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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

How did the Russian newspaper get on the SS Burya on Jan 9, 189X?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It's the biggest plot hole. Or... is it possible, somehow?

Since I played through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles one year ago now, there's been a few questions on my mind. The first question that popped up, and which never got answered, is about the January 9, 189X (we don't know the exact year) morning Russian newspaper on the SS Burya. How did it get there?

(I have other questions, too, but they're farther along and are actually much more relevant to the plot of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. ...Warning that the rest of this article covers the second case of the game, The Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band, in some level of detail. Which isn't that much of a spoiler but it's something.)

If YOU want to play through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles for yourself so you can follow along with this article better, it's on sale right now as of publishing for a few more hours. It might also be on sale while you read this in the future, since it does go on sale rather... often.

Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band January 9 morning Russian paper Great Ace Attorney Chronicles examine
The January 9 morning newspaper in question.
Multiple articles, images, Russian text. All printed to the pages and laid out.

The Players and the Ship Route

Eurasia map 1901 SS Burya steamship Japan Shanghai London The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Ryunosuke Naruhodo, Kazuma Asogi, and Susato Mikotoba, and Inspector Satoru Hosonaga left Japan in December via the SS Burya.
There may have been several planned intermediate stops between Shanghai and London.
They at least stopped by Hong Kong.
Eurasia map as of 1901 source is Jacques W. Redway, Natural Advanced Geography (New York, New York: American Book Company, 1901) 134-135.

Team Japan, via being allowed on the ship (Kazuma and Susato), being a stowaway (Ryunosuke), or sneaking on (Inspector Hosonaga), went on the ship sometime in December. The ship slowly reached its way to Shanghai in the Chinese Empire for a brief stop on January 8. It would end up making a stop to Hong Kong thanks to unforeseen circumstances.

In that same January 8 time, a Russian revolutionary, Vilen Borshevik, was in Shanghai fleeing from Russia. Supposedly (according to himself in an interview he gave in the newspaper this article is about), Vilen had assassinated sixteen people and planned to travel to London to blow up the Crystal Tower, which was nearing construction completion for the upcoming Great Exhibition.

And at the same January 8 night, a Russian ballerina, Nikolina Pavlova, fled the Russian Novavich Ballet troupe that was coincidentally performing in Shanghai. She took a tiara worth 20,000 Russian roubles with her.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles newspaper Nikolina Pavlova fled from ballet January 8
Nikolina fled the ballet on January 8 (this quote referring to “yesterday” was uttered January 9).
So there wasn't a chance that this could've been written on January 8 about a January 7 fleeing, for example.

The ship had a crew, with Bif Strogenov being a senior member in charge of security around the first-class cabins.

Satoru Hosonaga was also posing as a member of the crew (but he was really supposed to be Kazuma's bodyguard), and there were additional unnamed crew members as well.

The world-famous detective Herlock Sholmes was also a passenger on the SS Burya. He must have gotten on from Japan or somewhere between Japan and Shanghai, since he was on the SS Burya on January 6 as a suspect in a steak dinner stealing incident and interacted with Kazuma.

I should note that the reason the SS Burya did not take the Northeast Passage (the Arctic Ocean north of the Russian Empire) is because at the time, it was considered very hazardous due to giant ice-blocks. Many ships tried to cross through there because it's a significantly shorter route from Japan to London that way... and many did not survive the trip.

The Acts and Timeline

On January 8, the SS Burya passed through Shanghai. Quite frankly, it's unclear if the SS Burya made port at Shanghai at any point on January 8 or not.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band port call Shanghai SS Burya Herlock Sholmes
Let's assume that the SS Burya was at Shanghai's port on January 8's morning but then left the port by January 8's evening.

Before the ship would completely leave Shanghai waters at night, Vilen Borshevik fled Russia to Shanghai... but he did not board the SS Burya. He's not that relevant, though it is noted that the January 9 newspaper does have a journalist that interviews Vilen Borshevik. However, Nikolina Pavlova DID board the SS Burya at midnight as the passengers ate a roast chicken dish laced with sleeping drugs. The crew, including Bif Strogenov, helped Nikolina Pavlova onto the SS Burya as she took a small fishing boat from the waters near Shanghai to the bigger ship. The SS Burya sailed away from Shanghai with its new ballerina stowaway, and since the passengers were asleep, no one would realise.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Strogenov Nikolina Pavlova brought on SS Burya Adventure of Unbreakable Speckled Band
00:00 January 9 would be the last time the SS Burya would be in the vicinity of Shanghai.

About one hour later after the ballerina arrived into the first-class cabin adjacent to Kazuma and Ryunosuke's cabin, Kazuma Asogi died. Ryunosuke Naruhodo was considered the primary murder suspect, given that he was (as a stowaway) in the same room as Kazuma, and the room was locked. However, the room was only actually locked after the ship came to an emergency stop after Kazuma's death (the stop was a little after 02:00) and before everyone woke up. That's thanks to inertia, a property of matter.

In the morning of January 9 (say, around 06:37), Herlock Sholmes let Ryunosuke know about his suspicion, and used a Russian newspaper that was apparently printed in Shanghai as evidence that Ryunosuke is Vilen Borshevik, the violent revolutionary. The Russian newspaper was repeatedly described as the “morning” newspaper of January 9, and had a front page cover story about Vilen Borshevik and a back page story about Nikolina Pavlova.

Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band morning paper Great Ace Attorney Herlock Sholmes
The main headline reads, “Revolutionary Vilen Borshevik Flees Russia via Shanghai”, while the back headline reads,
“Renowned Prima Ballerina of the Novavich Ballet Disappears from Shanghai!”

As Ryunosuke and Susato wandered around the first-class cabins (starting at around 07:48, after spending about 71 minutes before then talking and looking within Ryunosuke's and Kazuma's room) to find out the truth of Kazuma's death, they entered the cabin where Nikolina Pavlova was. Sometime soon after, there was another emergency alarm that went off due to a false, unverified (due to the fog at sea) report about an impending collision with another ship. That means the morning of January 9, the SS Burya was not at yet another port, but in fact already at sea, despite an ongoing murder investigation with the primary suspect not actually locked up.

How did the January 9 Russian newspaper physically get to the SS Burya?

How did Herlock Sholmes—and/or the ship's crew—physically acquire the January 9 Russian newspaper when the SS Burya was already well off the coast of Shanghai by the time of the morning of January 9? The newspaper could not have been printed around midnight, because journalists could only learn about Nikolina fleeing after the fact. In addition, she expressed shock that the newspaper—which she had in her own room as a second copy independent of Herlock Sholmes's copy—had a photo of her. That means it wasn't one newspaper somehow smuggled onto the SS Burya: there were several, seemingly standard-issue for the SS Burya first-class cabin occupants. She had her copy of the paper in her coat pocket. But she obviously didn't bring it with her to the ship and must've picked it up in the cabin.

Nikolina Pavlova only saw the newspaper with her photo on it as Ryunosuke was about to talk to her on January 9.
She had spent the night (at least, since 02:00... so let's say she got 5 hours of sleep, if that) in her cabin, hurriedly putting together her Grimesby Roylott disguise that somewhat coincidentally resembled Vilen Borshevik.
She didn't read the paper until around 07:50 on January 9, which is when she knew she had to cut her hair with shears.

Herlock Sholmes even points out that the SS Burya stopped by no port the night of January 8.

Kazuma could recognise Nikolina's face, but not because a newspaper was already there. It would be because she performed in Japan in front of him before. He said he knew that she would be performing at Shanghai because he read about it—he probably read that from the January 8 newspaper when the ship was at the Shanghai port in the morning. (Would such a newspaper be in Russian, still? Did Kazuma really know Russian?) But since the SS Burya was gone from the port by the morning of January 9 (the closest it was to the port was midnight), how could the paper, which wouldn't be able to be written and distributed until hours later, be on the ship?

Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band Great Ace Attorney SS Burya mystery laid to rest
Unfortunately, the TRUE mystery continues and has been unsolved for around 130 years.

Do you have any ideas how this is possible? Magic? Teleportation? Holograms? By the way, if you think that they used telegrams to print out the paper on the ship itself, telegraph technology didn't advance yet. Certainly not to produce a whole newspaper with images on it. If your theory is that the SS Burya has its own printing press and newspaper group, then either the Vilen Borshevik interview was FAKE NEWS or he really did get on the SS Burya after all.

Ludwig's in-depth analysis won this article both the Best Gaming Commentary Article of 2022, as well as the Best KoopaTV Article of 2022 award.


  1. Maybe the SS Burya does have its own printing press and newspaper, and Vilen Borshevik did get on board for the interview, and that's how he ends up in London as a juror!

    1. I hate that this is the most likely possibility at this point?

  2. Replies
    1. That's... pretty much the same scene as here, yeah.

  3. Shame I can’t read this now, I’m actually in the beginning of this case right now. I’ve taken a bit of a break though. The game is great, I just can’t play too many visual novels in a row, I need a game pallete cleanser. Usually I go to puzzle games for that, but the puzzle game I’m playing now (Pushmo) has gotten so darn difficult for every level, it doesn’t feel like a good cleanser. The boxboy series was the perfect puzzler, always gave you a mix of easy to hard challenges. I’ve got to get the switch game:

  4. There is also a chance the newspaper was delivered to the ship by boat. I could see that happening, given that mail ships were a thing in the 19th century.

    1. Now this is a good idea. It does require the mail ship to move faster than the SS Burya, however, because the SS Burya would have a big lead ahead of the mail ship.

  5. Considering his level of mastermind shenanigans in relation to this case as revealed in the next game, I wouldn't be surprised if the newspapers were faked by Sholmes himself to test both luxury class passengers' reactions.

    1. Yeah, but that sounds too much like "a wizard did it"... :(


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