The music to Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright) may be known for its jazz stylings, but you wouldn't know it from listening to Gyakuten Saiban Special Courtroom 2008 Orchestra Concert. As the name implies, melodies from Gyakuten Saiban 1 to 4 get the orchestral treatment, and to a newcomer to the series such as myself, the two sound made for each other.
The only instrumental track to distinctly conform to the series' reputation for jazz music is "Godot ~ The Fragrance of Dark Colored Coffee", a soft lounge number with smooth sax lead and light string accompaniment that would fit right into an old black and white detective flick. The rest of the album quite closely adheres to its orchestral billing. "Mayoi Ayasato ~ Gyakuten Sisters' Theme" offers the most instantly memorable theme of the album, an innocent, charming melody perfectly suited to orchestral strings. "Toranosuke Shibakuzou ~ Swingin' Zenitora" is a lively swing number reminiscent of Orchestral Game Concert 5's Donkey Kong Country medley, while "Great Revival ~ Reiji Mitsurugi" and "Oo-edo Soldier Tonosaman's Song" feature bold main themes made bolder by rolling, march-like percussion.
The arrangements are mostly traditional, but with a few clever touches. The lively "Swingin' Zenitora", for example, gets a blaring whistle in the climax to juice things up even further. "Great Revival" feigns briefly at an ending before roaring back to life with another go at its majestic theme - a revival indeed. "Ryuuichi Naruhodou ~ Objection!" comes in rolling waves of intensity while powerful blasts of brass punctuate an already potent main melody.
As a rule the arrangements are at their best when they stick with one or two particular themes. In contrast, "Gyakuten Saiban 4 Courtroom Suite" and "Villian Suite" have a catchy bit here and there but are mostly uneventful. "Gyakuten Saiban 1~3 Courtroom Suite" boasts quite the exciting climax but has little else to show for its twelve-minute duration, aside from a lengthy organ performance of Bach's "Tocccata and Fugue in D minor" that feels completely out of place. Aside from that the only truly disappointing moment of the album is its sole vocal number "Loving Guitar's Serenade", which would be merely a mundane lounge bit were it not for some embarrassing Japanese-English vocals.
Among orchestral arranged albums Gyakuten Saiban 2008 Orchestra Concert is neither the most consistent nor the most spectacular, but when its arrangements stay focused it is certainly a lot of fun. The Phoenix Wright series gets a lot of love from its fans, so it's nice to see them getting a little love back with a quality orchestral album like this.