Aqua didn't give up, she actually was just addicted to the darkness (?)



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Twilight Lumiair

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I think that the inconsistency on how dangerous the Realm of Darkness is and how easily it is to get there are the issues at hand here. Sometimes it's shown as hard to access (like KH1 and 0.2), but other games people stroll in and out no problem (KH2 and KH3). Then we also see it as a very dangerous place (KH1 and 0.2), but then no danger whatsoever (KH2). If they were consistent in the portrayal of what was happening there, I would probably be less inclined to come down on Mickey. But I still feel like he abandoned her there. Imagine if he had actually provided all the information to Sora and Riku in KH2, maybe they could have found her when they were in the Realm of Darkness (come to think of it, if this was better planned out that would have been an awesome transition from KH2 to KH3 if they were back to back).

Her final word on the matter was that she was staying -- yes... but she probably thought that Mickey who was in possession of the Realm of Darkness keyblade, his own keyblade, and a keyblade master who is Yen Sid's apprentice would be back in a few days, not more than a year.

I think it was all Mickey's fault. He was the link between Aqua and the rest of the cast. He was the only active keyblade wielder (that we know of) that was searching for her from the end of BbS to KH1. Then he was the only one to actually stumble upon her (completely by accident because he moved on to another mission), then promptly forget about her to run around in the Organization's coat and tell Sora nothing but vague information. He also then focused on Jiminy's broken journal instead of saving Aqua or getting Sora/Riku properly trained so they could save her.

Another inconsistency is the whole "not strong enough" thing. Sora is clearly the most powerful one of them all, yet is treated like he's pathetic. Yet when he dove into the Realm of Darkness in KH3 he fixed the problem in like 10 minutes and saved Aqua. I know he regained the Power of Waking, but still, he probably would have been strong enough to go into the Realm of Darkness right after KH2 with Riku, Donald, and Goofy. I mean, if Mickey had the means to get to the Realm of Darkness and the immediate threat (Xemnas) was dealt with and he had concerns about how dangerous it was -- WHY didn't Mickey assemble a team to go in after KH2? Mickey could have asked Sora, Riku, Donald, Goofy, Leon, Yuffie, Cid, Aerith, Tifa, and Cloud to go to the Realm of Darkness with him to save Aqua.

Mickey was the one that made major mistakes in saving her. She felt abandoned by him. I feel for her -- whether it was one day, one year or one decade -- Anti-Aqua's claims about abandonment are true. From what we saw, EVEN with retconning, it's clear that Mickey didn't do enough to actually save her. His best bet would have been to tell Riku while he was Ansem-fied and that would have solved all the issues, but he chose not to (and Aqua wasn't written yet).
I mean, to be fair to Mickey, he was only in the RoD during KH1 & 0.2: two games in which it was depicted to be more dangerous (also shown that way in BBS). That said, the consistency is still a major problem, I agree.

Remember, Mickey was forbade from telling them, and I'm not sure how appropriate or safe it would've been to mention it during KH2. You continuously brought up how Mickey was running around in a coat giving Sora vague information, but it's in the first of those scenes that we here him say they can't talk too much because the organization was "listening" (probably through the dusks). So if he was worried enough about that, I could see why he might refrain from bringing it up. Same with Namine, who also knew this information.

Aw, I should've clarified. When I said Aqua's final word on the matter was: "I'm staying. Someone will come from me", I wasn't just paraphrasing the end of 0.2 or something. That was actually the exact quote she said post Blank Points, and just before SoD arrived. The cutscene for it is in KH3.

I.e. This was her mindset after the additional year+ she spent in the RoD, and is the absolute most current thing she says in regards to whether or not her friends would come rescue her (hence why I said it was her final word on the subject). Meaning she went from that directly to "you abandoned me for over a decade" with nothing inbetween that would've realistically changed her mind, so it's not even accurate to say she was thinking pessimistically about them anymore.

Which then begs us to ask the question: Why is she, as Anti-Aqua, suddenly feeling the complete opposite of what she literally just told us earlier within the very same game? It's so jarring that it's only natural one would question if what she's even feeling as Anti-Aqua is truly accurate, or just the darkness forcing it upon her. SoD, as far as she knew, didn't have anything to do with the efforts of her rescue party, nor did the abyss (obviously). There was NO reason for her to start doubting them to such an extreme when nothing even prompted her to do so. This is just made worse by the fact that she had, in the very last scene we saw her, expressed renewed faith in her friends ability to save her. There's no transition. There's no more reason for her to doubt them after she got anti-fied than there was before she got thrown into the abyss (which again, had nothing to do with them). In short, the progression of her feelings into Anti-Aqua make no sense unless we just assume she's being irrational and not entirely accurate with her words, which based on her later diologue in the game (where she outright denies ever being let down by Riku and Mickey), seems to be the case.

In regards to how long she expected to be in the RoD at the end of 0.2, she clearly didn't have a specific time frame in mind. If nothing else, she knew she'd probably be in there for a while, and I highly doubt she would've phrased her promise the way she did if that was the case. Her exact quotes were: "I'm not afraid. I will face the long darkness." "And one day, I'll return to Terra and Ven." There's no "soon" or anything there to imply she was expecting to get out quickly. Aqua was uncertain, but she didn't care. That was the whole point I would imagine.

I already said that Mickey lacked urgency and proactive thinking, so I'm obviously not going to defend what he chose to do with his time after a certain point (even if there is some level of logic to it, however flimsy it may be). But again, he was forbade from telling Sora and Riku, so who's to say he didn't actually approach Yen Sid after KH2 and propose a rescue mission like the one you suggested, only to be declined? This IS Yen Sid we're talking about. The guy who didn't let Sora go to help find Aqua because he didn't have a power he didn't even need to get the job done (ugh... KH3's bad writing just makes this whole thing a much bigger headache 😫). And if we go by that example, then while it's obviously a poor excuse on their end, we can't simply overlook the fact that he did think it was unsafe at the end of day. So, in their mind, they were doing what they thought was best, even though I agree it wasn't enough.

Something else I just realized was that, based on the fact that Yen Sid continued to assert that it wasn't easy to get into the RoD, even after DDD (I'm referring to the final cutscene of 0.2 where they're talking to Riku and Kairi), that implies Mickey may not have even discovered the fact that the Kingdom Key D could open up CoD till very recently in the timeline. Adding yet another potential factor for why they put her rescue on the back burner for so long.

So to circle things back around once again, of course, Mickey did make mistakes here. No one's denying that. He and Yen Sid lacked urgency, and weren't thinking proactively enough about how to solve the problem. After seeing how they handled Aqua's predicament in KH3, they clearly didn't have the best judgement either (case and point, Sora and Riku being "too weak" when they're not, and needing the Power of Waking when they didn't). However, this STILL isn't entirely their fault. They weren't the one's who made Aqua go back into the RoD. They weren't the one's who made her lose her Keyblade. They weren't the reason SoD showed up. They weren't the one's responsible for her getting thrown into the abyss. No matter how we spin the situation, the blame and failures don't fall solely on them, unless we ignore Aqua's agency and role in every single one of these events (which, as I said before, is shifting a lot of responsibility, and that damages the integrity of her sacrifice & promise in 0.2).

Ultimately, regardless of all their blunders, they never GAVE UP on rescuing Aqua, so they never actually abandoned her. They still very much intended on returning, and no amount of set-backs or minimal progress ever seemed to change that. Anti-Aqua's feelings can be explained in one way or another at least (even if the accuracy is questionable), but her claim isn't correct from a literal standpoint. Their very presence there proves that. And this isn't me saying you can't feel for the character and sympathize for her what she's saying. Of course you can do that! All I'm saying is just that the claim she made isn't exactly accurate to what really happened.

This is still the conclusion I keep falling back to it would seem, and honestly, I'm not expecting our opinions to change too much from here (though I do think we made a lot of progress). To be honest with you, it's been taxing on me mentally and emotionally to keep writing post this long and trying reason out some kind of workable logic from KH's inconsistent writing, so for now, if it's ok with you, can we just agree to disagree? 🙂 Maybe resume sometime in the next couple of weeks through dm's if you wanna keep disscussing the topic with me?
 
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Face My Fears

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I mean, to be fair to Mickey, he was only in the RoD during KH1 & 0.2: two games in which it was depicted to be more dangerous (also shown that way in BBS). That said, the consistency is still a major problem, I agree.

Remember, Mickey was forbade from telling them, and I'm not sure how appropriate or safe it would've been to mention it during KH2. You continuously brought up how Mickey was running around in a coat giving Sora vague information, but it's in the first of those scenes that we here him say they can't talk too much because the organization was "listening" (probably through the dusks). So if he was worried enough about that, I could see why he might refrain from bringing it up. Same with Namine, who also knew this information.

Aw, I should've clarified. When I said Aqua's final word on the matter was: "I'm staying. Someone will come from me", I wasn't just paraphrasing the end of 0.2 or something. That was actually the exact quote she said post Blank Points, and just before SoD arrived. The cutscene for it is in KH3.

I.e. This was her mindset after the additional year+ she spent in the RoD, and is the absolute most current thing she says in regards to whether or not her friends would come rescue her (hence why I said it was her final word on the subject). Meaning she went from that directly to "you abandoned me for over a decade" with nothing inbetween that would've realistically changed her mind, so it's not even accurate to say she was thinking pessimistically about them anymore.

Which then begs us to ask the question: Why is she, as Anti-Aqua, suddenly feeling the complete opposite of what she literally just told us earlier within the very same game? It's so jarring that it's only natural one would question if what she's even feeling as Anti-Aqua is truly accurate, or just the darkness forcing it upon her. SoD, as far as she knew, didn't have anything to do with the efforts of her rescue party, nor did the abyss (obviously). There was NO reason for her to start doubting them to such an extreme when nothing even prompted her to do so. This is just made worse by the fact that she had, in the very last scene we saw her, expressed renewed faith in her friends ability to save her. There's no transition. There's no more reason for her to doubt them after she got anti-fied than there was before she got thrown into the abyss (which again, had nothing to do with them). In short, the progression of her feelings into Anti-Aqua make no sense unless we just assume she's being irrational and not entirely accurate with her words, which based on her later diologue in the game (where she outright denies ever being let down by Riku and Mickey), seems to be the case.

In regards to how long she expected to be in the RoD at the end of 0.2, she clearly didn't have a specific time frame in mind. If nothing else, she knew she'd probably be in there for a while, and I highly doubt she would've phrased her promise the way she did if that was the case. Her exact quotes were: "I'm not afraid. I will face the long darkness." "And one day, I'll return to Terra and Ven." There's no "soon" or anything there to imply she was expecting to get out quickly. Aqua was uncertain, but she didn't care. That was the whole point I would imagine.

I already said that Mickey lacked urgency and proactive thinking, so I'm obviously not going to defend what he chose to do with his time after a certain point (even if there is some level of logic to it, however flimsy it may be). But again, he was forbade from telling Sora and Riku, so who's to say he didn't actually approach Yen Sid after KH2 and propose a rescue mission like the one you suggested, only to be declined? This IS Yen Sid we're talking about. The guy who didn't let Sora go to help find Aqua because he didn't have a power he didn't even need to get the job done (ugh... KH3's bad writing just makes this whole thing a much bigger headache 😫). And if we go by that example, then while it's obviously a poor excuse on their end, we can't simply overlook the fact that he did think it was unsafe at the end of day. So, in their mind, they were doing what they thought was best, even though I agree it wasn't enough.

Something else I just realized was that, based on the fact that Yen Sid continued to assert that it wasn't easy to get into the RoD, even after DDD (I'm referring to the final cutscene of 0.2 where they're talking to Riku and Kairi), that implies Mickey may not have even discovered the fact that the Kingdom Key D could open up CoD till very recently in the timeline. Adding yet another potential factor for why they put her rescue on the back burner for so long.

So to circle things back around once again, of course, Mickey did make mistakes here. No one's denying that. He and Yen Sid lacked urgency, and weren't thinking proactively enough about how to solve the problem. After seeing how they handled Aqua's predicament in KH3, they clearly didn't have the best judgement either (case and point, Sora and Riku being "too weak" when they're not, and needing the Power of Waking when they didn't). However, this STILL isn't entirely their fault. They weren't the one's who made Aqua go back into the RoD. They weren't the one's who made her lose her Keyblade. They weren't the reason SoD showed up. They weren't the one's responsible for her getting thrown into the abyss. No matter how we spin the situation, the blame and failures don't fall solely on them, unless we ignore Aqua's agency and role in every single one of these events (which, as I said before, is shifting a lot of responsibility, and that damages the integrity of her sacrifice & promise in 0.2).

Ultimately, regardless of all their blunders, they never GAVE UP on rescuing Aqua, so they never actually abandoned her. They still very much intended on returning, and no amount of set-backs or minimal progress ever seemed to change that. Anti-Aqua's feelings can be explained in one way or another at least (even if the accuracy is questionable), but her claim isn't correct from a literal standpoint. Their very presence there proves that. And this isn't me saying you can't feel for the character and sympathize for her what she's saying. Of course you can do that! All I'm saying is just that the claim she made isn't exactly accurate to what really happened.

This is still the conclusion I keep falling back to it would seem, and honestly, I'm not expecting our opinions to change too much from here (though I do think we made a lot of progress). To be honest with you, it's been taxing on me mentally and emotionally to keep writing post this long and trying reason out some kind of workable logic from KH's inconsistent writing, so for now, if it's ok with you, can we just agree to disagree? 🙂 Maybe resume sometime in the next couple of weeks through dm's if you wanna keep disscussing the topic with me?
It's fine, you like Roxas so it's A-OK with me to agree to disagree lol.

I think there is one key thing about the RoD that we kinda overlooked and it's how Riku mentions that it seemed different. The only part of the RoD that we actually see post-KH1 (closing the DTD) is the beach and wherever Riku/Mickey were. I'm curious about how dangerous it was after the DTD was closed and if the physical changes in the DTD could have had an effect on Aqua. The fact that all the darkness was trapped inside one location and not flowing out could have made it more potent and affected Aqua even more... ugh KH inconsistencies and mysteries :p
 

Twilight Lumiair

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It's fine, you like Roxas so it's A-OK with me to agree to disagree lol.

I think there is one key thing about the RoD that we kinda overlooked and it's how Riku mentions that it seemed different. The only part of the RoD that we actually see post-KH1 (closing the DTD) is the beach and wherever Riku/Mickey were. I'm curious about how dangerous it was after the DTD was closed and if the physical changes in the DTD could have had an effect on Aqua. The fact that all the darkness was trapped inside one location and not flowing out could have made it more potent and affected Aqua even more... ugh KH inconsistencies and mysteries :p
*Sighs in relief* Thank god, lol.

Huh... Interesting theory. I never considered that we never really got a good look into the RoD after the DtD was closed, so that potentially might be a factor. No real way of knowing for sure, unfortunately, but still something to think about.

I believe Riku said it seemed different from his time there with Sora in the end of KH2, and Mickey said it was different from his time there in 0.2. I'm guessing that the implication there is that, from a physical standpoint, the Realm constantly shifts and changes in a very volatile way (in addition to having a very odd time dilation, and creatures that devour what ever hearts they come in contact with), which somewhat reflects the fundamental nature of darkness. Chaotic, dangerous, and on a very different wavelength from light. It actually does seem to somewhat explain why it's so hard to find an exit, and why characters like Aqua can feel like they're wandering for ages without being able to tell. Another interesting detail about that place that can easily be missed if you're not playing extra close attention to the background of 0.2 (primarily Cinderella's world) is that everything in the RoD slowly crystalizes and eventually erodes away into the darkness. Presumably, entire worlds that have fallen there long enough are eventually converted into pure darkness. It's unclear what happens to the people, but chances are they either turn to heartless, or also fade into the darkness along with the world. So basically, everything there is under an invisible time limit till it physically starts breaking down into nothing. There's your dose existential terror next time you see that place I guess 😜.
 

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I think it was all Mickey's fault. He was the link between Aqua and the rest of the cast. He was the only active keyblade wielder (that we know of) that was searching for her from the end of BbS to KH1. Then he was the only one to actually stumble upon her (completely by accident because he moved on to another mission), then promptly forget about her to run around in the Organization's coat and tell Sora nothing but vague information. He also then focused on Jiminy's broken journal instead of saving Aqua or getting Sora/Riku properly trained so they could save her.

Another inconsistency is the whole "not strong enough" thing. Sora is clearly the most powerful one of them all, yet is treated like he's pathetic. Yet when he dove into the Realm of Darkness in KH3 he fixed the problem in like 10 minutes and saved Aqua. I know he regained the Power of Waking, but still, he probably would have been strong enough to go into the Realm of Darkness right after KH2 with Riku, Donald, and Goofy. I mean, if Mickey had the means to get to the Realm of Darkness and the immediate threat (Xemnas) was dealt with and he had concerns about how dangerous it was -- WHY didn't Mickey assemble a team to go in after KH2? Mickey could have asked Sora, Riku, Donald, Goofy, Leon, Yuffie, Cid, Aerith, Tifa, and Cloud to go to the Realm of Darkness with him to save Aqua.

Mickey was the one that made major mistakes in saving her. She felt abandoned by him. I feel for her -- whether it was one day, one year or one decade -- Anti-Aqua's claims about abandonment are true. From what we saw, EVEN with retconning, it's clear that Mickey didn't do enough to actually save her. His best bet would have been to tell Riku while he was Ansem-fied and that would have solved all the issues, but he chose not to (and Aqua wasn't written yet).

Like it was said already, it's not that Mickey just up and didn't want to go right away -- he did. But he still had to answer to Yen Sid, who has much more wisdom and experience that Mickey does, seeing as how he's Mickey's teacher. Riku felt the exact same way as you did, which is why Yen Sid forbade Mickey from ever mentioning it to either Sora or Riku about Aqua's status. He said either Sora or Riku would've staged a reckless attempt at a rescue, and seeing as how KH3 ended... Yeah, he made the right call.

Think about it like this. After KH2, both Sora and Riku are requested to take the Mark of Mastery Exam. Yen Sid made it absolutely clear that not only was this exam important, but it was crucial that they get the Power of Waking. He made that point abundantly clear, because without it, you're not getting in or out of the Realm of Darkness safely. Sora and Riku were trapped in the RoD at the end of KH2 with no way out to their knowledge, so they were no better off than Aqua was. Sora only got there because he was lucky and found Master's Defender in KH3, he wasn't getting in there otherwise.

Not to mention, it took two of them to take out Xemnas, and there's no telling who would've been lurking around at the time. And what do you know, Ansem SoD was. Yen Sid, knowing that there's way too many risks at play (and was considering all the factors he DIDN'T know), chose not to send them on that mission because it would've meant certain death. Instead, he chose to get them ready first.

And even then... Look at what happened near the end of DDD, he had no idea Xehanort would take advantage of the exam, and we nearly had Sora become a vessel because of it. And this is with both Sora and Riku already on guard. Imagine if he had just let Sora and Riku waltz into a place they had no proper preparation for, not knowing what they're in for.

In KH3, one of the first things Mickey mentions to Riku is that Heartless in this realm are WAY stronger than they are in the Realm of Light. Not only were they completely overwhelmed, but their Keyblades even broke and had to get new ones. This is happening to TWO Keyblade Masters, and they had to retreat. Mickey handled the Demon Tide in the end since it wasn't the first time he's dealt with it, but Riku on the other hand... He didn't fair too well. And if Riku didn't de-level at all during the series and that's what happened to him, they would've been absolutely slaughtered if they went back in immediately after KH2.

Let's not forget Anti-Aqua, cause that would've been super bad news. Sora only did so well because he was strong enough to deal with her (and you could actually make the case that he shouldn't have won so easily against her anyway but eh). That's with Flowmotion, Formchanges, Attraction Flow, Shotlocks, a new Darkness-resistant outfit and his regained strength. Sora had Drive Forms and more magic at the time, but none of that even comes close to the arsenal of power he has now.

In the grand scheme of things, Yen Sid made the right call. It might've cost Aqua's sanity for quite some time, but it was either that or possibly losing three Keyblade wielders in the expedition (Sora, Riku, Mickey) and jeopardizing the entire Realm of Light because remember -- Saving Aqua was the key to the whole operation. No Aqua, no Ven. And if Sora/Riku/Mickey died, that's 5/7 of the Guardians of Light gone. The only ones left would've been Kairi and Lea, and well... Yikes. And finding five new wielders on such short notice? Good luck. This would've been the worst-case scenario.

Yen Sid's gag order for Mickey was the best thing that could've happened, ironically enough, and everyone made a meme out of Mickey for it. "We're in the Endgame now."
 
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Face My Fears

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Like it was said already, it's not that Mickey just up and didn't want to go right away -- he did. But he still had to answer to Yen Sid, who has much more wisdom and experience that Mickey does, seeing as how he's Mickey's teacher. Riku felt the exact same way as you did, which is why Yen Sid forbade Mickey from ever mentioning it to either Sora or Riku about Aqua's status. He said either Sora or Riku would've staged a reckless attempt at a rescue, and seeing as how KH3 ended... Yeah, he made the right call.

Think about it like this. After KH2, both Sora and Riku are requested to take the Mark of Mastery Exam. Yen Sid made it absolutely clear that not only was this exam important, but it was crucial that they get the Power of Waking. He made that point abundantly clear, because without it, you're not getting in or out of the Realm of Darkness safely. Sora and Riku were trapped in the RoD at the end of KH2 with no way out to their knowledge, so they were no better off than Aqua was. Sora only got there because he was lucky and found Master's Defender in KH3, he wasn't getting in there otherwise.

Not to mention, it took two of them to take out Xemnas, and there's no telling who would've been lurking around at the time. And what do you know, Ansem SoD was. Yen Sid, knowing that there's way too many risks at play (and was considering all the factors he DIDN'T know), chose not to send them on that mission because it would've meant certain death. Instead, he chose to get them ready first.

And even then... Look at what happened near the end of DDD, he had no idea Xehanort would take advantage of the exam, and we nearly had Sora become a vessel because of it. And this is with both Sora and Riku already on guard. Imagine if he had just let Sora and Riku waltz into a place they had no proper preparation for, not knowing what they're in for.

In KH3, one of the first things Mickey mentions to Riku is that Heartless in this realm are WAY stronger than they are in the Realm of Light. Not only were they completely overwhelmed, but their Keyblades even broke and had to get new ones. This is happening to TWO Keyblade Masters, and they had to retreat. Mickey handled the Demon Tide in the end since it wasn't the first time he's dealt with it, but Riku on the other hand... He didn't fair too well. And if Riku didn't de-level at all during the series and that's what happened to him, they would've been absolutely slaughtered if they went back in immediately after KH2.

Let's not forget Anti-Aqua, cause that would've been super bad news. Sora only did so well because he was strong enough to deal with her (and you could actually make the case that he shouldn't have won so easily against her anyway but eh). That's with Flowmotion, Formchanges, Attraction Flow, Shotlocks, a new Darkness-resistant outfit and his regained strength. Sora had Drive Forms and more magic at the time, but none of that even comes close to the arsenal of power he has now.

In the grand scheme of things, Yen Sid made the right call. It might've cost Aqua's sanity for quite some time, but it was either that or possibly losing three Keyblade wielders in the expedition (Sora, Riku, Mickey) and jeopardizing the entire Realm of Light because remember -- Saving Aqua was the key to the whole operation. No Aqua, no Ven. And if Sora/Riku/Mickey died, that's 5/7 of the Guardians of Light gone. The only ones left would've been Kairi and Lea, and well... Yikes. And finding five new wielders on such short notice? Good luck. This would've been the worst-case scenario.

Yen Sid's gag order for Mickey was the best thing that could've happened, ironically enough, and everyone made a meme out of Mickey for it. "We're in the Endgame now."
I can understand that Mickey being instructed to not tell them about Aqua was best for the keyblade wielders they had on the roster, but my issue really comes from -- I guess -- believability of it all. Aqua roams around the Realm of Darkness with no keyblade for a year and is just fine. She even existed there for ten years with a keyblade. Sora/Riku sit at the point of the deepest darkness at the end of KH2 for an unknown amount of time and are just fine. In KH3 we see the keyblades get broken and hear that the heartless are more powerful in the RoD, but Aqua went ten years without "powering up" her keyblade or it even breaking. If they made the RoD more consistently a threatening area and we actually SEE it, then I would buy Mickey's silence. But we just hear how it's hard to get in, then we see everyone stroll in and out easily. We hear that it's such a threatening place, but don't really see it until the plot calls for it (KH3).
 

Twilight Lumiair

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In KH3, one of the first things Mickey mentions to Riku is that Heartless in this realm are WAY stronger than they are in the Realm of Light. Not only were they completely overwhelmed, but their Keyblades even broke and had to get new ones. This is happening to TWO Keyblade Masters, and they had to retreat. Mickey handled the Demon Tide in the end since it wasn't the first time he's dealt with it, but Riku on the other hand... He didn't fair too well. And if Riku didn't de-level at all during the series and that's what happened to him, they would've been absolutely slaughtered if they went back in immediately after KH2.
Oof... I REALLY wouldn't have cited KH3, of all things, as an accurate representation of the dangers of the RoD.

Yes, Mickey says that even the least threatening heartless are stronger in the RoD, but he only says that after they get to the Dark Margin, so the implication is that they hadn't ran into a single heartless (even the most non threatening ones) on their way there. Which describes a journey far less perilous than Mickey's previous one in 0.2. This not only subverts a large amount of the "danger" aspect they like to rack into our brains, but it's also another example of KH3 being utterly inconsistent with the rest of the series. The only enemy they actually fought was a single Demon Tower (a Demon Tide is much stronger and functions differently), but that's not a very huge threat compared to all the shit Aqua had to fight and overcome on her own. She's defeated Demon Towers, one entirely by herself, and the other alongside Mickey (and I don't recall them either of them struggling, or getting their Keyblades broken as they cut it down to size). She's fought an Army of Darkside's with a giant dark spirit bomb shooting lazers and spikes from the sky, and the explosion that followed that fight was comparable to that of the heartless vortex at the end of KH3. She defeated Dark Hide, with all it's reality warping and chaotic mega flares. She defeated several versions of Phantom Aqua, which, if we go by the definitive version of the fight, was far more formidable than Anti-Aqua. She defeated an actual, proper Demon Tide on her own when she was swept back to Destiny Islands at the end of 0.2 (implied to one-shot it even). And no, it's not the same one her and Mickey fought prior because we visibly saw that one disintegrate.

Here's why what we see in KH3 is a problem: Riku and Mickey are both Keyblade Masters too, and unlike Aqua, one of them was said back in DDD to be "immune to darkness", while the other had ample experience in the RoD already. And both of them had darkness protecting garments. How is it possible for them to perform worse than Aqua with all of that preparation even after they got their Keyblades "powered up"? Aqua didn't need ANY of these things to utterly outclass everything she came into contact with, or to protect herself from the darkness (until she was thrown in the abyss at least). Unless Aqua is just that much superior to Riku and Mickey (which, based on how this game treats her, likely isn't meant to be the case), then what we're shown, makes no sense and isn't consistent. It's another key thing that fundamentally breaks that entire subplot and is all the more evidence to me that they were desperately trying to come up with contrived, last minute excuses so Aqua isn't saved too early in the game (same with SoD being present there, out of no where, with no build up, for no reason.... Ugh).
 

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This entire concept is a little too edgy/complicated for KH as it is now, but it certainly is more interesting than Aqua kind of just... Being a lame duck and letting the devil swarm biff her.
It’s the Aqua we deserved. Nuanced and properly thought about in relation to both the overall story that had been told and the one KH3 wanted to tell.

Which is really nothing new...
 

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I can understand that Mickey being instructed to not tell them about Aqua was best for the keyblade wielders they had on the roster, but my issue really comes from -- I guess -- believability of it all. Aqua roams around the Realm of Darkness with no keyblade for a year and is just fine. She even existed there for ten years with a keyblade. Sora/Riku sit at the point of the deepest darkness at the end of KH2 for an unknown amount of time and are just fine. In KH3 we see the keyblades get broken and hear that the heartless are more powerful in the RoD, but Aqua went ten years without "powering up" her keyblade or it even breaking. If they made the RoD more consistently a threatening area and we actually SEE it, then I would buy Mickey's silence. But we just hear how it's hard to get in, then we see everyone stroll in and out easily. We hear that it's such a threatening place, but don't really see it until the plot calls for it (KH3).
Here's my guess. Aqua's using Master's Defender. Since Eraqus is a well-versed Keyblade Master presumably for most of his life, his Keyblade is already more than durable enough to handle the Realm of Darkness. So when Eraqus passed away and Aqua claimed ownership of his Keyblade, Aqua didn't need to upgrade -- she was already set to go. This isn't a stretch because Eraqus being a Blueblood and also being a more than capable Master, Eraqus most likely knew about Keyblade upgrading. If he knew and taught Aqua the secrets of The Land of Departure (or at least how to keep it locked away for safekeeping), I'm willing to bet he knew.

Yes, Mickey says that even the least threatening heartless are stronger in the RoD, but he only says that after they get to the Dark Margin, so the implication is that they hadn't ran into a single heartless (even the most non threatening ones) on their way there. Which describes a journey far less perilous than Mickey's previous one in 0.2. This not only subverts a large amount of the "danger" aspect they like to rack into our brains, but it's also another example of KH3 being utterly inconsistent with the rest of the series.
I'd say that even if it's not as perilous as it was in 0.2 from a narrative standpoint, that wouldn't necessarily mean it's gonna be easygoing for anybody who happens to end up there. Actually, one could argue that since 0.2 and KH3, Mickey's gotten stronger (which I believe, because there's no way Mickey was doing all those things behind the scenes for all that time and didn't evolve in some way, shape or form). If he's stronger than he was in 0.2, then it stands to reason why it wouldn't seem to be as dangerous (even though it clearly, definitely is). Plus in 0.2, this is literally a brand new territory to him. It's hard to be prepared for something you have no idea about. That's why when he's with Riku in KH3, he's saying that because he more or less knows what he's dealing with.

Here's why what we see in KH3 is a problem: Riku and Mickey are both Keyblade Masters too, and unlike Aqua, one of them was said back in DDD to be "immune to darkness", while the other had ample experience in the RoD already. And both of them had darkness protecting garments. How is it possible for them to perform worse than Aqua with all of that preparation even after they got their Keyblades "powered up"? Aqua didn't need ANY of these things to utterly outclass everything she came into contact with, or to protect herself from the darkness (until she was thrown in the abyss at least). Unless Aqua is just that much superior to Riku and Mickey (which, based on how this game treats her, likely isn't meant to be the case), then what we're shown, makes no sense and isn't consistent. It's another key thing that fundamentally breaks that entire subplot and is all the more evidence to me that they were desperately trying to come up with contrived, last minute excuses so Aqua isn't saved too early in the game (same with SoD being present there, out of no where, with no build up, for no reason.... Ugh).
I wouldn't say she totally outclassed everything. With the multiple Darksides, she lost consciousness afterwards. When she first arrived, she was almost killed until Terra and Ven's Keyblades saved her. And the Demon Tide required her AND Mickey in order to beat it. (Even if she solo'd it after Mickey leaves, she still had help the first time) The Phantom Aqua fights weren't exactly the easiest things for her to deal with either, and you've got her mental sanity clearly slipping away from her when we catch her in 0.2. So Aqua more than struggled throughout her journey in the RoD. If she hadn't, it wouldn't have been as dangerous as it's been said to be lore-wise. It'd just be a really dark place with a bunch of monsters and hard to get out of.

Immunity to darkness doesn't necessarily mean he's gonna be fine just walking around like it's a normal day at the beach, even Mickey says this after he beats the Demon Tower, "I know you think we're invincible, but we're not." It swallowed him and he lost consciousness. The fact that he has darkness-warding garments helped him not bite the dust, along with his immunity, but it's not like that can't kill him. Mickey had to fight it in order for the tower to spit him out.

I don't think they really did worse than Aqua did. If they did, I'd have to chalk that up to Aqua being in the RoD longer than Mickey and Riku were. One of them JUST became a Keyblade Master. Granted, Riku is stronger than Aqua was when she became a Master, but still. There's a lot of time to account for, and we don't know exactly how long it felt like for her, but she clearly knows it's been quite a long time. It's not clear how much time passed between after she beats Dark Hide and 0.2's beginning, but I don't think it was immediately right after. Her survival? My guess is, again, Master's Defender being a big help in her surviving for that long. It was able to lead Sora right to where she was, so it's not impossible that Eraqus's Keyblade in particular was a big factor. It can change a world's structure completely, open a door to a different realm with no issues, and it's apparently a very old Keyblade... That thing's clearly nuts in terms of what it can do.

I'm making a lot of guesses here, and I think it would've been nice if KH3 added more clarity to stuff like this, but I think I can see why Aqua survived as long as she did. Even before she entered the RoD, it's not like she was a pushover either. She's arguably the strongest overall wielder out of the Wayfinder Trio.
 

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Here's my guess. Aqua's using Master's Defender. Since Eraqus is a well-versed Keyblade Master presumably for most of his life, his Keyblade is already more than durable enough to handle the Realm of Darkness. So when Eraqus passed away and Aqua claimed ownership of his Keyblade, Aqua didn't need to upgrade -- she was already set to go. This isn't a stretch because Eraqus being a Blueblood and also being a more than capable Master, Eraqus most likely knew about Keyblade upgrading. If he knew and taught Aqua the secrets of The Land of Departure (or at least how to keep it locked away for safekeeping), I'm willing to bet he knew.



I'd say that even if it's not as perilous as it was in 0.2 from a narrative standpoint, that wouldn't necessarily mean it's gonna be easygoing for anybody who happens to end up there. Actually, one could argue that since 0.2 and KH3, Mickey's gotten stronger (which I believe, because there's no way Mickey was doing all those things behind the scenes for all that time and didn't evolve in some way, shape or form). If he's stronger than he was in 0.2, then it stands to reason why it wouldn't seem to be as dangerous (even though it clearly, definitely is). Plus in 0.2, this is literally a brand new territory to him. It's hard to be prepared for something you have no idea about. That's why when he's with Riku in KH3, he's saying that because he more or less knows what he's dealing with.



I wouldn't say she totally outclassed everything. With the multiple Darksides, she lost consciousness afterwards. When she first arrived, she was almost killed until Terra and Ven's Keyblades saved her. And the Demon Tide required her AND Mickey in order to beat it. (Even if she solo'd it after Mickey leaves, she still had help the first time) The Phantom Aqua fights weren't exactly the easiest things for her to deal with either, and you've got her mental sanity clearly slipping away from her when we catch her in 0.2. So Aqua more than struggled throughout her journey in the RoD. If she hadn't, it wouldn't have been as dangerous as it's been said to be lore-wise. It'd just be a really dark place with a bunch of monsters and hard to get out of.

Immunity to darkness doesn't necessarily mean he's gonna be fine just walking around like it's a normal day at the beach, even Mickey says this after he beats the Demon Tower, "I know you think we're invincible, but we're not." It swallowed him and he lost consciousness. The fact that he has darkness-warding garments helped him not bite the dust, along with his immunity, but it's not like that can't kill him. Mickey had to fight it in order for the tower to spit him out.

I don't think they really did worse than Aqua did. If they did, I'd have to chalk that up to Aqua being in the RoD longer than Mickey and Riku were. One of them JUST became a Keyblade Master. Granted, Riku is stronger than Aqua was when she became a Master, but still. There's a lot of time to account for, and we don't know exactly how long it felt like for her, but she clearly knows it's been quite a long time. It's not clear how much time passed between after she beats Dark Hide and 0.2's beginning, but I don't think it was immediately right after. Her survival? My guess is, again, Master's Defender being a big help in her surviving for that long. It was able to lead Sora right to where she was, so it's not impossible that Eraqus's Keyblade in particular was a big factor. It can change a world's structure completely, open a door to a different realm with no issues, and it's apparently a very old Keyblade... That thing's clearly nuts in terms of what it can do.

I'm making a lot of guesses here, and I think it would've been nice if KH3 added more clarity to stuff like this, but I think I can see why Aqua survived as long as she did. Even before she entered the RoD, it's not like she was a pushover either. She's arguably the strongest overall wielder out of the Wayfinder Trio.
But if Mickey is stronger in KH3 than he was in 0.2, then why was it so much easier for him to defeat a Demon Tower alongside Aqua than it was with Riku? You yourself said he was fresh to the RoD, yet he never seemed to have any problems fighting heartless there the first time around. And again, why didn't Mickey's Star Seeker break like the Kingdom Key D did when he fought his first Demon Tower? He was fighting the exact same enemy in the same place, so is it not inconsistent it didn't happen both times? Especially when he's stronger the second time and knows what to expect? That seems incredibly backwards dude.

Huh? She never lost consciousness after fighting any Darksides. Or are you referring to when Terranort attacked her and Ventus in Enchanted Dominion? Cause that wasn't an enemy naturally found in the RoD, and she was both distracted, and caught off guard when those giant arms (belonging to the Guardian, go figure...) appeared out of nowhere. You're correct about Terra and Ventus' Keyblades saving her, but remember, she was only in imminent danger because she chose not to fight back in that moment. There's nothing to suggest she couldn't have beaten those 3 Darkside's if she really wanted to (especially when looking at all her other crazy feats while she was in there). Correct, Aqua did have Mickey to assist her in their battle with a Demon Tide, but the point I was trying to make was that (as we see later on when another one shows up) she didn't necessarily need Mickey to beat it. It certainly helped, of course, but she still should've been able to outclass it either way. Trust me, I'm not saying Aqua's time there was remotely a walk in the park. Her victories always seemed to take a heavy tole on her, be it physical exhaustion, or questioning her faith. However, she still overcame all the physical threats she encountered (excluding Terranort), and I'm 100% sure that she, by herself, could beat a measly Demon Tower.

So what use is having that immunity if it barely helps to defend him from darkness? Remember, Young Xehanort said they were initially going to use his body as a vessel before he developed that resistance to darkness, which probably included casting his heart out into the abyss, right? So doesn't that imply Riku could've warded off even that level of darkness through his immunity alone? I just find it strange that he still barely survived being immersed in darkness and required assistance from his clothes, immunity, Repliku, AND Mickey. Like... That immunity must no longer be worth diddly squat if he still barely scraped by despite having all the help in the world.

Master's Defender, while I'm sure it could've been a factor, is only going to help her so much. If Aqua is close to the same level as Riku and Mickey, and they couldn't even handle one Demon Tower, then that Keyblade alone shouldn't be making her solo Demon Tides, Darkside Armies, Dark Hide level heartless, and several copies of herself while being emotionally & psychologically attacked (one right after the other). It's stats in BBS aren't that much stronger than Aqua's endgame Keyblades, so the power disparity shouldn't be THAT large. You see what I mean?

And this isn't me trying to say Aqua is weak by any means. At her best she fought Terranort to a standstill until Terra eventually broke the stalemate (though the Trinity Archives implied Terra could only do that once Aqua slowed Xehanort down). She pressured Terra in physical combat so hard that he was "afraid of losing" to her, and she stomps Vanitas pretty much every time she fights him. Add on all her additional feats and experience during her time in the RoD, and she's definitely a worthy Keyblade Master. It's just that... I really don't see why Mickey and Riku, who had far more preparation and prior experience between them than Aqua initially did when first entering the Realm, were struggling so much with an enemy that evidence suggest they should've been able to beat. And it still doesn't make sense that that was the only creature they encountered there, ya know? Like, one look at BBS or 0.2 and it's pretty clear that shouldn't have been the case.

KH3's depiction of the RoD, just doesn't seem like a reliable source when there's so many questions and unexplained differences with it.

It wouldn't of been hard, or made any real difference to simply have Mickey state that he's encountered that enemy before, and then have them beat it the first time around. At least that way we're not told that it was the only enemy they encountered, or have so many unnecessary questions regarding their level of strength. Or, if you want to make it seem extra dangerous and still have them struggle, make an entirely new and formidable heartless for them to battle against. One that's far more intimidating than the things Aqua ever fought there (instead of something she's already overcome on her own), and then it might be more believable.
 

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It's another key thing that fundamentally breaks that entire subplot and is all the more evidence to me that they were desperately trying to come up with contrived, last minute excuses so Aqua isn't saved too early in the game (same with SoD being present there, out of no where, with no build up, for no reason.... Ugh).
Key things breaking seems to be a recurring problem in KH3 (ahyuck).

So that list bit you posted there got me thinking, along with all the usual things that are brought up with relation the very bad awful writing for Anti-Aqua...can we just consider for a moment how honestly ridiculous the whole premise for this scenario is in terms of a broader set up and pay off? Disregarding Aqua's agency and her individual arc for a moment (KH3 beat me to it, I know), why did Nomura even establish a connection between Aqua and Ansem the Wise by having them meet? It doesn't go anywhere. AtW tells her about Riku and Sora, which renews her faith and gives her a significant moment of reflection, but that goes to waste because SoD interrupts them and darkifies her before she can ever use that resolve to fulfill her calling and help someone in need, like everything in BBS and 0.2 was leading up towards. And because of how wonky the timeline is with AtW and SoD, he ends up providing absolutely no help in finding her, which just seems extremely strange for a story that wastes so much of its narrative track on this subplot. Like if the narrative needed to nudge Riku and Mickey in her direction, it seems like having them be part of AtW's rescue might have been an intelligent way to put things in order, but instead we have them visiting, leaving, and revisiting the RoD before Ansem and Ansem even arrive in Twilight Town. And then Aqua never even meets AtW again. Like. IIRC she doesn't even ask about him after she's rescued, or think to check up on whether he's okay. Which means she never mentions SoD to Sora and co. (Riku) either, despite the obvious dramatic potential there. Haha, what.

I know that KH3 as a whole makes everything prefaced in Blank Points seem like it happened in a different universe, but this has got to be a contender for the most glaringly disorganized storyline in the series. None of it connects to anything else that actually occurs in this game, or has any lasting impact moving forward, and yet it's positioned as the central focus of the first 1/3 of the game. I'm sorry but it's the kind of thing that just makes KH2 look like Classic Lit (and that game's story is as imperfect as they come). Even DDD isn't this bad with its blatant contrivances. F.
 

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Key things breaking seems to be a recurring problem in KH3 (ahyuck).

So that list bit you posted there got me thinking, along with all the usual things that are brought up with relation the very bad awful writing for Anti-Aqua...can we just consider for a moment how honestly ridiculous the whole premise for this scenario is in terms of a broader set up and pay off? Disregarding Aqua's agency and her individual arc for a moment (KH3 beat me to it, I know), why did Nomura even establish a connection between Aqua and Ansem the Wise by having them meet? It doesn't go anywhere. AtW tells her about Riku and Sora, which renews her faith and gives her a significant moment of reflection, but that goes to waste because SoD interrupts them and darkifies her before she can ever use that resolve to fulfill her calling and help someone in need, like everything in BBS and 0.2 was leading up towards. And because of how wonky the timeline is with AtW and SoD, he ends up providing absolutely no help in finding her, which just seems extremely strange for a story that wastes so much of its narrative track on this subplot. Like if the narrative needed to nudge Riku and Mickey in her direction, it seems like having them be part of AtW's rescue might have been an intelligent way to put things in order, but instead we have them visiting, leaving, and revisiting the RoD before Ansem and Ansem even arrive in Twilight Town. And then Aqua never even meets AtW again. Like. IIRC she doesn't even ask about him after she's rescued, or think to check up on whether he's okay. Which means she never mentions SoD to Sora and co. (Riku) either, despite the obvious dramatic potential there. Haha, what.

I know that KH3 as a whole makes everything prefaced in Blank Points seem like it happened in a different universe, but this has got to be a contender for the most glaringly disorganized storyline in the series. None of it connects to anything else that actually occurs in this game, or has any lasting impact moving forward, and yet it's positioned as the central focus of the first 1/3 of the game. I'm sorry but it's the kind of thing that just makes KH2 look like Classic Lit (and that game's story is as imperfect as they come). Even DDD isn't this bad with its blatant contrivances. F.
There's so many things wrong with it that I never even noticed this glaring issue.

I swear the Aqua subplot is gonna drive me to drink.
 

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Key things breaking seems to be a recurring problem in KH3 (ahyuck).

So that list bit you posted there got me thinking, along with all the usual things that are brought up with relation the very bad awful writing for Anti-Aqua...can we just consider for a moment how honestly ridiculous the whole premise for this scenario is in terms of a broader set up and pay off? Disregarding Aqua's agency and her individual arc for a moment (KH3 beat me to it, I know), why did Nomura even establish a connection between Aqua and Ansem the Wise by having them meet? It doesn't go anywhere. AtW tells her about Riku and Sora, which renews her faith and gives her a significant moment of reflection, but that goes to waste because SoD interrupts them and darkifies her before she can ever use that resolve to fulfill her calling and help someone in need, like everything in BBS and 0.2 was leading up towards. And because of how wonky the timeline is with AtW and SoD, he ends up providing absolutely no help in finding her, which just seems extremely strange for a story that wastes so much of its narrative track on this subplot. Like if the narrative needed to nudge Riku and Mickey in her direction, it seems like having them be part of AtW's rescue might have been an intelligent way to put things in order, but instead we have them visiting, leaving, and revisiting the RoD before Ansem and Ansem even arrive in Twilight Town. And then Aqua never even meets AtW again. Like. IIRC she doesn't even ask about him after she's rescued, or think to check up on whether he's okay. Which means she never mentions SoD to Sora and co. (Riku) either, despite the obvious dramatic potential there. Haha, what.

I know that KH3 as a whole makes everything prefaced in Blank Points seem like it happened in a different universe, but this has got to be a contender for the most glaringly disorganized storyline in the series. None of it connects to anything else that actually occurs in this game, or has any lasting impact moving forward, and yet it's positioned as the central focus of the first 1/3 of the game. I'm sorry but it's the kind of thing that just makes KH2 look like Classic Lit (and that game's story is as imperfect as they come). Even DDD isn't this bad with its blatant contrivances. F.
Yep. KH3's narrative has been so decimated at this point that I genuinely don't think it's ever going to get remedied, regardless of what additional sequel fodder the DLC or follow up games may add or address.

Wow.. some of that honestly hadn't ever occurred to me. Though I suppose it makes sense they wouldn't even be able to take full advantage of the things they shoehorned (unsuccessfully) into the story, which just makes this all so much worse. It's one thing to render Blank Points, one of the most beloved scenes in the whole series, utterly mute and irrelevant, but it's another thing entirely to fail at properly connecting your newly introduced ideas to the rest of the story within the very same game. More than just trying to make excuses to padd-out game time and force fake drama in place of earned narrative conclusions, this all just reeks of a blatant lack of effort (writing-wise), poor planning, and not properly understanding their own series. That's actually embarrassing and shouldn't even be possible when you're supposed to be writing the conclusion of a Saga encompassing all of the stories you yourself created up until this point, but that's clearly not what they were writing. There's far too much sequel fodder, contrivances, forced narratives, and lack of pay off's for this to be considered a true, legitimate finale to anything.

There's so many things wrong with it that I never even noticed this glaring issue.

I swear the Aqua subplot is gonna drive me to drink.
It's not a good sign when there are so many problems with a story that some issues actually slip under the radar by comparison. That's honestly something I wish I never had to hear about this series, but here we are in the future I guess.
 
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it's another thing entirely to fail at properly connecting your newly introduced ideas to the rest of the story within the very same game. More than just trying to make excuses to padd-out game time and force fake drama in place of earned narrative conclusions, this all just reeks of a blatant lack of effort (writing-wise), poor planning, and not properly understanding their own series.
Exactly. Because ultimately what this means is that fundamental plot beats like Riku and (especially) Mickey learning that Ansem the Wise is alive (on screen? I can't recall if they ever learned of his return, lol) never factor into the story's progression. So when evaluated in isolation, KH3 gives off the appearance of disregarding the bond that AtW shares with several other main characters and which has had a substantive role in shaping their stories up to this point-- that context is never referenced, which means it is effectively absent from KH3 and that recurring tendency to scuffle these kinds of historical points of reference is a large part of why the characters all seem so shallow, irrational and thinly written. Everything they do seems to occur in a vacuum; despite all of the various connections that have been established between them them, the intersecting nature of their shared experiences is not drawn upon to shape their actions, motivations, or circumstances. It's all completely arbitrary. Hence, despite Aqua and SoD both being in the Keyblade Graveyard at the same time, not a single word ever passes between them about what happened, she's never shown confronting him or demanding answers as to why he did what he did to her, and what happened to the man she almost gave her life trying to protect. It's literally like it never happened.

It's not a good sign when there are so many problems with a story that some issues actually slip under the radar by comparison. That's honestly something I wish I never had to hear about this series, but here we are in the future I guess.
Yeah, it's a bit funny and sad because typically after several months there has been enough collective dissection as to each game's strengths and flaws that the picture of what Nomura et al. were trying to accomplish at least becomes clearer, and narrative elements that may have seemed difficult to pin down at first start to slot into place. With KH3 it only gets to looking more troubled and self-negating with time, hence why people are still trying to arrive at conclusions that could help explain why Aqua is portrayed as such a doormat throughout the game. The real answer is just a frustrating dead end: there is no internal logic for her as a character, it was simply done to position the narrative as Nomura saw fit.
 

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Exactly. Because ultimately what this means is that fundamental plot beats like Riku and (especially) Mickey learning that Ansem the Wise is alive (on screen? I can't recall if they ever learned of his return, lol)
Nope. They never did.

never factor into the story's progression. So when evaluated in isolation, KH3 gives off the appearance of disregarding the bond that AtW shares with several other main characters and which has had a substantive role in shaping their stories up to this point-- that context is never referenced, which means it is effectively absent from KH3 and that recurring tendency to scuffle these kinds of historical points of reference is a large part of why the characters all seem so shallow, irrational and thinly written. Everything they do seems to occur in a vacuum; despite all of the various connections that have been established between them them, the intersecting nature of their shared experiences is not drawn upon to shape their actions, motivations, or circumstances. It's all completely arbitrary. Hence, despite Aqua and SoD both being in the Keyblade Graveyard at the same time, not a single word ever passes between them about what happened, she's never shown confronting him or demanding answers as to why he did what he did to her, and what happened to the man she almost gave her life trying to protect. It's literally like it never happened.


Yeah, it's a bit funny and sad because typically after several months there has been enough collective dissection as to each game's strengths and flaws that the picture of what Nomura et al. were trying to accomplish at least becomes clearer, and narrative elements that may have seemed difficult to pin down at first start to slot into place. With KH3 it only gets to looking more troubled and self-negating with time, hence why people are still trying to arrive at conclusions that could help explain why Aqua is portrayed as such a doormat throughout the game. The real answer is just a frustrating dead end: there is no internal logic for her as a character, it was simply done to position the narrative as Nomura saw fit.
KH3 is so drafty I need to wear a coat.

And...that's exactly what KH3 is. A first draft. The stage where you just mash the keyboard, hoping words come out, with notes of things you want or not sure you want. The stage that's not necessarily meant to be all that cohesive or logical because it's supposed to be reread, revised, rewritten over and over. And I just can't look at what we were given and say this was something that was ever truly read over.

And I'd also say that chances are, why certain things didn't happen is because in Nomura's eyes, it's already resolved so there's no need to.

Why doesn't Aqua mention AtW being kidnapped? Well, he's already been rescued by the best trio and Vexen. Never mind that Aqua has no way of knowing this, or how literally no one else at this point in time besides Ansem SoD, HPO, and Vexen know AtW is alive and rescued. Not having Aqua mention AtW just makes her look like she never cared.

And then when AtW returns to RG, Ienzo never tells Sora and company about it, so they still don't know. They never know. Maybe Aeleus and Dilan were suffering from laryngitis this whole time and he caught it, so couldn't notify everyone. The next time we see him, AtW, and Even is the ending sequence where there's no talking, so make of that what you will. lol
 
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SweetYetSalty

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Key things breaking seems to be a recurring problem in KH3 (ahyuck).

So that list bit you posted there got me thinking, along with all the usual things that are brought up with relation the very bad awful writing for Anti-Aqua...can we just consider for a moment how honestly ridiculous the whole premise for this scenario is in terms of a broader set up and pay off? Disregarding Aqua's agency and her individual arc for a moment (KH3 beat me to it, I know), why did Nomura even establish a connection between Aqua and Ansem the Wise by having them meet? It doesn't go anywhere. AtW tells her about Riku and Sora, which renews her faith and gives her a significant moment of reflection, but that goes to waste because SoD interrupts them and darkifies her before she can ever use that resolve to fulfill her calling and help someone in need, like everything in BBS and 0.2 was leading up towards. And because of how wonky the timeline is with AtW and SoD, he ends up providing absolutely no help in finding her, which just seems extremely strange for a story that wastes so much of its narrative track on this subplot. Like if the narrative needed to nudge Riku and Mickey in her direction, it seems like having them be part of AtW's rescue might have been an intelligent way to put things in order, but instead we have them visiting, leaving, and revisiting the RoD before Ansem and Ansem even arrive in Twilight Town. And then Aqua never even meets AtW again. Like. IIRC she doesn't even ask about him after she's rescued, or think to check up on whether he's okay. Which means she never mentions SoD to Sora and co. (Riku) either, despite the obvious dramatic potential there. Haha, what.

I know that KH3 as a whole makes everything prefaced in Blank Points seem like it happened in a different universe, but this has got to be a contender for the most glaringly disorganized storyline in the series. None of it connects to anything else that actually occurs in this game, or has any lasting impact moving forward, and yet it's positioned as the central focus of the first 1/3 of the game. I'm sorry but it's the kind of thing that just makes KH2 look like Classic Lit (and that game's story is as imperfect as they come). Even DDD isn't this bad with its blatant contrivances. F.
Is it wrong I nearly forgot that Ansem the Wise had connections to Mickey? It feels like Ansem the Wise was replaced with Yen Sid as that person Mickey goes to talk to and theorize with. I didn't even realize that Riku and Mickey probably don't know Ansem is alive. Heck, Riku goes to RG at the end of the game and Ansem is not outside to greet him like Dilan and Aeleus were when picking up Namine. So weird that Ansem and Aqua's plot was dropped, and he never attempts to contact Mickey or the gang when in RG. Again we could have gotten Roxas and Namine back early if Ansem and Ienzo made a gummi phone call that they had a vessel and need Sora to get Roxas's heart. I mean really. Ienzo was calling Sora throughout the game but not when they have the one thing that could actually bring Roxas back?
 

Twilight Lumiair

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So when evaluated in isolation, KH3 gives off the appearance of disregarding the bond that AtW shares with several other main characters and which has had a substantive role in shaping their stories up to this point-- that context is never referenced, which means it is effectively absent from KH3 and that recurring tendency to scuffle these kinds of historical points of reference is a large part of why the characters all seem so shallow, irrational and thinly written. Everything they do seems to occur in a vacuum; despite all of the various connections that have been established between them them, the intersecting nature of their shared experiences is not drawn upon to shape their actions, motivations, or circumstances. It's all completely arbitrary. Hence, despite Aqua and SoD both being in the Keyblade Graveyard at the same time, not a single word ever passes between them about what happened, she's never shown confronting him or demanding answers as to why he did what he did to her, and what happened to the man she almost gave her life trying to protect. It's literally like it never happened.
Essentially, it's a "finale" that disregards all the history and connections it's trying to conclude. The irony is palpable. And it's made worse by all the time they wasted trying to shove sequel bait and left field twist that hardly even contribute, if at all, to the game it was forced into in the first place.

Honestly, an interaction like that between Aqua and SoD would've actually held some legitimate satisfaction for me, despite all the BS. Not just cause it would've served as a nice parallel to Sora confronting Xemnas over Kairi's kidnapping later on, but also since I now equate the destruction of Aqua's arc with SoD and his "screw you" energy blast. It could've been the closest thing to her actually screaming at the writers themselves for screwing her whole story over, but she just can't be bothered to care anymore by this point, I guess. Acting out of term anymore might've only incurred more of Nomura's wrath (though, that didn't stop him from humiliating her three more times anyway, so....).

Not having Aqua mention AtW just makes her look like she never cared.
Yep. Like I've been preaching, they threw away the one thing Blank Points actually accomplished as a scene: Aqua and Ansem The Wise's friendship, and the potential that came with that.

Is it wrong I nearly forgot that Ansem the Wise had connections to Mickey? It feels like Ansem the Wise was replaced with Yen Sid as that person Mickey goes to talk to and theorize with. I didn't even realize that Riku and Mickey probably don't know Ansem is alive. Heck, Riku goes to RG at the end of the game and Ansem is not outside to greet him like Dilan and Aeleus were when picking up Namine. So weird that Ansem and Aqua's plot was dropped, and he never attempts to contact Mickey or the gang when in RG.
I don't think anyone can fault you when the game itself seemed to forget for the most part. In general, I always believed that a reunion with AtW alongside Aqua could have made the moment more cathartic and impactful. The two newly acquainted friends would then part ways on-screen with a heartfelt good bye (Riku & Mickey going with AtW to Radiant Garden and ACTUALLY contribute to Roxas & Namine's return like they said they would, while Sora, Donald, and Goofy go with Aqua to either CO, or to find Terra), and the story would continue from there. This was always how I imagined their return would go, but like everything else, they managed to mess that up too.

Again we could have gotten Roxas and Namine back early if Ansem and Ienzo made a gummi phone call that they had a vessel and need Sora to get Roxas's heart. I mean really. Ienzo was calling Sora throughout the game but not when they have the one thing that could actually bring Roxas back?
And vice versa. There was no reason for Sora not to contact Ienzo once he remembered he "always had the Power of Waking", and despite the fact that he openly laments about both him and Namine not being present with the other Guardians (Lea as well), he never once brings up checking on Ienzo. That always bothered me the most when watching that scene tbh.
 
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alexis.anagram

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Nope. They never did.
Masterpiece.

And I'd also say that chances are, why certain things didn't happen is because in Nomura's eyes, it's already resolved so there's no need to.

Why doesn't Aqua mention AtW being kidnapped? Well, he's already been rescued by the best trio and Vexen. Never mind that Aqua has no way of knowing this, or how literally no one else at this point in time besides Ansem SoD, HPO, and Vexen know AtW is alive and rescued. Not having Aqua mention AtW just makes her look like she never cared.

And then when AtW returns to RG, Ienzo never tells Sora and company about it, so they still don't know. They never know. Maybe Aeleus and Dilan were suffering from laryngitis this whole time and he caught it, so couldn't notify everyone. The next time we see him, AtW, and Even is the ending sequence where there's no talking, so make of that what you will. lol
Nomura absolutely leans hard on the audience as omnipotent observer to piece together the meaning in any individual scene as it relates to any other throughout this game, but even then he fails to provide the relevant tools or contexts. He makes amateurish assumptions about what his audience will care about/pay attention to ("people care about Aqua?!") while simultaneously over-extending his most messy narrative detours ("even though I don't think people will care about Aqua, I'm going to focus on her filler arc for 80% of this game"). Then, he drops it, and again expects us not to notice, or care.

I guess, to his credit, he can get away with it to some extent because there's a sizable portion of players who aren't invested in the story one whit, or who are willing to forgive any shortcomings if things play out in a way that manages to entertain them. He can still get a passing grade in most game reviews with a first draft. So why ever bother with revision?

Is it wrong I nearly forgot that Ansem the Wise had connections to Mickey? It feels like Ansem the Wise was replaced with Yen Sid as that person Mickey goes to talk to and theorize with. I didn't even realize that Riku and Mickey probably don't know Ansem is alive. Heck, Riku goes to RG at the end of the game and Ansem is not outside to greet him like Dilan and Aeleus were when picking up Namine. So weird that Ansem and Aqua's plot was dropped, and he never attempts to contact Mickey or the gang when in RG. Again we could have gotten Roxas and Namine back early if Ansem and Ienzo made a gummi phone call that they had a vessel and need Sora to get Roxas's heart. I mean really. Ienzo was calling Sora throughout the game but not when they have the one thing that could actually bring Roxas back?
KH3 itself implores you to forget that AtW has a hand in the character plots of most of the main cast at this point, just like it implores you to forget that AtW lost his memories, that Namine exists, that the Radiant Garden committee exists, that Xion's heart is inside Sora, that Sora is actually supposed to be doing something for most of the game, that Aqua can use magic, that Aqua has beaten Vanitas, Terranort, and multiple Darksides and Demon Towers all on her own, that Saix is an abusive POS on pretty much every level, that Xehanort is, well, just forget everything about Xehanort lol including the things he does and which are hinted to have happened to him in this game. The list is long.

Honestly, an interaction like that between Aqua and SoD would've actually held some legitimate satisfaction for me, despite all the BS. Not just cause it would've served as a nice parallel to Sora confronting Xemnas over Kairi's kidnapping later on, but also since I now equate the destruction of Aqua's arc with SoD and his "screw you" energy blast. It could've been the closest thing to her actually screaming at the writers themselves for screwing her whole story over, but she just can't be bothered to care anymore by this point, I guess. Acting out of term anymore might've only incurred more of Nomura's wrath (though, that didn't stop him from humiliating her three more times anyway, so....).
Aqua was Nomura's real self-insert character this time around. That moment where she just gives up (I know, which moment, take your pick) is him, staring at the fan-made character maps and timelines for this franchise and realizing what he's done. Writing is hard!

Yep. Like I've been preaching, they threw away the one thing Blank Points actually accomplished as a scene: Aqua and Ansem The Wise's friendship, and the potential that came with that.
Keep preaching it. There was so much depth waiting to be mined there. Two lost souls, totally disconnected from the world at large, one wracked with guilt and vague, buried memories of his past, the other needing somebody to lean on, to feel something other than loneliness. Both deeply in need of being guided to a different way of viewing the world around them, and finding their own inner salvation

But Professor Nomura accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction
Subject X
and thus beep boop de doop what did you do with the girl
 
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