Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 4 - WHOA!

Terra is an idiot. You will accept this is move on.

As I said in the episode, a lot of the problems I have with these Disney world stories aren't really the fault of Nomura or of Kingdom Hearts. They are a by-product of some combination of the following:

  • The original Grimm Brothers' source material
  • The time period in which these movies were written/animated
  • Walt Disney being a huge jerk in real life
I point them mostly to show how much different old Disney was to the more modern movies from the same company. Since Kingdom Hearts is, on a fundamental level, a love-letter to the many classic movies almost all of us grew up on, it's unfair to criticize it for drawing on that same source material.

That said, it is also important to highlight some of the choices that were made outside of the influence of the source material. The big one is that Aqua is almost always the one closing up the story of any given Disney world. Not only does that mean she is always a major actor in the events leading to the story's conclusion, but it means she's often a big reason why the Prince of a given story is able to find their true love. Considering that the women in these original stories were often demure, and lacking in any real agency, it's nice that they (deliberately or otherwise) have a female character make the choice to be a driving force in the plot. While it doesn't make up for Kairi, it goes a long way.

As of this update, we're done with the old-school Disney films. All the worlds from here on out will be drawing from the same pool of 90s-2000 era movies that the rest of the franchise uses. There's a lot of content out there that compares old Disney with new Disney, but it's still worth taking a look back to see how far we've come as a society every now and then.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 3 - Ballroom Blitz

Now what were those magic words to get this episode out? Hmmm....

Oh yes, "Sam, please post the video!"

If there's one thing that Birth By Sleep does a lot better than other games is link the storylines of the individual Disney worlds back into the main plot thread.

Even if something as small as Ven, Terra, and Aqua relating what's going on to their own relationships with each other, having a through-line of some kind gives each story a sense of momentum/pacing that Kingdom Hearts 2 didn't have.

It also helps that the main 3 characters frequently interact with each other. Further, the writers actually do a good job of weaving the themes and subjects of the main story into the tales of the Disney worlds.

And then Aqua went to an old lady's house to murder her and her two children...

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 2 - How Could I Ever Forget "Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue HD: 0.2: Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage"?

It's time Sam finally got the answers he's long sought... some of them anyway.

Even today, I see fierce debates over exactly how much responsibility Terra has for tarnishing his own reputation with the rest of the cast. Among the Kingdom Hearts community, you'll see many people on both the "Terra Is An Idiot" front (my side) and the "Terra Did Nothing Wrong" front (not my side).

In a way, part of his problem comes from sheer circumstance. Any given RPG hero usually just listens to the first few people he/she encounters when they arrive at a new location. Almost every single time, these people happen to be trustworthy enough to for/with. Terra doesn't have that same luck. The "Terra Did Nothing Wrong" crowd would argue that he has no way of knowing that the people he first meets are all morally dubious, and thus can't be held responsible for being duped by them.

While I'll concede that Terra has very poor luck, I would argue against anyone who claims he is absolved of responsibility. It's only natural that people ask questions before they accept jobs or when they meet others. Most of us don't realize it, but whenever we meet someone for the first time, we often start by having them tell us about themselves and vice-versa. The fact that Terra doesn't do this is strange, especially since he's on a mission to learn about the goings-on in other worlds. Ventus has this problem too, but he's lucky enough to meet decent people.

To his credit, once the Evil Queen in Snow White asks him to kill the titular Snow White, he does start to ask questions: But that's only once he's asked to murder another human being. And even though he never had the intention of taking the job, he still accepted it and put himself in a position where it looks like he went for the kill.

A case can be made that he's not 100% responsible, but he does take some share of the blame. As a character trait, that even has the capacity to lead to some tense/dramatic moments. Unfortunately, Birth By Sleep commits one of, in my opinion, the greatest sins a storyteller can make when trying to build up drama. Unfortunately, it's too early to talk about it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Birth By Sleep - Episode 1 - The Chosen One

And so the Primer begins anew....

I have a deep seated problem with this game, and Sam hit the nail on the head very early on. This game answers questions that did not need to be answered, and raises new, even more confusing questions as a result.

As we progress through the game, Nomura insists on explaining details that aren't important, rather than elaborating on the ones that are. This initial reveal of Sora saving Roxas before he was even born is just one of those details. Not only does this ruin Sora's appeal as The Unchosen Hero, but it comes out of left field. There's nothing in previous games to even suggest the possibility, and doesn't really add to the story.

I'll point out other such details as we go along. This is only the beginning.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - 358 Days / 2 - Episode 8 - The One You Have Ice Cream With

Sam and Brandon are finally at the grand finale of 358 Days / 2. Roxas and Xion face existential crises while completing more missions.

Days provides some interesting insight into the mindset of Roxas and those most directly connected to him. That said, in terms of the overall plotline, not much of importance happens here. It's mostly character work, and that's why it works as well as it does. That said, don't play it. The game attached to this story is pretty awful in ways that exist outside the scope of the primer.

Next time, a little more than one week from now, we'll be moving on to the big breaking point for the story of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. I can't wait for you guys to hear what we have to say on it.