They say we’re always harder on the ones we love and that will not be more true than today. I’m about to tear apart and borderline insult Kingdom Hearts 3 and byway the series that in part saved my life and made me the person I am today. Naturally if you want to know my complete take on the game itself be sure to check out my review here. This piece is all about Kingdom Hearts 3’s story and why it was a failure, a disappointment, a further convoluted mess, and a haphazard excuse for a literary entertainment form. Sound harsh? Well, nothing is fair in a creator making things needlessly complicated because he dug himself in a hole long ago and has no way to explain himself out of it. Like you know how replicas were introduced in Chain of Memories and that was understandable enough to get a handle on? Well, Dream Drop Distance brought in time travel, without one’s body sometimes, and Kingdom Hearts 3 confirms that timeline hopping is also a thing. When is enough, enough for Tetsuya Nomura?
Let’s start with Sora and his gang wasting 75% of the story gallivanting on Disney worlds. Due to the events of Dream Drop Distance, Sora is severely weakened and needs to find the “Power of Waking” and get stronger in order to rescue Ventus, Aqua, Terra, Xion (and who knows who the hell else at this point) and defeat Master Xehanort once and for all. He is basically told by Yen Sid that in order to do this he must visit Hercules again and seek out his help. When Wonder Boy is unable to do anything Sora, Donald, and Goofy just basically shrug their shoulders and go about their way to different worlds hoping to discover something with no set goal in mind. Riku from Kingdom Hearts 1 in Neverland would be having a field day with this Sora right now. Especially when there’s no clear explanation on how Sora does solve his lack of strength other than the plot needs him to nearly twenty hours in.
During this complete waste of time our other heroes are actually doing way more interesting things. Well except Maleficent and Pete since they technically could be considered anti-heroes at this point, but we’ll get to them soon. Riku and Mickey are in the literal Realm of Darkness trying to find Aqua while battling dangerous Demon Towers and Axel and Kairi are keyblade training in some magical land away from time and space. How about we spend some time with these characters actually doing something productive? Along wasting time with mostly new Disney worlds and not meeting up with old connections, we get all the villains past showing up to Sora and spouting exposition. Literally. They show up to spout some BS about how we should be feeling or explaining something we already know and disappear. No boss battles, no sudden turn of events, just disappointment.
An even bigger disappointment in this department is the lack of core Final Fantasy characters like Leon, Aerith, Yuffie, Cloud, etc. These weren’t just characters you would see once or twice on other worlds that Sora and the gang visited. These are actual major characters that were wholly and totally relevant to the story of Kingdom Hearts. Their home world was first destroyed and ravaged by Master Xehanort as Terranort and started the events that led to Kingdom Hearts 1 for crying out loud. Not to mention that due to their efforts in Kingdom Hearts 2, Hollow Bastion founds its true self in Radiant Garden once again and led the way for Ienzo and (for some reason) Vexen’s plan in Kingdom Hearts 3. Their plan of stealing replicas for the likes of Roxas and Namine so they can have their own bodies. But again since Chain of Memories Vexen (or Even) has been one cold son of a bitch. Probably the most sadistic out of everyone. But come Kingdom Hearts 3, whether in his nobody form that traveled in the future or his recompleted self, he suddenly wanted to atone on the drop of a dime with no build up to this in his character.
Now you’re probably wondering why I said if he was in his nobody form traveling through time or his recompleted self. Since the end of Dream Drop Distance we were told that anyone who’s heartless and nobody were defeated would become a recompleted being. Thus the likes of Marluxia, Larxene, Demyx, and Luxord rejoining the Organization actually defined their characters a bit. If they died now then they would die for real. Then halfway through the game we see these four characters being told by Xemnas that they’re somehow related to the Union members that formed the Dandelions from Kingdom Hearts Union Cross by Ava after the Keyblade War. If that was a mouthful enough already for you then get this, Kingdom Hearts 3 basically confirmed that this Dandelion group was able to hop from timeline to timeline, dimension to dimension. So add that fun fact.
Point being we fast forward towards the end of the game and it’s revealed that these four aren’t actually recompleted beings, but whose hearts were sent forward in time to replicas. What’s sad is I didn’t fully register this until Marluxia was defeated by Sora and our hero said, “Don’t worry you’re going to be recompleted now.” And I’m just looking around like wait, what?! This fool should be dead as I thought the only people who needed to do this time travel trick were Xehanorts at different times in the timeline so they could all be here at once. After taking some time to think about it I honestly believe this was a slip up by the writers. That those two tidbits were done at different times in development and were forgotten about.
Now let’s talk about Luxu or Xigbar as we know him nowdays. One of the ending cutscenes revealed that everyone’s smartass sharpshooter was really Luxu, the one apprentice of the Master of Masters who was tasked to disappear with a mysterious black box in Back Cover X. While this was a pretty cool plot twist it eventually did what Kingdom Hearts 3 did best. It raised more questions and refused to give any answers. Somehow during this revelation he was able to bring back all but one of the Foretellers (again from Kingdom Hearts Union Cross) who were dead, and begin to tell his story before the screen cut to black. Yet another infuriating put off and I can only hope that Maleficent and Pete in the background of that scene mess their stuff up. Although those two being MIA for so long was another small problem entirely.
Next is the gross mishandling of Master Xehanort’s character and his “real” motivation throughout the entire series. Ever since Birth By Sleep this incredibly smart, decisive, super strong strategist wanted to experience the true limits of Kingdom Hearts and what he could accomplish with it. He wanted the power just for the sheer thrill of it and to see what would happen if another Keyblade War were to occur. He ruined an untold number of lives, destroyed countless worlds, killed in cold blood on-screen multiple times, and so much more.There really can’t be anything more evil and any chance at redemption or understanding would be a grave disrespect to the fans and anyone with a common sense of literacy. Yet that’s exactly what happened. After a disappointing fight and a half that served as the ending boss battle, Master Xehanort uses just two sentences to say he really wanted to use the power of Kingdom Hearts to cleanse the land due to people being too steeped in darkness and wanted to start over. One of those destroy you to protect you type of deals that seem so popular nowadays. Then of course he’s basically forgiven within seconds by near everyone before dying or going to some other plane of existence? F**k off.
Lastly, what truly happened with Sora and Kairi at the end of the story? In some now half-baked attempt to destroy people so they wouldn’t destroy themselves, Master Xehanort killed (or at least I think killed) Kairi. Afterwards Sora knows how to get her back somehow and then they’re both seen sitting on that Destiny Islands tree before our hero disappears. Wonderful! More not clear answers. The prevailing theory is that Sora used the power of waking again to rescue Kairi from wherever at the expense of his own “life.” He was warned by Young Xehanort about using this power too much after all.
So Kairi really was saved off-screen in seconds and on Destiny Islands. Meanwhile thanks to the secret ending our protagonist is somehow in The World Ends With You’s Shibuya because reasons. If I had to come up with some half-cocked explanation for this…some TWEWY peeps were in Dream Drop Distance and did mention how they were merely dreams from another world. Perchance this other world could be another timeline and Sora “dying” somehow made his way there? I don’t know anymore as the lore of Kingdom Hearts, death, heartless, and Xehanorts motivations are just so lost in convoluted bullsh*t that I can’t really find anymore room in my heart to care. Oh and Riku is in Verum Rex, the video game from Toy Story’s world, according to the secret ending for some reason. So have fun with that too.
I could go on about how Ansem the Wise, Xehanort’s heartless, Axel, and Saix were Kingdom Hearts 4 baiting this mysterious girl too and how she’s really Skuld timeline hopping or what have you, but I’m on the slippery slope of not caring. Tetsuya Nomura lost control of this story and lore long ago and is having trouble explaining any part of it anymore. So instead of admitting that we keep going higher and more outlandish. Before it was time traveling, now it’s timeline hopping, tomorrow it might as well be the Kingdom Hearts cast are really gods themselves or something to explain all this complicated haberdashery.