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I remember just about everything that's happened in this series no problem. It's not that it's hard remembering things (since I've looked over everything hundreds of times), it's that the way the dots are connected sometimes has too many rules, no rules at all, or rules get constantly broken that it's hard or futile to properly put it into words or explain it to other people.
I think how time travel is supposed to work in this series is the biggest example. You have to leave your body behind, you can't travel to somewhere you haven't been, yada yada. But the way YMX uses it makes no sense to me, nor did the arbitrary time limit they had in 3DS when all the Xehanorts were coming together.
As others have said, the issue is not so much that the narrative/sequence of events are overly confusing so much as that there are aspects of the world-building which are overly vague or contradictory, creating the impression of convolution.
My personal opinion is that KH really runs on a soft magic system (no hard and fast rules) but consistently insists that there’s a hard magic system (with clear rules) at play. The former is perfectly acceptable and has been used to great effect in many fictions (Lord of the Rings being the classic example). Nomura could’ve saved everyone a lot of headaches if he’d leaned into the softer, floatier nature of the KH universe early on as a unique *feature* of its world. That way we could’ve focused more on appreciating the magic for what it is rather than worrying about explaining it functionally at every turn.
Even though there is much to remember, I’d definitely say that the story is also confusing sometimes.
1. I had a really hard time explaining my friend Naminé’s birth and who Xion really was
2. Time Travelling
3. X, Unchained X, Union X (which should be self explaining)
4. What happens exactly when Sora uses the PoW in KG in KH3?
5. ReMind also had some confusing scenes.
Its super easy until you get to DDD and KH3. Time travel don't make sense to me and the idea of YMX bringing different incarnations across time in DDD is even stupider. The timeline and the workings of the Keyblade War in 3 is just unnecessarily confusing and it hurts the story more than it serves it.
Time Travel? Really? Talk about desperate. There's a reason why Time Travel is such a controversial trope, because people just throw it in just as an excuse to bring back favorites and the structure suffers because of it.
Time travel itself isn't bad. Like the two doors in KH2 that led to the old Disney Town, in my opinion, was totally fine. It was "soft magic". There wasn't exactly a great explanation for why the doors existed, but their rules were straight forward and simple.
I think the rest of Kingdom Hearts could've benefited so much if they stuck with this "door to the past" theme they had going on. YMX or (whatever incarcation of Xehanort) having access to some kind of door that let him go wherever he wanted and pull stuff out on a whim is so much better than the rules they came up with.
The solution is simple as well, they gotta seal that crazy time traveling door to stop him, but not before kicking all the old Xehanort's back into their proper time. And to solve the issue with memories? Also simple, they can just make it so someone pulled from the past won't remember the future when they go back through the door.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
But the whole... hearts and replicas and stuff... I just dunno. It could've been worse, but it could've been way better too.
The problem is that there’s no fundamental emotionally resonant reason to care.
KH3 is centered around us trying to find people we’ve never met and only got told about by an old man that does nothing but sit.
KH1 was simple (and clean), yes, but more importantly had stakes to care about on a basic human level.
It strays too far from reality - somehow a talking duck and dog are not hard to believe, but when you implement a reality where people die and are turned into a Nobody and Heartless and then if those two beings are destroyed then the person is reborn it's just too much... and that's just the beginning.
I don't believe a lot of the stuff in Kingdom Hearts comes naturally to humans to process. Like was it too difficult to just have characters die and stay dead? Duplicate versions of the same people is hard to follow... that's not how existence works. I get this is fantasy, but still; fantasy has to be rooted in reality to some degree or it just becomes a mindfuck which is the reason this thread exists.
It would help if so much of it wasn't so self-contradictory & retconning past lore:
"Heartless have no hearts"
"Actually they're made out of hearts & pretty much the exact opposite of their name"
"Also, nobodies are made out of bodies & are the ones devoid of hearts"
"Actually nobodies do have hearts"
"The bad guy is Ansem"
"No he's not, the guy is Xehanort who is Ansem's apprentice"
"No he's not, Xehanort is a much older dude who was only apprentice for a short while & said apprenticeship is now a really minor footnote of his life story"
"This world is called Hollow Bastion"
"No it's not, it's called Radiant Garden & is the capital of Light"
"Vanitas is the dark half of Ventus' heart"
"No he's not & Ven is a dum dum for believing that even though it's what Vanitas told him!"
"Maleficent was manipulating Riku to evil"
"No, it was Maleficent & Ansem"
"No, it was all Ansem Xehanort's heartless, Maleficent doesn't get credit for jackshit"
"Chi is noncanon, just a fairytale people in-universe tell"
"This 1 scene in Chi is canon, disregard the rest"
"Also the game is now called Unchained X"
"The whole damn thing is canon afterall"
"Also the game is now called Union X, with X being a different word than before"
"Namine & Roxas have a close relationship & are together in spirit at the end of KH2"
"No they don't, Roxas barely knows her & cares more for his sister-clone who wasn't even hinted at in KH2"
"Kingdom Hearts is the only way to reach the Realm of Darkness, Riku & Mickey are trapped"
"Actually they can just enter & leave whenever they feel like it"
"Also that wasn't the real Kingdom Hearts"
"Organization XIII's purpose is create a KH that gives them their hearts back"
No, it's actually pretty easy to get their hearts back & their real goal is form the X-Blade"
"This other bad guy is Xigbar/Braig"
"Wrong again, it's Luxu"
"Maleficent was destroyed & can't come back (as said in CoM)"
"Actually Maleficent did come back to life"
"Actually she wasn't dead, but sent back in time because getting clubbed to death does that I guess"
"Emblem heartless were created 10 years ago"
"Actually emblem heartless exist 75 years ago due to lazy asset flipping & Dark Road hasn't even explained it yet"
"Time travel is as easy as a magic door & can totally alter history (Timeless River)"
"Actually time travel requires these very specific steps & can't change history"
I'm sure more will come to mind later, but I don't get why this series can't go 1 game without pulling a "you thought you knew but you were wrong" twist. Just tell a new story, a new adventure & leave the past alone already. At this rate the next game will reveal that Baldr & Pence were secretly roommates in collage.
Story complications aren’t an issue for me, not inherently at least.
It’s that characterization became so weak, there was no reason to try and invest in the goings-on.
KH3 literally recognized that its main character had no stakes in the main conflict and pulled out the ‘villain kills his girlfriend to make him angry’, which is one of the most aggravatingly inane cliches out there.
Whoever’s writing this (I’m not comfortable saying Nomura alone, I don’t know the guy or what goes on, maybe there’s uncredited co-writers) seems less and less interested in personalities or character moments post-CoM, so I mentally dropped off by KH2 and just enjoy playing the games while skipping cutscenes. Since skipping cutscenes is an option, I’m a happy boy.
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