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Joining the team
Before his employment at Shipshape aquarium, Dr. Crab worked as a doctor and veterinarian. When he joined the aquarium as their in-house veterinarian, he went to the extent of living in-house so that he could constantly monitor the animals. Dr. Crab was also responsible for bringing in various pieces of high-end technology to the aquarium, including an animal monitoring system from Europe called "TORPEDO" that, despite having already been certified for use in many European countries, was not approved in the United States. However, the owner of the aquarium, Jack Shipley, personally approved Dr. Crab's usage of the system.
One of the animals Dr. Crab takes care of is a little penguin chick called Sniper, who is the daughter of Rifle. As Dr. Crab was the first living thing Sniper saw when she hatched, she believes Dr. Crab to be her mother and nests in his hair. This, along with Rifle's aggressive behavior towards him for "stealing" her chick, causes him no end of annoyance.
Disaster at the aquarium
On July 20, 2026, orca trainer Azura Summers died during one of the aquarium's shows. Dr. Crab, alongside other employees and spectators, witnessed the orca Ora Shipley shake Summers' body violently between her jaws. To Dr. Crab and the other onlookers, it appeared that the orca had killed Summers. Subsequently, the Center for Dangerous Animal Control (CDAC) demanded that both Ora and her sister Orla be put down.
Not wishing for either orca to die, Jack Shipley and Dr. Crab secretly had Ora sent to the larger Supermarine Aquarium, and negotiated with the CDAC to let Orla live. Orla would go on to take her sister's place in a new aquarium show, while Shipley and Dr. Crab would make monthly payments to Supermarine Aquarium for taking care of Ora. These monthly payments raised the suspicion of Norma DePlume, a novelist who wrote a book about Summers' death, although she never found out what the payments were for. DePlume constantly badgered Dr. Crab for information about the incident, much to his irritation.
Summers' understudy, Sasha Buckler, was suspicious of Dr. Crab, and feared that he would try to euthanize Orla. However, Dr. Crab's real motives were completely contrary to this. In fact, a few days before the anniversary of Summers' death, Dr. Crab purchased a supply of "3Zs" sleeping pills from the Hickfield Clinic. If it came to it, he would feed Orla the pills to make it appear as if he had euthanized her, only for him to then secretly release her back into the wild.
The second incident
- Main article: Turnabout Reclaimed
On July 20, 2027 at 7 a.m., Dr. Crab waited for Jack Shipley so that they could go on another monthly appointment at the Supermarine Aquarium. However, Shipley did not show up, leaving Dr. Crab to make the visit alone. Shipley's body was found three hours later at the orca pool, with Orla being blamed for his death. Although veteran defense attorney Phoenix Wright took Orla's case to court the next day and proved her innocence, Buckler was arrested as the prime suspect in her place.
Wright took on Buckler's case as well, which eventually led him to encounter Dr. Crab in his lab at the Pub O' Danger. Despite appearing disagreeable, Dr. Crab freely gave some useful information to Wright. He remarked that he wasn't interested in taking sides and refused to divulge the purpose of the monthly payments. Some time later, Orla almost drowned after consuming fish laced with his sleeping pills. Although he managed to save her, he was visibly shaken by the incident. Also troubling was the fact that he had to be personally alerted to the incident, as TORPEDO had failed to do so. This, coupled with his reaction to several pieces of evidence, led Wright to believe that Dr. Crab was hiding something from him, and thus he suspected him of being the former boyfriend of the late Summers, who had murdered Shipley as revenge for her death.
In court, Dr. Crab was brought in as a witness after colleague Marlon Rimes refused to testify further. When Wright accused Dr. Crab of attempting to murder Orla by drowning her, the doctor's openly furious and disgusted reaction was enough to cause Wright to reconsider his case; the pills could only have been smuggled in undetected by being placed in Orla's food, and only Buckler and Rimes had fed her.
Although Rimes was brought back to the stand, Wright was eventually forced to cross-examine Orla, and court was adjourned to set up a telecast from the orca pool. In the defendant lobby, Dr. Crab explained to Wright his real motive for buying the sleeping pills. He also described the moment of Summers' death to Wright, who deduced that she must have succumbed to a heart condition that she had never told anyone about. Any animosity between Wright and Dr. Crab was forgiven, and the vet gave Wright a final hint about the song that the orcas were trained to sing during the aquarium's pirate-themed "stage" shows. This allowed Wright to figure out that there were two orcas and find Rimes guilty of accidentally causing Shipley's death.
With the case resolved, Dr. Crab thanked Wright for his help, and finally told him the truth behind the aquarium's monthly payments. He informed Wright that the aquarium planned to bring Ora back, now that Wright had proved the innocence of both orcas, and that DePlume had volunteered to lobby to legalize the TORPEDO system. Some months later, in return for her help, Dr. Crab allowed DePlume to hold her new book signing event at the aquarium. Unfortunately for him, she also planned to write her next book about Sniper, and would continue to hound Dr. Crab constantly for this purpose.
Dr. Crab is somewhat abrasive and introverted. He spends almost all his time in his laboratory and frequently misinterprets simple misunderstandings as other people trying to pick fights with him. During Buckler's trial, he refused to pick a side, helping both the defense and the prosecution. However, his main concern was the truth, as seen when he gave Wright a hint about the existence of Ora, thus allowing the defense to save both Buckler and Orla.
Despite his somewhat antisocial nature, Dr. Crab takes his friendships and job seriously, caring deeply about both the animals under his care and the people he is close to. He also fiercely advocates against animal euthanasia, and was incandescent with rage when it was suggested that he had attempted to kill Orla. Even when he is forced to do so, he still believes in the animals and would fake the euthanasias with sleeping pills. He has claimed not to believe in romantic feelings.
- His Japanese surname contains "su" (巣), the kanji for "nest", and "gomori", which comes from "komori" (子守), meaning "to babysit". These are both references to the penguin chick in his hair.
- "Gaku", his Japanese given name, means "to learn".
- His full English name "Herman Crab" is a play on "hermit crab", a superfamily of crustaceans. Moreover, the word "hermit" refers to someone who lives in seclusion.
- The penguin mask Crab wears resembles a combination of a sleep mask and the bird-like masks worn by medieval plague doctors who treated those with the Black Death. People feeding hand-reared wild animals have been known to wear masks or suits of the species in question in order to acclimatize them to their own kind.
- Herman Crab's catchphrase in the English version, "son of a gun", was perhaps chosen to further connect him with Rifle and Sniper, since both penguins' names are gun-themed.
- His distinctive hair is asymmetrical, with the designers being told to give priority to its "showiness" when viewed from the front while also creating a similar impression when viewed from the side. It was made extra large to allow for more exaggerated animations, including when he sticks his whole arm inside.
References to previous cases
When Dr. Crab is explaining the TORPEDO's full name, Wright wonders if it might be "super admin restricted desktop access password-protected." This is a call-back to Recipe for Turnabout, in which presenting unrelated evidence to Lisa Basil prompts her to state that the information is "SuPer Admin Restricted Desktop Access password-protected". Maya Fey replies, "SuPer Admin Restricted Desktop Access password-protected!? What!? This is madness!", to which Phoenix Wright replies, "No, Maya. That is SPARDA." Said conversation is itself a reference to the film 300, namely the exchange between a messenger and King Leonidas (Messenger: "This is blasphemy! This is madness!" Leonidas: "Madness?... This! Is! SPARTA!").
- Athena: Were you and Ms. Summers... romantically involved?
Herman: What?! What gave you that idea?!
Athena: It's just that I sensed... sadness in your heart when you talked about the calendar...
Herman: Of course we weren't romantically involved! I don't believe in romantic feelings!
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies. Capcom. Episode: Turnabout Reclaimed (in English). 2013.
- (2015). "The Art of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies -". UDON. ISBN 978-1927925447.