As a note, most close and far normals don’t have significant frame differences from the opposite version. Hisako and Tusk do, but they’re very much the exception in that regard.
They haven’t really. Close normal or no, a character’s fastest buttons will always be their lights, mediums, and heavies, in that order. Whether your close normal comes out or the far one will not pay a real role in the game of “is my button fast enough for this?” If something is negative enough for a close HP to hit it, it will almost always be negative enough for a far HP to hit (Tusk’s HP/MP and Hisako’s HK are the only exceptions to this I can think of, though there may be an extra example or two strewn about the cast as well).
As to TC’s question about how I feel about proximity normals, I don’t have a strong opinion about them one way or the other. They exist, and it is what it is. I’ve played games that don’t have them and they don’t play better for the lack of proximity normals, but it’s not like their presence elevates the games they are in either. It’s just another design decision stacked on top of a dozen others, and isn’t really a key factor in whether or not a game will be fun or play well -shrug-