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my essay on vexens voice



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rokudamia2

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For a long time, I've thought that the release of CoM:RC over here would be a great thing for a lot of people. By its nature as a GameBoy Advance title, CoM got skipped over by the majority of KH fans -- even though it introduces key characters from KHII, and even though it is a big part of the overall plot of KH. The intimidating battle system plus the fact that many PlayStation2 owners never purchased a Nintendo GameBoy Advance just made it difficult.

I would, therefore, estimate that some ninety percent of the people who write for CoM-exclusive characters (Marluxia, Larxene, Lexaeus, Zexion, Vexen, and CoM!Axel [I have to include him as a separate character, since so many people seem to think of him that way]) have never played the game itself. This is never a good thing in fandom.

How do they do it, you ask? Well, it's relatively easy -- I've even done it myself. What you do is you download the game script from GameFAQs and read through it like a book. (And a lot of people have not even done that much, so congratulate yourself if you managed this part.) But this introduces its own set of problems.

Problem One: Everyone Talks Like Ansem (Except Cid)

This part is no one's fault, but it remains true: CoM had terrible, terrible localization. Everyone in it, from Axel to Vexen, talks exactly like Ansem the Wise. Vaguely pompous, few contractions, and no distinct differences between one character and the next. By and large, I could quote you a line from any character, and I doubt you would be able to tell Sora from Zexion.

Suffice it to say, they all spoke extremely differently in the original Japanese. Zexion is very polite, full of the type of desu-ne that only bastards use. (Please see: Kyo and Yuki of Fruits Basket; note that Kyo is very informal and rude in his speech, and see how Yuki uses sweet politeness to be an ass to him. This type of desu I privately refer to as "I won't lower myself to trade insults with you".) Axel is very informal, and likes to play with language: his request to join in with Sora is literally phrased as, to Marluxia, "Lemme join your team," and when he appears while Marluxia is threatening Namine, he uses a ritual Japanese phrase used for entering someone's home -- a good localization would've been, "Oops, I'm not interrupting, am I?" (I believe the scanslated manga used, "Am I in the way?" which also works.)

KHII's localization is vastly superior. You may prefer "Commit it to memory," but Axel's line is informal, past-tense, and a question: Kioku shita ka? "Got it memorized?" is much better -- it's just a fact.

Problem Two: Extrapolation is Nine-Tenths of the Law

This one would not be nearly as big a problem if it weren't for Problem One. But people who read the script instead of playing the game are, because of the poor localization, not even extrapolating from dialogue that sounds like the characters involved. Vexen's lines are all you have to go on, and they're flat, literal translations of his originally very quirky way of speaking -- of course you're going to wind up thinking he's just highly intelligent and a bit stuffy. What, outside of his quirky laugh in the fight scene, is ever going to indicate anything different?

So, people wind up with a faulty foundation. And, being fans, from that foundation they begin to build things. They decide that Axel is wholly evil and devious and cruel, when his tendency to literally spell things out for people and the generally amusing way he speaks in general would probably cast some doubt on that. (Or at least make the transition to KHII less completely unexpected.) They decide that Vexen is young and a pretty boy, just because the only artwork available of him shows his long blond hair. They go through the entire game thinking Marluxia is (or could ever be mistaken for) a woman.

Problem Three: Manga WTF

Then there's the CoM manga, made by Amano Shiro, based entirely on the Japanese version of CoM, which makes its way to the States far too late to be anyone's first exposure to CoM, and it does put pictures with the words, and it does give people expressions, and it ups the goofiness level of every single character. (Sora is far more spazzy in the manga than he is in the game.)

And a lot of people are very outraged.

The manga extrapolates in one way. Many other fans of CoM (indeed, most of them) have extrapolated in a different way. The manga's extrapolation is probably closer to Nomura's original intention, because it was based on the whole picture of the game, voices and portraits and Jiminy entries and battle cries included, whereas, again, most fans extrapolated solely from the game script. But that doesn't matter: no one is going to play through CoM and have their opinion radically changed at this point, even if they might have thought things differently if they'd played it in the first place. And now they have these very different opinions, which clash terribly with the manga.

The majority reaction at this point? To cut the manga out of their personal canon.

I understand why, I really do. But it makes everything harder than it has to be.

Here are some things that are now popularly held to be "manga-canon" notions:

1.) Larxene is a sadist.
2.) Vexen is a [crazy|old] man.
3.) Axel enjoyed his betrayal and doesn't love Larxene.
4.) Marluxia is all of the following: crazy and elegant and gentlemanly.

A lot of people feel that, just because these notions were underscored and emphasized in the manga beyond dispute, means that they weren't in the game itself to any extent. Larxene's visible pleasure as she tells Sora what Namine did to him? Her talk of wanting to "play with the toy [Sora]" and her reassurance that she wouldn't "break it"? Those things also demonstrate sadism. Having her read the Marquis de Sade was just the icing on the cake. Larxene is sadistic. It doesn't mean that she likes to chain up people in her bedroom, but it does mean that she enjoys other people's pain, and that she probably isn't a very nice person.

And yeah, I'd argue the rest of those things are in there too. Vexen's new voice (which is very mad-scientist-y and awesome but not very sexy) indicates to me that they will probably be even more in evidence in the remake.

Which is also going to be a problem.

Problem Four: Nomura Is Totally Ruining [Character]!

When the new piece of CoM/KHII+ artwork came out, there was a lot of displeased rumblings over Vexen's portrayal in it. Almost as though he felt guilty for the way his original character design had been taken, Nomura made Vexen look extremely crazed and unattractive. The main reaction? I've heard everything, from "He's being influenced by the manga" to "He doesn't really mean that, either, and the whole picture looks bizarre if you ask me! Just look at [complaint here]!"

This to me indicates that a lot of people are probably going to be just as upset by CoM:RC. Where various characters defy their expectations, they're going to claim it was either manga-influenced or just plain wrong. Either way, it's not the original vision behind the game.

I'm here to tell you that it is. Vexen's fight with Sora is on YouTube; watch it and listen to the wacky laugh Nomura gave him, right from the beginning.

You have misinterpreted. It's understandable, and it's not your fault. But you only have two choices at this point -- you can't keep claiming that CoM happened differently before.

Your first choice is to accept this not-new, just-now-more-obvious interpretation. You can accept that Axel was never just a dead-serious devious guy, that Larxene is in fact evil (her voice? very much also reassuring on that note), that Marluxia is a Manly Man (his voice too~), that Vexen is a very typical mad scientist and a lot of fun that way, dammit. You can begin writing and drawing in a way that reflects this. You don't even have to make a big show of apologizing for the misinterpretation that, again, was perfectly reasonable and not your fault.

Your second choice is to ignore the game completely, leave the KH fandom, and begin writing original fiction, partly based off the idea of CoM that you created, which you probably do like a lot better than the real game.

I'm not in a good position to tell you which choice to make -- I've always avoided writing too much about CoM in the past, because I didn't feel like I had a strong grasp on any of the characters or the situation they were in. I've made a few presumptions myself, and I've been extremely lucky in being right once or twice. I've looked forward to the CoM:RC release for ages, because I wanted a better grasp on the six members of Castle Oblivion who inhabited it.

But for what it's worth, I've been in your shoes before -- I've made a lot of very sensible extrapolations from the start of something only to turn out completely wrong on every last detail, and I've made the bad, unlisted choice of ignoring the canon and exiling myself from it; it took me two years to accept what had happened to the series I was allegedly a fan of, because I was really damned attached to the ideas I'd had for the last three years.

In the end, I did wind up walking away, because the new canon ruined what I'd liked about the series.

But I stopped pretending that my ideas of that series were more valid than the ideas of the creators.
 

Nelo Angelo

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id grade this essay A-.
gud use of grammer nd nicely placed paragraph wid detail. spelling ws gud but u lose a few marks fr makin me fall asleep a quarter of the way thru!
i'm jus playin.
 

.:Mega:.

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I actually really agree with this, as I AM a fic author.

For me, I used the manga as a base to BEGIN with because I had no GBA or anything. That, and the characters just have more personality.

So, yeah, word to this rant~

~Mega
 

GAPLKA teh Bioz

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((OFF TOPIC:
Zomg It's teh Mega... I had no Idea you posted here. Probably because I just started, but whatever.))

Well, I haven't played RE yet, nor have I read the mangas. I noticed that you said something about the characters feeling flat and not differentiating in the GBA version, though it was quite the opposite for me. I looked at Larxene and said, "Wow, She's an ebil bitch." While only reading one line from Marluxia I assumed that he ('she' is what I was actually thinking) was the "Backseat Driver" or the "Imposing leader." Now I still questioned Vexen at the time, who seemed probably the most sober person of the bunch. But later I saw that he was demented in a way were he could have fun with what he had around him. (Like Making the Riku Replica).

Though you could still see he had a goofy personality because when you fight him he has a very odd laugh. ("Hehehohohahaaa") Definatly a sober goofball.

I like the GBA representation of CoM the best because that's all I have.
 

.:Mega:.

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It's Bio! =O

Anyway, I liked Re:CoM because it's much more vivid. You can see the expressions and such. That, and the gameplay's better, though that's irrelevant, I suppose~

Manga has a lot of good humor, though, and I prefer most of the character designs in it.

~Mega
 

ozymandius

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id grade this essay A-.
gud use of grammer nd nicely placed paragraph wid detail. spelling ws gud but u lose a few marks fr makin me fall asleep a quarter of the way thru!
i'm jus playin.

Learn from this essay.

Anyway, it was very well presented, but in an essay, your not supposed to use first person views. Your supposed to be making an point, not telling the readers about you. B+
 

GAPLKA teh Bioz

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Now it seems that I should read the mangas... Watch me git jigy wit it!....

Well really though, even a few lines of speech can give a character miles depth. Though with voices and expressions it can be done even more, but I think it worked pretty good with the reading.
 

Laney-Hikari

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well...now i'm cmpletely lost. i mean, i've played a little of the GBA game, and i've read the CoM manga. and, ah...you lost me. so...i'm just gonna stick to the fandom and see what Re:CoM brings. it'll brobably be awesome...except for the card fighting. T.T

...but Vexen's voice...just creeps me out. it's good for him, but...god, it's freaky. if they do an english dub, i wonder how crazy he'll sound...
 

XxWhiteLightxX

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I really like this essay. It's a very rational and logical and serious way to explain something that people might not take seriously or even pay attention to. A+!
 

LKani_X

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This is more of a rant than an essay xD But it's a good rant. I agree with a lot of your points here- A few, of course, I don't but that's opinions clashing. However, just as a big point here too, I don't like Vexen's voice much ;__; It scares me. But, I'll get used to it. All of the fans will get used to it.

Anywho, I've moved on to hoping for an English version. xD

BTW, daxter fan! Did you mean Disney-KH Scar, or FMA Scar? xD Because they're both cool villains. xD
 

Genocide

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I like Vexen's new voice. He sounds like Bobby Lee [From Mad TV] doing a stereotypical impression of an oriental person. It was hilarious. Zekushion! Zekushion!

I played the game, and I want to read the manga, but I can't find it. From what I hear, it's the same.

All of it is cannon, except the Vexen clones leaving with Riku Replica.
Truthfully, I don't care, CoM is the true story. CoM manga is the same story, but explored a bit. That's about what I can say. It makes no difference to me. They're all Kingdom Hearts, and I love them all.

I have yet to play mobile, but I'll love it when I do because it Kingdom Hearts.
so nyah
 
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