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InnerLight13

The 100 Greatest Kingdom Hearts Scenes (60-51)

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After taking a break from the Kingdom Hearts series for a few months, I decided I wanted to piece together a summer project that I can share with the world. This is that project. I will be counting down the 100 greatest scenes in the series’ history. Ten scenes will be revealed at a time, so this will run for a few days. No text box cutscenes or opening cinematics are included in this list. Each of the scenes is listed under their “Theater Mode” title. I hope you enjoy the countdown, and I hope it can spark some hearty discussion.

 

60. “Why Sora Was Chosen” (Kingdom Hearts II)

In a world without the Roxas fight in the Final Mix iteration of Kingdom Hearts II, this is how we were shown the climactic fight between somebody and nobody. These moments that serve as visual representations of an interior struggle generally work pretty well in the series, as we’ve seen in a few different cases. The gripping nature of this duel lost a bit of its luster once we were actually given the chance to step into Sora’s shoes for it, but the meaning is the same. Only one of these characters will come out of this, and everyone knows who it will be. The resilience of Roxas, however, to put everything on the line at the foot of the Castle That Never Was is true to the most badass version of the character. Sometimes having the will to fight in the first place is all that’s needed in order to be revered.

59. “Axel’s Wrath” (Kingdom Hearts II)

It doesn’t get much cooler, or maybe hotter, than this. Given what we know of the political machinations of the Organization and the happenings of the year prior to this moment, it’s easy to see why Axel is so frustrated. The retroactive approach to the scene is that the hot-headedness really isn’t meant to frighten Roxas. Here we have a character that is on the brink of leaving his life behind if this last ditch effort fails. Even if he succeeds, Roxas will be back to suffering at the hands of the Organization. The delivery of some of the lines in this scene is just the right crossing of hurt and stirred, with Quinton Flynn once again delivering some of his best work. All of that aside, Roxas whipping out two Keyblades just as we’re about to lose control of him is a jaw-dropping moment of gameplay and canonical myth. His best friend reacting in shock is an indicator that this is not something that happens every day.

58. “Atonement” (Kingdom Hearts III)

There’s a lot to unpack in the scene that follows Ansem the Wise’s kidnapping. Although it has kind of happened before, seeing both of the Ansems onscreen together having a chat is Kingdom Hearts in all of its convoluted glory. The difference between the two becomes apparent when the Seeker of Darkness refuses to believe that the Wise has changed. This is old news, though, as it is readily established that the former leader of Radiant Garden will not easily be forced into being on the wrong side of history. His rescue by Hayner, Pence and Olette is a nice moment of their shenanigans going towards something bigger than Little Chef’s Bistro. The Seeker of Darkness essentially yelling at them to get off of his lawn is a hilarious reduction, but it is quickly one-upped by Hayner going in for the kick. Amazing, amazing stuff. At the end of the scene, we are given some further information on the benched Vexen and his motives. Even when it seems as though the lines in the sand are strictly drawn, the freedom to choose allows for some unexpected twists.

57. “Eraqus’s Demise” (Birth by Sleep)

Once again, we are witnesses to Terra’s complicated arc getting kicked into a higher gear. It’s a difficult situation to be in, and the consequences of Eraqus being struck down complicates things even further. While Terra often gets flack for offing Eraqus, the Master himself agrees with the young man’s decision to fight him in order to protect Ventus. He takes things to another level when he essentially admits to being a tyrant of light. It’s a bit of dialogue that almost makes you consider Master Xehanort’s proposition of balance. But then, only seconds after Eragus fades, Xehanort arrives and bathes in the heat of his own villainy. His true intentions come into focus at this point and the clash he seeks is inevitable. With Eraqus out of the picture, Terra has no choice but to participate in the old man’s twisted game. To add a little more salt to the wound, Xehanort cheekily pronounces Terra a “Master” for the second time in the game, but it is now revealed to be a term of mockery rather than respect. This is a guy who knew how to put a fire in someone’s belly long before he slashed Kairi.

56. “My Friends Are My Power!” (Dream Drop Distance)

Don’t be alarmed, I’m talking about the Dream Drop Distance version of this phrase. This iteration of the famous line doesn’t hit as hard as when it is first heard in the original game, but the material surrounding it is some seriously twisted rhetoric that should inspire some level of remorse for the Nobody kind. For as long as they have existed, the Nobodies were told that they are without hearts and cannot feel emotions. In that case, why even try to feel anything? That was likely the mindset of some amongst the Organization’s ranks, specifically the more monotone, loyal members of the gang. So, in this scene, when Xemnas tells Sora that he merely lied to the other members and knew that Nobodies could indeed grow their hearts back over time, the horror that comes over our hero’s face is completely called for. Fittingly, Sora then casts the images of those connected to him. Surely that had to sicken the dastardly combination of Xemnas and Xigbar. They missed out on the glory of friendship, and consciously mistreated their comrades, in service of a plan that they didn’t even devise themselves.

55. “The Past Xehanort” (Dream Drop Distance)

Time travel and Kingdom Hearts never really mixed well. However, it allowed for an all-star collection of villains from past games to reconvene and collaborate in some of the more modern titles. It is in this scene that we are given the initial look at the thirteen vessels that will combat the seven Guardians of Light in the Xehanort Saga’s decisive battle. While most of them sit with their hoods up, Riku seems completely overmatched as he looks in horror around the room as the seats fill with darkness. In the context of the whole time travel plan being revealed, this is a big Band-Aid rip that Dream Drop Distance desperately needed to make happen. Basically, the presence of time travel is annoying, but the ultimate goal and execution of it came to a relatively quick conclusion right here. It also is worth noting that Young Xehanort has such an uncomfortable presence about him. All of the shady charisma that he would gain with age is completely absent here, which adds to the macabre mood.

54. “This World Has Been Connected” (Kingdom Hearts)

The “Secret Place” has got a great, juxtaposed atmosphere. On one hand, Sora, Riku and Kairi must’ve spent countless afternoons here carving the cave walls and collecting mushrooms. It’s hard to imagine a more interesting spot for childlike wonder to bloom. On the other hand, it is an inherently spooky location given its dim lighting in contrast to the vibrant Destiny Island shores. This scene uses a little bit of both in our first trip to the area. The hunched coat taken over by Ansem’s heart, however, steals the show, as he rambles on about how the world in question is swiftly creeping towards its grim fate. Ansem mostly ignores Sora’s retorts, making it all play out as more of a warning shot monologue than an open forum. The world is going to fall regardless, so any restraint at all is hardly necessary. Ansem’s vague terminology and taunts, while not exceptionally resonant on a first playthrough, sound like just the right amount of menacing. Interestingly, this is the last we see of this character or this cloak for a long while. When he finally reappears, he’s back in the narrative to stay.

53. “Good-bye, Buddy” (Kingdom Hearts II)

There is a lot of debate as to when this scene is happening. Is it the past? An alternate present? While it is an undeniably tender moment between Roxas and Axel no matter when it takes place, the most likely answer is that this conversation exists within some purgatory-esque plane. After all, references to Namine and genuine memories of Roxas palling around with the Twilight Town teens don’t quite match any timeline we know of. In any case, this is when Roxas finally accepts that Sora is someone that the lost hearts club can put their faith in. Touchingly, Roxas’ intuition tells him this, which is as good of a case as any when it comes to Nobodies having hearts. We are led to believe that Roxas will do his part from within to lead Sora down the right path. As opposed to what we may have thought before, the former Organization member is not a passenger as Sora holds the wheel; they are equal players working towards a similar and noble goal. It is rare that the series’ unconventional storytelling techniques are met with an emotionally-charged tone, but this is one of those times.

52. “Another Side, Another Story – Deep Dive” (Kingdom Hearts)

Ooooh, a Special Secret Movie! “Deep Dive” is flashy, shiny and still a complete mind-bender after all of these years. The quotes and countdown that set the pace of the action are not meant for a single viewing. In fact, none of it is. It demanded and demands multiple viewings to truly wrap your mind around it. The sheer intensity of “Deep Dive” would be enough to warrant a spot on this list, but the Kingdom Hearts team did a phenomenal job of tying most of this in to both Kingdom Hearts II and 358/2 Days. The wheels that made future games spin caught traction with this obscure piece of computer-generated adrenaline. True to its name, it dove deep into the series’ greater narrative. “Deep Dive” was considered a strong enough piece on its own that it was given the legs to contribute to the larger story. Hardly some mindless, popcorn filler, here’s a shining example of Kingdom Hearts embracing its wackiness and giving us flavor rather than just a small taste.

51. “The Keyblade Masters” (Birth by Sleep)

The rare instance in which we get to take a peek into the time before Birth by Sleep, this scene between two of the Keyblade’s chosen shows us the climax of a wounded friendship. Xehanort and Eraqus have come a long way since metaphorical chess matches. The duo are seen discussing Xehanort’s ambitions and his yearning for knowledge, while Eraqus dismisses him and his poetic excuses as being destructive. In the midst of the arguing, Eraqus mentions that he will not allow Xehanort to carry out his lofty but dangerous goals while he is still alive. While a throwaway line on first listen, it serves as an unfortunately helpful clue as to what Xehanort must sacrifice on his quest for Kingdom Hearts. In order to achieve his dream, his oldest acquaintance must be out of the picture. In the meantime, this exchange leaves us wondering about Master Xehanort’s origins. As a Keyblade Master, somewhere in there is a good heart that has been led astray by a dark curiosity. Where and when did things go sour?

 

To 70-61: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121605-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-70-61/

To 50-41: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121643-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-50-41/

 

Edited by InnerLight13

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