KH Rants: We Need to Talk About Sora (and other Kingdom Hearts Problems)

No I’m not going to talk about where I’ve been and what’s been going on. Just know we’ve been in the middle of a pandemic going on 2 years now and I’ve suffered creatively. But in the wake of E3 2021 and Square Enix’s lackluster presentation, it got me to thinking about a 20-year old franchise that I would dare call controversial. And then I realized I had something else to bitch about.

All of you who guessed it win the internet for today.

Call it however you see it, Kingdom Hearts has been one of the strangest crossover franchises to grace the consoles. I mean ‘consoles’ as in plural because this game even hit our cell phones, twice. With memorable characters, awesome theme music, and an ever-confusing plotline this strange entity has survived 20 years being on life support of Square Enix notoriety and an IV drip of Disney and fandom power.

And being a shifty-eyed fan of the franchise I’ve had plenty of time to play the games and watch the videos explaining the games. And one thing that stood out to me was the need for conversation surrounding the “main” character:

I say “main” because we started caring about the side characters pretty quickly.

We need to talk about Sora guys (and the rest of the franchise).

Sora is the eternally optimistic all-loving hero of the franchise. Keyblade-wielding love-child of Cloud and Squall. And possibly the most traumatized character in the universe aside from the Player who realizes the stranger and stronger and more horrifying implications of the KH universe once they look a little too closely. And as such I think it’s fair to talk about what he’s been through and how we can probably conclude that Kingdom Hearts is a pretty horrifying game.

Sora needs therapy

We can first start off with the knowledge that Sora has left his family behind in his quest to keep the world from falling into darkness at the tender age of 13. From that point on we never hear him mention his family, only Destiny Islands. Did he forget about his family?

This guy has been through some shit. From an eldritch abomination made of his own shadow literally devouring his island home and losing all of his friends in the process to realizing that Namine has been screwing with his memories to learning he has spawned other entities that have to choose whether or not they should exist at his expense. It’s a wonder how he’s keeping it together. But then I remember he has friends right?

Donald and Goofy literally drop Sora at a critical moment just because Riku managed to get the Keyblade for .5 seconds. It took Kairi to shake him out of it by literally restoring him to his human state with a hug. Sure they never do it again, but what’s with the betrayal?!

Sora is also connected to everyone he meets. This doesn’t seem too bad on the surface except you have to remember that when Namine started fucking with his memories in order to make herself real apart from Kairi everyone collectively forgot about him and then remembered him at the same time. If anything it also shows the horrifying implications of just what Namine is. DiZ (Ansem) calls her a witch for a reason…which is completely forgotten about in KH3. It’s like he’s a Schrödinger’s Character or some entity that lacks object permeance. When he’s not observed, who knows if he’s real or not? Good thing we have the power of…Heart that makes sure we never forget those who are important to us…right?

You’re not fooling anybody Rinoa.

Sora has also spawned at least 2 characters who are in fact sentient and have their own personalities: Roxas and Xion. Roxas is born from Sora’s heart and Xion is born from his memories and all three of them have mental breakdowns at the revelation and loss of self. Sora simply passes out for a year, Roxas and Xion have literal battles to the center of the mind while debating what it means “to be” and “to exist” all while being told by everyone around them that they aren’t supposed to exist. Xion opts to sacrifice herself so Roxas can exist and Roxas merges back with Sora after fighting him for dominance. I’m not kidding.

We could also talk about how our favorite character is also holding the weight of at least 3 hearts over the course of the series? In the first game he has Kairi’s heart. Then we learn he’s got Ventus inside of him. Then we learn that Xion is still around there somewhere and Roxas is hanging out in there too. And by the end of the game we now have one person restored and 2 other beings finally getting the autonomy they deserve. Whew. I wonder how Ventus feels about Roxas looking JUST LIKE HIM.

The best possible outcome.

By the time 3 rolls around this guy feels like he should be a wreck of a person. Sure he’s got his support from his friends he’s made and the power of God and Anime on his side but sheesh! I feel like the game would be better if it went the grittier route with the implications of things were talked about in-depth because there are a LOT of horrifying things in-universe that don’t quite get the reaction they should.

kingdom hearts is fridge horror incarnate

The premise of the game gives you the justification of a massive multi-world crossover by having all the worlds suddenly getting connected and having Darkness show up and completely obliterate them.

The world literally gets swallowed up

All those heartless are formed from the people in all those worlds who got swallowed up. Every. Single. One. Did you know at the end of the game it tells you how many heartless you’ve killed and of which kind? Think about it. Also, every time you kill a heartless you release a heart. Where does it go? Kingdom Hearts? Heaven? Hell?

Then we get to the Nobodies. What the hell are those? The Wiki says they’re the remains of those who have lost their hearts. So…corpses? Zombies? And we’re told that every time you kill a heartless and the nobody you’re restoring a person to their whole selves. Where do they wake up at? Do they know what happened to themselves? Where did they go? Are they wandering aimlessly shell-shocked at what they just experienced? I think Kingdom Hearts lightly touches on the loss of identity and sense of self but fails to look at it too closely. And why would you? More horrors await.

Master Xeanort completely gets away with all of the crimes he’s committed. This guy caused most of the trouble in the franchise (aside from Nomura and Disney) and he gets to ascend to a higher plane of existence with the already deceased Master Eraqus like nothing ever happened. Except a lot happened. His crimes include violating the autonomy of people by taking over their bodies (Riku and Terra), corruption, and the murder of untold numbers of people. He set into motion the events of all the games all for want of an X-blade. This guy basically committed genocide on an interstellar scale and in the end Sora just tells him to give up and go home…

Then there’s the cell phone game we were all excited about. The one where you create your own little keyblade wielder and you run around with your friends collecting lux? Remember that keyblade graveyard?

You see where this is going?

It is actually confirmed that your player-character takes part in the Keyblade War and guess what? Your character doesn’t make it and your keyblade ends up in the Keyblade Graveyard at the end of the game.

Photo by gillygabyte on Twitter

I’ll probably make a part 2 on this…

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