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Speech bubbles, also known as speech balloons, dialogue balloons, or word balloons, are a graphic convention used to represent the speech or thoughts of characters in graphical fictional works, most commonly in comic books, comic strips, and cartoons. The Ace Attorney series predominantly uses labeled text boxes on the top or bottom of a screen to convey speech and thoughts, but also uses spiky "scream balloons" to convey certain exclamations. These scream balloons use stylized red letters for over-the-top emphasis, albeit not in all capital letters. These speech bubbles are an iconic element of the series, especially the "Objection!" bubble, which is used whenever a major character is about to counter an argument or a witness's testimony.

Original speech bubblesEdit

SoJ Objection!

The "Objection!" speech bubble; an iconic part of the Ace Attorney series.

"Objection!" is one of the three original bubbles alongside "Hold it!" and "Take that!". In the original trilogy on the Game Boy Advance, these bubbles are much smaller and appear on the left or right side of the screen depending on the speaker. In subsequent releases and titles, they take up an entire screen. More bubbles have been made over time, beginning with "Gotcha!" in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, though they tend to be derivatives of the original three in usage, applied to specific characters or gameplay mechanics. In particular, "Take that!" is used when evidence from the court record or organizer is used to answer a question at hand. Consequently, although "Objection!" is the most famous bubble, "Take that!" tends to be the one most associated with climactic moments in the games, due to the flow of the narratives.

"Objection!" and "Hold it!" are mainly used during cross-examinations of witness testimonies or rebuttals to arguments. Presenting evidence to counter a statement results in the protagonist yelling "Objection!" before giving his or her counterargument. Pressing a witness for clarification on a statement results in the protagonist yelling "Hold it!" to interrupt the testimony or argument. The other usages of these bubbles reflect their use in gameplay; "Objection!" is generally used to interrupt for the sake of giving a counterargument, while "Hold it!" is usually employed to interrupt for other reasons. However, this is not a hard distinction, as both can be used to interrupt courtroom proceedings, though "Objection!" tends to be used by attorneys when the judge is about to hand down a verdict.

Although many characters use these bubbles, only a handful have corresponding voice clips for them in most of the games, with the main protagonists being the only ones to have clips for "Hold it!" and "Take that!" at all. This largely stems from the fact that professional voice actors were not used until the Nintendo 3DS games introduced anime cutscenes. In Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and the anime series, all speech bubbles are voiced.

Other speech bubblesEdit

Many speech bubbles are associated with game mechanics other than cross-examinations and rebuttals:

Some characters use signature bubbles in place of the traditional bubbles:

There are two speech bubbles exclusive to Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which are not used during the dramatic events of trials:

The Ace Attorney anime adaptation has the unique speech bubble, "Please waiiiit! " used by Matt Engarde at the climax of his own trial.