This wasn’t supposed to become a series. This wasn’t supposed to take more than a few hours. And yet, here we are. Lore Reasons, Waypoint’s multi-part investigation into Kingdom Hearts, continues ever forward, with Patrick, Natalie, Austin, and Cado steering their gummi ship towards the nearest sea salt ice cream shop in search of answers. We can’t guarantee you will learn anything about Kingdom Hearts, but we can guarantee we talk about it. A lot. On this episode, we cover Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories.
Wow, even with how much simpler the plot of Kingdom Hearts 1 and Chain of Memories are they still only manage to get through these two in a further 2 hours. This series is such a treasure and I love it
FYI the most amazing Kingdom hearts casting choice was that in Birth By Sleep, Master Xehanort was voiced by Leonard Nimoy because when Tetsuya Nomura thought who he wanted to voice Xehanort, he immediately went to Spock from Star Trek.
At first I was kind of confused as to why Natalie was even bothering to mention what happens in the Disney worlds, but the In The Air Tonight drum solo bit has proved that it was worth it. Also, the more podcast the better so I’m not gonna complain.
Austin was right, Heartless are just hearts taken over by darkness. It’s always been goofed on how silly it is that heartless have hearts but no bodies and nobodies have bodies but no heart. Souls are also a thing but they never matter except when they do.
Also Sora and the gang are not trapped in the Realm of Darkness at the end of KH1. They’re able to walk right out of where ever the fuck it was that final battle took place and we see them on a nice grassy path on the hunt for a way to get Riku and Mickey out of the Realm of Darkness.
This episode had me in absolute stitches but also literally cheering as you all figured things out (Austin figuring out Kingdom Hearts is in the Realm of Darkness was so gratifying). Anyway, once again I’ve got some points of clarification/fun facts:
Re: voice actors, the three remaining “celebrity” voices are Haley Joel Osment (Sora/Vanitas), Jesse McCartney (Roxas/Ven), and David Gallagher from 7th Heaven (Riku), who are all very good. Mickey’s original voice actor unfortunately passed away shortly after 358/2 Days was released, hence why Mickey doesn’t sound quite the same in later games in the series.
Terra bequeathing Riku his keyblade did not pass on any kind of darkness or have any influence on Riku besides giving him the ability to wield a keyblade. Riku falling to darkness like Terra is mostly a consequence of the way the main “trios” all have one sweet boy, one edgy boy who is a bad guy for a while, and a girl.
Namine can only influence the memories of Sora and those connected to him, which is a result of her being formed when Kairi’s heart left Sora’s body in KH1- she can’t fuck with just anyone’s memories.
Xemnas doesn’t show up in CoM, though there are references to “the Superior” and how Ansem and Riku “smell” like him (bc Ansem was the Heartless to Xemnas’ Nobody and Ansem possessed Riku for a time).
Speaking of smells, for whatever reason, in CoM only, Riku has the ability to smell people, as well as darkness, and he’s really fuckin weird about it, i.e. he tells Namine to her face that she smells just like Kairi like a fucking serial killer. Zexion also has this ability and is the one who comments on Riku and Ansem smelling like Xemnas.
Anyway, keep it up! You’re doing SO well, I’m so excited for episode 3
Now that you have got through Birth By Sleep and Kingdom Hearts, I’d like to put to rest some misconceptions about Kairi:
Kairi is from Radiant Garden where most of the Final Fantasy characters are from and Ansem the Wise is king. In Birth by Sleep, she’s 4 years old and living with her grandmother (what happened to her parents is unknown) when the world is attacked by Unversed. King Mickey and Aqua work together to save her. Frightened, Kairi touches Aqua’s Keyblade while trying to hide which is sufficient for Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony as the Keyblade judges her worthy (due to her pure light). King Mickey and Aqua agree that they sense the pure light residing within Kairi so Aqua bestows a protective charm upon Kairi’s necklace telling her:
One day when you’re in trouble, the light within you will lead you to the light of another, someone to keep you safe
After the events of Birth by Sleep, Terra-Xehanort (known only as Xehanort having lost his memories) is a student of Ansem the Wise. In Ansem’s reports (written by Terra-Xehanort/his heartless Ansem) it’s explained how during his research into the darkness he noticed one of his test subjects was a young girl who seemed to lack any darkness in her heart.
He believes he needs the Keyblade-Wielder in order to reach Kingdom Hearts having been somewhat present for the conversations King Mickey had with Ansem the Wise during King Mickey’s visits since Birth By Sleep (Ansem the Wise also wrote about it in the first Ansem report - the only one in KH1 actually written by him, so Terra-Xehanort/Heartless Ansem could also have read about it). Heartless Ansem surmises that if he releases this young girl into the realm between worlds, her heart of pure light will direct her to the new Keyblade-wielder and allow him to follow.
Thus, it’s heavily implied that Heartless Ansem sends Kairi outside of the world of Radiant Garden using the dark powers he was building to break the magical shielding secluding the world. Due to Aqua’s protective magic, Kairi survives, eventually washing up on Destiny Islands. Sometime later, Heartless Ansem finds her there have scoured through the corridoors of darkness. He then waits until the Keyblade reveals itself in KH1. Meanwhile, he slowly grows the power of darkness and spreads the heartless throughout many worlds (while completing an important task that isn’t revealed until Dream Drop Distance).
Edit: Also I wanted to add that Heartless Ansem has two appearances: his brown cloaked version without a face (looking like a hunched over person), and the buff dude he is revealed to be while inhabiting Riku’s body. It’s important to note that he doesn’t actually have a humanoid appearance prior to Riku allowing him to get too close in exchange for a greater power of the darkness. No Heartless ever looks like a person (not even Sora, the series poster-boy for people making, has a humanoid form as a heartless). This is important because any time you see the brown-cloak man (such as the start of Kingdom Hearts), you know it’s the Heartless Ansem prior to using Riku as a vessel, and any time he appears humanoid is after he’s taken control of him. (Questions you might be having about his appearances post-KH1 are explained in Dream Drop Distance)
Austin was right: Heartless do have hearts (the name is confusing), they’re just overwhelmed by darkness which strips them of their humanity. They’re called Heartless not because they physically lack hearts, but because they act devoid of emotion (i.e. the colloquial term you mean when you call someone heartless). The Heartless yearn for hearts to fill the void they instictively feel - most importantly, they collectively yearn for the hearts of worlds. Only two exeptions have ever appeared on screen: (Terra-)Xehanort’s Heartless, Ansem - Seeker of Darkness, who kept access to Xehanort’s heart and memories (probably as Terra was hidden by the darkness) [creating Xemnas] and Sora who similarly kept his awareness (probably while Ventus was hidden by the darkness) [creating Roxas]. I.e. Both of the Heartless created from Terra-Xehanort and Sora represent the unique event when a Heartless was formed which already had another heart. It is potentially this fulfillment of the Heartless’ natural instinct that allowed them to keep their sanity. Edit Ends:
Side-note, as we know, Kairi is one of the Princesses of Heart (with a heart of pure light). In KH1 we see the 7 of them used to open the Final Keyhole to Kingdom Hearts: those captured during KH1 (Alice, Jasmine and Belle), those having lost their world sometime between Birth By Sleep and KH1 (Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora) and Kairi. However, it’s important to note that while there are only 7 Princesses of Heart at any one time (due to the special nature of the X-blade being shattered into 7 lights and 13 darknesses), should one be lost, another will take their place (i.e. these 7 women haven’t existed immortal for the ambiguously long time since the Keyblade War).
Also, Destiny Islands is much bigger than most players of KH1 realise it is. The beach we’re all familiar is just one tiny island off the coast of the mainland where most people live. Not only do we see Sora’s Room in KH1 (and hear his mother’s voice) but in KH2 we see the huge town on the mainland. Kairi and Selphie are seen in what look to be school clothes walking home at the end of the day and mention Tidus and Wakka continue to play “their ball game”. In the panning shot of the town, we can see there are at least a couple hundred houses there.
I’m pretty sure that this was a result of a translation issue from Japanese to English for the GBA CoM game (which they kept in the PS2 remake). A person who did fan Japanese-English translation said that the same word could mean both sense and smell depending on the context in Japanese (although this was just a random forum user who posted fan translations so they may have been wrong). The initial intention would then have been for Riku and Zexion to talk about being able to sense the aura of darkness around Riku, Ansem and all the Organisation members, while also sensing the pure light in Namine. This has continued to come up a lot but they wisely changed their translation to stop giving the impression that everyone stinks.
While Wayne Allwine Voice of Mickey Mouse from 1977-2009 did pass his apprentice Bret Iwan has been the voice of Mickey since then and in the Kingdom heart series since birth by sleep So he changed his inflection for some reason in Kh3 and it strange
The Reason the First Org13 want Sora is because everytime Sora kills a heartless with his Keyblade. It release the Heart that made that Heartless. They bait sora into killing Heartless and collect the hearts to try and make Kingdom Hearts (which will give the nobodys Hearts)-a lie by Xemnes(who wants kingdom hearts for xenorts org 13 ) it’s also the reason they recruit Roxas to speed up the process or if sora fails them
I’ve seen other people refute this theory, claiming that while the word for ‘scent’ that they used could technically also mean ‘aura’ or something similar, most native speakers wouldn’t interpret it that way and that other words used indicated they meant ‘scent.’ That said, I don’t know how valid that argument is either. It’s a bit of a moot point, since they’re not about to re-translate CoM and it never comes up again anyway, but I kinda wish they’d stuck with it because the concept of Riku continuing to go around telling people how bad they smell is hilarious
Yeah I feel like a lot of the confusion around the various state of beings of characters comes down to the confusing terminology, which feels either intentionally contradictory or just poorly translated.
Kind of how Destiny’s lore makes my eyes glaze over a bit because of all the Proper Nouns despite it probably not being as obscure as it feels.
After a break, I finally listened to the final synopsis section where they try to recap what’s happened so far. I wanted to condense Chain of Memories using information available to the player only in that game (though using hindsight - i.e. not in the order it’s revealed) to mostly help Austin who seemed interested in what was actually going on in Castle Oblivion and what a first-time player at release could actually understand:
Chain of Memories plot summary of motives and results - not every event in order
Currently in Castle Oblivion are:
Naminé being held captive in the upper levels. She’s a mysterious “Witch” with the power to enter peoples hearts, locking away their real memories and replacing them with fake ones.
Marluxia is in the upper levels in charge of the Castle while their boss is away (i.e. Xemnas: although he isn’t named in CoM). He’s plotting to move from the bosses understudy to leader of the Organisation.
Larxene is supposedly guarding Naminé but is actually in on Marluxia’s plan.
Axel is on a secret mission to find out who the scheming traitors are which they’ve narrowed down to one of these members (so they conveniently weren’t given missions to leave the Castle).
Vexen in the lower levels experimenting with his replica program to create copied vessels of people.
Zexion in the lower levels researching for the Organisation (since it’s the only thing he’s any good at)
Laxaeus in the lower levels for some unimportant reason (potentially guarding since both Zexion and Vexen aren’t particularly strong).
Sora travels up Castle Oblivion partially because Marluxia provokes him but also because he thinks Riku may be inside. His wish is granted when Riku Replica shows up and he gradually feels more upset as this Riku keeps pushing him away. Even after Larxene tells Sora that Riku Replica isn’t the real Riku (and he’s spent almost all of his time on screen so far trying to kill or disparage Sora), Sora still cares for Riku Replica protecting him from Larxene and then asking Naminé to watch over him while Sora continued on. When Naminé reveals he has to lose all his memories of Castle Oblivion to regain his old ones, she’s disappointed but understanding when he still wants his real memories back. While she had almost completely blocked out Kairi from his memory, Sora forgives her and promises they can still be friends. Jiminy Cricket says he’ll write a note in his journal to make sure Sora keeps his promise. In Sora’s final moment before falling asleep, he finally remembers Kairi’s face and name.
Riku wakes in Castle Oblivion having been separated from King Mickey and spends the majority of his time trying to face his inner darkness. DiZ presents himself as Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (the fallen Heartless) so as to provoke Riku to see if he’ll give in to it. King Mickey repeatedly saves him until Riku finally sees through the disguise and demands whoever is behind the Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, he sees before he reveals themselves. DiZ obliges and reveals he was testing Riku. He offers him a black cloak and access to a room where his darkness can truly manifest itself. While Riku wins the battle against this fake Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, he’s almost consumed by darkness and has to admit some darkness remains. So DiZ did pretend to be Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Riku did fight an Ansem, Seeker of Darkness that wasn’t DiZ but they were also a fake. Riku rejects both the path of light and path of darkness, instead opting for what he calls “the path to dawn”.
Marluxia and Larxene recognise the power of Sora both as a Keyblade-Wielder as well as a special person who kept their sanity as a heartless (something they say only their Boss’s Heartless managed to do). They aim to use the power of their prisoner, Naminé, to manipulate Sora’s memories so he’ll eliminate the other Organisation members for them. Axel manages to trick them into revealing their plan and unravels it by letting Naminé escape. In the end, Sora kills both Marluxia and Larxene while Axel feigns his demise.
Vexen uses Riku’s appearance as an excuse to try out his cloning experiment. He creates Riku Replica in the hopes that Riku Replica will fully commit to the darkness and become even more powerful than Riku. Zexion talks about how Riku’s darkness is similar to their bosses so Vexen is convinced that Riku is the true prize worth more than Sora. As his Replica repeatedly fails to beat either Sora or Riku, Vexen collaborates with Larxene to get Naminé to further manipulate Riku Replica. Ultimately, Riku Replica sees this as a betrayal which allows Axel to persuade him to turn on the other Organisation members and protect Sora. Axel also tricks Vexen into revealing too much information to Sora, thereby forcing Marluxia to have to order Axel to kill Vexen. Once Axel completes the kill, both Larxene and Marluxia trust he has the commitment to join their coup (thus confirming his suspicion that they were the traitors).
Lexaeus is there to be killed by Riku.
Zexion tries to manipulate from the shadows however the dwindling number of members forces him to come out and face Riku. Since Zexion isn’t much of a fighter, he tries to use illusions of Sora, Kairi on Destiny Islands to trick Riku into giving into the darkness, however, the recently released Naminé allows Riku to see the truth.
The Riku Replica is obsessed with being the real Riku. His jealousy of the real Riku and fear of being a copy results in him doing everything he can to defeat Riku but never succeeds. Even having helped Sora take down the remaining Organisation members on the upper floors, Riku Replica still tries one last time to prove his legitimacy by taking down Riku. Riku wins again and this time the Replica begins to disappear. He’s clearly afraid and uncertain what will happen him so Riku tries to reassure him that maybe he’ll go where everyone goes. Riku Replica, while unconvinced, clearly appreciates the effort. [Riku Replica is never mentioned again as of pre-KH3 games although this scene isn’t written in a way that suggests he’s gone for good].
Some notable details we learn from Chain of Memories are:
Sora is shown Twilight Town which Vexen describes as being from a memory "locked in the other side of your [Sora’s] heart".
The Organisation is in disarray as members fight for dominance.
The boss of the Organisation has powerful darkness similar to Riku but had the special ability to stay sane as a heartless like Sora.
King Mickey is sure that he’s met DiZ before but can’t quite figure out why.
The only two living Organisation members we know of are the unseen boss and Axel.
The organisation was testing creating Replica clones of people to try to make perfect copies to replace people with equals on their side.
Jiminy’s Journal from KH1 is now completely blank except for two words: “Thank Naminé”.
DiZ says that the Black Coats allow the wearer to traverse through the Darkness unscathed. They also obscure the wearer from other Organisation members making it difficult for them to find you.
While it isn’t categorically explained what a Nobody is, Axel says: “We are just Nobodies who have no one to be, yet we still ‘are.’” continuing “But now you can be nothing instead of just being a Nobody. You’re off the hook.” as he kills Vexen.
Other than the Organisation who had already captured her, only Riku is shown to meet Naminé and will remember her after he leaves Castle Oblivion.
Riku tells Naminé that she reminds him of Kairi and asks her to take care of Sora for him.
Edit: Also you definitely have more to say about Union/X/Back Cover. There’s an entire scene that’s vital for the plot of KH3 that you never mentioned.
I love these KH podcasts so much! It’s hard not to want to jump in with corrections though lol, so I hope no one minds if I jump in to rep my girl Naminé a bit…
I know the other podcasts are already probably recorded, so saying this now is kinda too late, but imo it’s pretty important to the tone and stakes of 358/2 Days and KHII that:
Before Sora gets in the flower at the end of CoM, Naminé has already confessed to him that she messed with his memories on Org XIII’s orders! It’s actually kind of sad, because she’s also a lonely and friendless person, so inserting herself into Sora’s memories on the Org’s orders must have felt so complicated to her. Anyway, when the Org is defeated, Naminé is free of their control, and able to do what she wants; that’s why she offers to restore Sora’s memories to how they were before, she feels bad for what she did to him and wants to atone. So she’s not sketch! She was sketch during the game, but she cleared the air with Sora before the end, so the nap he takes is not ominous… for HIM, anyway.
The kicker is, the restoration process for Sora’s memories ends up negatively impacting some characters in Days and KH2. That’s the central melancholy of those games… restoring Sora is objectively in the moral right, but other people have to get hurt for it to happen…
I just thought this was important to note. The fact that we the viewer KNOW that Sora’s flower nap is right, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is pretty central to the despair created in the other games re: other characters’ situations, and the sheer unfairness of it all is the feeling that got me hooked on KH, uhh… ten long years ago now, haha.
Anyway, love the podcast and all that you guys do!!! May your heart be your guiding key!!!
I know the voiceless Phil thing looks a whole lot like they just couldn’t afford Danny Devito, but it’s actually supposed to be a tribute to his japanese voice actor who passed away in between games. Phil never was voiced by Danny Devito in kingdom hearts and had a ton of dialog in 1, 2, and BBS. They’re not shy in replacing whoever they need.
Leonard Nimoy also passed away in between games, but I guess it would have been weird if they did the same thing with Master Xehanort.
I saw someone on twitter say that Natalie did the Phil Collins drum solo in ‘In The Air Tonight’ correctly on this podcast and I wanted to show in music theory terms what Natalie did versus what Phil Collins did. I don’t mean this as a dig on Natalie, I just want to see if I can be of help to explain the differences. Here is an explanation of what a time signature is: https://www.dummies.com/art-center/music/piano/common-music-time-signatures/
‘In The Air Tonight’ in played in 4/4 time. The drum solo starts at around 3:40. I think it will be easier to understand this if you play the song at .50 speed. The drum hits in the solo are sixteenth notes. Sixteenth notes have the time value of a sixteenth of a whole note or half an eighth note. The tom hits on the drum solo goes like this in sixteenth notes: tom hit, tom hit, rest, tom hit, tom hit, rest, tom hit, tom hit, rest, tom hit, tom hit, rest, eight note tom hit, eight note tom hit.
In the podcast around 12:30 Natalie does this, presumably in sixteenth notes as well: tom hit, rest, tom hit, tom hit, rest, tom hit, tom hit, rest, tom hit, tom hit, eight note tom hit, eight note tom hit. The difference is that Natalie starts out with one tom hit and one rest and forgets two tom hits. I hope this is helpful for anyone confused!