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Kingdom Hearts FAQ #14: Kingdom Hearts 3

You said it, AxelSo, Kingdom Hearts 3 is the first Kingdom Hearts game since 2005, eh? How’s that working out?

Excuse me, but, despite the seemingly simple numbering of the third installment, there have been approximately twelve billion Kingdom Hearts titles in the last (nearly) fifteen years. And that’s something of a problem! All of those titles were very much Kingdom Hearts stories, but all of them (save Dream Drop Distance) primarily featured side characters, like Roxas, Ventus, or Aqua. And, because the Kingdom Hearts franchise has literally no idea how to write an ending, each of those characters wound up with unresolved stories begging for a climax come Kingdom Hearts 3. And does Kingdom Hearts 3 reach that long awaited climax for a cast of at least thirty freeloaders? … Wait, should that be a question?

Does Kingdom Hearts 3 reach that long awaited climax for a cast of at least thirty freeloaders?

Pretty much! It’s actually kind of impressive how many “side stories” have built up over the years, and Kingdom Hearts 3 ties up nearly all of them with a neat little (inevitably heart-shaped) bow during the final world.

Wait… “during the final world”? The game doesn’t gradually solve these problems over the course of the entire 20-30 hour game?

Oh my no. Have you played a Kingdom Hearts game before? All of that messy plot is saved for the final couple of hours, and the rest of the game is having fun around Disney-based worlds while creepy dudes in coats occasionally discuss their favorite Netflix shows (Ansem is apparently really into Ozark).

That sounds… bad.

That’s not a question. It’s a statement. A correct statement.

So is Kingdom Hearts 3 bad?

Poor girlCertainly not. In a lot of ways, Kingdom Hearts 3 is what the Kingdom Hearts titles have been striving for since the initial announcement of Squall Leonheart meets Dumbo. Disney worlds are huge and varied, NPCs actually exist (where appropriate) so Planet Tangled feels populated by actual people (as opposed to the Agrabah Marketplaces of the past that had apparently been struck neutron bombs), and the various worlds often contain mechanics that unmistakably separate the “levels” by something other than your Disney-approved guest characters. There are (relatively) Giant Robots in Toy Store world! A sailing system reminiscent of a mini-Wind Waker in Pirates of the Caribbean world! Big Hero 6 features a Crack Down-esque super-hero city playground! It’s pretty great, and a far cry from the themed hallways of some of the previous titles. In fact, in a weird way, it makes some of the more classically “videogame-y” worlds worse by comparison. Frozen is basically the ice level (complete with ice maze, ice tower, and the return of Square-mandated snowboarding), and Monsters Inc.’s factory stage is another fine showcase for our gaming friend, the conveyer belt. But those worlds aren’t bad! Just kind of ordinary when compared to exploring a gigantic toy store filled with murderous tsum tsums (which is rarely a destination for old-fashioned Chocobros).

So play Kingdom Hearts 3 for the Disney experience?

It’s certainly what is front and center. Four of the worlds are basically “play the movie” experiences wherein Sora gets to tagalong while a film unfolds (and, for some reason, a complete cutscene featuring the entirety of Let it Go), one world serves as a quasi-sequel (and inadvertent condemnation of capitalism), and two worlds seem to be excuses to hang out with a cool cast of characters. And that’s fun! It’s all very entertaining, and the only thing that really separates this whole experience from the much-missed Disney Infinity is that that “real” plot keeps rearing its ugly head (and Anna doesn’t get a grappling hook).

So the Kingdom Hearts plot is the worst part of Kingdom Hearts?

Not exactly. The narrative just…

Xenosaga Episode III Part 10: Fashionably Late

Previously on Xenosaga: I don’t know, it’s all starting to blend together. Shion did something reckless and potentially dangerous because of issues with some men in her life, but it worked out alright. Allen was insulted. I’m pretty sure there were some bad guys somewhere in there talking about nebulous, evil plans, too.

Oh, right, it’s the past, and Feb and Virgil are both alive. Virgil less so.

Note that Virgil doesn’t know (Kiddy) Shion’s name. A long, long time ago, someone stumbled onto Gogglebob.com with the search “why doesn’t Virgil recognize Shion”, obviously referring to their Woglinde encounter fifteen or so years later (than this scene). Here’s a fun question: do you remember every eight year old you’ve ever met? And there is evidence Virgil has face blindness

This is one of those “prequel problems” you see a lot. It was established that Feb was literally the last thing on Virgil’s mind when he died, so we know they had a significant (at least for Virgil) relationship. But when it comes time to actually see that relationship, it has to all be established in a time frame that will still hold the audience’s interest (you’ll note that both characters have the handicap of not actually being in the main party, either). So, like Romeo and Juliet, theirs is a love that is lasting and eternal and based on like two days of knowing each other.

I guess the explanation is that Virgil never knew true kindness before or after Feb. Cuteness ensues…

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #04: Sora

Hearts just know, ya know?Q. Why does Sora get to wield two keyblades?

A. Sora is some kind of bizarre heart hotel, and literally has been since birth.

Remember how I mentioned that in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Ventus gets tortured by Xehanort until he splits into Ventus and Vanitas? Well turns out that splitting one heart into two kind of messes a boy up, and Ventus was nearly a comatose vegetable that Xehanort was going to just dump on a random palm tree. BUT! Sora was just born, and apparently hearts are all-knowing at birth, so Sora’s heart was all like, “Hey, Ventus, looks like you’re going through a tough time, here, borrow some of my heart while you recover.” And Ventus got better! Vanitas had his own problems, and he supplemented them with the Unversed, but that’s an entirely different can of brain-damaged worms.

A few years later, Ventus, in an effort to foil Xehanort’s nefarious plan to make a keyblade that is, like, a double keyblade, kind of tore his own heart to shreds. This left Vanitas pretty much dead, and Ventus, once again, comatose. BUT! What was left of Ventus’s heart (which is akin to saying “what’s left of the Titanic”) decided to squirrel away in Sora’s heart. This will be important later, but this means Sora, at five years old, has 1.3 hearts.

This jerkOh, and Ventus’s body got ditched in some crazy castle by his best friend. Err… his best friend that didn’t become an unspeakable evil.

About a decade or so later, in Kingdom Hearts I, Sora is super best friends with Riku and Kairi. Kairi is secretly (even to her) a “Princess of Heart” from Radiant Garden (aka Hollow Bastion) (aka Square World), and Riku was once chosen by Terra to be a keyblade wielder, though everyone involved in that event seems to have forgotten. At this point, Ventus’s heart has probably recovered a little, so Sora has 1.5 hearts.

Everything is idyllic and grand on the Destiny Islands, until it isn’t, and THE DARKNESS invades. A lot of things happen at once here: First, Riku awakens to his keyblade. The physicality of this is kind of confusing, but just imagine if one day a sword was sticking out of your heart, and it wasn’t because you pissed off the wrong Spaniard. But Riku is kind of a jackass, so he momentarily looks away from the light and toward the darkness, and Sora is all, “yoink!” And, thus, Sora gets a keyblade, even though it was really the possession of his best friend. Kairi, meanwhile, as a Princess of Heart, has a heart that is completely incompatible with being consumed by darkness. As a result, Kairi’s heart takes a page from The Book of Ventus and jumps ship over to Sora’s heart. As a result, for the majority of Kingdom Hearts I, Sora has 2.5 hearts.

Sora The Cardio King stomps around various Disney Worlds until arriving at Hollow Bastion. There, he encounters a Riku that has mostly been possessed by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (the dark half of a guy who already has a name that is one letter away from spelling “No Heart”), and Kairi, who is just a limp body. Riku plays the bad guy card way too hard until Sora just has enough of it and turns the keyblade on himself.

Creepy lil' fellowHere’s where the magic happens.

  1. Sora’s consciousness becomes a heartless. Given Sora is just about as evil as Mother Theresa, he transforms into the weakest heartless available.
  2. Sora’s… main heart? Prime heart? The part of Sora that was always Sora goes and hangs out with Kairi. Also: Kairi’s heart. So, for a few shining moments, Kairi has her own heart AND the heart of Sora. D’aww.
  3. Sora’s discarded body zaps over to Twilight Town, along with the Ventus heart. This whole jumble becomes the nobody named Roxas, who inherits the general body of Sora, and the hair color and voice actor of Ventus.

Shortly thereafter, Heartless Sora gets a magic hug from Kairi, Sora’s heart is like, “Oh, this is my stop, smell ya later.” And Sora is back to being one human boy with one heart.

Somewhere in this process is where Kairi’s nobody, Naminé is created. Given Kairi never actually loses her body (she appears to just be comatose for most of Kingdom Hearts I), Naminé raises a number of questions. Canonically, DiZ (Diligently Imbibing Zombie), who is supposed to know everything about everybody, basically just throws up his hands at her existence in KH2. Presumably, the universe just wanted a blonde, magical version of Kairi, and called it a day.

Man, poor kidI should follow the chronological through-line on Sora’s many hearts, so… Roxas.

Roxas has the worst life. At birth, Roxas is discovered by head evil nobody Xemnas, who gives him a stupid name and an even stupider hoodie, and then sends him off on increasingly stupid missions. Roxas is basically 358/2 days a slave. Then, Roxas makes a friend! Xion is a keyblade wielder/Xemnas slave, and looks suspiciously like a brunette version of Kairi. Roxas makes another friend in the form of Axel, who God, just Axel, ya know? Anyway Xion turns out to be a magical clone of Sora, because of course she is, and she’s having a bad time because her magic DNA is degrading or something. Xion breaks down so completely she is erased from existence, but not before Roxas absorbs her. Also, Roxas has been such a good little nobody, he’s started to grow his own heart. So Roxas has his own kinda-heart, Xion’s kinda-heart, and Ventus’s recovering heart. That’s probably like… 1.7 hearts there.

Ugh, now Axel is on my websiteRoxas is then kidnapped by DiZ (Deliberately Irritating Zebra), who erases his memories and sticks the poor kid into the Matrix. Roxas has a whole six days of being a happy teenager playing with his (completely manufactured) friends, and is then informed it’s time for Kingdom Hearts 2 to actually get going, so he has to be reabsorbed by Sora. And thus ends the sad existence of Roxas. This means that Sora has his own heart, Roxas’s heart (which let’s go ahead and call that one full heart now, having had such a happy time in the Matrix), Xion’s kinda-heart which Roxas absorbed, and still Ventus’s recovering heart. As of Kingdom Hearts 2 and onward, Sora has, by my calculations, 3.4 hearts. As a result, Sora is entitled to two (2) keyblades at one time. Whoopdeedoo.

Q. Sora has saved the universe on multiple occasions, why isn’t he a “keyblade master”?

A. Imagine you designed a laptop that was indestructible, had unlimited battery life, and could pull an internet connection anywhere on Earth. Then, you discovered a group of people cut off from society, and stuck in a time period approximately equivalent to the European Dark Ages. You observed these “backwards” people, and detected a king that you believed governed justly and, in this place of war and death, could rule the whole area and bring prosperity to his people. You decide to give your amazing, invincible laptop to this king, explain the basics of how it works, and then decide that you will return in a year to see how everything is going.

Lord ClobbersalotIn your absence, you imagine what this king may be doing with this laptop: discovering cures for diseases, researching efficient ways to end wars quickly, or even initiating governmental reform based on the millennia of experience now available at his fingertips. As the year grows to a close, you envision returning to a reformed utopia ruled by a philosopher emperor.

You return to find that, while the king you chose has apparently conquered the land, there is no change in quality of life for his subjects: they are all still wallowing, diseased in a feudal, filthy society. You approach the king, and inquire as to what he has actually done with the laptop.

He stuck the laptop on a stick, and, exploiting its “invincible” properties, used to it to clobber all of his rivals.

Would you call that king a computer genius?

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #03: Potpourri

Q. What is Leon’s Deal? When did he change his name from Squall? Why?

What a ponce.A. It’s not confirmed anywhere in the mythology, but it is confirmed that Squall did it in response to some mysterious tragedy. A lot of people believe it was the tragic death/deheartening of Rinoa, given Leon wears a coat with Rinoa’s signature wings motif.

However.

“Leon” is Final Fantasy 8 Squall + Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Angel – Selphie (as she’s on an entirely different planet). Those of you that are good at math may recognize this as the equation for OMEGA ANGST. As such, I have always assumed that Leon’s tragic past involves being suspected of shoplifting at Hot Topic, and, unable to live with the ACCUSATIONS, SHAME, and DESTRUCTION OF HIS FREQUENT SHOPPER CARD, Squall was forced to change his name.

Q. Why do the heartless have hearts and the nobodies have bodies?

A. There’s a stupid explanation for that!

DO NOT TOUCHHeartless devour hearts. Heartless come from the Realm of Darkness (Space. It’s just space.) so they desire hearts (hearts are pure muscle tissue light), kind of like how bats long to consume the sun [citation needed]. Heartless reproduce like the undead: anyone who has their heart devoured by a heartless BECOMES a heartless, a byproduct of the (indigestible) darkness in the victim’s heart. Yes, the heartless are basically heart-poop. This is why Mickey Mouse wears gloves.

So, heartless are generally full of hearts in the same way that most people are full of hamburgers, or how this plot is full of a different digestive consequence.

Nobodies are another heartless byproduct: When a heartless devours a heart, they don’t give the tiniest damn about the body around it, and, as heartless are all skilled cardiologists, the body is pretty much unaffected. Just like during the Metro City incident of 199X, a heartless body will flash and disappear to parts unknown. But, thanks to Kingdom Hearts 2, we now know where that body goes! The answer is… somewhere. Hollow insideUsually Twilight Town, but apparently any other “inbetween world” will do, and as the Kingdom Hearts Universe used to be produced under some kind of deadline, Twilight Town is the only modeled location that fits the bill. Anyway. It’s a commonly held belief that most people suck, and the concept of Nobodies all but proves this: most people, like everybody in the universe except a whole 14 guys (excuse me, 12 men, 2 women) becomes a freaky spandex zipper creature based on whatever Final Fantasy 5 class Gilgabot randomly chooses. Given most nobodies are basically animated, empty robes, the name does make sense.

However there are a whole fourteen “Nobodies” that have such strong wills, they kept their bodies looking like… well, bodies. These nobodies are pretty much indistinguishable from normal humans, except they don’t have hearts, and thus cannot experience emotion, and, on a whole, they feel bad about that.

Over the course of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2: Nobody Cares, Sora (with a little help) slaughters a murmuration of the twelve main nobodies, absorbs his own nobody, and lets his girlfriend eat up #14. As a result, all of the known bodied-nobodies are now gone, so all we have are the hollow zipper creatures wandering around.

So heartless are digesting hearts and nobodies don’t have bodies. Everything makes sense all over again.

Q. Why is King Triton the only person who knows about the Keyblade in Kingdom Hearts 1?

Are... are you named after your weapon?A. The events of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, wherein Keyblade users are plentiful and combing the universe, only occurs about a decade before the events of Kingdom Hearts I, and it seems to be implied through Old Man Xehanort’s extreme oldness that keyblade users had been zooming around for decades before that. So it seems completely within reason that a keyblade user would have dropped by and met King Triton before Ariel was even born, and since keyblade users are supposed to be a stealthy lot when it comes to interfering in the events of other worlds, it’s also likely Atlantica was the only world where a “good guy” met a keyblade user.

And Triton is a wise-old king archetype, so it’s also possible King Mickey, keyblade master, stopped by at some point to confer on kingly matters. It’s basically how the mouse hooked up with another wise, old king, Ansem the Terminally Stupid.

Either that or Atlantica used to have a bitchin’ space program that failed under Triton’s rule, and that disaster is what has caused Triton to be so adamant about Ariel sticking to the ocean.

Q. Why don’t the giant heartless fleets Sora is always fighting via gummi ship just invade the worlds?

ZOOOOOOMA. It’s pretty straightforward: The entire point of Kingdom Hearts 1 is that Sora is locking keyholes to prevent that exact thing from happening, as each planet is protected by some kind of magical o-zone bubble (actually made of gummi ship materials, for whatever reason) that only allows in human-sized or thereabouts heartless that bleed through the keyhole. Once the keyhole is unlocked and the “world is connected to the darkness” all bets are off. Basically, the fleet invasion is exactly what happened to Destiny Islands at the start of Kingdom Hearts 1. You didn’t think a million cat sized heartless just gnawed the planet to dust, did you? … Though that would be rad.

Also, goes without saying, but the reason for the “Heartless Bleed” through the keyholes is, of course, Labcoat Xehanort mucking things up. He’s really accomplished at universal destruction, intentional or not.

Q. Where are all the parents?

A. Canonically, Riku’s parents have never appeared, though he makes mention of leaving his parents, so they likely at least exist in the present.

Is anyone at all worried about this woman?Kairi had a grandmother, we’ll call her Steve, back when she was a lil’ child in Radiant Garden. Kairi was shipped off from that planet when she was a young’un and Labcoat Xehanort was wrecking up the place. Steve’s fate is unknown.

It’s worth noting that Kairi is a “Princess of Heart”, which would imply she’s actual Radiant Garden royalty. And the only king in Radiant Garden is… Ansem the Easily Bamboozled. But no one, not a single person, has ever inquired about this possible connection in Kingdom Hearts. Kairi isn’t remotely curious about the parents she apparently never knew, which is kind of a thing in this universe…

Sora, coincidentally the hero of the piece, is the only member of the Destiny Islands crew that has had a parent appear on screen. Actually, she didn’t appear on screen, but Sora’s Mother can be heard calling Sora for dinner shortly before her entire planet is flushed down the darkness toilet at the start of Kingdom Hearts I.

Come to think of it…

Kingdom Hearts I opens with the entirety of Sora and Riku’s planet being destroyed by the heartless. Other planets that have been confirmed to be destroyed are The Lion King’s Pride Lands and Mulan’s The Land of Dragons; however, like Sora, both Simba and Mushu are refugees from their respective worlds, and aid Sora during Kingdom Hearts I.

Thanks to Sora’s efforts, all of the destroyed worlds are reformed during the finale of Kingdom Hearts I. When Sora reencounters Simba and Mushu, they both remember Sora from their previous adventure. So, they must also remember the destruction of their worlds; however, no one else is wandering around shell shocked at the thought of having been plunged into hell for an indeterminate amount of time, so it’s assumed that everyone else on the “destroyed” planets simply doesn’t remember the heartless invasion/annihilation.

So, Sora’s mother calls Sora for dinner, but he’s already left to visit Destiny Island, on a boat, in a storm. He and Riku are sucked off planet, the heartless destroy the world, nothingness, then the world gets undestroyed, and Sora and Riku stay off planet. Everyone is back and fine and normal on Destiny Islands, except Sora and Riku are just… gone.

Kairi is back on Destiny Islands at its reformation, though, so it’s possible she tells Riku and Sora’s parents about the fact that, yes, your sons are missing, but they’re on a magical journey through space on a ship made of gummi with a talking dog and duck on the search for a warrior king mouse. And they saved our world! With a key!

The parents would have to assume their kids are dead, right? Drowned in the storm, most likely? Never going to find a body.

I'd like to forget...A week later, the events of Chain of Memories occurs, and Sora is erased from everyone’s memories throughout the entire universe. So Mr. and Mrs. Sora’s Parents look longingly at their lost child’s room, still grieving, trying to muscle through funeral arrangements and talking to the police and then, poof, no more memory of ever having a child. What’s all this teenager stuff doing in this room doing here? No idea. Weren’t we going to have kids? No, I guess that never came together. Why are we such close friends with Riku’s parents? I guess we just like hearing stories about their kid. A shame we never had one of our own…

And then, nearly a year later during the opening of Kingdom Hearts 2, as recounted by Kairi and Leon on two separate planets, everyone just suddenly remembers Sora again. By Zeus! We have a son! And we forgot about him for a year! And he’s missing! What is going on!?!

And then, a few weeks later, Sora and Riku triumphantly return to Destiny Islands for the first time in at least a year to find… Kairi, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy waiting for them. Sora’s parents are probably “resting” at the Destiny Islands Home for the Mentally Unsound.

Sora is just a kid with a lot of heart.