Kingdom Hearts -HD 2.5 ReMIX- released in North America and Europe just last month, so hopefully many of you have had the chance to play through all of the games in the collection during the holiday season!
Since this is the first time Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix has been available in the west, this seems like the perfect chance to revisit Tetsuya Nomura's Director's Secret Report XIII, a thirteen-part look into the various secrets about the world, characters, and storyline of the Kingdom Hearts series. This report was originally included in the "Another Report" booklet that came with the Limited Edition version of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ back when the game released on March 29th 2007.
For those of you who may have never gotten the chance to experience Kingdom Hearts II or read this report before, hopefully you will find this information helpful to uncovering the mysteries of this series and gain a better understanding the world of Kingdom Hearts.
It should be noted, though, that because this information is nearly eight years old, some of it might be contradicted or already expanded on by newer games and interviews conducted by Tetsuya Nomura.
Many thanks to Goldpanner for her hard work in translating this report, and be sure to visit her website for more of her translation work related to Kingdom Hearts!
DIRECTOR'S SECRET REPORT XIII
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations.
ABOUT THE WORLD OF KINGDOM HEARTS
"At present, I think there are four broad stories you could say are blank."
I. In the Kingdom Hearts (hereon KH) series so far, two kinds of 'Kingdom Hearts' have appeared, the 'heart of worlds' and the 'heart of people'. Can you please explain their makeup?
I think of 'all life has heart' as the most basic premise of KH. The heart of worlds was a great heart that gathered everything that formed those worlds: the natural things such as the trees in the forests, the oceans and rivers, the flowers and such. The heart of people, as it is called, was the collected hearts of the humans and animals and such that lived in those worlds. A Kingdom Hearts is considered to be an aggregation of the originally invisible 'proofs of life' known as hearts.
II. Please explain the structure of and means by which one may travel between the worlds that serve as the setting of Kingdom Hearts.
As for the structure of the worlds, first, the so-to-speak normal worlds--the ones that Sora, the Disney characters and we live on--are situated in the Realm of Light. If you picture those worlds as existing on the same level on top of a giant plane, then on a separate level, in other words on the reverse side, exists the Realm of Darkness.
Regarding the Realm Between, four worlds have appeared so far: (A) Castle Oblivion, (B) Twilight Town, (C) Yen Sid's Tower, and (D) The World That Never Was. You can think of them as arranged like a stairway extending between the two Realm layers, something like Light < C < B > A > D > Darkness. There are two ways to travel, one of which is to use a Gummi Ship like Sora and his friends do to move through the 'Ocean Between', the space studded with all the worlds. Worlds are encased in an invisible shell which keeps the individual world from being breached by other worlds, but when the door to the heart that exists in each world is opened, the shell covering that world is broken, and it rains down as a meteor shower. The meteors, fragments of that shell, result in Gummi Blocks for Gummi Ships. Gummi Blocks have the ability to breach any world as they were originally part of the world-covering shells.
The other way is to use a 'corridor of darkness'. These routes are like a loophole of sorts and not pathways that should rightfully be used. While only those known as beings of darkness and beings of between are able to create entries and exits, in rare cases even other kinds of beings such as the Beast and DiZ, who held strong sentiment or hatred in their hearts, have been able to open a path themselves. However, this means being near the darkness. Make frequent use of the pathways and the darkness will completely erode one's body. Sora and his friends have also used these pathways a handful of times, but you could consider that the effect of passing through a corridor of darkness is influenced by the strength of one's heart, and as such they have not used them to the degree of frequency that their hearts could have been stained by darkness. In which case, why hasn't erosion by darkness progressed in the heart-lacking Nobodies, King Mickey or Riku, despite them having used the pathways frequently? There is a secret relating to a feature they all share, explained in this very title.
III. Is there a possibility that blank points in time and settings that haven't been shown in detail such as the 'Realm of Darkness' etc will be depicted in the future? Was the beach that appeared at the beginning and end of KHII the 'Realm of Darkness'?
At present, I think there are four broad stories you could say are blank: 'King Mickey's period of absence'1, 'Riku's period of absence'2, 'Roxas' days with Organisation XIII', and 'Xehanort's past'. In that case, 'King Mickey's time of absence' would be a story set in the Realm of Darkness. I have been considering over and over how I ought to tell these four stories, so perhaps someday they will be told in some way.
That place that appears at the beginning and end of KHII, called the Dark Margin, is the tip of the cape of that world, and it is not strictly part of the Realm of Darkness but a boundary-like place between Darkness and Between. This means that in the ending Sora and Riku are looking at an ocean in the Realm of Darkness from a beach in the Realm Between. This also means that the scene of the door appearing in the ocean of darkness at the end was symbolic of Sora's 'deep down, there's a light that never goes out' line from the first game.
IV. There are also many things regarding Castle Oblivion that remain mysterious. Did Organisation XIII build that castle themselves, with Naminé the original subject of the experiments they conducted there? Please tell us the details of the experiments the Organisation were carrying out. Also, was that pod that Sora entered something the Organisation built in relation to those experiments? Are they the same pods in Twilight Town?
The ultimate goal of the Organisation was to obtain a Kingdom Hearts of the hearts of people and become complete beings, and because Nobodies were a new kind of being beyond all expectations, said to be 'nonexistent beings', the lack of background knowledge made it necessary for them to collect information relating to their own condition. One major feature of the Nobodies is that they form personalities and feelings through memories without hearts. This means that 'memory' is a very important element to them. The creation of Castle Oblivion itself is still a mystery, but, as you can guess from the cutscenes added to this title, you may consider that the Organisation discovered the castle, which was there since before the Organisation was created, at quite an early stage.
And also, around the same time that Roxas woke up in Twilight Town, Naminé woke up in Castle Oblivion. This means that after was found by the Organisation after that. Just as each Organisation member has an attribute ability, Naminé possesses the power to manipulate 'memory', and they thought that this ability was the key to illuminating the truths of the condition of the Nobodies. This means that in that place that affected the 'memory' of those who entered they carried out experiments relating to memory. Above all, Xemnas, the leader of the Organisation, seemed to be searching for something important related to 'memory'. Some of their experiments involved the breaking and rebirth of memories, and those pods were for that purpose indeed created by the Organisation. The pod that Sora woke up in in Twilight Town was the same one from Castle Oblivion. DiZ had moved everything as it was in order to escape pursuit by the Organisation. Also, as Xigbar says in a cutscene added to this title: when the time comes to reveal the details of 'the true purpose of Castle Oblivion', all the mysteries regarding Castle Oblivion will be solved.
ABOUT THE KEYBLADE
"The fact that the two of them can dual wield actually means something very important."
V. We believe there are still many mysteries surrounding the Keyblade. As of now we have been able to discern three types of Keyblades: Keyblades of the hearts of worlds of light, such as the one Sora wields, Keyblades of people's hearts, such as the one Riku made from the hearts of the princesses, and Keyblades of the hearts of worlds of darkness, such as the one King Mickey obtained in the Realm of Darkness. We would like you to explain each of these.
Keyblades may have one of two make-up; light-side, or dark-side. That is not a 'good or evil' classification, however. Like interior versus exterior keys, the only difference is merely from which side they are able to work. The door of each world is normally closed, the keyhole itself in an invisible state. These keyholes, which appear when a Keyblade is held up to them, are not locked. This means that once the Heartless find a door it is very easy for them to open it and steal the heart, which is why Sora went around locking those doors in the first title. Keyblades were also used for a purpose different to any prior intentions or reasons - on the door that opens on the heart that stands as the gathering of the world's hearts, Kingdom Hearts - to guard against the darkness leaking from within that heart. In order to do that, the door had to be shut from both the side of light and the side of darkness, which required the use of Keyblades from both the Realm of Light and the Realm of Darkness. That is why King Mickey went to get a Keyblade from the Realm of Darkness - to serve as the counterpart to Sora's Keyblade of the Realm of Light.
Then, as for the Keyblade made from the hearts of the princesses that Riku wielded in the first title, it was designed from the special hearts of the princesses purely for the sake of the plan to make the keyhole appear in Hollow Bastion and force darkness to flood from that heart. It was different from the original Keyblades. There are also hints that Keyblades are artificial, people-made objects.
VI. Please explain Riku's newly obtained Way to the Dawn and the Keyblade Kairi wields, and tell us about the conditions of becoming a Keyblade Wielder.
There isn't just one Keyblade for the side of light and one for darkness. There are as many keyblades in existence as there are hearts qualified to wield them. At this stage, the only requirement that has been made clear is that someone must have a 'strong heart', but there are other requirements that haven't been spelled out yet which I plan to reveal another time when I have the chance. Riku's Way to the Dawn and the Keyblade Kairi wields are of the same nature as Sora's Keyblade. However, what with one having developed with the Soul Eater as intermediary and one having been handed to Kairi by Riku, I would like you to think that something not fully explained, outside the usual method of acquirement, is going on here.
VII. If Roxas was born and joined the Organisation during the same period that Sora became a Heartless, then that means Roxas was using a Keyblade during the same period that Sora was using one in Castle Oblivion. Was he using Sora's Keyblade? It seems that Roxas was valued within the Organisation for being a Keyblade Wielder, and surely it would have been handy for them to have Sora, another hero of the Keyblade, gathering hearts. In that case, why did the Organisation try to defeat Sora?
The Keyblade Roxas used was the same one that Sora lost temporarily in Castle Oblivion. And then the two of them were using that Keyblade at the same time, which is accounted for by the relationship between Roxas and Sora if you think about it. However, the fact that both of them are dual wielders actually means something rather major. This is connected to the story of 'Xehanort's memories', and I cannot touch that topic with a ten foot pole right now.
Also, while the two of them were both using that Keyblade, the Organisation were trying to use Sora for the sake of their own end goals. Before long, however, due to different expectations held by different Organisation members and the actions of Sora and Roxas themselves, their methods changed, and in the end they became unable to use Sora in any real way. Sora getting in the way of the Organisation's actions in this way is what caused them to try to defeat him. You could also say that they were thinking that even if they were to defeat Sora, they had a replacement.
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
"The plot so far should have made you feel that Xemnas was also a special Nobody."
VIII. When you defeat Heartless, what happens to the hearts they have stolen? Also, when Nobodies and members of Organisation XIII are defeated, do they return to their original forms?
When a Heartless is defeated, essentially, the owner of that heart returns to life somewhere in the Realm with the body that had once disappeared. Some facts about where hearts go were also established in KHII, but those were exceptional circumstances brought about by the Organisation3. However, there is the rare case in which a body changes into a Nobody. If that has happened, without the vessel it ought to return to the heart will go into a suspended state.
When a Nobody is defeated, it's a little complicated. If the heart has been released they will return to their original form as mentioned above, but if the heart is still dispossessed by a Heartless, the Nobody will be swallowed by darkness. If their heart, wherever it is in the realm, could be taken back perhaps they could return to their original human form.
IX. Now we will ask about the main characters in general. Why can Sora turn into the Anti Form? Why was Riku chosen by the Keyblade? What of Kairi's memories of Radiant Garden? How are Roxas and Naminé different from other Nobodies? And, while Sora and his friends were gone, what happened to their school, their friends, and their parents?
You can consider the time Sora turned into a Heartless as the reason he can change into the Anti Form. Actually, it is more natural to think that on top of the existence of his Nobody, there would be more effects remaining from Sora becoming a Heartless. Perhaps using too much strong power will bring him closer to the darkness, just like Riku's Dark Mode. As for why Riku was chosen, there is an indirect hint hidden somewhere in the material added to this title, so please see if you can find it. As for Kairi's memories, there isn't anything particularly special there. Try thinking back to your own memories from when you were five years old - I'm sure you don't really remember that many details. In other words, I think she does and doesn't remember things on an ordinary level.
The fact that Roxas and Naminé are special Nobodies is already explained thoroughly elsewhere, so please read that for the details. Essentially, when someone with a strong heart has their heart stolen and becomes a Heartless, there is a rare chance that the flesh body left behind will turn into a Nobody. However, these two have a special case - Kairi's heart had been hidden in Sora, and Sora himself was also purified of his Heartless state by Kairi. Sora's revival, which doesn't follow the usual script, meant Roxas and Naminé were born in a special way, making them left-over Nobodies of sorts. Furthermore, you should have felt from the story so far that Xemnas is also a special Nobody.
Lastly, while Sora and others were gone, time had stopped for the people on the world of Destiny Islands - on the night of the storm in the first game, the Islands were wiped out. After that, the only reality for them for the year that Sora slept was that 'Riku vanished on the night of the storm', as all their memories of Sora himself had disappeared. Those memories inside them of Sora did return when Sora awakened, but in the end their memories regarding Sora simply matched those of Riku - that they had both vanished ever since the night of the storm4.
X. We believe that in KHI Ansem (Xehanort) abandoned his own heart. However Organisation XIII, led by Xemnas (Xehanort), sought to regain their hearts. Is this because the two of them - split as Heartless and Nobody - became different people with separate intentions? Also, despite the fact that Xehanort, who serves as their base, was meant to have lost his memories, in one of the scenes added to this title, there was a part where he insinuated something about the past. Does that mean his memories have come back? Or does it mean his memory loss was a lie all along?
Both of them share a true nature, but they were acting upon separate intentions. It is true that Xehanort abandoned his heart, but at that time Nobodies being born was probably completely outside his expectations, and the different natures of Heartless and Nobodies meant different methods for his goals, too.
However, I think that both of them shared the same desire to be a 'complete being'. I left a new mystery hidden in the last 'Secret Ansem Report', written by Ansem the Wise. The key phrase that symbolises this mystery is 'Xehanort's Memories', in which hides a secret with huge implications for future KH titles. I still cannot reveal anything concerning the content or state of his memory.
ABOUT THE KEYBLADE WAR AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS FOR KINGDOM HEARTS
"Once you've experienced the new Kingdom Hearts titles for yourselves, please try reading this book once more."
XI. We'd like to ask for a few more details regarding the key phrase 'the Keyblade War'. Does it have anything to do with the 'fairy-tale of the children and the light' told by Kairi's grandmother5?
In order to tell the story of the Keyblade War we need high-spec, high-volume hardware, and we ourselves need to gather the know-how to deal with that hardware. There are also other episodes we need to show before we can tell that story, so I won't be able to give details for some time yet.
As for the fairy-tale that Kairi heard, that too requires a little more time before, like a fairy-tale you've all heard, I can make it feel real for you. In other words, if I can't talk about either of these things until later, it's certainly not unlikely that they are relevant.
XII. 'Birth by Sleep', the new secret movie added to KHIIFM, was extremely significant - and some of the people who appeared seemed familiar. Even if you can't give details, can't you give us any hints? Also, do the three who appeared in armour have any connection to Xemnas, who appeared in similar armour in the last battle?
There are familiar figures, and familiar faces - this secret movie is incredibly difficult to reach, but I think it is a considerably impressive movie that stirs up the imagination. There is some kind of connection to Xemnas' armour, but of course I can't answer in detail at this stage. However, this movie marks the rise of new premonitions, so please think that the motives and foreshadowing of the figures and such we've seen so far will connect up ahead.
XIII. Lastly, is this the last adventure for Sora? You've said that you have the end of Kingdom Hearts in your head, but will Sora be there? And, please give us a hint concerning the future developments of the series within the limits of what you can say at present.
There is a summary of the remaining questions mysteries of the KH series so far collected in this book - from that, I don't think Sora's journey is over. If you watch the end of KHII, I think you will feel those new premonitions. I can't say anything more about the 'end' of KH that I spoke of before, of course, but I don't think Sora would be unconnected to KHIII, if the numbered titles reach that far. So, I think Sora will be relevant right up to if we wrap up Kingdom Hearts.
As for the new developments, there are several in the works. I believe they will answer the needs of KH fans, from whom we receive extensive support. I dare label them as 'new' - please think of them as different streams rather than part of the main flow. I'll give you a hint regarding the content of one of them. In the newly added secret movie appear these words: destiny is never left to chance.
In the near future, once you've experienced the new Kingdom Hearts titles for yourselves, please try reading this book once more. I'm sure you will be able to connect many of the dots. I will be so happy if the fans enjoy themselves when the time comes. First, as you look forward to the coming announcements, please play this title to your hearts content.
Footnote 1: Could this mean the story from when, in the first Kingdom Hearts title, King Mickey leaves the letter and departs from Disney Castle up until he closes the door to the heart of the worlds from the Realm of Darkness?
Footnote 5: In Kingdom Hearts, Sora personally experienced Kairi's memories. There was a scene where Kairi, still little, listened to her grandmother tell an old legend. It was about children who remade the world from fragments of light after it was swallowed by darkness.