Q. What is Kingdom Hearts?
A. You wanna go down this rabbit hole? Fine.
Kingdom Hearts is the absolute most poorly defined eponymous “thing” that has ever existed in fiction. Imagine if Samus Aran spent 15 years fighting “metroids”, and then every time a new game popped up, every time, some random dude in a cloak was like, “No, those weren’t metroids, these are metroids.” And then Samus would do the exact same thing as last time, and whoops, there goes the metroids, same as ever.
Once again, in chronological Kingdom Hearts history order…
THE KINGDOM HEARTS ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE: In the beginning there was light, and it was good. All the worlds of Kingdom Hearts were smooshed together, which basically means all the Disney franchises were immediate neighbors. Presumably, this led to a wonderful universe where The House of Mouse was playing 24/7, and Aladdin played fetch with Lady and the Tramp while Dumbo hung out in the parking lot with the cast of Cars. Nobody made eye contact with the guys from Song of the South. Also, everyone and anyone had a keyblade for some reason. There’s probably a very good reason for everyone stomping around with a giant key-sword in a perfectly shiny happy world; let’s just assume everyone had magic cars, and only keyblades fit their ignitions. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
So anyway, all these keyblades were built as cheap knock offs of the χ-blade, pronounced “key blade”. Not kidding, some horrible human being forced the late, great Leonard Nimoy to explain this in-game: there is the “Excalibur” of keyblades, called the χ-blade (pronounced exactly the same as any other keyblade, because language works like that), and it’s supposed to be the physical counterpart to Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts is the gatekeeper, the χ-blade is the keymaster. Got it memorized? Kingdom Hearts is the source of all light and good and gumdrops in the universe, and the χ-blade is the ticket to that, so everybody got their keyblades together and just killed the living hell out of each other. There is an entire world that is just pre-owned keyblades, and presumably every keyblade equates to a key-murdered former owner, and, really, can’t stress this enough: entire world of them. There was a literal global genocide in the back story of a game where you can summon Chicken Little as an ally.
So nobody actually won this whole Keyblade War, and I guess too much blood soaked into Disney Eden, so there was a Disney Big Bang (probably sounded like this), and all of the Disney Worlds were separated into different, well, worlds.
Millennia passed, and while that’s the kind of thing that usually happens in these RPGs, it’s kind of weird to think about with the Disney planets involved. Like, were there just thousands of years where Snow White World built itself up to a society that looks to be about a million years behind Tron World? Or were the various Disney Worlds just playing out a constant loop of the same story over and over again, as if a plaything for an ADD riddled four year old god? Is the artful, debonair Aladdin simply a few decades from becoming the next lonely, oafish Sultan in an inescapable loop of fate?
Errr, anyway, as I said, millennia passed, and, in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, that wily Xehanort, who (this is canon) writes endless essays about how much he loves the darkness and probably hates all the music you listen to because it’s too mainstream, decided he wanted that whole big ball of light that is Kingdom Hearts for himself. Xehanort studied his lore, and discovered that the original χ-blade was split into 13 pieces of darkness and seven pieces of light. Knowing full well he was living in a JRPG based universe, Xehanort realized that reforming the χ-blade would take a really annoying fetch quest, so he decided to make his own damn χ-blade by doing what Xehanorts do best: abuse children. Xehanort split his boy apprentice Ventus into a light half (still just Ventus) and a dark half (Vanitas). Xehanort believed that when the ancient rite of “stop hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself” was applied to Ventus and Vanitas, a χ-blade would be formed. Xehanort was, against all reason, completely right. A “false” χ-blade was created, which created a “false”, blue Kingdom Hearts as a giant heart-shaped moon over The Keyblade Graveyard. However, the whole thing was short-lived, as friendship or some other stupid thing forced Ventus to completely abort his own heart, and the χ-blade and Kingdom Hearts blinked out of existence. Ventus went on to export what was left of his heart to the then-child Sora, and Xehanort possessed a new body (Terra, see previous post), and was then beaten so badly he forgot his own evil plans.
Or did he!?!
Seriously, I’m asking, it is really unclear.
As mentioned previously, Amnesia Labcoat Xehanort goes on to actively pursue “darkness” in all its forms until he “accidentally” breaks himself into two.
One half, Heartless Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (actual title, he had business cards printed up and everything) gets the bright idea to actively plunge all of the worlds into darkness. Here’s the plan: remember how I said the χ-blade got split into seven points of light? (And 13 darknesses? Forget that part. For now.) Well those seven pieces of light are all Disney Princesses! Well, six Disney Princesses and one Square Princess (not Sarah). And one “Disney Princess” isn’t so much a princess as a “generally well meaning, and probably crazy blonde”. Low bar for princesshood is what I’m saying here. So Darkest Ansem uses Maleficent (he liked her name right off the bat) to gather up the Princesses of Heart to make an eeeeeevil keyblade (not χ-blade… I mean, that would make sense, right? But, no, not χ-blade, and don’t you dare suggest that that’s simply because this entire plot is so made-up-as-we-go-along it’s not even funny), and then use that keyblade to unlock an entrance to the Realm of Darkness, from which all the Heartless and eeeeeevil flows. Simultaneously, Ansem Darknessaholic is just plain obliterating worlds, plunging them into darkness, because every “world” has its own heart, and when all the worlds are dead, those hearts will go back to the darkness, congeal, and form… Kingdom Hearts. Sora, is the heroic counter to this plan, and he fails spectacularly: he saves like seven or so worlds while Ansem pretty cataclysmically demolishes the rest of the universe. Luckily for the franchise, Ansem is a complete idiot: he manages to create a really amazing wad of world hearts, let’s call that big, heart shaped thing Kingdom Hearts, but, as the quote goes, “Kingdom Hearts is light,” so Ultimate Pure Darkness Ansem is vaporized by the
holiness pearlness of his own creation. It’s high art, exactly like Frankenstein.
With Ansem dead (or something), the worlds’ hearts all return to where they ought be, and the worlds regrow (or something), and even their inhabitants (see Simba of Kingdom Hearts 2) don’t seem to remember anything bad happening. Yay for everything! Naturally, this means that Kingdom Hearts stops existing.
The other half of Xehanort, Xemnas, decides he’s gonna go get himself his own Kingdom Hearts. This plan is pretty simple: get all the heartless everywhere to eat all of the hearts of all humans (and some lions) (and mermaids) (and claymation Halloween creatures) (and Danny DeVito), get the nearest available keyblade wielder (Sora, Roxas, no real difference) to shred those heartless, then take those hearts, and wad them all up into a Kingdom Hearts. It’s a pretty solid plan, so solid, infact that halfway through the plan, Xemnas’s second in command, Saix, outright tells Sora the plan, and Sora is like “Well, if I don’t destroy the heartless, the gameplay is going to have to become some kind of stealth game, or racing game, or maybe a rhythm game, and, oh man, this franchise is terrible at all of those things, so better just kill the heartless like usual.” And he does. So Xemnas builds his moon-shaped Kingdom Hearts with aplomb, until DiZ (Dilbert in Zeppelin) shoots pure SCIENCE at Kingdom Hearts, and the whole stupid thing collapses in on itself. What “thing” I’m referring to there is an exercise for the reader. Xemnas is understandably frustrated by this, so he welds the failing Kingdom Hearts to himself, and uses it to turn into a bitchin’ giant metal space dragon. While he is inevitably defeated, he is painted on the sides of vans everywhere in remembrance.
As mentioned in the previous post, all this Xehanort killing leads to Xehanort Prime returning, and in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Xehanotverygoodatthis reveals he’s got a great idea: he’s going to recreate the χ-blade to access Kingdom Hearts! Wait, come back! This plan is slightly different! He’s going to pull those thirteen pieces of darkness together by using thirteen versions of his super dark self, and grab those seven pieces of light out of the ever-increasing Sora pool, and then he’ll have his very own χ-blade! And Kingdom Hearts! So tune in to Kingdom Hearts 3, kiddies, or else you won’t get to see the real Kingdom Hearts, which is inevitably going to be another damn heart-shaped moon. But different this time! Well, “different”.
So, in summary, have you ever looked at the Kingdom Hearts 1 cover? There’s Kingdom Hearts. Right there. You’re looking right at it. Can’t miss it. There, just saved you like two hundred hours.