'Kingdom Hearts III' Has Great Storytelling, No Matter How Silly the Tale

Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman's weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/nex9pm/kingdom-hearts-iii-ending-storytelling-sentimental
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I find it disappointing that 90% of the actual plot takes place at the final 3-4 or so hours, but that said that finish was fantastically climactic, even as a non-KH fan. I really felt that Terra, Aqua, Ventus conclusion, I think they’re my faves.
This series certainly has a lot of heart and emotional punch, can’t wait to hear the crew discuss it on the podcast.

“…and yet I feel likeKingdom Hearts III has accomplished something profound by actually pulling it off in a way that I didn’t find cloying or weird or clunky. And, to be clear, I am talking about a series that people roast constantly for being all of these things.”

For me this mostly applies to the line pacing and delivery of both the casual chatter scenes and the Disney scenes, which feel bastardised because of this. Most of the main Big Important Scenes hit pretty well for me though, which hey, good priorities!
This is my first KH I’ve actually experienced. Sora is bad.

A lot of KH3 really dragged for me…but I absolutely threw up my hands in triumph when Roxas reunited with Axel and Xion. I honestly didn’t expect to have that strong a reaction, but it hit me hard.

I think this really cuts to the heart of what people who dunk on KH’s convoluted plot are missing- I truly, honestly do not give a shit about the overarching plot. I know it, I understand it, I could explain it, but I don’t care about it. It’s not what I’m here for, and the games know it.

The plot is whatever it needs to be to get the characters we’re so invested in where they need to be to give us the interactions and emotional payoffs we’ve been waiting for, no matter how it has to twist itself to justify it. We need 7 lights and 13 darkness because that gives us an excuse to go save Aqua & Ven and to bring back fan favorite villains. Time travel gets thrown in during DDD so any and every antagonist can return so we can resolve arcs like Riku vs. Ansem SoD. Killing someone’s heartless and nobody revives them so all of Org 13 can come back, including Axel. DDD pulls the “actually nobodies can grow hearts” retcon because without that, there would be no way to save Roxas and Xion and Namine without sacrificing Sora and Kairi.

And that’s all fine by me! The plot can be as bullshit as it wants as long as I get to see the reunions and confrontations I’ve been waiting for. The last few hours of KH3 really exemplify this- why does beating the shit out of Aqua knock the darkness out of her? I neither know nor care, I’m too busy crying because Aqua finally made it back to the realm of light. Do I particularly care to know exactly how Namine is able to just call up Lingering Will? Nope- I got to see Lingering Will shoot a fucking cannon at Terranort, and that’s what matters. Why did Ephemer show up in that heartless tornado? Who cares! I’m mashing triangle on people’s KHUX usernames to shoot infinite keyblades at the heartless tornado. How did Roxas fuckin HALO drop into the Keyblade Graveyard at just the right time, especially since we see his heart leave Sora just as he arrives, so he didn’t have it until that point? I do not care, because The Other Promise is blasting and I’m crying because Roxas is finally back and he gets his own body now and he’s here to save his friends and absolutely whip Saix’s ass. That’s what I’m here for, the emotional payoff for these characters after well over a decade of buildup, and I’ll accept whatever bullshit justification the game wants to throw at me as long as I get what I came for.

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O that cannon, that cannon! My god was that amazing.

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Kunzelman cuts through to the fact that what works works in Kingdom Hearts III. Even where the last final part is unclear about some of the mechanics of its time travel or reflects some truly dreadful pacing in the broader game, it manages to give most of the characters who should interact at least a scene in which to do that.

Even for someone like me (who skipped 358/2 Days and therefore doesn’t have as much attachment to the characters from that game) sees merit in their inclusion, and their resolution also ensures there’s space for the parts that I care about – Aqua/Ven/Terra and Riku. Even where I think the game doesn’t do a good job of bringing a character note to its conclusion (I do think Aqua, Ventus, and Terra’s resolution needed more work – but I just prefer those characters).

With that said, if you want to read some wild stuff, I would highly recommend looking at some of the KH3 Ultimania translations. These include lore explanations like the Terra-Xehanort we meet in Kingdom Hearts III is a combination of Terra’s body from the present (because Xemas’ defeat meant that Terra’s body was restored, but Terra’s heart is in limbo because of Master Xehanort – so it doesn’t go anywhere) and the heart of Terra-Xehanort from Birth by Sleep, which is brought forward to the future by Young Xehanort.

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