I'm not sure if this was brought up before, but I figure it'd be an interesting discussion piece. After all, that's what this forum is for, is it not?
Anyway, the basic premise is simple: Who had more power over the law? In an ideal world, it would be the Judge, right?
I think we all know that's wrong, given the amount of corruption the city of LA/Tokyo faces in the Phoenix Wright universe. But for all the corrupt hacks who seized power where they shouldn't have it, who had the biggest piece of the pie? Here's my rundown analysis:
Spoiler: Cases 1-2 and 1-5
First up, you've got Redd White, owner of the information trafficking agency known as Bluecorp, and Damon Gant, Chief of Police. Yes, I know "Rise from the Ashes" was written as a bonus case for the US release of Phoenix Wright, and yes I know Gant didn't even exist when the game was first created. But that alone does not account for something interesting about both men: They both claimed to have supreme authority over the law and judicial system.
That kinda has me scratching my head. How could the law be in the pocket of both of these men without them interacting with one another? Personally, I doubt that White had Gant in his pocket, and visa versa. They were both too powerful (and too egotistical) to be controlled by one another. I also doubt that they were partners. Gant does not need White, White does not need Gant. So who had more power up until one of them fell from grace?
It's a toss-up, but personally, I'd pick Gant over White. I don't know, I feel like White would exaggerate about his contacts to intimidate his detractors. I mean, he does have influence, there's no denying that. I just don't feel like he has as much as he claims. There isn't as much ambiguity with Gant.
Spoiler: Cases 1-3, 3-3, and 4-2
Then we have the leaders of the criminal underworld: Dee Vasquez, Bruto Cadaverini, and Winfred "Big Wins" Kitaki. This also refers to the Rivales, but since their don has not been shown in canon, they won't be acknowledged to the same extent.
Let's look at each crime lord individually. Dee Vasquez certainly has some form of clout in the form of her "professionals". But she seems to use her power just to cover up small instances and get revenge on actors who killed her friend/lover/whoever Manuel was supposed to be to her. Either she doesn't abuse her power that much, or she just doesn't have a lot to begin with.
Bruto Cadaverini, however, is supposedly untouchable, as is the rest of the Cadaverini family. While we don't see Bruto at all, it is implied that he has the same clout as Don Corleone (and yes, I just planted the image of Furio Tigre waking up with a horse's head in his bed in your mind. You're welcome! ). Maybe it's just my imagination running away with me, but if Tigre is more afraid of him than he is of the Judge (who has legitimate legal authority), that has to at least say something.
Big Wins didn't do all that much with his own power, but then again, consider the circumstances surrounding the case he appeared in. He was pulling out of the criminal racket. Meaning his standing as a crime lord wasn't all that important to him anymore. Still, he had Apollo shaking in his boots the entire case, so there's that.
Out of all of them, I'd say Bruto's the winner, at least as far as the criminal underworld is concerned.
Spoiler: AAI Case 5
Of course, a discussion of power and corruption in the Phoenix Wright universe would not be complete without Quercus "Extraterritorial Rights" Alba. His authority and influence was unquestionable, no argument there. But I don't think he stacks up to the gurus that are Gant and Bruto.
Why? Because his power was striped from him in one fell swoop. Try doing that to Bruto Cadaverini, and I guarantee you'll be finding yourself being fitted for cement shoes. You could argue that Phoenix did the same thing to Gant, but that took a lot more effort and trickery than what Lang had to do to get Alba's ambassador status revoked. This is mainly because Alba had to play by the rules of the law, which just happened to be in his favor up until Lang turned the tables on him. Gant, on the other hand, made the rules of the game, and Phoenix had to beat him at that game in order to expose him. As for Bruto, he plays by the rules of the criminal underworld. The law doesn't always apply to him.
For the sake of keeping myself from being spoiled (and because I don't know enough about the characters), I will not address the GK2 villains in this analysis. Everyone else, however, is free to do so if they wish. And with that, the floor is open for discussion.
I think Redd White's power was exaggerated. I mean, as far as I remember, once he's in the courtroom you take him down just like any other criminal. If he gets all his prower from information, what happens if he can't find any information to blackmail someone? But I would say it is possible that White had some control over Gant.
I don't have much more to say... for the most part I agree with your analysis.
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