After what feels like forever, we’re here. The story of Kingdom Hearts, the game that started this ten game series, in which the story is vague and strained but nonetheless interesting. Except, that’s not all I’ll be covering here in this article… there are two other games that I’ll be including, as they delve between the lore of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2… and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep… it’s quite a central part of the lore, so let’s get into it.
Everyone has to start somewhere
Our story starts with our hero, Sora, delving into his ‘Dive to the Heart’, similar to Ventus when he fights Vanitas in his own ‘Dive to the Heart’, or Ventus’ mind, or the Soul World, whichever you would prefer to name it. Here, Sora is told about the impending doom that is about to fall Destiny Islands, his home world. In it he battles a giant pureblood heartless, named the darkside, and once defeated, he awakes on the beaches of Destiny Islands. We are then introduced to Riku and Kairi, both of whom also live on Destiny Islands. Whilst Riku had lived on Destiny Island with Sora all their lives, Kairi recently ‘moved’ there, as a refugee of the darkness. The three dream about one day leaving the island, wanting to explore the world on a tiny man made raft. Riku is always trying to better Sora, and is constantly racing and fighting him.
On the night that the three had decided to leave, the island is attacked by pureblood shadow heartless, breaking the island down as they consume it. As Sora rushes to find his friends, he watches Riku walk into the darkness. And then Sora receives the Keyblade, becoming the Keyblade wielder that we are all too familiar with, and tried to find Kairi. He finds her facing a door in a cave, where she turns and calls his name as the door opens, blasting Sora and Kairi apart. Sora wakes up on a fragment of the island, facing a giant darkside holding an orb of darkness. Once defeated, the darkside and Sora fly into the orb and are scattered across worlds.
Meanwhile, in Disney Castle, King Mickey has left a letter to his two loyal servants, Donald Duck and Goofy, telling them to find the Keyblade wielder whilst he goes and finds a way to wean to power of the darkness. They take the gummi ship, a vessel that is able to traverse the corridors between worlds, and head off to the world where all refugees of the darkness end up, Traverse Town.
Traversing the Universe
Sora wakes up in Traverse Town, and quite understandably is concerned for Riku and Kairi. He begins to explore Traverse Town, running into the heartless, as well as Leon, Yuffie and Aerith, characters from the Final Fantasy universe. They explain what has happened to Sora, that Maleficent is commanding the heartless to consume and devour worlds by travelling through the ‘keyholes’ of them. This leaves Sora even more concerned for his friends than he already was. Eventually finding himself in the Third District, Sora runs into Donald Duck and Goofy, and they agree to work together to fight the giant heartless that had just appeared, the Guard Armor. One defeated, the three heroes agree to work together in order to find their friends.
Whilst the trio travel to other worlds in order to lock all the keyholes, in an attempt to ruin Maleficent’s plan, Riku is led further and further down the dark path, manipulated by Maleficent to capture the seven princesses of heart. These princesses are Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine from Aladdin, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella from Cinderella, Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Kairi, from Radiant Garden. Once these seven princesses are captured and brought together, the keyhole to Kingdom Hearts is supposed to appear, which would allow Maleficent to attack all worlds with a large amount of darkness.
Of course, Sora, Donald and Goofy refuse to allow that to happen, and so they travel to Hollow Bastion in order to finally stop Maleficent and the army of darkness. However, upon arriving, Riku takes the keyblade from Sora claiming that it was intended for Riku the entire time. Taking the King’s orders literally Donald and Goofy follow Riku, leaving Sora downtrodden but determined to prove to Riku that he was more than just the ‘delivery boy’. Challenging Riku to a rematch, Sora regains his friends and the keyblade, defeating Riku easily, who runs away in shame.
Whilst Sora, Donald and Goofy progress further into Hollow Bastion to defeat Maleficent, Riku encounters a man in a black cloak that encourages him to fully give into the darkness, allowing the man to take control. Once Maleficent is destroyed, the trio encounter RIku once again, but with a keyblade and possessed by Ansem. Ansem explains that the keyhole to Hollow Bastion can never be sealed unless Kairi’s heart is released from Sora, as it took refuge within him when Destiny Island was destroyed. Sora and Ansem-possessed-Riku fight, leaving Sora, Donald and Goofy to try to save Kairi. Sora turns Ansem’s Keyblade on himself, unlocking his heart to return it to Kairi, but ultimately turning Sora into a heartless. Donald and Goofy flee Hollow Bastion with Kairi as hordes of darkness attempt to consume it, leaving Sora in heartless form all alone.
This is where an important branching path occurs that take place in another game.
358/2 days – Part 1
An important lore piece that is explained in a later game is that once a heart falls to the darkness, two entities are created. A heartless and a nobody. So of course when Sora turns into a heartless, a nobody is formed as well. This nobody wanders for around seven days until it is eventually found by the leader of Organisation XIII, a collection of super strong nobodies that can control lesser nobodies. This leader names Sora’s nobody Roxas, and Roxas joins Organisation XIII in order to have purpose. Roxas can also wield a keyblade, so he fulfills the Organisation’s wish to recreate Kingdom Hearts, in order to give the nobodies hearts again.
I’m going to go deeper in this part of the lore in three parts, this being the first. This game itself bridges the gaps between three games in order to give a much more developed plot, so do keep this in mind.
The End of the World
Kairi reunites with Sora’s heartless, and uses the strength of her heart to bring Sora back to human form. With Sora in fighting shape again, he takes Donald and Goofy to the keyhole of Hollow Bastion and seal it for good, reverting the world to its previous state, Radiant Garden. The trio travel to a new world, named ‘The End of the World’, a world that is designed to be fragments of worlds that have all fallen to the heartless already. Battling through the hordes of darkness, Sora and his friends find themselves facing a door that leads to a dark void where Ansem lies. Beating Ansem and his guardian twice, along with a darkside, on the remnants of Destiny Islands, Sora is led to to the World of Chaos. Transforming himself into a large battleship of darkness, Ansem battles Sora to claim ownership of Kingdom Hearts. Upon opening the door, light floods out into the World of Chaos, consuming and destroying Ansem.
Sora still isn’t done, with all the light flooding into the worlds, Heartless from beyond the door are swarming in an attempt to consume the worlds again. Attempting to shut the door, Sora finds that he cannot do it alone from his side. King Mickey and Riku appear on the other side of the door in the realm of darkness, and close it from their side. Leaving Sora Donald and Goofy trapped in the World of Chaos, they walk onwards, to attempt to save Riku and King Mickey from the Realm of Darkness. Eventually they are led to a forest path, that leads to a large castle looming in the distance.
The Real Ruler of the Realm of Darkness
If you recall from the last article, I said that Aqua was left sinking into the Realm of Darkness, and she has two separate stories as she travels through the realm. In the most recent, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A fragmentary passage, it is shown that Aqua and King Mickey met one another in the Realm of Darkness, and that Aqua was present when Riku closed the door, and when King Mickey received his keyblade, the Kingdom Key D. Aqua attempted to protect Riku whilst he was closing the door, by defending him from Darkside’s and a Demon Tide, leaving her trapped inside the Realm of Darkness. Once she had succeeded, she continued to fight in the Realm of Darkness, acting as a guide for those that find themselves lost in the darkness. But that’s not the end of her story, but that can be continued in the future.
So there we have it, the lore of Kingdom Hearts, with a little bit of extra lore included for clarity purposes for other articles. Whilst the first game on its own isn’t that filled with lore, you can begin to see how the lore has been able to expand to what is is today. Thank you for reading, and I hope you read my next lore update on the chains of memories.