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- "Ken" redirects here. You may be looking for "Ken Bullard", the French localization name for Kane Bullard, or "Ken Kitaki", the French localization name for Winfred Kitaki.
|I mainly perform on the tightrope or the flying trapeze. But nowadays... All I perform in is my wheelchair.|
At the age of eight, Ken Dingling and his younger brother Sean (who was four at the time) were abandoned by their parents, who fled after numerous failed business attempts. Russell Berry, the ringmaster of the Berry Big Circus, was the only one willing to take them in. Desperate to repay the ringmaster for his kindness, the brothers became acrobats, although Berry was against this at first. Ken and Sean soon became permanent acts for shows under the stage names of Acro and Bat, respectively. They often performed on the tightrope and flying trapeze.
Acro developed a strong affinity with the circus animals, especially with Money, the circus monkey. Money lived in Acro's room and, having somewhat of a "magpie complex", would often bring various shiny objects he had found to store there, some of which were quite heavy. Acro later joked that, if Money did not have this superhuman strength to help him out, then he would be "in the market for a new room-mate".
|I know she didn't want anything bad to happen... I know this... She just wanted to make my brother sneeze a few times too... But... I just couldn't forgive her! No matter what. What am I truly guilty of? ...I'm guilty of never, ever being able to understand her.|
By 2017, Bat had developed a crush on the ringmaster's daughter, Regina Berry, who worked as the circus animal tamer. The two often played pranks on one another. One day, Bat sprinkled some pepper on Regina. The resulting sneezing fit was such that even onlookers could not help but laugh. Regina thought it would be funny to get him back with the same trick, so she doused a scarf in pepper and gave it to the young acrobat as a gift, who eagerly wore it.
During practice on that same day, Bat suddenly made a bet with Regina that, if he could put his head inside the mouth of Léon, the circus lion, then she would have to go on a date to the movies with him. Everyone thought that Bat was being stupid, but since the lion was old and had much experience in doing that very trick, nobody stopped him. Unfortunately, due to Bat's pepper-laced scarf, the lion sneezed, consequently closing his jaws on the young man's head. Acro leaped towards the lion to try to save his little brother, only for the lion to turn on him. The incident caused Bat to suffer severe brain damage and enter a coma, while Acro's legs were paralyzed, confining him to a wheelchair. Shortly afterward, Russell Berry shot the lion and covered the accident up to avoid having the circus shut down by authorities.
Acro could not stand or even leave his room on the third floor of the staff lodging house by himself. Because of this, Regina visited Acro's room daily to serve him breakfast and take out his garbage. Doctors told Acro that, with rehabilitation, he could walk again some day. He took frequent trips to the hospital after the accident, not only for physiotherapy, but also to visit his comatose brother. Every day, he hoped that Bat would open his eyes, but to no avail.
Although the incident had been entirely accidental, Regina never seemed to grasp the seriousness of what had happened to Bat. This was because her father had told her after her mother's death that people became stars when they died. Acro knew that she had never intended for anything bad to happen, having only wanted to make his brother sneeze a few times. However, Regina's continuing innocent belief that Bat had become a star became unbearable, and eventually, Acro decided to end it all.
- Main article: Turnabout Big Top
|"Your brother became a star." Regina believed in that so purely, that she would laugh innocently when saying it... Too innocently... I just couldn't stand it... No matter how hard I tried.|
Six months after the accident, Acro planted a note into Regina's pocket during one of her daily visits. The note anonymously told "the murderer" that the author had conclusive evidence of what had taken place and that she should be at the lodging house plaza at 10:00 p.m. that night. Using a pulley system, he lowered a large wooden box containing a bottle of pepper (the "evidence" from the incident) from his window to the courtyard below. He then positioned a bust of circus magician Max Galactica, which Money had stolen, above the box. The box was made in such a way that whoever tried to pick it up would have to squat, guaranteeing that the victim's head would be in the perfect position for a killing blow from the bust. All Acro had to do was wait for the sounds of someone trying to lift the box, release the rope in order to kill "the murderer", then hoist the bust back up to his room.
The plan quickly fell apart, however, since Regina had no idea what the note was about, or even that it was intended for her, and had instead posted it on the cafeteria's bulletin board. Although other circus staff members saw it, only Russell seemed to know what it meant. He went to the courtyard in her stead, disguised in Galactica's trademark hat and cloak. Since Acro could not see very far down outside his window due to his confinement to a wheelchair, he had no idea who was outside. When the bust hit the ringmaster, Galactica's cape snagged onto it as Acro pulled it back up.
When Acro saw the cloak on the bust, he didn't know how it got there. However, since it was incriminating evidence, he burned it and threw the ashes away. The bust, on the other hand, could not be disposed of so easily, and so he kept it in his room. Moe, the circus's clown, witnessed the bust and cape "flying" up past his bedroom window in the darkness, and believed that it was Max Galactica, who was renowned for a magic act in which he appeared to fly. Due to Moe's testimony the following day, the magician was soon arrested for the murder. Acro was questioned by the police before his regular hospital appointment. He asked Moe not to tell anyone about the accident six months previously.
Acro was racked with guilt for his crime. Instead of killing the intended target, he had killed the ringmaster, who had shown him nothing but kindness and generosity. At first, he contemplated suicide, then thought about giving himself up. In the end, he endeavored not to give up. If he died or was incarcerated, then no one would be left to look after Bat. He therefore went along with the police's suspicion of Galactica.
|Max... I'm so sorry...! I just... I just... I just couldn't up and leave yet...|
After a close battle during the first day of Galactica's trial, prosecutor Franziska von Karma paid Acro a visit in order to prepare him as a witness. To Acro's surprise, she suddenly had the police search his room for evidence, at the suggestion of Detective Dick Gumshoe. Backed into a corner, Acro hid his murder weapon underneath the blanket on his wheelchair. Satisfied at not finding anything useful, the police left, but not before Gumshoe warned Acro that Phoenix Wright, Galactica's defense attorney, would make an appearance eventually.
Surely enough, Wright, along with his assistant Maya Fey, soon appeared in Acro's room. They discussed Acro's past. Acro then told them his planned testimony: that he had seen Galactica flying up past his window, corroborating with Moe's testimony. When Fey asked about Acro's wheelchair, he tersely mentioned the accident from six months prior. Wright picked up on a couple of remarks that hinted at his grudge towards Regina.
Wright eventually found out more about the incident from Moe and confronted Acro about it. Although Acro was not surprised at the lawyer's return, he was surprised at how much he had found out, and he realized that they had somehow gotten Moe to talk. He sadly told the entire story of the accident to the lawyer. When Wright wondered if Regina had intentionally caused the accident, Acro scoffed that she would not be capable of such a thing. He was surprised when Wright showed him the note intended for Regina, and admitted to being its author. He then brought out the bloodstained scarf that Bat had been wearing during the accident. Just then, von Karma appeared and demanded the scarf be handed over to her. Acro duly agreed and followed her to prepare for his appearance in court the next day.
In the courtroom, Acro took the stand and gave his testimony. Through pressing statements and finding contradictions, Wright was gradually able to figure out what had happened on the night of the murder and, eventually, that the murder weapon was under Acro's blanket. Finally being found out, Acro confessed to the crime and openly wept for murdering the man who had become like a father to him. He also apologized to Galactica for framing him. Having watched the trial and finally realizing the seriousness of Bat's condition, Regina tearfully vowed to stay by the young acrobat's side until he woke up and saw his older brother again.
Miles Edgeworth would later tell Detective Gumshoe in a phone conversation to "go easy" on Acro.
|(This guy is really different from the other members of the circus...)|
Acro was polite, pleasant and optimistic. He was also quite intelligent and calm, knowing how to keep his cool in any sort of situation. Although Acro admitted at one point that he wasn't great with the ladies, he held close relationships with various animals, including a monkey named Money who boarded with him in his room. He was often accompanied by birds perched on his shoulder or wheelchair. These birds showed a defensiveness of their friend by pecking Phoenix Wright at various points during Acro's courtroom testimony, and even moved in more closely to Acro when he was sad.
Unlike his colleagues in the circus, Acro could see the "diamond shining in [Galactica's] soul", namely his pride as a performer, and he felt that this was something lacking from the others until the magician showed up. He did admit to still having some issues with him, however. Acro also felt sometimes that, although the ringmaster was a good man, he could be too kind. In particular, he felt that Regina had been spoiled and raised with a fantastical view of the world that was completely at odds with reality. To him, her naïve way of looking at death and Bat's coma was infuriating and "cruel". This caused his resentment towards her that culminated in an attempt on her life.
Although he did try and cover up his crime, Acro was often noted to have a look of sorrow and profound pain in his eyes when the murder was brought up or if presented with images of Galactica, despite his seemingly calm exterior. Upon finally admitting his crime, he openly wept, showing his deep remorse for killing the ringmaster, who had been like a father to him, and apologising to Galactica for trying to frame him.
- "Kinoshita" (木下) comes from the "Kinoshita Dai Circus", a famous Japanese circus.
- Acro and Bat's names combine to form "acrobat".
- "Dingling" is likely a combination of the "Ringling Bros Circus" and "dangling", a reference to his job as an acrobat.
- His French surname "Loche" is likely a play on "cloche", meaning "bell" in French. This may be a reference to the English surname "Dingling".
- To date, Acro is the only character in the 2D Ace Attorney games to have a large full-body sprite; other large sprites in said games are cut off at the waist, where the witness stand or the bottom of the screen would obscure the location of their legs.
- Both he and his brother have a Native American theme to their costumes.
- His friendship with Money and the birds that constantly flock around him show his affinity with animals. This was done to show that he was a genuinely good spirited person.
- Acro is the first character in the Ace Attorney games whose intention to kill someone resulted in someone else's death instead, with the only other example being Marlon Rimes and his attempted murder of Orla Shipley in Turnabout Reclaimed that resulted in the death of Jack Shipley.
- Along with Dee Vasquez, Damon Gant, Luke Atmey, and Godot, Acro is one of the few culprits in the series to congratulate Wright on his deductive skills and accept their fate graciously after being defeated by the defense attorney.
- While testifying about his physical health, Acro claims to be "stronger than the average bear". This is a paraphrase of the cartoon character Yogi Bear's catchphrase, who would often claim to be "smarter than the average bear".