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InnerLight13

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  1. 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/
  2. 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. 40. “Together Again” (Kingdom Hearts II) While the actual reunion scene between Sora, Riku and Kairi is also pretty touching, seeing these characters fight alongside each other is a much more interesting take that emphasizes their combined strength. The standout is Kairi, who we learn is also able to wield the Keyblade. It may be her strongest moment in the entire series. It isn’t just that she holds the Keyblade, but that she quickly and willingly proceeds to jumps right into battle with it. This is a girl on a mission, and her actions here make her promotion to Guardian of Light later on more believable. Unfortunately, it also makes some other choices the writers have made with her far more egregious. As that’s happening, Saix informs Sora that the Organization’s Kingdom Hearts is just about complete, essentially making Sora dispensable. This is a good setup for the fights that follow, as Sora’s transition from tool to threat means bad news for the Organization’s survivors unless the hero is stopped in his tracks. Nine down, four to go. 39. “Watch Out!” (Kingdom Hearts II) What a strange title. Goofy totally says “Look out!” in this scene’s big moment. But first, Demyx’s in-character but painful cries as he fades away are relatively disturbing considering the character’s generally peppy nature. Who would have thought that Demyx’s farewell would go on to be the second most memorable death in the scene? Mickey eventually meets up with the group and vows to work with them going forward, but that’s when Goofy’s head meets a round piece of rubble. The violent connection is still absolutely shocking at first glance, and while it was unlikely to hold up (it didn’t), it was still really jarring at the time. Goofy’s lifeless body lying on the ground while his friends question the reality of the situation is some of the strangest imagery the series has ever provided. And speaking of bonkers imagery, Mickey taking his revenge and finally doing away with his black coat is the kind of catharsis that only Kingdom Hearts can provide. This is some high-level E3 2001 fan fiction that’ll get long-time fans ready to run through a brick wall. In other words, this is why Kingdom Hearts exists. 38. “2.9 – The First Volume” (Birth by Sleep, 0.2) When Sora, Donald and Goofy are the focus of the action, the hype is almost always at an all-time high. While it was nice to play through 0.2 as Aqua and get some backstory regarding her still being there, the Sora scene of the game is certainly the highlight of the experience. There’s not just nostalgia when it comes to Sora, Donald and Goofy all being together; there’s a sense that something massive is about to happen. The something in this case is Kingdom Hearts III, which includes the most momentous task the trio has dealt with yet. Yen Sid gives them the update on what’s happening with the other main characters and sends them on their way to Olympus. Our first Gummi Ship interior shot then properly frames the much-anticipated Kingdom Hearts III with some crafty dialogue. The banter and charm of SDG’s interactions are still there, but then Goofy recites the phrase “May your heart be your guiding key.” The series’ expansion is rarely as clear as it is in that moment. The settings and characters haven’t changed much since the last time we were treated to these three, but the plot has never been as thick and the universal stakes have never been as high. 37. “The Outside World” (Kingdom Hearts) Here is where we get our first good look at Riku, the boy who would go on to become more than a rival in the worst way in the original Kingdom Hearts. His unparalleled thirst for travel is relatable, but it’s an ironic wish given the setting. There may be no more beautiful spot in the universe than Destiny Islands. I can see a case for Kingdom Hearts being associated with any of the seasons, but scenes like this give it a distinct summer feel. Anyway, Riku’s curiosity, which was undoubtedly the mold for Xehanort in future games, is brimming with ambition. Unfortunately, our friend would have trouble reigning it in, but it initially comes off as characteristically heroic. To stick with the rivalry arc, this is where we are introduced to the sacred Paopu, the ultimate symbol of togetherness, by Riku. The fruit we see here would kick off allusions and imitations galore throughout the series, marking its first appearance as one of the seminal moments of Kingdom Hearts mythology. 36. “The Light of the Past” (Kingdom Hearts III) Zisa who? Though it starts off as a pretty by-the-numbers “overcome by darkness” scene, “The Light of the Past” turns into a moment of glory that absolutely no one expected to happen. From the second the screen goes white and we see the heavenly glow surrounding the ancient Keyblade wielder Ephemer, we know something massive is about to happen. Then, of course, there’s the glorious Yoko Shimomura score backing things up, tossing the scene into another realm of excitement. Xehanort once referred to the keys left behind in the Keyblade Graveyard as lifeless, but he couldn’t have been more off target in his analysis. The keys of the past come to life and assist Sora and his friends in their time of need. I could see how the mobile game tie-in doesn’t sit well with some, but there is no denying that the name-in-game contest that was channeled through Union Cross was brilliantly handled. We, the fans, are involved in this fight. There’s been some buzz regarding Nomura’s focus on Kingdom Hearts III in the months following the game’s release, and it is possible that some of those concerns are valid. But after all of the systems we had to buy, convoluted plots threads we had to iron out and trailers we never got, scenes like this one prove that there is an overflow of care and passion put into the Kingdom Hearts series. 35. “Where the Road Leads” (Chain of Memories) Following the final boss, the easy writing technique is to have Riku finally cast out Ansem’s darkness once and for all and move on with his life. However, the easy road, both literally and figuratively, don’t quite match Riku’s style. He realizes that Ansem is still in there somewhere and that he won’t be able to shake him, so he doesn’t try. Rather, he puts his faith in Mickey and, most importantly, himself. If he can use the darkness and light in moderation, he can mold himself into a force like no one has ever seen before. Even DiZ gets fooled into thinking that light and darkness are the only two options, but Riku quickly shuts this thinking down. His declaration of walking the road to dawn is a line of liberation and recovery for this former a-hole. No longer is he caught in the petty rivalry between the sides of light and darkness. Riku decides to live and act on his own terms as a renegade warrior to the status quo and conventions of the Kingdom Hearts universe. He’ll probably never have a shot at taking over the mantle as the series’ main protagonist, but he would make a damn good one. 34. “The Last Light” (Kingdom Hearts III) Wow, all of those interval cutscenes with Ienzo, Vexen, Demyx and Ansem the Wise really paid off. The Days trio get a marvelous spotlight, with each of them making an enormous impression in this aptly titled scene. First, Axel’s new set of last words are of the fourth wall breaking variety. How dare Xemnas refer to Axel as bound to be forgotten? Both in and out of universe, Axel is a brand. Xion being unhooded and remembered by Axel is huge revelation for these characters, properly reversing one of the saddest endings to an arc. Her turn to the Guardians’ side was most definitely predicted by the always perceptive Xehanort, and it must have been the reason why the benched members of the New Organization were kept around. Roxas’ return, though, is the scene’s grand finale. His entrance is a complete crowd-pleaser and offers some nice closure for the aforementioned Radiant Garden crew… for now. What’s more, now Roxas can coexist alongside Sora, so the scene may even get better in time. Were it not for Kairi’s weakly scripted capture, this scene would’ve landed in the top 30. 33. “Destiny” (Coded) The only scene from Coded that is worthy of a spot on the list, here we get a nice breakdown of Xigbar’s genius. Throughout this Secret Ending, he baits the younger version of Xehanort into feeding him information he already knows and a little bit more just for fun. With his California surfer dude persona in full gear, it is easy to think that he is either not paying attention or doesn’t care, and he would probably agree should you say such a thing. But that’s the exact façade he is going for. The fact is that Xigbar is the smartest guy in the room because - irony incoming - he has seen the most. When Young Xehanort mentions that the No Name is the oldest Keyblade in existence, the former Luxu doesn’t let on to the fact that he was there when it was still being used by the Master of Masters. Only a slight squint lets us on to the fact that his plan is greater than anything that Xehanort has going on, but he’ll play along for the time being. The subtlety is worth a lot on the rewatch, and the character study in general is strong with this one. 32. “The Guardians of Light Gather” (Kingdom Hearts III) This is what we’ve wanted to see. Finally, each of the games is represented in a single frame on the night before the fated clash. There are too many meaningful connections made during the course of this scene to give them all proper due. The full extent of how intertwined these characters’ stories are may not be properly understood until a scene like this happens. Its sole purpose is to make those bonds come to light, and that’s perfectly fine. Honestly, it would probably be more awkward if they got to the Keyblade Graveyard and Axel didn’t reference Ventus looking exactly like Roxas. On that, it is super cool to see everyone in such high spirits. This series sometimes has trouble slipping into melancholy nonsense, so it feels good that we get a moment in which Axel demands answers about what a Jiminy Cricket is. While I have focused on Axel’s fairly prominent role here, the fact is that the entire ensemble is clicking. You can usually trust in a scene that facilitates the characters being themselves. 31. “Fly, Sora” (Kingdom Hearts) If you were wondering, this is the highest Disney-related scene on the list (though not necessarily the highest rated scene that takes place in a Disney world). It makes sense, as NeverLand is probably the most consistent Disney world in the series. All of the best hallmarks of a great Disney world scene pop up here. Captain Hook name drops Hollow Bastion, which is a pretty unique occasion on multiple levels. Rarely is a world’s name mentioned at all, let alone one that we have yet to visit. Also, Hollow Bastion? What movie is that from? The thematic elements are on point here as well. Peter Pan instilling a sense of belief in Sora and returning to his side as an ally before the Hook boss fight is the blueprint for what needs to happen with Riku, albeit on a much larger scale. When we judge whether a Disney world is working or not, we often come back to everything that this scene represents and portrays. To 50-41: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121643-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-50-41/ To 30-21: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121657-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-30-21/
  3. 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. 50. “His Last Words” (Kingdom Hearts II) Back in Chain of Memories, and even in the prologue of Kingdom Hearts II, Axel seems like he’s a goner at the hands of Sora and Roxas, respectively. Yet here he is in Betwixt and Between fighting alongside his spiky-haired counterpart against the adversaries he once commanded. The ultimate survivor, Axel’s sacrificial power play is a brilliantly intense conclusion to the character’s opening arc. Sure, he’ll return as Lea in the future, but his emotional final moment here is not in cinematic vain. In the main character, the Flurry of Dancing Flames senses the qualities of Roxas that motivated him to fight the power. While he goes out thinking he has no place in the world, Axel’s final stroke of goodwill by opening up a portal to the Organization’s home base offers up a reason for hope. If anyone can make sense of the mess that remains, he knows it will be the Somebody of his best friend. 49. “Return to the Light” (Kingdom Hearts III) For a moment that we all knew was coming, this one sure does hit hard. After wandering in the darkness for upwards of a decade’s worth of years, Aqua finally makes her triumphant return to the Realm of Light. Although she had returned back to her original state, the damage had been done to Aqua’s mentality after temporarily going dark. She recognizes the Destiny Islands, but assumes that they have fallen into the Dark World. At that point, her positive disposition from Birth by Sleep is just about completely stripped away. Her immediate doubt in the situation is quickly played off, however, as the group gives her the statement she desperately has wanted to hear: “You’re home.” The fact that there was an entire tech demo based on Aqua’s time in the Realm of Darkness should give off the impression that her time away from the main action had an enormous impact on everyone she was associated with. Now that this master of the blade has been rescued, the scope of the conflict ahead looks a whole lot sunnier. 48. “Organization XIII” (Kingdom Hearts II) The earliest concept for this scene had it taking place on the decks of Hollow Bastion, but the bailey of Radiant Garden works just fine. From Demyx’s goofy giggle to Xigbar’s enigmatic taunts, we get little hints about who Sora is dealing with going forward. In the midst of learning some new things, we’re also reminded of the past failures of this fractured group. Sora already has Roxas within him, Axel is notably absent and there is a suspicious lack of five other members. Still, the group is undeniably menacing from both their high perch and on ground level. Uncle Xiggy’s reference to someone having a similar look in their eyes to Sora is a tell-tale sign that he is engrained in a larger plot. Whether it is connected to the Organization or not is the real question. After all, his singularity in this moment is rather fishy. Things close out as Sora bids adieu to the familiar face of Leon. A new pathway has opened, and its name is Kingdom Hearts II. 47. “Namine’s Room” (Kingdom Hearts II) As Roxas glances at the drawings that Namine has accumulated over time, a calm silence with just a hint of breeziness outside come over the White Room. The prologue’s lead says that he knows himself better than anyone, but, even without the context of 358/2 Days, we know this is far from the truth. Strange things are happening in Twilight Town, and Namine must have the answer. When Roxas finally concedes and asks to know what she knows, the answer does nothing but hurt. Being told you were never meant to exist is a running dialogue throughout many of the scenes on this list, but it may never be delivered as bluntly as the way it is expressed here. Perhaps it is because we are actually controlling Roxas within the game, or maybe it is something completely different. Regardless, the constant struggle of nearly every humanoid Nobody essentially boils down to wanting to be meaningful. In the White Room, the seeds of this struggle are planted. 46. “Maleficent’s Darkness” (Kingdom Hearts) All the way up until this point in Hollow Bastion, we are led to believe that Maleficent is the true villain of Kingdom Hearts. We are under the impression that once Maleficent has fallen, things should begin to go back to normal. However, the Ansem-possessed Riku reveals that Maleficent was a pawn in the game, completely at the mercy of the mindless Heartless she seemingly had the ultimate power over. This is a completely game-changing scene for the entire series, as it is basically where the Dark Seeker Saga truly begins. The familiarity many players had with the Disney villains likely provided some comfort in the short-term, but a far greater threat was waiting close by to take advantage of their downfall. The whimsy and occasionally comedic tone of the series’ first installment was dashed when Maleficent’s Dragon went up in flames. Now, Sora and the crew are about to dive headfirst into a world of unknown characters with sinister intentions. Never again were Disney characters portrayed with as much menacing fire as they were before this moment. Kingdom Hearts detached itself as much as it could from the Disney name and was ready to shape a brand of its own in the scenes that followed Maleficent’s demise. 45. “Where Am I?” (Kingdom Hearts) Traverse Town, huh? It didn’t happen in the way that he wanted, but Sora has made it to another world, the first world we got to visit as the players as well. Just before he wakes up, Donald and Goofy arrive in town just in time to catch a glimpse of Destiny Islands’ star blinking out. Soon enough, Goofy establishes himself as the series’ most consistently logical character when he recommends that he and Donald follow Pluto down a back alley. Seeing Pluto wake up Sora is our first exposure to the crossover clash in practice. No longer will we only see hints of the Disney Castle combo hearing about the state of the worlds or Sora daydreaming about the outside world. The story hits its stride right here because the meet-up is inevitable. Turning the question from if to when so early in the game gives you something immediate to look forward to. Help is just around the corner. 44. “The Letter” (Kingdom Hearts II) Of the three main titles in the series, the ending that has the best grasp on the characters is the ending of Kingdom Hearts II. If you were to take out the post-credits sequences, this would have made a fine conclusion to the entire series. As the only purely happy ending the series has delivered to date, we are given a number of strong character moments worth mentioning. First, Sora and Riku’s heart to heart, while a bit on the cheesy side, is rare form for this pair. Kairi’s letter opening up the door that leads them back home is a delightful connection to the “one sky, one destiny” sentiment of the letter itself. Once they are back home, we are treated to one of the few times that the gang is all together in a time of peace. That’s the ending we expected would happen two games earlier, but the impact may be even stronger when it happens here instead. And finally, Sora making good on his promise to Kairi from the original game is a heart-warming moment years in development. Part of the reason why the happy moments in Kingdom Hearts work so well is because there are so few of them pertaining to the main characters. “The Letter” is the highest of highs. 43. “Light Expires” (Kingdom Hearts III) From the highest of highs to possibly the most deflating scene in the entire series. The moment in which the prophecy comes true is a complete failure by the Guardians of Light to withstand the looming darkness. It also happens to be amongst the most cinematically constructed scenes in Kingdom Hearts. Donald’s Zettaflare is an awesome moment, but he pays the price for unloading his strength hastily. The rest of the group fares poorly as well, as everyone takes a turn getting punished by Terranort and a swarm of Heartless. When the group does get swallowed up by the latter, the camera moves quickly and without warning, ending any easy solution to the defeat. The losses culminate in Sora’s scream of unbridled anguish, a new low for the usually hopeful-to-a-fault character. The scene is a gigantic middle finger to “my friends are my power,” and so Sora is faced with a challenge as he and Riku join the others in the abyss. If his friends can’t be his power, he needs to be powerful on behalf of his friends. 42. “Gambit” (Kingdom Hearts III) Sweeping shots of a new world filled to the brim with life and cables are our introduction to the Unreal Engine 4. The good stuff, though, is inside the highest tower, where two symbolically dressed young men play a game of chess. These two young men, Xehanort and Eraqus by name, discuss the past. This transitions into them offering up two opposing arguments for what the world will look like in the future and what roles they will play in shaping that world. Eraqus takes the approach of light, an unpredictable but well-meaning path. Xehanort is unsure if picking a side is even an option, as the future seems to be set in stone. Perhaps the only way to make a difference is to fit into the plan somehow. If that is the case, who knows where he’ll end up. Seeing these two characters as young men does more than just set up the game that will follow; it shows us that they are moralistically aligned. However, one of them sees making an impact as a more urgent matter and a goal that is there for the taking if you’re willing to carry out the prophecy. Guess who. 41. “Gathering” (Birth by Sleep) It was mentioned during the entry on “Walls of the Heart” that that was the Wayfinder trio’s crossroads scene. Well, as also seen in the Secret Ending of Kingdom Hearts II, this gathering of Keyblade wielders is literally taking place at a crossroads. As Terra and Aqua discuss their Master’s death, Ventus shows up briefly and unites them. Once the plan to create the χ-blade becomes the focus of conversation, Terra and Aqua vow to keep Ventus safe above all else. But then he hits them with a heartbreaking request: “Put an end to me.” Keep in mind that, just hours ago (in gameplay time), he was in Disney Town making sundaes. That isn’t an abrupt tonal shift at work, though. Things have gone completely awry, and Xehanort has these three right where he wants them. It’s a scary position to be in, and Ventus surviving is helping Xehanort. Terra and Aqua knowing that they may not make it out of this fight alive, for Ventus’ sake, is crushing. To 60-51: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121623-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-60-51/ To 40-31: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121653-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-40-31/
  4. 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/
  5. 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. 70. “The Grey-Haired Youth” (Dream Drop Distance) Not Mr. Mew! Young Xehanort seriously has no limits. Our introduction to this time-travelling conniver is short and mysterious, but we know he’s on the wrong side. Things are made all the more confusing by the fact that this is Riku’s dream. How can this guy be here and how does he know it’s a dream? This is a nice set-up scene that brings up more questions than one regarding Dream Drop Distance’s unconventional premise. Regardless, one thing becomes quite clear: this Mark of Mastery exam will be far more complicated than smashing some balls of light. 69. “Darkness’s Call” (Dream Drop Distance) Riku is revealed to be a Dream Eater in this scene, but it’s not the only role he serves. No one has undergone a more emotional and strenuous transformation throughout the series than Riku. His heart’s fragility in the original game would make you question whether this confrontation with Ansem multiple games later would ever be possible, but here it is. In the darkest depths, there is no sense of fear in the young man who grew up more than anyone since first appearing on that island. When he delivers his solemn oath to use the darkness to protect the light, he simultaneously puts his gained courage right out in the forefront. 68. “Case of Luxu” (Back Cover) Ray Chase’s work as the Master of Masters is probably unparalleled in this series in terms of its completely manic tone. Of course, it also helps to have some intriguing and far-fetched words to say (Oh, ya think that’s gross, do ya?). Apart from the comedic edge given to Back Cover’s penultimate scene that is listed right here, there are also a few massive bombshells dropped. The metaphorical eye of the Master that is lodged into the No Name Keyblade gives a brand new meaning to what we know of who Luxu becomes, and the Black Box is worthy of predictive discussions as the narrative moves forward. The “Case of Luxu” is the sturdiest mythological backbone we have to go off of as the series transitions into its next phase. 67. “The χ-blade’s Forging” (Birth by Sleep) Vanitas’s early game taunts are given a little bit more juice, as we finally learn why the Unversed exist and what their utility was in Master Xehanort’s plan. Vanitas’s stunning face reveal is only the first of this scene’s cursed images. The χ-blade’s light unlocking Kingdom Hearts and Aqua’s seemingly lifeless body flying off of the battlefield contribute to the scene’s drearily negative tone. All of this thematic weight sits on the shoulders of poor Ventus. With pressure mounting, there’s no friends or Master to bail him out this time. Being forced into taking on this threat in a distinctly lonely moment is Ventus’ most trying character moment to date. 66. “The Hidden Room” (Kingdom Hearts II) Any insight into the murky period of time between Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts is always appreciated. Obviously, the kicker here is Aqua’s armor lying in the Chamber of Repose. Xemnas’ greeting can probably be taken as ironic, but the chilling realization that there is a little bit of Terra left within the Organization’s leader is the sharper read and a fantastic slice of character building. This is also one of the most rewarding scenes to pause in the entire series. The camera that Xemnas destroys identifies him as “Unknown,” his de facto Final Mix persona, and the six-pronged password that is used to open the path downstairs coincides with the names of Ansem’s apprentices. 65. “Phantom Promise or Not” (Chain of Memories) Maybe he didn’t have to be so rude about it, but Marluxia definitely has a point before Chain of Memories’ final clash. From the perspective of someone who has been told that they lack a heart and therefore do not exist, it must be pretty harsh on the ears to hear Sora say that he’ll willingly allow his heart to be destroyed. On top of that, the heroes hatch possibly the least forward-thinking plan in the history of plans when they offer to rebuild the broken heart and mind of Sora. Marluxia’s frustration is acceptable, but he is the one who made the ultimate threat in the first place. Had he not been swept up in the sadistic culture of Organization XIII, perhaps his intelligence could have been deployed in a much more helpful way. 64. “’Return my friend’s heart!’” (Birth by Sleep) Terranort’s complete lack of vigor in this scenario is the series at its creepiest. If that’s not enough for you, consider the nasty sound effect that accompanies the eerily subtle choking-out of Aqua. As she gasps for life and pleads for Terra to fight back, we are given a glimmer of hope. He struggles, plants his face in hands and…our hope is extinguished. The darkness has won, and the fate of this universe now hangs in the balance. However, that is not a fight that can possibly be won by Aqua. The opportunity to restore Terra’s light, due to this moment, falls into the laps of the next generation. 63. “An End to Slumber” (Kingdom Hearts III) Kingdom Hearts III delivered the goods when it counted. This is one of those times, both in the long-running series and in this singular title. Collecting the Guardians of Light, Ventus waking up and Sora finally getting a crack at the power of waking all collide just in time for Aqua to be saved. In addition to wish fulfillment almost a decade in the making, the commentary on the power of waking’s use is of particular interest. Had Sora not felt the impulse to save Aqua from the Realm of Darkness, it’s likely that he never would have found himself in the position to use the power. Say what you will about his thought process, but Sora certainly has a heart to be reckoned with. 62. “Xemnas’s Agenda” (Kingdom Hearts II) How do you follow up the extremely epic Battle of 1000 Heartless? Let’s try introducing the most interesting moral dilemma in the series. Xemnas is only there for a moment, but Axel and Saix more than make up for his disappearance with a pair of game-changing appearances. Axel is at his most rogue and apathetic. While carrying a sense of failure, it’s hard to keep allegiance to anything. Then there’s Saix, the ultimate errand boy, here to let Sora in on what the Organization is up to. It makes sense to confirm Axel’s blabbering at this point, as the win-win result of Sora’s altruism will reward the Nobodies. Saix also makes a mockery of Sora’s begging bended knee before he sees himself out. Yes, we are all angry and we hate you. Maleficent’s role here only goes to show her foolishness in the face of a much more sinister conflict. Now knowing the details, the brave defense of Hollow Bastion that preceded these revelations is forever marred. 61. “Walls of the Heart” (Birth by Sleep) It’s hard to say exactly who we’re rooting for in this scene. The crossroads moment for Terra, Aqua and Ventus in the city of light will see no one walk away with a clear conscience. Ven was so happy to see the grown-ups, but things deteriorate into talk of questionable motives rather quickly. Aqua pulls the classic “I was just following orders” line to defend her spilling the beans regarding Eraqus’ role in the tension, yet Terra refuses to buy it. This is especially the case due to his failure and guilt, not to mention his accidental run-ins with the dark forces of each world he had travelled to. Terra and Aqua both have a point, but neither really communicates their feelings well. Rather than letting it out, the two elder members of the trio set the Wayfinders on a collision course with evil. Such an unfortunate turn of events for a scene that starts with “We make a great team!” 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/121623-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-60-51/
  6. 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. 80. “The Same Place as Mine” (Chain of Memories) Well, this Disney game just went there. As the camera pans up to the phony Twilight Town sky within Castle Oblivion, the Riku Replica questions where he goes after he passes away. The poise in which the scene is directed is deserved for this character that easily could have been tossed aside into the forgettable swamp of strawman territory. The real Riku really doesn’t need to offer much in the way of bedside manner. Being so close to death, anything the Replica heard at that point would have been worthy of an “okay” at best. 79. “The Icing on the Cake” (358/2 Days) Leave it to two characters without hearts to bring so much to the Kingdom Hearts equivalent of the post-work happy hour experience. Of the countless clock tower scenes in 358/2 Days , this one is far from the most existential or plot relevant. That’s exactly why it works. Sometimes the simple, most mundane moments are the ones that build the most character and reveal the true heart of a story. Set to the lovely tune of “At Dusk, I Will Think of You,” this scene is the quintessential telling point as to why the trouble that ensues after it hits so incredibly hard. The stakes weren’t always so high. 78. “Kingdom Hearts” (Kingdom Hearts III) The theme here, as it is in many other scenes throughout the series, is belief. The cold-blooded murder of Kairi by Xehanort’s hand in the name of motivation is questionable, but the response is anything but. Despite Mickey’s doubts regarding Sora’s chances at thwarting Xehanort, the rest of the cast know there is a clear candidate among them to put an end to the Dark Seeker Saga. With the always supportive combo of Donald and Goofy by his side, the beginning of the end gets underway in spectacular fashion. 77. “Those Who Remain” (Kingdom Hearts II) On the heels on Axel’s emotional kamikaze attack and subsequent demise, we find the camera pointed back in the direction of the living members of Organization XIII. What we see is to be expected for the most part, but lend an ear and eye to Saix’s tone as he wickedly rips the memory of his fallen former best friend to shreds. The lack of eye contact and savage words he uses to mark Axel’s fade as being in vain is mindlessly cold to the bone. For those who would argue that the Organization at large were the mere victims of circumstance in Kingdom Hearts II, give this one another watch. 76. “Assembly of Darkness” (Kingdom Hearts) As the original journey begins, a who’s who of Disney villains watch Sora, Donald and Goofy from afar. It gives us a little taste of what’s to come, especially for those well-versed in Disney voice talent. Still, this may be the greatest example of the game’s goofy crossover concept being implemented perfectly. Not only is the scene suspenseful, but the sheer magnitude of these characters being in the same room together is a massive development in terms of what the series can accomplish. If the villains from different films can coexist in this way, what else is possible? Order be damned; the world is wide open. 75. “A Present from Vexen” (Kingdom Hearts III) Kingdom Hearts III quietly does a solid job of offering development for the supporting characters. It happens slowly, for sure, but it often hits all the right notes. Hold any excitement for the name in the scene’s title, for this one belongs firmly to Ienzo. Initially confused by Demyx’s gleefully goofy appearance, the unsuspecting tactician is met with the face of someone whom he desperately needs to see: Ansem the Wise, his former Master. On the side lies a lifeless vessel (the titular present), which, in due time, would prove to be the lasting impact of the entire interaction. 74. “Across the Ocean” (Kingdom Hearts) The honest naivety of Sora and Kairi’s pseudo-romantic boardwalk conversation makes the game, and situation, that comes next so horrific. These are simple characters with a simple worldview on the cusp of a journey that they are woefully unprepared for, even if they had been able to leave on the raft the next day. If only it were so easy, as Kairi assumes, to come back home to comfort at any point you feel is right. Kairi jokes about leaving Riku behind, but there’s a hint of truth in her excited proposition. All that ever really matters to her is that she can be in the company of her best friend. 73. “Vanitas’s Making” (Birth by Sleep) While Master Xehanort often harkens back to seeking balance and nothing more, one would be wise to acknowledge his complete lack of regard for the heart and life in general. His dismissal of the full-hearted Ventus’ potential creates Vanitas. In that creation arises the hypocrisy that is the crooked Master’s consistent downfall. He seeks not a balance between light and dark, but a conflict between the two. In the process, he makes a fractured person of Ventus and a slave of Vanitas. He’ll get his redemption eventually, but his monstrous processes were inexcusably despicable. 72. “Because We’re Best Friends” (358/2 Days) You know something big is happening when a reprise of “Dearly Beloved” gets spun. The philosophical differences on how to consider friendship are brought to light as a fainted Xion is returned to the World That Never Was. For someone who is constantly scoffed at for chasing friendship, Axel seems to have a pretty natural grasp of the concept. During the sugary moment where the former Lea lets his two best friends know how he feels, the room rings with an atmosphere of unity amongst the trio. In a series that is heavily built on tragedy and the separation of characters from one another, this is a breath of fresh air. 71. “Talking on Paper” (Kingdom Hearts III) And now, back to the tears. In addition to being a vehicle for how far the facial animations have come in the series, this scene is jam-packed with the feels. First, we get hit with Kairi’s impressive skills with the quill in a letter that’ll never be sent. It’s a unique way to show how she’s decided to connect with Sora as they are kept apart yet again. The real money shot, though, is the close-up on Axel’s bright green eyes after he has a vision of Xion. The instantaneous stream that falls down his face is brilliantly reactionary given the epiphany’s randomness, and it lets us know that some connections go beyond what our memory can withstand. To 90-81: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121583-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-90-81/ To 70-61: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121605-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-70-61/
  7. 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. 90. “Wayfinder” (Birth by Sleep) Perhaps the “hopeless sleepyhead” of it all doesn’t work exceptionally well, but there is a whole lot of heart in our introduction to the Wayfinder trio. Aqua’s allusions to Destiny Islands offer imagery that is familiar in theory but seem ever so distant in the context of Birth by Sleep’s prequel format. That this is the last time until their grand reunion in Kingdom Hearts III that this group will get through a conversation without it breaking down into hurt feelings is a heartbreaking realization in hindsight. 89. “The Letter” (Kingdom Hearts) It’s a bit difficult at this point to imagine a time when such series standards as the world order, Gummi Ships and Jiminy Cricket were still being established, but here it is. In just a quick four-minute clip, Tetsuya Nomura expanded his world by introducing us to the chaos going on in the outside world. Set as a reflection of Sora, Riku and Kairi’s aspirations, it becomes clear to the player that the impending hero’s journey will not be one littered with the clichés of simple fairy tales. 88. “Clashing Heads” (Kingdom Hearts) The scene that seems only to get better as the plot thickens, and it comes from a Disney world of all settings. The original game had a way with incorporating the grander ideas at play into the less consequential areas. It had great storytelling pace and balance in that regard. King Triton’s seemingly secondhand knowledge of the Keyblade War is invaluable insight in retrospect, and it inspires Sora to briefly question the power he holds. 87. “Got it Memorized?” (Chain of Memories) Our introduction to the iconic double agent phase of Axel’s character is a doozy. From his enthusiastic greeting to the first use of his catchphrase to a reference to actual death, it becomes immediately clear that this is no ordinary character. Quinton Flynn’s magnetic and recognizable work enhances just what Axel means to the Organization. He reveals the humanity in this group of shady characters hidden behind the leather of their hoods. It’s fitting that his is the first face we see of an Organization member; none of the others can elevate the action like Axel. 86. “Confrontation with Vanitas” (Kingdom Hearts III) Affectionately referred to as “Yeetus Vanitas” by some fans, there’s a bunch of great stuff happening in this surprisingly pivotal scene. Sora is given the Ventus story, partly giving way to Donald and Goofy acknowledging the Birth by Sleep era’s circumstances. This is also the entrance of the deliciously psychotic Vanitas we are treated to in Kingdom Hearts III. But yes, Mike and Sully teaming up to trash the little brat, and simultaneously showing that there’s some worthy muscle in the Realm of Light, is maddeningly fun to watch. 85. “Farewell” (Kingdom Hearts II) Intentions never cease to blur the line between good and evil, at least according to the end of Ansem the Wise’s role in Kingdom Hearts II. The battle of wits on display between the disgraced sage and his former student, Xemnas, contributes to some of the most impressive dialogue the series has to offer. It is the haunting imagery of the Dusks in the Dark City leaping to capture released hearts, however, that confirms the desperation of the world the characters inhabit, and signals that an end to the madness must be in sight. 84. “The Truth About DiZ” (Kingdom Hearts II) The mysterious DiZ was given a face reveal that was telegraphed and detected by keen listeners (See: Christopher Lee). However, it is by how he explains his plight, not how he looks, that this scene is made special. At first, his intentions are bent on selfish thoughts of revenge that directly lead to Riku’s appearance being tainted by the face of darkness. By scene’s end, he declares himself a changed man on the road to redemption in the face of certain mockery and his possible demise. For a character we hardly knew at that time, it is quite the emotional punch to absorb. 83. “Magic to Keep Kairi Safe” (Birth by Sleep) Each member of the Wayfinder trio gets an opportunity to interact with younger versions of the original main cast in some way, shape or form, but the moment in which Kairi and Aqua meet stands out as the sweetest of them all. Kairi’s role as a Princess of Heart is given some very nice emphasis, as both Aqua and Mickey instantly point out her natural glow. In addition, some background on the series’ leading lady was much needed in the way of her home world and her path to ending up on Destiny Islands. And to top things off, we get a fully voiced retelling of the modern world’s rise from the grandmother we all wish we had. 82. “Tears” (Kingdom Hearts II) The ending of Kingdom Hearts II’s prologue may be more appropriately identified as being right here, as in the moment we say goodbye to the Twilight Town gang for a while and head to Yen Sid’s tower. It would be an instance of some emotion regardless, but when a single tear drops from Sora’s eye as he bids farewell to the crew, the entire complexion of the game is rewired. Not only is this Sora’s quest, but the weight of Roxas’ journey shall vicariously live on as well. A soft goodbye to the friends Number XIII only sort of had is the first bittersweet reminder of his abridged experience. 81. “The King’s Memory” (Kingdom Hearts II) Mickey just happened to be present for what must have been one of many clashes between Ansem the Wise and his apprentice, now often referred to as Terranort. This was our first look at the man who was the whole of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas, the two biggest bads the series had to offer at that point. Knowing this, there would likely be an assumption that the apprentice named Xehanort would be someone more outwardly vile than the respectful lab rat we see in this scene. On the contrary, his descent into madness would not be fully explored until later titles. In true Kingdom Hearts fashion, the finer moments leave us with a wanted answer and another wave of questions. To 100-91: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121575-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-100-91/ To 80-71: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121594-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-80-71/
  8. 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. 100. “Darkness Takes Over” (Birth by Sleep) Master Xehanort gets a twisted emotional victory when his monstrous threats and taunts directed at Terra become too much for the young warrior to bear. Memories of his master, Eraqus, only add a tragic dose of fuel to the fire. And as the scene ends, the most earth-shattering, primal scream transforms Terra from a perceived dunce to the series’ most scarred victim. 99. “The Longest Day” (358/2 Days) Salty and sweet, indeed. The inevitable fracture of the Days trio, which crashes down on the main characters with seemingly every scene in the game’s latter half, comes to a head right here. Axel knows more than he wants to know, while his young Keyblade-bearing friends struggle with their existences. At the end of the day, not even a properly contextualized helioseismology lesson can keep Roxas from unknowingly striking a negative chord. 98. “Opposing Goals” (Kingdom Hearts III) Set on the night before the fateful battle, a pair of old friends discuss days gone by on the Twilight Town clock tower. In opposition to their usual roles, Lea plays the bitter curmudgeon to Isa’s lax pacifist. The old friends are given a moment to have their immense chemistry on display, a truly earned interaction after mostly just hearing about their history. It’s a powerful dramedy hiding in the vast final chapter of Kingdom Hearts III. 97. “See You in Shibuya” (Dream Drop Distance) Here we see a surprisingly tender farewell to the lovable cast of The World Ends With You. Their inclusion in Dream Drop Distance’s narrative is strange at face value, but the way they turn onto Sora’s personality is organic and heartfelt in equal part. Not to mention, the potential for this invitation to be honored adds some needed intrigue to the Secret Ending of the series’ third main installment. 96. “Why Do You Hate the Darkness?” (Kingdom Hearts II) This is some classic “light, darkness and everything else” mumbo jumbo on everyone’s part as the gang finally reaches the Altar of Naught. Riku easily steals the show in his simple body check of Xemnas’ flawed eleventh hour attempt at justification. Dare not get distracted by the response the silver-haired hero receives; his honorable defense of the worlds is unmatched. 95. “To Make a Heart” (Kingdom Hearts) Even amongst the well-intentioned characters in this series, the heart is not completely understood. In fact, the failed Frankenstein-esque experiment carried out by Halloween Town’s mad doctor (in a delightfully annoyed turn of crankiness) serves as an allegorical showcase for one of the series’ major themes. Essentially, a strong heart’s ingredients sprout under the warm conditions of human interaction, not cold science. 94. “The Clash” (Back Cover) Rarely is free will rewarded in Kingdom Hearts. Aced, the rogue member of the Foretellers, fights for the savior of the world, but still manages to find himself facing three of his fellow Keyblade Masters in combat by scene’s end. On display here is a masterclass of cinematic intensity. A worthy use of “Night of Fate,” brilliant voice acting performances and the most impressive animation the series has seen thus far contribute to a massively thrilling atmosphere. Even still, a thematic look at five petals separating in a nearby body of water serves as the emotional crux of the drama. 93. “Number XIV” (358/2 Days) Is there any more empty feeling than knowing you’re completely and utterly replaceable? Roxas is a member in the Organization for not yet ten days when Xion is introduced at Where Nothing Gathers, signaling a subtle pressure to perform well in the convoluted schemes of his superiors. Points for being one of the only scenes in which every single member of the original Organization XIII is present at one time. It must really be a momentous day. 92. “A Corridor of Light” (Kingdom Hearts III) The road to the Keyblade War is paved with the power of a sorcerer with some stunning Old Testament abilities. Master Yen Sid’s moment to shine was a long time coming, and there was perhaps no better time to make the move than this show stealing shocker. The Keyblade War veterans obviously weren’t the only lights from the past that Eraqus predicted would want to get in on the heroics. 91. “Advice for a Hero” (Birth by Sleep) “Charm” is a word that is brought up often in reference to this series and its characters, and nowhere is that aspect more on display than in this adorable scene between Aqua and the wacky Zack Fair. Aqua is creepily ogled by both Hades and Phil in Birth by Sleep’s version of Olympus Coliseum, so seeing Zack so happily asking her for a single, modest date is a pleasant surprise. The result? The bluebird turns cardinal as she tries to shield her uncharacteristic embarrassment. To 90-81: https://www.kh13.com/forums/topic/121583-the-100-greatest-kingdom-hearts-scenes-90-81/
  9. A cast list for the English version of Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover has been revealed thanks to a leaked copy of the English version of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. Cyberman65 has posted videos on his YouTube channelof the cinematic. Thanks to KHInsider for the tip. The English cast includes: Max Mittelman as Luxu Kevin Quinn as Gula Karissa Lee Staples as Invi Matthew Mercer as Ira Travis Willingham as Aced Isabela Moner as Ava Michael Johnston as Ephemer Lara Jill Miller as Chirithy Ray Chase as the Master of Masters The Japanese cast includes: Kenjiro Tsuda as Luxu Kaito Ishikawa as Gula Kana Hanazawa as Invi Yuichiro Umehara as Ira Subaru Kimura as Aced Yume Miyamoto as Ava Yuto Uemura as Ephemer Tomoko Kaneda as Chirthy Tomokazu Sugita as Master of Masters Ray Chase may be familiar to fans as being the voice of Noctis, the main protagonist of the recently released Square Enix title, Final Fantasy XV. Do you recognize any other names on the list above? Let us know in the comments below! Click here to view the article
  10. A cast list for the English version of Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover has been revealed thanks to a leaked copy of the English version of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. Cyberman65 has posted videos on his YouTube channel of the cinematic. Thanks to KHInsider for the tip. The English cast includes: Max Mittelman as Luxu Kevin Quinn as Gula Karissa Lee Staples as Invi Matthew Mercer as Ira Travis Willingham as Aced Isabela Moner as Ava Michael Johnston as Ephemer Lara Jill Miller as Chirithy Ray Chase as the Master of Masters The Japanese cast includes: Kenjiro Tsuda as Luxu Kaito Ishikawa as Gula Kana Hanazawa as Invi Yuichiro Umehara as Ira Subaru Kimura as Aced Yume Miyamoto as Ava Yuto Uemura as Ephemer Tomoko Kaneda as Chirthy Tomokazu Sugita as Master of Masters Ray Chase may be familiar to fans as being the voice of Noctis, the main protagonist of the recently released Square Enix title, Final Fantasy XV. Do you recognize any other names on the list above? Let us know in the comments below!
  11. New images have been added to the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Japanese website! Some of the images have previously been seen in the latest issues of Famitsu and Dengeki. These include new screenshots from each game included in the aforementioned collection. In addition to this, new renders of Luxu and Ephemer are seen. These screenshots and renders add to the constantly growing number of images we have now seen from the upcoming Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. Do you expect that more images will be revealed leading up to the collection’s January release? Let us know in the comment section below! Click here to view the article
  12. New images have been added to the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Japanese website! Some of the images have previously been seen in the latest issues of Famitsu and Dengeki. These include new screenshots from each game included in the aforementioned collection. In addition to this, new renders of Luxu and Ephemer are seen. These screenshots and renders add to the constantly growing number of images we have now seen from the upcoming Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. Do you expect that more images will be revealed leading up to the collection’s January release? Let us know in the comment section below!
  13. Square Enix has recently updated their website’s job openings page. The positions that have been added include work with both the Tokyo and Osaka development teams. The Osaka team is notably the team that is currently developing Kingdom Hearts III. Two postings have been added for both the Tokyo and Osaka teams. The following positions have been translated by Goldpanner: While none of these positions seem to point to any crucial post-production work, the Lighting Artist job is particularly interesting due to the amount of focus given to the position's description and significance. Special thanks to KH13 Social Media Team Member Barry Bacon Allen for the tip! Do you think any of the positions listed above speak to Kingdom Hearts III’s development status? Let us know in the comments below! Click here to view the article
  14. Square Enix has recently updated their website’s job openings page. The positions that have been added include work with both the Tokyo and Osaka development teams. The Osaka team is notably the team that is currently developing Kingdom Hearts III. Two postings have been added for both the Tokyo and Osaka teams. The following positions have been translated by Goldpanner: While none of these positions seem to point to any crucial post-production work, the Lighting Artist job is particularly interesting due to the amount of focus given to the position's description and significance. Special thanks to KH13 Social Media Team Member Barry Bacon Allen for the tip! Do you think any of the positions listed above speak to Kingdom Hearts III’s development status? Let us know in the comments below!
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