Dear askrikkaiandhyotei and Anonymous,
Absolutely! Because for you, I know only Debeste will do.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Sebastian Debeste is the sort of character who can be instantly recognized -- his proud smile, punctuation mark hairdo, Themis Legal Academy uniform, cape-like red coat, and conductor’s baton announce his presence before he has to say a word.
That doesn’t stop him from speaking, of course.
His manner of speech is another strong characteristic -- he loves to talk about himself proudly and dramatically. If it was his life goal to be an actor, he’d be well on his way, but it turns out he’s an aspiring new prosecutor, well on his way to become “The Best”...or so he thinks.
This brings us to yet another outstanding trait -- his tendency to get even basic things wrong, from case information to simple idioms.
You’ve have to love the irony in that mistake, don’t you?
His authoritative-but-naive attitude is pretty adorable at first, plus it makes it easier for Edgeworth to win arguments against him. His cockiness even opens the door for Edgeworth to continue investigating.
But it turns out he’s not in quite the same category as your run-of-the-mill Ace Attorney prosecutor (cocky, self-righteous, and demeaning). No, the main reason for his behavior is that he wants to be seen as a culpable capable prosecutor by those around him -- his mentor, Justine, his fellow prosecutors, and of course, his dear old Pops. Who wouldn’t have this as a career goal, especially as a rookie?
With that in mind, it’s not so fun to see him goof up at every other thing he tries to do.
...Okay, maybe a little.
Sure, it’s mostly his own negligence that’s to blame, but you definitely can’t blame him for a lack of enthusiasm. Even sadder than this, though, is his main reason for wanting to be a prosecutor.
Now, there’s a good question.
It’d be one thing if his father, whom he reveres as both a parent and a career role model, were to point out his clumsiness, and perhaps offer some correction, the way Edgeworth often does with Gumshoe. Instead, though, he publicly disdains him, even calling him an idiot. Thankfully, this doesn’t do much to discourage him from trying his best (in fact, it gives him another reason to prove himself as a capable prosecutor), and he’s lucky enough to have someone like Justine to provide the encouragement his father denies him.
The real tragedy, however, occurs when he learns (as we do) the ugly truth behind his role model.
As often happens in the Ace Attorney series (and in real life), arriving at the truth isn’t always pleasant, as poor Sebastian learns during Edgeworth’s P.I.C. hearing. Not surprisingly, the thought of his father and role model being a criminal turns his world upside down.
And as if hearing the truth about his father wasn’t bad enough, he also learns a few unpleasant things about himself.
One by one, Sebastian’s accolades become entirely worthless, and whatever efforts he made to earn them are instantly rendered meaningless. Even if he were twice as old as he is, I wouldn’t blame him for what he does next.
Like a kid who just got bullied, he runs off crying. At least it can’t get any worse than that, right?
Obviously, it can.
Soon after that ugly scene at the P.I.C. meeting, he finds himself caught up in another case, and in need of rescuing. It’s comforting to know he isn’t the only Debeste who goofs up, but now it looks like he’s hit rock bottom, both in his profession and in his self-confidence.
This brings me to the part that, as I mentioned once before, is the one moment in the entire Ace Attorney series that made me cry. I’ve never been so unfortunate as to be kidnapped or belittled by a parent, but like Sebastian, I know the sting of realizing you don’t know near as much about your field of study as you thought you did. In fact, I honestly wondered what he could do at this point, or what I would do in his position.
Thankfully, as fate would have it, he has a wise and caring prosecutor there to pull him out from the ditch he’s fallen into.
Unlike one of Edgeworth’s usual Logic Chess sessions, where his only goal is to lure the truth out of someone, he also uses this one to help out an emotionally traumatized Sebastian. In fact, it could easily be compared to one of Athena’s therapy sessions.
It’s sad enough to see a prosecutor cry, but now his tears are even more bitter (and frequent). Luckily, Edgeworth’s strategy of waiting patiently for his opponent, or in this case his temporary pupil, gradually helps Sebastian come out of his shell and answer the questions he’s been left to figure out, the biggest one being...
While Edgeworth can’t give him experience, he does offer him some very helpful wisdom:
As the conversation goes on, Edgeworth helps him build up the courage to face the truth about his father, to begin living his own life, and to face the greatest trial of his career, so to speak. Most importantly, though, he gives him a lesson his father never bothered to teach him:
And in one of the most beautiful checkmates there ever was, Edgeworth sets Sebastian up, not only to be a capable prosecutor, but to be a better one than his father. Not to mention, he even helps him fix some of his malapropisms! Have you ever considered being a career counselor on the side, Edgeworth?
So, where does Sebastian go from there? He mostly disappears from the scene until Edgeworth and company’s final confrontation with Blaise and Patricia, where he somehow (i.e. through the magic of Ace Attorney timing) shows up with crucial evidence in the nick of time, similarly to what Franziska once did in one of Phoenix’s trials. As soon as he walks in, he’s faced with his biggest fear -- his former role model.
Not to mention an angry prosecutor who took his place after he abandoned his post.
The Sebastian we’ve saw before would probably walk away with his tail between his legs, but the one we’re seeing now?
In the next moment, Sebastian demonstrates in his face, his words, and an aura of courage, just who he is now -- not the “sniveling child” his father expects him to be, but a man who’s ready to accept his responsibilities as a capable prosecutor. Even Edgeworth didn’t see his transformation coming.
Discovering himself wasn’t the only thing Sebastian was doing, though. While Edgeworth and the gang were busy with their own investigations, he was hastily searching the garbage dump for the evidence his father threw away. His efforts to find it were fruitless, but he didn’t come up completely empty-handed.
It seems like a dead end at first, but with Edgeworth’s help, he converts a piece of garbage into the key to finally exposing Patricia and his father for the “stinking” criminals they are. Naturally, facing and prosecuting his own father takes a little encouragement from Edgeworth...
...but he works up the courage not only to face the truth, but to say goodbye to the one person he’s depended on, in a bold yet bittersweet fashion.
Something like that really does require The Best kind of person.
So, when it comes to character development, something Ace Attorney does beautifully every time, Sebastian Debeste serves as a shining example of a transformation from a bold, naive child riding his father’s coattails to a man who, unlike Blaise, who believes being The Best means being heartless, pursues justice over personal gain. By the end of his story, he’s still somewhat unsure of himself, but at least his ambitions are a bit more reasonable this time around.
And with people like Edgeworth, Justine, and Uncle Ray around to show him the way, he's more prepared than ever to achieving that dream.
And of course we can’t leave out his unique hairdo. The question mark shape could be seen as a symbol of confusion or lack of knowledge, while the transition to an exclamation point when he learns something new symbolizes a moment of clarity. Alternatively, the question mark could be seen as his curiosity for learning new things, while the exclamation point symbolizes the learning process. In either case, Sebastian’s story illustrates an important life lesson for anyone -- namely, that you don’t have to be The Best in order to keep learning.
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