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The 100 Greatest Kingdom Hearts Scenes (30-21)

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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.


30. “More to Seek” (Kingdom Hearts III)

In 2002, five-year olds everywhere, who thought they received a simple game with Donald and Goofy, were kept up at night by the terrifying image of Ansem. In 2019, the 22-year old versions of those same children were spoken to tenderly by the same guy. Ansem seemed completely evil back when he sounded like Billy Zane, and the Richard Epcar version did little to soften his malevolent streak. But here, the Heartless of Terranort shows off his soft side. Riku acknowledges that he’ll miss Ansem, and old-school fans can share in that feeling of finally moving past the character’s reign. While everything does eventually come back to Xehanort, this was the original bad guy. He drove Riku’s entire arc in the same way that his actions in Kingdom Hearts added some intrigue and worldliness to an otherwise simple story. As the Dark Seeker Saga reached its conclusion, a sentiment of moving on was a bittersweet reminder that we weren’t the same kids who played the first game nearly twenty years ago. Therefore, we should be mentally prepared to embrace whatever comes next.

29. “Was It a Dream?” (Kingdom Hearts)

In the beginning, there was just a boy napping on the beach. For the record, this is a great opening scene where some vital threads become apparent right off the bat. We learn the names of the three most important characters in the series, the outside world is introduced in aspirational terms and the Sora vs Riku dichotomy already shows up in the form of the race. How about the world name fading in? Or the first world theme? These are the little details that we easily take for granted, but they’re also very charming and fill out the world we’ve just been plopped into. Coming off of the gloomy and almost completely silent Dive to the Heart segment to open the game, our first voiced cutscene is a breath of fresh ocean air. It feels like a brand new adventure is starting every time you play it back, giving it an essential timelessness that can’t easily be conveyed in the usual exposition scene. The hook was in the second the line was cast.

28. “The Start of an Adventure” (Kingdom Hearts)

Much like the scene you just read about above, this is the introduction to another iconic triple threat. However, this restart to the adventure marks the formation of a trio we spend a lot more time with. While Sora, Riku and Kairi often have their own stories going on, the arcs of Sora, Donald and Goofy play out in a parallel line. There is an unexpectedly sneaky tone to this scene. Even though they say all for one and one for all, Sora and Donald are set up to have a little distrust in each other’s motives. There’s a certain scene in Hollow Bastion later on that makes this first interaction seem all too much like foreshadowing. Regardless, there is some nice comfortability amongst these three, highlighted by Sora’s gleeful smile that loosens everyone’s suspicions up a little bit. The birth of this long-lasting friendship gets off to a memorable start in the Third District. Alright, who’s ready to take on some Disney worlds?

27. “Legacy” (Birth by Sleep)

Terra knows he is somewhere special when he recognizes the Paopu Fruit as being the visual basis for the Wayfinder. However, he may not have fully imagined that he was in the presence of two very important people. Before getting to the big hitting moments, Sora being completely ignored in this scene really emphasizes his “ordinary” vibe in a way that simply saying so never could. Riku is the more distinctly special of the two, and he catches Terra’s eye not long after the faux Master arrives on the Destiny Islands. The title of this scene is a reference not only to Terra’s emotional blade power shift in the direction of Riku. The boy who left the island long ago was the first in a line of ambitious young men who veered a little too close to the darkness. From Xehanort to Terra, and now little Riku, the line of succession on this unfortunate side effect of being afforded a little too much power is a cautionary tale. Terra didn’t just pass on the Keyblade; he handed off his idyllic power struggle.

26. “From Chains to Bonds” (Kingdom Hearts III)

After so much teasing and Terranort trickery, the real Terra is finally welcomed back into the fold. Chains can be a restrictive force that hold us back, or they can keep us connected to the people we know. In this scene from the Keyblade Graveyard showdowns, the literal chains that nearly take Aqua and Ventus’ lives are traded in for the metaphorical bond that brings the Wayfinder trio back together. The look we get of Aqua and Ventus hanging with their heads down is undoubtedly dark. As they are dropped to their deaths, the previously submissive Guardian, who was introduced all the way back in the first Kingdom Hearts, comes to their rescue. In fact, Terra’s heart was stored within the Guardian all this time. It’s an awesome reveal that ties together a few minor loose ends in regards to the Guardian’s origin. Terra’s return, however, is no small matter. His appreciative acknowledgment of Aqua’s efforts and sacrifices are consistent with, dare I say, a possible love connection for those two. And, of course, his long-awaited reunion with Ventus is a nice callback to the last time they saw each other way back when. After so long, the Wayfinders are brought back together with a pitch perfect series of events.

25. “Vexen’s End” (Chain of Memories)

As a wise young man once said, “Not a very organized Organization!” The inner turmoil of this mysterious group is on full display here, as is the erratic nature of Axel’s character. Let’s start with the victim. Vexen starts to give up some pretty important plot points that will definitely screw things up for Marluxia. His tendency to switch sides, depending on who is most aligned with his research’s purpose, was in the blossoming process all the way back in Castle Oblivion. Unfortunately for Vexen, Axel is in his traitor assassinator phase at this point and has an ulterior motive to knock off the senior members of the Organization to boot. He arrives with a “YO,” kills his coworker with a finger snap, and then claims to be under the pressure of dealing with a constant existential crisis. Things really do move as fast as I’ve tried to portray them, and the whole scene seems to play for shock value. Once it is properly processed, you’re left with a better understanding of the ruthlessness and wit that course through the Organization’s collective bloodstream.

24. “The Chamber of Repose” (Kingdom Hearts II)

If you’ve never played Chain of Memories and you’re wondering where the other five members of the Organization are, let me introduce you to Vexen and Zexion. They don’t do much in this scene, but, truth be told, it’s just nice to see them included. This is an extremely rare instance in which COM and KH2 Organization members are seen actually conversing. Another member, Marluxia, is mentioned as being the newest members, a nice easter egg that helps us place this in the timeline. The star of the show, as he seems to be in just about every scene he’s in, is Xigbar. Here he’s talking about the Chamber of Repose and the Chamber of Waking, two terms that wouldn’t be explored any further until Birth by Sleep. By release order, this is where we get the first reference to the name “Xehanort.” I don’t know if you’ve heard, but that guy is really important. Xigbar is the biggest soup stirrer in the series, and his tendency to play dumb often reveals secrecy or a lack of knowledge in those around him. In this Final Mix exclusive, he’s in his exposition prime.

23. “Vanitas Returns” (Birth by Sleep)

No one knows how to get under Aqua’s skin like the supremely negative Vanitas. His theme song playing with a backdrop of NeverLand’s Indian Camp makes this sinister villain a transcendent bad guy. Even in a world of light, Vanitas will come in and rain on Aqua’s parade. He does this to the tune of snapping the wooden Keyblade, perhaps the second most valuable item in the Wayfinder triangle, clean in half. It’s a pretty stunning moment that cracks Aqua. No piece of dialogue and delivery was ever more deserved than Willa Holland’s take on “You freak!” It’s a real voice of the audience insult that shockingly has not been meme’d to death. It’s funny that all of Vanitas’ threats are child’s play compared to that one brief instant where he breaks the symbolic representation of Ventus and Terra’s relationship. That it hurts Aqua so deeply is a telling character moment. She feels a steaming disgust on behalf of her friends, making the snap even more powerful than it might have been had it been Ventus or Terra there to see it. Like an older sister defending her brothers, Aqua springs into action to give Vanitas the ass-kicking he earned.

22. “Kingdom Hearts” (Birth by Sleep)

I would imagine that many would consider the Kingdom Hearts II Secret Ending to be the strongest showing of this scene, but I believe that Birth by Sleep ‘s grainier but more meaningful version takes the cake. Master Xehanort’s impressive power is seen in action here. He tosses Terra, Aqua and Ventus around the battlefield like they’re mannequins. To him, they are. Our heroes are at a great disadvantage, with even Master Aqua doing little to stop the destruction at hand. Even the ways he uses his environment to wreak havoc is unique. The wave of keys and uneven terrain are his doing. And as if Xehanort’s upper hand wasn’t clear enough, he summons Kingdom Hearts. The sight of the villain getting their way so easily is not a common image in the series. Then again, there’s no one in the series who is really worthy of a Master Xehanort comparison. The battle that would end in tragedy started off with overwhelming odds.

21. “Lost Masters” (Kingdom Hearts III)

This is one grand way to leap into the next saga. Kingdom Hearts III’s epilogue is a brilliant piece of work that stands out as great is every conceivable way. Luxu’s reveal party is attended by his old friends, the Foretellers, and if your jaw didn’t hit the floor when you first heard his voice or saw his face, you might want to check your pulse. When you change a character’s identity at the last second, it will most definitely fall flat, but this one works because there was always a feeling that Xigbar had a bigger role to play than the average Organization member. Let’s talk about the Foretellers for a moment and thank the casting directors for finding the perfect voice actors to bring them to life. We got to hear them in Back Cover, but they’re simply on another level of natural right here. They bring the same shock and confusion to this scene that we were feeling at home when all of this was unfolding on screen. Bravo for including Maleficent and Pete, too, as it now feels like they are involved and ready to do something important. This is an elite Kingdom Hearts scene that brought all of the firepower needed to get people enthused for the next chapter.


To 40-31: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121653-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-40-31/

To 20-11: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121663-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-20-11/

Edited by InnerLight13

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