I played Chain of Memories somewhere around 2004 or 2005. Fell in love with everything about it, and started playing the rest of the games one by one and reading articles to support and develop my theories about the series. I used to write fanfictions and draw fanart Not so much anymore, although I enjoy following other artists. (Trivia: My favorite ship used to be AkuRoku! Nowadays, I don't have one.)
I started admining this Kingdom Hearts fanpage on Facebook in late 2012, and for two years, I worked really hard to make it one of the best (imo the best) KH fanpages on FB at the time! We even got the official KH Twitter to follow us! But my creativity was going in another direction, so I left to do other things... among which, write for KH13.
Throughout the years, since 2012, I got to know a lot of people who were very active in the KH fandom and some of the best fans of the series. Among these were fan journalists such as Churro and DChiuch. I also got to know some other cool peeps such as the lovely Lauren and Darryl from KHUnion. I've also gotten to meet a lot of cool peeps from the Square Enix PR and marketing team, such as Dan, Mat, and Sunil among others - and they're some of the most hard-working people I know! We are so blessed to have them market SE products outside Japan. I've also made some irreversible, very close relationships with some of the best people I could ever have dreamed of being friends with who shared my same passion. This includes Leamax, who is literally my partner in crime; Omelette, who is the creator and main manager of KHMemes, a twitter account followed by the official Kingdom Hearts twitter account; and Mihari-chan (pet name: Mihari Chai), arguably one of my bestest friends and former project manager of the Keybearers' Alliance (formerly known as Project: Disneyland of Departure)! There are so many other amazing people and influencers, I can't possibly name everyone, but love every single one of them.
I've been sharing KH news as soon as it got online over the years, and did quite a bit of writing myself, so why not - I decided to join KH13.com as a News Team Member on March 2016. I've been encouraged by Sora96 to apply for this before, but I was skeptical of the role at first - but a few months into this role actually gave me a lot of insights! When I first joined I didn't join with much purpose, but later on I realized that it was extremely fun. I've got to meet people who have read my articles in real life and it's the most amazing thing ever! I'm also Italian, so I've contributed to some translations that were featured here at KH13.com and in various Final Fantasy fansites! By attending certain KH-related events, I've also been able to contribute to the news in first person! The smallest contribution brings me joy, so I think I will continue with news reporting until I get sick of it
A year after joining the team, I am the News Team Leader at KH13.com! I absolutely love all the people who have been part of the team so far. We are a big family.
Oh, and I now cosplay Aqua, so I share my cosplay adventures on social media too. I also host a biennial Kingdom Hearts cosplay meet at MCM London Comic Con, so feel free to come by! Here's a video from our cosplay meet!
I try to attend any event related to Kingdom Hearts. My first event was the KH 1.5 pre-launch event in London on 2013, where I managed to win a ticket for (thank you KHInsider for that!). I got to meet Shinji Hashimoto (KH series executive producer) and Yoko Shimomura (KH series composer) and talk to them about their work - it was honestly a dream come true. I managed to ask Shinji Hashimoto a question about whether they'll make a HD remake for Days to make it playable (his answer was "we're not thinking about it at the moment"), and I got to tell Yoko Shimomura that I love her work, that she's a role model for me, and that my favorite track is Musique pour la Tristesse de Xion. Later, when I saw a KH13.com article with pictures from the event, I was literally screaming inside: "There I am in the picture OMG!" Same when I saw my picture from the green screen photo with Halloween Town as the background on the official Facebook page. I was honestly such a stereotypical fangirl, I just couldn't contian my excitement. Yay for late-onset puberty.
My second event was the KH2.5 launch event in London, where I got to meet KH3 producer Rie Nishi and co-director Tai Yasue - and they signed my keyblade! So honored. This is also where I met Mat and Dan. One of the cool things about having friends who live on the other side of the Atlantic who also attend KH-related events is that you can talk about them with the Square Enix EU/NA team, who are always travelling back and forth - and they say: "Yeah, I met your friends over there, they told me about you!" Hurray for long distance friendships - we share the same sky!
At this event, I couldn't help but take a bathroom selfie with my keyblade (haha basic), which I put as my profile picture. a few months later, a certain boy saw this picture on Facebook, which caught his interest. He sent me a friend request and within the next 3 years, we got to know each other, started dating, and now we are married. And it all started with a game... Our hearts are connected.
After I got my keyblade signed at the 2.5 launch event, I developed this weird sort of habit to get it signed by anyone majorly involved in the production, development, and distribution of KH! Or whoever I like in relation to KH. I got a few more signatures from VAs, PR, and Shinji Hashimoto and Yoko Shimomura when I met them again.
When I met Yoko for the third time I actually managed to give her one of the coolest things ever - a personalized wayfinder with Dearly Beloved's notes within the design. She was beyond surprised! I just love the KH music so much. The Orchestra was simply amazing, and so were the renditions in Symphonic Fantasies. One time I was even lucky enough to meet Kaoru Wada, who is in charge of arranging orchestral pieces for the KH series (Fantasia alla Marcia, anyone?), and I actually managed to have a five minute conversation with him without much trouble with the whole English/Japanese language barrier. But just my luck that I had forgotten to bring my keyblade with me to sign! I was ecstatic to meet the man behind my absolute favorite Kingdom Hearts track.
I am so blessed to be able to attend all these events. It's not really about pictures or autographs or even simply meeting the people behind the things you love, but it's the whole atmosphere of solidarity and the emotions that come with the appreciation of true works of art. I've been able to meet a lot of my online friends, plus make some new ones.
Most people, even when knowing my real name (Fatima/Farhana), just call me Aqua. (No, Aqua is not one of my favorite characters. I had literally no connection to Aqua when I got this nickname, but that story is probably irrelevant to you!)
I love to cosplay. I wear a headscarf - also knows as a "hijab" (which also means something along the lines of "covering up", and "modesty"). I am therefore an average (or below average?) "hijabi". Cosplay is thus a bit more interesting for me, seeing how I incorporate the elements of the hijab in my costumes, oftentimes I come up with some really cool costume designs. After producing 4 successful cosplays, I was featured on a trending Buzzfeed article in my Konan costume. After that, I just knew I wanted to keep cosplaying even more characters! I debuted my Aqua cosplay at MCM London Comic Con on October 2016, and look forward to improve it even further for next year! Here are some of my cosplays, and you can follow me on Instagram to find more pictures of cosplay and other things.
I was also more recently featured on Amaliah.com and on BBC Asian Network and radio. Since my first Tobi (Naruto) cosplay and along with my Aqua cosplay, I have also cosplayed as Konan and Hinata from Naruto, Lightning from Final Fantasy FFXIII, and No Face/Kaonashi from Spirited Away. I probably missed one but I don't remember...
Kingdom Hearts means so much more to me than just the games: to me, it's really about the story and the different elements of it and how it unites the community. And I love being a part of this community! To me, it's not even about JUST KH anymore. It's all of the little things, perculiar hobbies, different fandoms, and dank memes that connect us all on the basis of our common passion for this videogame.
Anywho, here's (most of) my story so far, but expect this space to be updated with more experiences as time passes! And if you have any questions or just wanna say hi, feel free!