Kingdom Hearts has come a very long way from being just a silly and fun crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy. It has expanded into a huge branching storyline with various protagonists and antagonists, motives of all kinds, sequels, prequels, interquels, and a thinly tied universe and premise to keep it all together.
How did it change so drastically? Where did creator Tetsuya Nomura get the idea to create such a convoluted universe out of Disney and Final Fantasy characters for that matter? During a launch event of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 REmix in Los Angeles, Nomura explained to fans that he didn’t originally view the series in such a way.
“When I was making the very first Kingdom Hearts title I went in thinking this could possibly be the one and only Kingdom Hearts title. Maybe if we can get to a sequel, I’ll tease something at the end, but I’m OK with it being a single title. Never would I imagine it would grow to become such a large franchise and such a big series.”
However, following the massive success of the original, Square Enix promptly ordered more entries in the series. Tetsuya Nomura leaped back aboard to create his sequel and a handful of handheld entries as well. As for why this had to become a spiderweb of plot points, Nomura explains that having a simple storyline just isn’t as exciting.
“Because we have one continuous, overarching story, the plot does get a little bit complex as we progress through the narrative. Not only with video games, but with any kind of entertainment media including movies, you want to talk about it with your friends at the end and share each other’s reactions. If that reaction is exactly the same with every person it’s not even fun discussion about how you feel. I deliberately wanted to make mystery in it so there is a little bit of discussion and have a variety of reactions…
…Even if you don’t know a certain element while you’re playing the game now sometimes it’s foreshadowing something coming up ahead and you’ll find out after you play further along in the series. That’s the part that makes a complex story interesting.”
I can buy into that. I am a fan of simplicity, but it’s fun to stir the pot every once in a while. Not every game needs to star plucky heroes out to save the world from a grand dark evil. I have the rest of the Final Fantasy games for that.
However, I also remember what was happening in anime at the time. Shortly after the anime boom in the states at about the turn of the millennium, Japanese storytelling went from being simple adventures through space, history, and high school life to becoming just as convoluted as Kingdom Hearts. So much so in fact that complicated stories became kind of a cliche, one that eventually made anime really tiring to watch.
Wasn’t this about the same time Naruto stopped being a goofy manga about kid ninjas, and the whole cast grew up and started wearing black as well? It’s not hard to believe that Nomura was targeting this audience. I’ll throw in my two cents and say that had something to do with it.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 REmix is available now on the PlayStation 3. It is jam packed with gameplay and content, so be sure to set a lot of time aside for it.