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With regards to everyone believing Xehanort will actually succeed in completing Kingdom Hearts, the real one that is, and form one huge world to start another Keyblade War, I agree. I think the series has been hinting that Kingdom Hearts will finally return and all worlds will become one again. Remember that Kairi's grandmother mentioned that tale that the true light will one day be opened and all worlds will become one again; this is obviously a reference to the light of Kingdom Hearts still consumed by darkness from the Keyblade War.
I think Xehanort's defeat will once again be ironic in the fact that this Keyblade War, as opposed to the first one, which released an excess amount of darkness, will have the opposite effect due to the seven light's influence. I believe that light will pour our out from the war and reorganize the worlds into one single existence; this would also completely destroy the heartless once and for all as Yen Sid said as long as Kingdom Harts remains taken by the darkness, then every world will still have darkness and if everyone's heart was filled with light, then heartless will be eradicated once and for all.
I also think this would be the perfect setting to start the next phase of the series. Xehanort is destroyed along with the heartless and nobodies, but now there is a whole new existence made from the opening of the one, true, Kingdom Hearts. Who knows, Xehanort might succeed halfway through the game and complete Kingdom Hearts and all worlds and the War will take up the second half of the game. That would definitely make the game a unique entry in the series, though I wonder just how violent Nomura is willing to go this time.
Why in the world would the series have to end just because the most used and common enemy is finally destroyed? Just because the common enemies are done in the series does not mean there won't be new threats rising. I would like to think that the heartless, nobodies, and Xehanort are unique to the Xehanort Saga and the next one will have brand new enemies. I think that for the next phase, there needs to be a new enemy to keep the series more refreshing and also give a real sense of accomplishment for the the first part by finally getting rid of the entities that were plaguing the worlds for what would be at least five (since unversed were in BBS and dream eaters in DDD) games.
Believing that the series cannot function without darkness or heartless is all the more reason to continue in that direction because it will be a very surprising development in the series that not many thought could be done. Perhaps in the next phase, creatures of light (we've had creatures of darkness and in between so far after all) are threatening the existence of the world. It would be a very nice spin to the whole "light always equals good" cliche and have a deep theme in that even light can be misused for evil the same way that darkness can be used for good.
Xehanort was a practitioner of darkness so why not have a new main villain who is a practitioner of light and has created creatures of such in a diluted mission to make sure darkness never rises again. Master Eraqus already gave us a glimpse on how the perception that light is absolute can lead to brutal and even murderous actions, even towards those he cared for as if they were his own sons. I could imagine a villain instigating a "witch hunt" for lack of a better phrase in which he or she is desperately hunting down and getting rid of anyone he or she feels might disrupt the balance of light. I think that would be compelling and a nice change from Xehanort since this villain is embracing the polar, opposite methodologies.
I do not agree at all that the series has to end simply because the heartless go away, if that indeed does happen; there are plenty of creative and imaginative ways to make further conflicts without them. If fans can come up with such ways, Nomura should have no trouble at all. This is the true art and challenge in making unique story-lines; making them go in directions no one could really have predicted where everything just clicks and works. To not go in directions simply because they do not seem possible would eliminate some of the best stories in all of media and Kingdom Hearts as well.
As long as it's not as anticlimactic as Voldemort's death from the 7th Harry Potter movie. GOSH, that was so disappointing. "This villain who has been ruining everyone's lives and threatens the destruction of all the worlds... and he just dissolves into paper bits and nobody says a word about it." Then again, Voldemort in general just didn't seem that threatening at all. Luckily though, KH3D made Xehanort one of the most threatening villains ever as far as just how far he'll go to attain his goal so I trust that the end of the Xehanort Saga would be a good one.
I know that darkness is not evil and light is not good; I never made such a claim that they were, just that it was a stereotype and cliche that has been present throughout media, but I know that doesn't make it so. This is why I believe it would be an interesting concept to see light be used as an asset and an exploitation for a force of evil. We haven't really seen such a concept within the series thus far; we have been given glimpses of how it can lead one down a twisted path, but so far, not to the extent that it threatens the worlds. If there were a new villain that used the power of light for evil, that would be a challenge that the heroes have never had to really go up against. We're so accustomed to light against darkness that light against light could be a very interesting plot device for future installments.
As for the heartless always being present, you are right so I agree with you there, but in BBS it seems they can only can be summoned into the realm of light and do not actually exist outside the dark realm. There could be a similar plot device in future installments where the heartless aren't necessarily destroyed, but can no longer roam around the worlds on their own accord. My main argument here is that heartless are not necessary to continue the series as there are plenty of alternative routs to turn to. I agree that it wouldn't make particular sense for them to simply not exist anywhere, but the series can still make a new enemy the more dominant one. I just don't believe that the series has to rely on one specific type of enemy to continue as there is still so many other story arcs that haven't even been tapped yet even if that enemy no longer appears, regardless if they don't exist or not in one realm or another.
I'm thinking it's Lea who will have to do something, sacrificing himself in some way to contain Xehanort. Always stuck doing the icky jobs.
I can't see Lea doing that.....but I can see Terra doing that. He is on Xehanort's side, so in an attempt to redeem himself and save his friends, he'll sacrifice himself to finally put an end to Xehanort. Terra could probably feel guilty (or violated.....) for all the things Xehanort has done with his body.
All the Seven Lights die at the end of KH3 because they have to sacrifce themselves to stop Xehanort.
Now that would be somewhat disappointing to everyone haha.
Itd also never happen. but WHAT IF...