Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guilty Pleasures: Neo-Exsedol

Picture it: a character you've grown to like a great deal, is suddenly, totally, rebooted. He looks different, acts different, and sounds different**, and absolutely no in-story or out-story reason is given for this. It is taken simply as a given, and all other media versions of the character are now that one (with the exception of one video game).

Thankfully this does not happen often, but one taste of it is bad enough. It happened to Exedore/Exsedol from Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, a secondary character whom I had grown strongly attached to in a short while, eventually declaring him part of my personal A-List. The reasons for doing this make complete sense to me—the character wasn't all he could have been, but I had a cool little emotional connection to him.

**the different voice is actually the result of the actor, Ryunosuke Obayashi, having difficulty doing Exsedol's original higher pitch. I only leave the voice change as a neutral note, and it was never a big problem anyway.

It's not just that Exsedol was changed, but that the changes undermine the original appeal. The original Exsedol had something of a character arc, and an active interest in the human world, and combined comic relief with being useful and intelligent. The new Exsedol is simply sitting there, providing exposition or comic relief, adding almost nothing to the story. He's not really a character, so much as a talking piece of furniture. Also, the original character design was much cooler.

I've run the emotional hamster wheel several times, and am still unable to decide what my exact feelings are towards "Neo-Exsedol". I can't reject this version, totally, even though I've gotten a lot more confident in my dislike. Nor can I accept the reboot totally, either, or change my perspective on the issue to make it less grating.

At the start, and for several reasons, I tried very hard to acclimate myself to Neo-Exsedol. I was afraid of being petty, of disrespecting the creator, and of rejecting a new character out of hand. Now I understand that among all the mocking of nerds for getting upset about changes to media, the simple truth gets lost: people get attached to fictional things, they have reactions to them—that's what fiction does. It's far from wrong to dislike a media change that gets you right here…the difference is not being an ass about it.

Therefore, I've become much more confident in my dislike of Neo-Exsedol, but the fact remains that I am still attached to the character. I like that Neo-Exsedol looks like a B-Movie monster but is still a nice guy. There's a kind of sad, friendly sweetness to him that you don't often see in giant-brained characters. Nothing about him would actually annoy me except for that he essentially takes the place of a character I liked very much.

Making these points are not a failing. I won't avoid or apologize for making comparisons between the two, or wishing one were more like the other. I could interpret this as two different universes with different versions of the same character, but I just can't do it, especially because other things have not changed.

Being unable to decide whether to just ignore this reboot of Exsedol, or to like it whole-heartedly, is what makes this a guilty pleasure That, and having any attachment to a reboot of a character that also makes you squirm is the other reason. If you can't be decisive over trivial stuff, what good are ya?

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