Friday, August 18, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - 358 Days / 2 - Episode 3 - AxelRox

Sam and Brandon were halfway through the commentary of the 358 Days / 2 section of the Kingdom Hearts Primer. Meanwhile, Roxas continued to complete more missions.



Something I mentioned in this episode is that Kingdom Hearts, after the first few games, has a tendency to hire relatively new voice actors for characters both minor and major. Either that, or celebrity voice actors.

That doesn't seem to be the case in Days though. I had assumed that Xion's voice actress being new was part of why she wasn't turning in a great performance. This is incorrect though, since her voice actress is Hayden Panettiere. You'd probably know her as the Indestructible Cheer Leader from Heroes or Sam in Until Dawn, but in terms of Kingdom Hearts she also does the voice of Kairi in every single game she appears in.

While she has little experience with voice acting before Kingdom Hearts (according to her imdb), it's no more or less than any of the other voice actors here. This again leads me to expect that the voice director(s) weren't giving them good direction.

It's a shame, or it would be if this game wasn't mostly filler.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - 358 Days / 2 - Episode 2 - Ice Cream Friends

Sam and Brandon continued the Kingdom Hearts Primer by themselves.


I was genuinely excited by Sam figuring out the importance of Xion's hood coming on and off between shots without me having to explain anything. Then again, he studies film so of course he would notice the cinematography tricks.

Aside from that, this is more of an setup episode. Not much in terms of story progress went on, but the game is currently establishing plot points that will become topics of conversation later.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - 358 Days / 2 - Episode 1 - Without Much Thought

The struggle is eternal. Though it may start and stop it fits, there will never be an end to it. Thus, our journey begins anew.


This shouldn't take anywhere near as long as our Kingdom Hearts 2 season. But don't fret, we still have our brand of off-the-cuff commentary.

Not much happens in this first episode, but one thing you can immediately notice is the stilted voice acting from much of the cast. If you compare the performances in Days with that from previous Kingdom Hearts, there's a noticeable monotone is most of the lines.

Even Sam, who watches so much anime that a wooden performance or two might slip be him without notice, couldn't help but commenting on just how bad the voice work is. One rule I like to use is that if one or two characters have flat, bland acting, it's likely those performances. However, if the whole cast, or most of it, is turning in sub-par voice work, it's probably the direction.

And since we don't see this problem in any other Kingdom Hearts game, I can only imagine that whoever was tapped to direct the voice work here just wasn't up to it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 39 - Deus Ex Machina

3 games down, however many we have left to go!



There was a healthy discussion about the endings in this episode that has stuck with me in the (now) year since we originally recorded it. Had Square and Disney decided to stop here, this would have been a solid ending. Sure, there would have been some mysteries left unsolved, but not everything needs to be explained in order for a story to be a good story.

Either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your perspective), Kingdom Hearts did continue after this game. And as the series went on, they moved away from the more whimsical tone of the first game and more towards the decidedly darker tone started in Kingdom Hearts 2. We'll talk about some the problems I have with the storytelling in future Kingdom Hearts game at a later point, but I feel this shift in tone had it's own impact on the series.

Sam and I talked about how the fate of Roxas and Namine in particular is terribly tragic, but didn't get as much screen time as it should have. If anything, those kinds of very unfortunate fates become almost a staple for the series as it goes on. That said, it all started here.

Now that we're officially out of Sam's Kingdom Hearts comfort zone, I hope you guys have as much fun seeing how he reacts that I did when I was recording it with him.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 38 - Honest Eyes

We're ramping up towards the grand finale!



I think the best part of this episode is how, up until King Mickey said the line, Sam thought I was joking about "the eyes don't lie".

The resulting meltdown was truly spectacular. I don't think I could have scripted a better scene between the two of us.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 37 - The Most Interesting Man in Kingdom Hearts

Welcome to one of the best parts of Kingdom Hearts 2.



I've maintained that Roxas is one of the most interesting characters in the Kingdom Hearts fiction. Unlike a lot of the other heroes, he has a solid arc from the start of Kingdom Hearts 2 to the end of the game.

Roxas begins with a strong desire to understand himself, who he is and why he exists. In his effort to do so, he starts to develop his own identity. There's a tension born from the fact that while his mere existence is tied to someone else (just by the nature of his birth), he is beginning to actualize himself as his own being.

His role in the game is small, but it's rife with interesting philosophical discussions and has big implications on the lore of the franchise. For most of it, he is unwilling trapped inside Sora, only at the end finally accepting his place as a piece of a larger whole.

I like the character. And as small a role he has in the game, I'm happy for it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 36 - Darkness Works in Mysterious Ways

And we finally get back to the main plot of Kingdom Hearts.



As I reflect on this transition into the Final Act of Kingdom Hearts 2, I have difficulty trying to solve the real issue I have with it. Like I said in the episode, there is a serious logical leap that takes place here in order to catch Sora (and the player, by proxy) up with the events of the plot.

The logic is as follows:

  • The crystal trophy and Olette's pouch are one of a kind items.
  • There are two copies of a crystal from the trophy and Olette's pouch.
  • There is a place where the people who are missing from Twilight Town (like Kairi) are located.
  • Therefore, there *must* be a second town where the duplicate items came from and where Kairi got sent when she was kidnapped.
The Twilight Town crew happens to be right in this case, but I don't see how the premises lead to the conclusion.

What I think should have happened is that the second round of trips should have been about investigating worlds again, looking for clues as to what the (seemingly unmelting) sea-salt ice cream bar and photo might be alluding to. With a few more clues or facts to go on, I feel like it would be more plausible that the whole team could arrive at the conclusion it did.

This would also have solved the big problem that much of the Disney world stories had, in that they don't tie-in to the main plot thread. While the other games aren't always great at this either, this was a major problem with Kingdom Hearts 2.

The storyline in Kingdom Hearts has never been the problem. The problem is always in how it's presented and in its support. A bit more attention to detail would've gone a long way.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Kingdom Hearts Primer - Kingdom Hearts 2 - Episode 35 - Going Super Cyan

Finally, at long last, THE KINGDOM HEARTS PRIMER CONTINUES!



So, I could make up a whirlwind of excuses for why it took us so long to make another episode of the series, but in truth real life just caught up with us in a big way.

And the moment Sam was free enough to resume editing of the footage, he had some massive computer issues that set us back.

It's a good time to come back in though, since after this we get to go back to talking about important plot details. On top of that, Tron's world is one of the better one's in this game.

Expect more for us soon. We'll back, and the gravy train isn't stopping for anyone.