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InnerLight13

The 100 Greatest Kingdom Hearts Scenes (10-1)

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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.

10. “Ending” (Kingdom Hearts III)

When in doubt, trust the ensemble. Even though Sora is the connection between just about everyone in the series, Kingdom Hearts III was unique in that it needed to offer closure for the entire cast of characters. Even though Xehanort is defeated, Sora won’t be satisfied until he finds Kairi. After he leaves, everyone returns to their comfort zone. The Disney crew heads back to the Castle where they are greeted with a firework show. The Wayfinders return to the spot where they had their last happy moment together to mourn their Master in a touching, personal funeral ceremony. The Twilight Town clock tower sees Axel, Roxas and Xion in their news duds enjoying an ice cream together, before being joined by Saix, Hayner, Pence and Olette. Then we see Riku picking up a finally recompleted Namine in Radiant Garden. Each of these roads lead to a seemingly peaceful day on the Destiny Islands (Hey, Roxas got to go to the beach!). Frisbees are being thrown and sandcastles are being built. All is right with everyone for once. But then the camera flips to Kairi and Sora, where we see the effects of Kairi’s rescue. Sora fades away in the wind and the credits begin to roll. Undoubtedly divisive, it is important to remember that bittersweet isn’t a bad thing. By the looks of things, Sora made the most daringly selfless move he could make. Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him sacrifice his existence for Kairi. Sora being true to his impulsive, caring soul is the reason we celebrate him. At times, it seems, it may also have to be our reason to weep for him.

9. “The Promise” (Kingdom Hearts)

Where do we start when discussing one of the most charming scenes from the most charming game in the series? We could talk about Sora and Kairi’s adorable chemistry or the promise itself, but at some point you just can’t bring proper justice to this magical little vow surrounded by some of the game’s darkest moments. In fact, its placement is one of the best things about it. The titular promise is an oath that Sora plans on keeping no matter what darkness is coming next. Having said that, the moments that come before this scene aren’t necessarily the brightest either. Sora’s breakdown of his sacrifice and subsequent return to human form by way of Kairi’s light is a nice microcosm of their entire relationship. There is this sense that as long as Kairi is safe, Sora is ready to take on anything. This includes having an inner feeling, which would become a revisited method of keeping connected to those who are far away as the series continued. So much of his confidence and his strength hinges on her status, and so when they actually get a chance to speak and further their connection, the result is usually sweet all the way. The promise does in fact revolve around a physical manifestation of their faith in one another in the form of Kairi’s good luck charm, but the real tie is the connection that their hearts make. We’re still learning about the characters and what drives them this early into the story at large, and “The Promise” is a massively important building block for more than just Sora and Kairi going forward. While other games would take the story and characters to new heights, leave it to a quiet moment like this one to imprint the warmest feeling in your heart.

8. “The True Master” (Kingdom Hearts)

Here’s one of the big “WTF” scene in a series chock full of such moments. However, there’s also a lot to take away from the events we see here both from a character and myth standpoint. First of all, shout out to Beast for ripping through space to get to Hollow Bastion from his castle. I’ve always pictured him jumping from meteor to Gummi ring and then hitching a ride on a Heartless ship while he fights through the elements. Dude’s a freakin’ badass. Once Sora arrives, Riku makes like the idiot he is at this point and starts rattling off a bunch of nonsense about their rivalry from back in the day (Okay buddy, relax.). But then we get the big moment where Riku is able to summon the Keyblade, dashing Sora’s hopes and swiping his thought-to-be BFFs in the process. A few interesting things are happening on the side here. It’s very cool to see how hesitant the blade is to leave Sora’s hands. It shakes for a few seconds as if it is scared to follow the destiny written out for it. The Keyblade having its own will is a concept long since forgotten, but it’s an extremely compelling plot point in times like these. This scene also brings up a host of questions. How was Riku able to take the Keyblade? What is his next course of action now that he has it? What are Riku, Donald and Goofy going to talk about? For that second question, it’s pretty clear in retrospect that Riku has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. If you think that the Keyblade’s two main utilities are unlocking the secret door and vaguely changing the world, you might want to iron out the details a bit on what exactly you’re going to do. He’s on the right track, as we get to know in future games, but he’s woefully ill-prepared to do anything important on his own. Sora doesn’t really know what he’s doing either, but his heart is at least in the right place. What will bring the Keyblade back to him is foreshadowed when Sora runs to Beast’s aid after he falls from his injuries. This kid is probably going to die here without the Gummi Ship, but he still has time to check on someone who needs him. Keyblade or not, Sora is a hero.

7. “Kairi Awakens” (Kingdom Hearts)

Perhaps more aptly titled “Sora’s Sacrifice,” this is another standout scene for our hero. I’m sensing a trend. His daring heart release is a stunning move by the standards of any fictional work. I mean, did we just lose our main character? It’s a shocking development that has an immediate impact on the action in Hollow Bastion. The other princesses getting their hearts back gives us a closer look at their extremely creepy cryogenic standing. The thought of them getting their hearts extracted is genuinely upsetting. They were kidnapped and couldn’t fight back. It’s best that I don’t dwell on this, because it honestly makes me sad. By the way, it’s a good thing when we (or maybe just I) can feel so much for characters we hardly hear a peep from in the entire first game. Let’s not forget that this was also the birth of Roxas and Namine. The creation of Sora’s Heartless, stemming from his sacrificial act, was the moment in which his Nobody was created. This is an oft-spoken of but still incredibly interesting connection within the series’ chronology. In addition, this is our first look at Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, voiced perfectly by Billy Zane. It’s a real shame we didn’t hear more from him. We get Riku back on the side of the good guys here, too, as he internally stalls Ansem for just long enough to allow the others to escape the Grand Hall. It took Sora stabbing himself for Riku to snap back into it, but hey, whatever it takes. The bravery on display here is immeasurable, as Sora truly does make the greatest sacrifice in order to help Kairi and the other princesses. This wasn’t just a risk; he was willing to lose it all for her.

6. “Tears” (358/2 Days)

Again, where to begin? The implications of Xion’s tragic death are immense. The saddest part never ceases to be her friends forgetting her, but her presence being out of sight and out of mind is just the beginning. Even before the battle, Xion’s speaking voice being paired with Sora’s likeness is the holy grail of Kingdom Hearts weirdness. Being so used to hearing Haley Joel Osment’s voice come from Sora’s mouth, the alternative we hear in this scene is a massive mind-bending moment. The added cinematic representing the fight between the two friends was a welcome portrayal of Xion’s crushing defeat by Roxas’ hand. It’s the saddest fight in the entire series and it deserved the proper context it received with the add-on in the remastered edition. Xion’s crystalized fade is the real essential in this scene, and it really is worthy of all the hype it gets. Even though the ice cream line gets a lot of negative attention, consider the relationship these two have had. It starts and grows over many ice cream talks on the clock tower. Out of context, the line is despised for its momentum shattering awkwardness, but we fans of the series know better because we’ve seen the entirety of Roxas and Xion’s time together. For them, ice cream was one of the only good things in their crummy existence. Without Xion, the good times are officially over. Xion’s dying request for Roxas to free the hearts she’s collected on Xemnas’ watch is a worthy plea that will go unfinished by Roxas himself. Though Sora will accomplish this with Roxas along for the ride, consider the losses that needed to be suffered in order for that freedom to come. Xion put her life on the line so that Sora could have a chance at reawakening. The cost of Sora’s good times went far beyond a broken chain of memories.

5. “Closing the Door” (Kingdom Hearts)

M-I-C! K-E-Y! M-O-U-S-E! In a stone cold stunner of an ending from top to bottom, there may be no stronger image than the famous Disney mascot finally making his appearance in Kingdom Hearts. But even without that epic cameo, the emotions run high as the original game comes to a beautiful conclusion. Riku joins in the effort to close the Door to Darkness, signaling that his much-needed redemption tour is well underway. Not only is he courageously helping out, but he’s also consciously locking himself on the dark side of things. It’s a sacrificial play that shows that his lesson is learned, and that he will be a key ally going forward. Luckily, Riku won’t be alone. The aforementioned Mickey will see to his relief. Oft-forgotten is the fact that Mickey is the first character we see, other than Sora and briefly Riku, holding a Keyblade. Besides Sora, he’s the first one to wield it with good intentions. Apparently, Sora is not alone in his power. Until the very end, the original Kingdom Hearts was adding to the universe, and, in this case, it’s bloody brilliant. I think everyone agrees that there are one or two undeserved Keyblades out there in the series right now, but just Mickey and Sora having one for a brief window was a very cool selection dynamic. So, yeah, in conclusion, this is a great scene. Thanks for reading! …BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT KAIRI STUFF??? The worlds being relit and Kairi and Sora’s farewell (featuring one of the greatest musical cues ever) is some of the most pleasing imagery the series has produced. It’s the perfect amount of bittersweet. Though Kairi and Sora are to be separated yet again, Sora, Donald and Goofy’s efforts have paid off, and Kairi is returned to safety in the process. If ever there was a time to go with an incomplete ending, this was it. We’re happy with what we’re seeing, but we also need to know what happens next. That’s the thread that connects every great first chapter.

4. “The Seeker of Darkness” (Kingdom Hearts)

How many times did you have to watch this scene as a kid? Lost in a sea of defeats at the hands of Riku-Ansem is the critical nature of Sora coming face-to-face with his possessed best friend. This version of Riku is sporting wide open eyes and a hunger for madness. It’s clear our friend is lost in a deeper oblivion than he was when he was teasing Sora in Monstro. I’ve pointed out some creepy stuff throughout this list, but there is nothing more haunting in this series than Ansem’s hold over Riku in action. He does unveil some important information, though, including his name. That guy Ansem, who was mentioned way back in Traverse Town, finally revealing himself in the way that he does should be enough to get the player fired up and wanting to know more. Further information comes in the form of Kairi being a Princess of Heart. Though it was assumed her role was of some significant importance to Maleficent, it is nice to have some confirmation regarding her status as a pure light. The more interesting revelation made about Kairi in this scene is actually that her heart has been resting inside of Sora for almost the entire game. By the way, this doesn’t just happen without visual evidence. During the collapse of Destiny Islands, the heart transplant (?) happens when Kairi goes through Sora. It’s easy to catch, but it also could’ve just been some trippy weirdness to accompany the chaos. I’ve always held onto the thought that the best part of this scene, even with all of these moving parts, is Sora fighting back. The ferocity in Haley Joel Osment’s voice is that of a warrior who has come across an additional piece of motivation. His goal for the entire game is to find his friends, and he accomplishes that right here. However, to save them, he’ll need to dig a little bit deeper.

3. “Blank Points” (Birth by Sleep)

Probably the consensus greatest scene in the series’ history, I can get on with thinking “Blank Points” is just that. Had 0.2 not slightly nerfed its power, it may very well have been number one on this list as well, but I digress. For all of the hype that surrounds this scene, we really only ever talk about the Aqua side of things. There is some very cool stuff before we ever get to the Dark World, so let’s examine that first. I really enjoy Master Xehanort and Terra having the calmest argument ever inside of their shared heart. Xehanort’s dismissal of Terra’s big picture importance is pretty cold all things considered. Oh, so you take over his body and then say that he may or may not be an important piece of what you have planned? Bastard. Terra holding Eraqus’ spirit inside of him is some heartception stuff that comes up clutch in the endgame, so props on giving us some background on that rather than it just happening with absolutely no context at a later date. Our next slice of the scene happens in the corridors of Hollow Bastion, where Braig and Terranort have a pretty fun interaction. Braig checking to make sure he didn’t just cozy up to a grey-haired Terra is… okay, it’s just funny. I could read into it, but really it’s just a neat little detail that matches Braig’s voice and persona perfectly. But the part you’ve all been waiting for is the Aqua and Ansem the Wise conversation, and it is just about as good as its reputation would lead you to believe. The gist is that Sora’s incredible magnetism gives everyone hope, regardless of whether he’s ever met. Just the fact that he’s out there somewhere as a concept is enough to give the rest of the cast hope. The implications that come along with that belief are immense considering how many people’s lives rely on Sora, but there’s no reason to doubt that the job will get done. At the end of the day, putting your faith in Sora is a foolproof strategy.

2. “Memorized” (Birth by Sleep)

How in the world can a bottle scene like this possibly rank higher than some of the other scenes listed in the top 10? If nothing else, this series has always had a big heart and a lovable cast of characters. When we think about why we love Kingdom Hearts, the tragic endings and cinematic cutscenes are hardly the first things that come to mind. The small scenes that feature the colorful cast of characters are the ones that often mean the most to people when they recollect. “Memorized” begins with a smoping Ventus aimlessly swinging around the wooden Keyblade, but ends with a genuinely good moral about having an immortal soul. Ventus just got into a pair of awkward exchanges with Terra and Aqua, and now he’s left questioning the very meaning of friendship. Into the frame come Lea and Isa, the boyish reimaginings of Axel and Saix. After a playful skirmish ensues, Lea steps in to drop some philosophy on his unassuming pair of friends. In the minds of those who know him, he is confident that his life can go on forever. The repeated “Got It Memorized” motif takes on a whole new meaning once you realize what Axel is getting at in his own personal journey towards never being forgotten. His non-existence as a Nobody must hurt even more, knowing that his memorability is constantly at risk. There’s bonus points to be had here as well, with Isa’s line regarding Lea’s affinity for lost souls hitting pretty hard when considering Roxas and Xion’s initial zombified state.  Axel, quite possibly the best original character in the series, is fittingly gifted the best character study scene in all of Kingdom Hearts. His creed is taken seriously in the face of incredible odds, but here they are said so effortlessly. Plenty of other moments are more significant to the plot’s motion, but no scene in the series lays out the complicated struggles and triumphs at the center of Kingdom Hearts more beautifully than this one.

1. “My Friends Are My Power” (Kingdom Hearts)

Here, at the top of the list, is a statement that has held true throughout the entire series. Whenever there was a doubt of whether Sora would be able to find the light in the darkness, this powerful statement made in the first, and best, game in the series is gripped tightly. At Hollow Bastion, Sora has just lost Beast from his party and has come back into contact with the former friends club band. Convinced that his heart is stronger due to the ties he has made over the course of the game, Sora is confident that his destruction at the hands of Riku will not be the end of him. As long as an internal fire remains, Sora’s energy will persist. As Riku goes to deal the fatal blow, Goofy and Donald come to his side. Not even their mission can get in the way of their loyalty to a friend. It’s a full team effort to restore the collective faith, but still Sora stands without a weapon. After dropping the now famous line, for which this scene is named, the Keyblade fights destiny and returns to Sora in his time of need. The relentless hope of Sora displayed in this scene contrasted with Riku’s selfish ambition is the entire series’ conflict packed into one confrontation. While power and following a destined path are often the motivations for successful but cruel deeds, true strength is consistently found in the little things that connect the characters to each other. At times that consists of holding onto hope that a lost friend will return. Sometimes it means believing that a heart’s most essential memories will be kept in a safe place. Other times it’s as simple as knowing that symbolic bonds are just as resilient as the ones right in front of your nose. Call it cheesy all you want. Sometimes the simplest sentiments are the ones made with the purest sincerity.

 

Most Represented Characters in the Top 100:

57 – Sora

41 – Donald, Goofy

37 – Riku

27 – Mickey Mouse

26 – Kairi

25 – Axel/Lea

23 – Aqua

21 – Ventus

17 – Roxas

16 – Terra

 

Most Represented Worlds in the Top 100:

21 – Radiant Garden/Hollow Bastion

16 – Twilight Town

14 – Destiny Islands, Keyblade Graveyard

13 – The World That Never Was

7 – Castle Oblivion

6 – Dark World, Land of Departure

5 – Traverse Town

 

Scenes by Game

21 – Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts III

20 – Kingdom Hearts II

18 – Birth by Sleep + (0.2)

6 – 358/2 Days, Dream Drop Distance

5 – Chain of Memories

2 – Back Cover

1 – Coded

 

To 100-91: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121575-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-100-91/

To 90-81: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121583-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-90-81/

To 80-71: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121594-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-80-71/

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

To 60-51: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121623-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-60-51/

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

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

To 30-21: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121657-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-30-21/

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

 

 

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