana Skye's case, having her situation remind him of the case in Turnabout Sisters. Both include a younger sister of a lawyer, with one sister being accused of murder.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All
In the first case of Justice for All, The Lost Turnabout, Phoenix is forced to defend a client after losing his memory. Phoenix manages to eventually regain a bit of his memory but does not fully regain it until the end. Him fully regaining his memory is prompted by Maya, who seems very scared at the possibility of Nick losing his memory. Phoenix then goes on to think that he has unforgettable memories of Maya, eventually remembering their not-so-happy reunion in Kurain Village, Maya's home town.
In the second case, Reunion, and Turnabout, A doctor named Turner Grey shows up in the Wright and Co. Law Offices and requests Phoenix to come with him to Kurain Village. We later learn this is because he has requested a spirit channeling from Maya, but she would only go through with it under the condition that Phoenix be there.
Upon arriving at the village, our duo have a proper reunion. Phoenix states that if he knew her village was as close as it was (about 2 hours away), then he would have visited more often. Maya rebuts this, stating that she wouldn't have accepted it because she had to work hard by herself.
Maya, as it turns out, is of a bit more importance than just being Phoenix's assistant. As is explained in the game by Morgan Fey, Maya's aunt, she's the heir to the position of Master of Kurain Village. And it turns out that Nick and Maya have a very casual friendship. When Phoenix calls Maya by just her first name in front of her aunt, she goes ballistic, telling him he has no right to do so. She tells him to call her Mystic Maya.
So, after this informal reunion, Maya walks Grey into the channeling chamber in order to fulfil his request. The door is locked and the channeling begins. It seems that a certain miscreant from six months before is also at the village: Lotta Hart makes her presence known. Phoenix and Lotta sit with Morgan to have some bitter tea and jaw-droppingly large strawberry desserts.
Soon afterward, a gunshot is heard coming from within the channeling chamber. The valet outside is reasonably confused until another gunshot is heard. By that time, Phoenix realizes something: Maya's in the channeling chamber! What does he do in this situation? He gets up and tells Morgan to send him the bill for his actions later and runs over to the door of the channeling chamber. With Lotta's help, Phoenix breaks down the door to the channeling chamber and sees her standing on the other side. Or is it?
The police are called and Maya is soon arrested for the crime of murdering Dr. Grey. The next thing Phoenix knows, he finds himself in the Detention Center, Maya on the other side. This time, even Maya is convinced that she murdered Dr. Grey. She's very nearly in hysterics, thinking that she failed the channeling and that she was a disappointment compared the rest of her family line. She's reluctant to take any help, telling Phoenix that she'll accept her fate.
Phoenix simply says to get the papers ready, because he's going to defend her. Maya immediately rejects him, saying that he'll lose. She doesn't want him to defend her because it'll ruin his reputa— "Stop It!" Phoenix shouts at her for the first of two times this entire game. He doesn't want to hear it. The thought that Maya Fey could commit a crime is completely impossible. He believes in her just because she's Maya, not because her case is easy, not because she asked him to, but because he wants to. This is the depth of their bond at this point.
Phoenix unconditionally believes in Maya's innocence; that's something that he sticks to for the rest of the series. Even when Maya doesn't believe in herself, Phoenix always does. He hasn't abandoned her — he never will. Phoenix Wright is as loyal as a dog. He will never betray a person; it's against his instincts, both as a person and as a lawyer. It's very offensive to him when someone does betray another because of a certain situation in his past.
Anyways, after this scene, Maya gives Phoenix her magatama, a charm that protected her. She tells him to get Pearly to lend Phoenix her spiritual powers through the magatama. This is also very important as a Fey's magatama is a very priceless heirloom; the fact that Maya gave it to Phoenix shows that she trusts him back as well. It yet again shows the level of trust both of them have in each other. Phoenix's trust is reciprocated by Maya, making their friendship stronger as a result.
Phoenix makes his way back to Kurain Village to begin his investigation. He investigates Lotta, Morgan, and the next witness, Ini Miney. There is one very specific interaction with Lotta Hart that must be looked at: When Phoenix presents Lotta Hart with Maya's mugshot, Lotta goes on to talk about how Maya is completely guilty and that after the first time, there's always a second, third, fou— *SLAP*
Phoenix just hit her. He hit her hard enough for her to exclaim "OW" (in full capital letters, mind you). He didn't care who it was, just straight up went and hit her. This is the thing with Phoenix. If you insult the ones he loves (in whichever way that may be), he can become very, very violent. He's never a violent man, usually preferring to keep himself level-headed and keep his anger within himself, but he has a limit and Lotta hit that limit when she started talking about Maya in that manner. That made Phoenix snap.
After that, he meets Pearl Fey, Maya's extremely sheltered cousin and prodigy spirit medium. Pearl is extremely shy and Phoenix is barely able to start a dialogue with her. Eventually, when Phoenix shows her the magatama Maya gave him, Pearl opens up and start speaking to the attorney. She asks who Phoenix is and when given a response, she immediately recognises him.
Some of the first words out of her mouth was this: "You're...You're Mystic Maya's...'special someone.'" It seems as though Maya's done a bit more than just talk about Phoenix to her little cousin. For some reason, Pearl seems to have gotten it into her head that Phoenix and Maya were made for each other. We never find out exactly why Pearl thinks Phoenix is Maya's special someone, instead getting a very roundabout explanation later on from Maya.
So, from now onwards, Pearl will comment on Phoenix being Maya's "knight in shining armour" or something similar, which though it embarrasses him to no end, he never successfully denies. Neither does Maya to any degree, instead just choosing to weakly beg her cousin to stop it, which never does work. This is very interesting, though it can simply be explained away as both characters becoming flustered. It is always a mystery as to why she thinks this and continues, despite both characters fervently becoming flustered at the assumption.
One last thing from Reunion, and Turnabout is the trial scene. We meet the young Franziska von Karma in this case, the perfectionist prosecutor who hates any type of foolishness in the courtroom. Her detective skills are top notch, giving Phoenix a run for his money. She gives him a choice; does he forsake Maya and declare her guilty of murder in self-defence or does he fight for complete acquittal? Phoenix thinks things through for a few seconds.
He decides that fighting for self-defence would still be admitting to murder. He refuses to believe — even for one second — that Maya could commit a murder. He refuses and states that he would fight for a not guilty verdict, no matter what. Here he isn't fighting just for Maya's safety, it's also for her honour — her complete and utter innocence. Even if it is in self-defence, Maya wouldn't commit murder, and that's what Phoenix's thought process is.
Now then, we move on from the events of Reunion, and Turnabout to the events of the third case, Turnabout Big Top, the most infamous of all the Ace Attorney cases for its gigantic leaps in logic and general unbelievability. Here, we see something very, very strange, or not strange, depending on how you look at it. Phoenix brings Pearl to the circus on Christmas Eve for no particular reason. Of course, we get more of the "special someones" fantasy, but that's not what we're focusing on here. Why is Phoenix taking Pearl and Maya to the circus of all places?
Folks, what we're seeing here is the formation of the "makeshift family." Phoenix cares for Pearl to a degree more than he really needs to. Pearl isn't even as close to him as Maya is, but he still finds it within his heart to take her to the circus. He realises that she's never seen things like this before because of how much Morgan coddled and sheltered her.
Phoenix is taking to her as something of a daughter; he never says this — so you can say it may not be true — but you can't deny that he genuinely cares for Pearl's happiness without expecting anything in return. He's even genuinely proud when Pearl remembers what the train is, exclaiming her name approvingly and making her feel proud of herself. It's another person's daughter that he's looking after for Pete's sake; he doesn't need to do all that!
For Maya, the transformation makes sense; Pearl's the only family she has left after what happened in Reunion and Turnabout. She's obligated to look after Pearl, both by familial love and the fact that Pearl needs someone. Without other family members, Pearl is in a similar situation to what Maya was when Mia left the village to pursue her own law career: alone. Seeing this, Maya couldn't simply let Pearl continue wallowing in her sadness.
Alright, this...this is the moment many of you have been waiting for. Justice for All without this case is a very mediocre Ace Attorney game, but with the addition of this one case, it all changes — for the better. This is the case which defines the game and adds a whole new meaning to the subtitle "Justice for All." The case's name...is Farewell, My Turnabout.
In this case, Phoenix's very idea of what it means to be an attorney is questioned and he, too, is seen in a questionable light, at least by the rest of the cast. The case begins at the Gatewater Imperial Hotel, a branch of the Gatewater Hotel see in Turnabout Sisters. A competition is taking place there between all childrens' superheroes with famous faces like the Jammin' Ninja and the Nickel Samurai. It is here where we meet our main cast: Phoenix, Maya, and, of course, little Pearl.
Phoenix and his friends enjoy the whole area when suddenly, a murder takes place. The Jammin' Ninja, Juan Corrida, is murdered and the Nickel Samurai, Matt Engarde, is the primary suspect. To add to this, a bellboy from the hotel takes Maya off to take a call from "Kurain Village." After a while, she still hasn't returned and that's when we get our first clue that something is wrong. Phoenix is given a transceiver through which a kidnapper by the name of Shelly de Killer contacts him and tells him that he has taken Maya hostage.
Phoenix begins to panic and his vision begins to blur with the world eventually losing color itself. Immediately after he gets his bearings, the first thing Phoenix says is that he'll give Shelly whatever he wants to ensure her safety. Phoenix, who can barely afford to keep his law office open, Phoenix, who can barely afford to feed the multiple stomachs of Maya is willing to pay whatever it takes to make sure that Shelly returns her. Phoenix runs over to Gumshoe and tells him even though Shelly said not to inform the cops. His worry becomes absolutely paramount throughout this entire case.
We also get a small look into Maya's perspective here, wherein we see what happens just prior to the conversation between Phoenix and Shelly. Maya was locked in a cellar of some sort, having been drugged and taken there by Shelly. She screams to Phoenix to help her almost immediately after she comes to consciousness and sees Shelly standing in front of her. He tells her that only Phoenix can save her at this point in time, a fact which she immediately takes to heart, shouting his name as soon as Shelly turns on his transceiver.
That entire night, Pearl was up crying due to what had happened and Phoenix has a comment. He thinks that if it weren't for Pearl crying for the both of them, he would probably be the one doing it. Pearl finally confesses how alone she is, what with her father running away and the complicated circumstances of her mother, to which Phoenix remains quiet, only responding with a quiet sorry. Anyways, Phoenix and Pearl go to investigate the crime. Phoenix desperately begs Engarde to allow him to take his case, even mentioning Shelly's last name to him.
One interesting comment is when Phoenix speaks to Adrian Andrews, Matt Engarde's manager. Phoenix attempts to interrogate her and she makes the comment that bringing an underage child to the crime scene wasn't really responsible at all. Here it's Pearl who responds, angrily stating that she'd do anything for Mystic Maya. Phoenix tells her to calm down and that he'd "buy her a juice box later."
If you aren't convinced that Phoenix genuinely cares for Pearl (similar to a father), then a later scene will. Once Phoenix and Pearl are about done with the first day of investigation, instead of going on, Phoenix takes her back to the Wright and Co Law Offices to give her some well-deserved rest. Here, he puts her exhaustion above his own drive to continue the investigation, something I don't simply see one doing for another unless they feel a mutual bond with each other.
Near the end of the investigation, Phoenix and Pearl contacted by the stitch-faced killer, who brags about how he has to win this case quickly. He says that he's been starving her, which sparks outrage among the pair. He attempts to talk to her, to which she says to talk to Mia. Mia, channeled by Pearl, tells Phoenix that Maya's safe, which immediately relieves him. It is only then that he goes back to discussing whatever's going on with Shelly and the case at hand.
Afterward, we see a small scene of what Maya has been doing while she was kidnapped. She picks up one of Shelly's pink shell cards (this is very important later) and, using it to unlock the cellar door, thinks that she needs to hurry and to not "keep Nick waiting...or worried." Notice how she isn't thinking about Pearl, her eight-year-old cousin, in this scene (e.g. "I shouldn't keep Pearly waiting...or worried"), instead, focusing on Phoenix and his reactions throughout.
Now, back to Phoenix. Hey, how's the trial coming along; how didn't we even get to that yet? Patience, my friends. This case is a whole ride of both shipping and feelings. So far, we're at a point of intensity we haven't seen before or since in the Ace Attorney games. Maya's been kidnapped by a pedigree killer, Nick is the only one who can save her, a certain burgundy prosecutor makes his reappearance, and a shocking revelation will eventually come to light.
The trial goes by for Phoenix as most trials do. He manages to find out what's wrong with the detective's testimony, eventually culminating in him managing to get some level of doubt into the case. However, the prosecutor of that trial, the returning Miles Edgeworth, manages to sidestep all of Phoenix's early objections, with him calling Adrian Andrews in as a final witness. Phoenix manages to bring suspicion for the murder onto Adrian for the murder. He gets very, very close to getting Engarde his acquittal, but Andrews pleads the fifth at the last moment and keeps her mouth shut.
At this point, we see Phoenix at his most desperate. He relentlessly attacks Adrian's alibi, labeling her the killer. He continues as she keeps denying that she killed him, eventually beginning to cry when he just keeps tossing accusation after accusation at her. With her continuous denial, Edgeworth has to step in; being given no choice, he reveals Adrian's dark secret to the court, and stating that he didn't care if she went on to "choose death." Soon after this, Adrian finally reveals her crime: she was working to frame Engarde, setting up the crime scene.
Phoenix refuses to take that (joke intended); he can't. After Adrian's testimony, the Judge says that it is impossible to declare the trial over. Phoenix begs him to continue, slamming his hands onto his bench, and doing everything possible to extend it until he was able to pin the crime on Adrian. Shelly had told him that the limit was one day and he couldn't test the assassin's patience. Finally, even despite all that, the Judge declares the trial over and now, we get to see a new sprite for Phoenix — in despair.
Phoenix is understandably depressed afterward, immediately going to the crime scene to find evidence to free Engarde. He is eventually contacted by Shelly and immediately asks whether or not Maya's safe. Eventually, we see him beg Shelly for another day to prove Engarde's innocence. He manages to get it, with Shelly saying that it was his last chance to do so. Just as Shelly lets him listen to Maya for him to hear that she's fine, the transceiver breaks.
Near the end of the investigation, Phoenix confronts Engarde on a few secrets he's been hiding, but it's even worse than he suspects. Suddenly, Phoenix is fighting a losing battle and knows it; no matter what he does something wrong will happen and he's utterly disillusioned. What he's doing is wrong, but he can't see a way out. He's angry with himself, as he later admits to Edgeworth because he's unable to protect the person closest to him. Those are his exact words — words which he admit in front of Pearl, who doesn't need much more to fuel her fantasies.
Then, Shelly calls Phoenix and he comes to the realisation that the killer is hiding where he had least expected it, Engarde Mansion. Phoenix, Edgeworth and a police team burst through the door of the area, only to find that Shelly had outsmarted them and had taken Maya away from them at the last second. Phoenix makes his way into the cellar where Maya was being held, having lost hope and a lead. Edgeworth, realizing this, states that he has to remain strong...for Pearl. He realises how close Phoenix is to Pearl, even if the former doesn't. In response, Phoenix accepts that position and, like many other characters, he remains strong for Pearl.
The next scene really hits home for the people who see Phoenix and Maya together. Phoenix and Pearl find a note that Maya has left just before being taken by Shelly. In it, she doesn't state that she just thought he'd come — she knew he would. In this scene, she shows her unyielding faith in Phoenix, how much she trusts him to do his job properly.
She makes sure that he knows this, but then soon follows up by saying that he must sacrifice her life to get Engarde a guilty verdict. She couldn't live with herself knowing that her life had been paid for by the life of another. She begs Pearl to take care of Phoenix for the time being and doesn't end the note with a goodbye. Instead, she says "talk to you guys later." Why is she saying this? We'll find this out later.
Phoenix is so shocked by this that he stares blankly at the room for a few seconds. This may be taken to mean something or nothing at all. Is Phoenix figuring out his completely buried, undying love for Maya here? No. No, he is not. But the appearance of her letter makes the decision he has to make the next day much harder for him. She still trusts him, even after she was put in danger because he didn't go with her. Even after all that, she trusts him to make the right choice — to sacrifice her life in the name of justice. In the wake of all this, Phoenix goes completely silent, staring blankly. He can't just let her die, but, now knowing the truth about Engarde, what is he going to do?
The next trial day comes and Phoenix is very angsty, unable to relax for anything or anybody. His decision during this trial could change his own destiny as a lawyer. Just before the trial, Gumshoe calls with the first bit of good news these entire past two days. He's going on the search for Maya and all Phoenix has to do is keep the trial going for as long as possible. For the first time, Phoenix begins to have an inkling of hope for the near future. The prosecution brings in a new witness and Phoenix manages to use their testimony to bring suspicion — once again — on Adrian Andrews.
Here, the gallery begins to demean him. They're shocked at how desperately Phoenix is hoping to pin this on Andrews. They don't know the whole story, of course, so it simply serves to show how Phoenix is being turned on. On another interesting note, even Mia doesn't seem to approve of the tactics her protege is using either — choosing to remain silent as opposed to nudging Phoenix on, praising him, or preaching mottos to him as she usually does.
What does Phoenix have to say to all this? Well, he doesn't say much, but his thoughts reveal what's really going on. He's repeating a mantra to himself (in his mind): "This is to save Maya...This is to save Maya..." He's willing to take on the scorn of the world if it means that he can save his quirky, energetic assistant. We see how important Maya has become to him, with him being willing to use ideas which go against the very pillars of his being an attorney — willing to take on anyone who stands in his way. He's practically sacrificing his reputation as a lawyer to keep her safe.
Phoenix, by this point, is seriously beginning to question himself. The entire gallery hates him and even he hates how far he's going to set a killer free. Phoenix scrounges up everything he has to remain calm because what he's doing is trying to save Maya — above all else, save Maya. Gumshoe finds four pieces of evidence and attempts to deliver it to the court, but fails due to an accident and another person is called.
Edgeworth calls Shelly himself up to the witness stand (through some radio transceiver device). He testifies that Andrews was his client and that everything was ordered by Andrews and Phoenix is absolutely in distress. He doesn't know what to do; he cross-examines Shelly and tries to find his lies before Shelly calls him out on it and threatens to kill Maya then and there This causes Phoenix to weakly beg Shelly to stop.
Phoenix is completely torn. Here, he's cornered. There's nothing left he can do. The evidence isn't going to make it in time and no miracle is about to happen. Faced with this, Phoenix has to make the heartbreaking choice: sacrifice Maya's life to see justice through, as she requested, or free Engarde, a guilty man, by incriminating an innocent woman to save her. Overwhelmed by this choice, Phoenix screams, unable to keep his composure. After this, Engarde is called up by the Judge, who asks Phoenix for his final words on the matter. Phoenix chooses what he thinks is right and, with a heavy heart, he begins, "Matt Engarde is..."
"OBJECTION!" With that, Franziska von Karma makes her presence known. She brings together three pieces of evidence into the courtroom. Phoenix immediately takes them, but the Judge says that there's only one shot left for him. He cannot fail here, or else, Matt will be declared guilty. Phoenix shows Shelly that Engarde had backstabbed him by recording his killing. He wanted to blackmail the assassin. Enraged, Shelly releases Maya and Phoenix immediately holds his head, looking down in relief after such a close call. His relief is palpable.
Phoenix heads out of the courtroom after that ordeal and talks to Edgeworth for a bit. He finally sees eye-to-eye with him on quite a few matters regarding seeking the truth as a lawyer. Suddenly, the door slams open and Phoenix finally sees Maya after the entire ordeal. Pearl immediately bursts into tears running into Maya and Phoenix, though not quite as dramatically, follows her into it, allowing Maya to hug them both. She's extremely hungry after being starved by Shelly and wants food, which Nick immediately agrees to, but it goes a bit overboard when she reveals she wants a feast.
During the feast, Gumshoe mentions that there were four pieces of evidence that he'd taken from the scene. This causes confusion as Franziska only presented three. Maya then admits that she'd doodled something at the scene, but that it didn't matter anymore. After the end credits scene, we see the thing that Maya drew appears to be a drawing of Phoenix on a calling card used by her kidnapper.
This card shows that the one thing that Maya thought about during her kidnapping was Phoenix, most likely believing him to be the only one who could save her. This card was meant to be found by Phoenix, but after being released, she said it "wasn't important." According to a later comment by Shu Takumi, the creator of the games, she was embarrassed by her creation and never wanted to show it to Nick again. 
The two are frequently believed to be in a relationship by Pearl, with neither Maya nor Phoenix ever flat out denying these claims. Maya usually tells Pearl to stop or, as she did in Turnabout Big Top, take her away from the scene as quickly as possible.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
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Spirit of Justice
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NaruMayo is the one of the most popular ships in the fandom, with many seeing the interactions between Phoenix and Maya easily being able to be romantic, either as it already is or in the future. Some people believe that Phoenix, Maya, and Pearl are a makeshift family, and that Trucy's addition in Apollo Justice doesn't discredit this. Many fans see Trucy joining Pearl in wanting to bring Phoenix and Maya together, judging by it being said that they're as close as sisters.