DDD: Removing the Time Travel



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kirabook

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As much as I love the KH series as is, I also love ripping apart its plot points and coming up with ideas I think would have flowed better. This, of course, is all retrospective suggestions.

One thing that I still can't completely wrap my head around from DDD is the complicated form of time travel Nomura chose to use. To time travel (or is it only travel back in time?), you must abandon your body and go back to a point in time where another version of you already exists. And you can't travel further into the future than the present. Seems simple enough, but did all those Xehanorts give up their bodies just to end up in the future for this battle? Isn't the "preset" time further into the future than their own time so they shouldn't be able to go there??

Anyway, I just wanted to come up with some alternatives other than time travel (which always seems to be a last resort when you have no other ideas)

Simple, new and improved clones.

Clones are an established thing in KH all the way back from CoM. Other than feeling empty and angsty over being a clone, Repliku seemed like a perfectly viable clone. Successful even. Xehanort wouldn't have been able to work out a few kinks and use Vexen's left over data to clone/bring back his existing selves?

Xion was a bit of a failure yes, but that's because they toyed too much with Sora's memories and were trying to split them up between Roxas and Xion and really made a mess of things.

I think Xehanort should have used the cloning system to bring back the versions of himself that would be useful. Braig, Xemnas, AnsemSoD, etc. But, there are a few issues with my suggestion:

#1: Why not make multiple copies of himself and just be done? Well, we can pretend when creating clones, you can only make one 'version'. Thus far, we've only seen 2 clones. One of Riku, and one of ... Sora's memories of Kairi.... but anyway, there's only been one. We can pretend he can only clone 1 Xemnas. Or 1 AnsemSoD. This kind of fits with Young Xehanort's statements in Tron world too, about copying worlds, data, copies of ones self, all that jazz.

So this would mean, even if he brings back past versions of himself via cloning, he would still need to fill in any spaces that are missing. This retains his need to recruit Sora and others like Isa. He can't just clone anyone or he'll end up with more Xion's.

#2: Are clones really all that intimidating? Well, if Xehanort took Vexen's notes and tweaked them a bit, the clones of people like Xemnas should be exact copies of how he used to be. If Xemnas is intimidating, then so too is his clone.

#3: Would Xehanort really be able to make his own clones? I mean, I don't know. The series keeps boosting him up as this curious scientist guy. Surely he could look over the remnants of Vexen's data (like Axel did) and come up with his own method of cloning himself.
 

Caxinuld

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My idea to remove the time travel from DDD would be to use Disney villains as vessels. It makes the Disney villains besides Maleficent more important than they currently are and turns them into bigger threats, especially if they come from the same worlds as the Princesses of Light.

I also came up with a simple solution to the first issue with your suggestion: Use the Keyblade. Xehanort could shoot a shard of his heart at Sora without destroying his own body, so he could just transfer his heart twelve times with no repercussions.
 

Alan Smithee

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KH2 already featured a far-simpler and less-@$$pully time-travel method: those doors in Disney Castle / Timeless River.

Therefore, MX could've just brushed up on that method and -- e.g. -- gone back to the X / Back Cover era and exploited the original War (instead of all this Complexity Addiction crap in trying to start a new one).

And before you say, "He still wouldn't be able to change history," that only applies to the Heart-based method; the door-based method, however, did allow Maleficent and Pete to change history.
 
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BlackOsprey

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I was discussing ways to circumvent time travel with a friend a while back, and another idea we came up with (that didn't even involve replicas) was using the dream world itself to bring the Norts of the past into the present.

Ansem SoD said it himself: dreams hold our memories and sleep holds our dreams. We're dealing with an entire reality made almost exclusively of dreams. So would it be so far flung to say that, by accessing the realm of sleep, doing some forbidden darkness nonsense, and literally dredging up memories of his past selves, Xehanort could bring back his past selves, fix them into reality, and go from there?

I mean, it woulda fit the game's overall deal with dreams and stuff more than this Self-Consistency bullshit.
 

MATGSY

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Xehanort gets 12 Disney villains to boss around. Done.
 

kirabook

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The dream idea makes sense too. Honestly, I'm still trying to make sense of the end of DDD. Apparently they were never in the sleeping realm (Sora anyway), and it was all a trick in the real world???

I understand. But I also don't.

If they simply kept all of this in the sleeping realm, all the Xehanorts being there makes sense. They don't have to be REAL real, but they don't have to be just dream either. Their actions would affect Sora either way and no tine travel or its rules (or why they "ran out of time") needed. They could have disappeared because Xehanort had literally made himself Sora's nightmare and just needed to be woken up to stop Xehanort

I think they should have never brought in the 13 vs 7 thing either. They (the developers) made it that much harder for themselves to come up with plot reasons to have 13 Xehanorts. Why not make it 7 vs 7 (which woulda been interesting with the whole Organization 13 that technically had 17 members for a while and all that jazz).

Why.... did Nomura pick time travel
 

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The dream idea makes sense too. Honestly, I'm still trying to make sense of the end of DDD. Apparently they were never in the sleeping realm (Sora anyway), and it was all a trick in the real world???
Nah, I'm pretty sure that Sora was in the Sleeping Realm for the majority of DDD. It's when he hits The World That Never Was when he gets pulled out of the RoS, only to get shoved into a double-layered sleep by the Norts.
Why.... did Nomura pick time travel
Because he needed to cross this overused fantasy plot point cliche off the list before moving onto prophecies?

I dunno, I've mulled over this before and it's kinda astonishing how there are so many less convoluted ways to make the basic idea work, avoiding time travel and even staying somewhat consistent (as consistent as you can get anyways) to the established rules that we have in this series.
 

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The reason for time travel is because there needed to be a way to bring back old characters to settle their stories with our heroes AND let us meet the young version of Xehanort from waaay before even BBS. BUT there also needed to be a reason why this method wasn't used earlier or first. Time travel is in theory a elegant solution because it's the kind of thing that only works after stuff has already happened. So like he couldn't use it earlier because there weren't enough him's running in the first place to make it work till this point on time. But of course with time travel then you have to write down all these rules to then explain why they don't use it to go change their past failures.

Really the idea idea wasn't bad it was mostly the execution. We had an 11 minute cutscene where they just sat and explained the rules but they didn't cover all the important questions, they dropped it in hard to read flowery language, and so the whole thing kinda comes off as eh. However despite all this there is something wonderfully romantic about how he used it for Xehanort's backstory.

Imagine going on the adventure of a life time, seeing wonders of all kinds, but then forgetting it all. We know how memories work you can't really erase them they are still etched in the heart. So you live your life always feeling there is a bigger grander world out there full of people you feel you know but can't remember why. And memories even ones that can't exist can be called back temporarily with the right triggers. Young Xehanort is sure to have seen a number of triggers and through his life been haunted by visions and feelings of the future. A glimpse of a place he has never been an image of a person he has never met. The kind of thing that would drive a person crazy with curiosity trying to understand it all.

A scattered memory that is like a dream and a dream that is like a scattered memory, spending years trying to line the pieces up. A powerful piece of imagery used in the series many times. It creates a unique character story for Young Xehanort both in his unseen past and the games we see him in now. With the way time travel works this is all like a big dream to him, the places and people may be real but to him they don't exist yet. When his time ends he will go back to his original point and wake up as if none of this happened. It makes him far more disconnected from other Xehanort's, more grounded and apathetic while also creating a problem for him. What if he doesn't like who he becomes? He knows he won't remember and so he won't be able to change it, he could hate his very future guts but is resigned to the sad reality of who he will be...and any attempt to sabotage his future self will just bite him when becomes that future self. He could doom himself to an entire life of failure to save the day but it wouldn't be an easy choice to make. It creates a sense of potential tragedy to the character, and on the reverse side it create a fitting punishment for if he does like who he becomes. Since it means he watched himself fail miserably again and again and he will know deep down there will come a point where he had to experience it all over again in person for the first time. That destiny's only plan for him was to fail endlessly and experience it all over again and again.
 

redcrown

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I was discussing ways to circumvent time travel with a friend a while back, and another idea we came up with (that didn't even involve replicas) was using the dream world itself to bring the Norts of the past into the present.

Ansem SoD said it himself: dreams hold our memories and sleep holds our dreams. We're dealing with an entire reality made almost exclusively of dreams. So would it be so far flung to say that, by accessing the realm of sleep, doing some forbidden darkness nonsense, and literally dredging up memories of his past selves, Xehanort could bring back his past selves, fix them into reality, and go from there?

I mean, it woulda fit the game's overall deal with dreams and stuff more than this Self-Consistency bullshit.
Tbh this was the first thing I thought after finishing the game. The game already introduced the sleep realm/powers; why throw something as convoluted as time travel to justify the villians returning here? It's always fickle to bring time travel into any series, let alone an already packed one like KH.
 

kirabook

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I think time travel can be good, but the story itself needs to be about time travel. Everyone generally rolls their eyes when real tangible time travel suddenly becomes important to the plot.

Time Travel technically already existed in KH2 and clearly it doesn't follow the garbly gook Xehanort described. Why not reuse that? Why not use clones? Why not stick to the dream concept? Why not play with that 'in the dark realm time is weird' stuff?

It's not even time travel itself I really have trouble with, it's the version of time travel Nomura made up for no good reason. Out of all the ways he could have brought his past selves back, he choose the most complicated option. Not only that, he made his version of time travel more complicated than normal time travel.

I mean, the travel in itself isn't confusing.
+ Can only go back to a time where another you is present
+ Can only go forward in time after you go back once??
+ A time limit???
+ Can't change truly change anything even though they obviously tried to change something

And that kind of conflicts with Young Xehanort himself, doesn't it? He could travel back a few moments during his fights in both BbS and DDD. How can he travel back like that if you can only travel forward
 

Not Ienzo

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I really do think cloning would have been much better.

Maybe while Xehanort was trying to find more people to nortify (like Braig and Isa), he could have found Vexen's data on the replicas and use it to his advantage. I mean, Xehanort is a scientist so I think he'd be capable of this sort of thing.

My idea is that he could have found Xion's/no. i's data and do something similar: create several replicas of himself taking the appearance of hooded figures with no face or identity (like Xion was), with pieces of Xehanort's heart inside each of them. And throughout 3D, as Sora and Riku are in the Sleeping World, the Norts delve deeper into their memories. And through Sora and Riku's memories of their adventures, the hooded figures gain the identity of Ansem and Xemnas, just like how Xion gained her identity based on Sora's memories of Kairi. That would've explained how the two could come back.

As for Young Xehanort, maybe MX used his own memories to bring him back. Other than all the time travel stuff I couldn't think of any other logical explanation. XD

Although maybe they could have delved into Braig and Isa's memories to turn one of the hooded figure into Xemnas, they would probably use Sora to kill two birds with one, to use him to bring back Xemnas/Ansem and to weaken him so that they could use him as the 13th vessel. And while Sora would be extremely weakened from having his memories manipulated by the Norts (like how Sora couldn't wake up because of Xion in Days) leaving him susceptible to becoming a Nort himself.

Meanwhile MX would only be able to create one replica based on his memories (YX) because delving into your own memories and using it to give your replica an identity would obviously weaken you, but since Xehanort is strong and has a resistance to the darkness he could do it at least once (maybe more times if he wasn't so old, lmao).

Anyway sorry for my bad fanfiction, I was just brainstorming how replicas could have been implemented instead of time travel. XD I like the idea since it would make Days far more relevant too. It probably goes against the idea that Riku was in the real world all along (lol I'm sorry it's just that that part confuses me a bit. It's like Inception meets shonen anime).

I think time travel can be good, but the story itself needs to be about time travel. Everyone generally rolls their eyes when real tangible time travel suddenly becomes important to the plot.

Time Travel technically already existed in KH2 and clearly it doesn't follow the garbly gook Xehanort described. Why not reuse that? Why not use clones? Why not stick to the dream concept? Why not play with that 'in the dark realm time is weird' stuff?

It's not even time travel itself I really have trouble with, it's the version of time travel Nomura made up for no good reason. Out of all the ways he could have brought his past selves back, he choose the most complicated option. Not only that, he made his version of time travel more complicated than normal time travel.

I mean, the travel in itself isn't confusing.
+ Can only go back to a time where another you is present
+ Can only go forward in time after you go back once??
+ A time limit???
+ Can't change truly change anything even though they obviously tried to change something

And that kind of conflicts with Young Xehanort himself, doesn't it? He could travel back a few moments during his fights in both BbS and DDD. How can he travel back like that if you can only travel forward
I agree that the time travel in this is kinda convoluted. Or at least it's just explained very poorly. I like that you can't travel outside your own lifespan (meaning that Xehanort can't go wherever he wants whenever he wants), but everything is else is kinda...eh? I think this game is why KH has the reputation of being a convoluted mess now, or at least it's a big factor in it. And when they say that you can't change events that are destined to happen, I think they mean that Xehanort was always destined to meet his future self which would lead him to do all the stuff he did. Weird I know, but that's the message the game gives off. XD
 
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AurisFlown

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I mean, the travel in itself isn't confusing.
+ Can only go back to a time where another you is present
+ Can only go forward in time after you go back once??
+ A time limit???
+ Can't change truly change anything even though they obviously tried to change something

And that kind of conflicts with Young Xehanort himself, doesn't it? He could travel back a few moments during his fights in both BbS and DDD. How can he travel back like that if you can only travel forward
Maybe it has to do with the fact the Young Xehanort is Moving forward in time, than back. So maybe the rules are tweaked a bit. Possibly, he is only able to go forward in time as long as another him is present. And going back in time "once" but as long as he moves forward with time, he can technically use it continuously. Maybe the time restrictions are different for him.
 

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Another problem I have with the time travel and 13 norts stuff is the question of free will. While I consider the basic idea of "not one enemy, but 13" is a cool one, it bothers me that due to the addition of time travel and the revelation of the SoD being nortified, it kinda ruins the idea of them being original beings with wills of their own. I liked the idea that Ansem and Xemnas derivated from Terranort but had their own, at times twisted goals (Xemnas due to having broken memories) which all was kinda screwed over when DDD came around. As I understood one interview of Nomura, MX was able to get around Mickey's stop spell by possessing Young Xehanort for an instant, thus not having a part of the soul in him as I always thought, but being able to DIRECTLY control people at will. Kingdom Hearts always had problems with identity questions, everyone kinda being a something of someone else and DDD took it up to eleven. Not having time travel in it or at least having it a little different, in a way that not every Nort is basically MX but maybe that every SoD ultimately had the same goal would've been more appealing to me. I only would've liked the clone / replica idea if those replicas would've had a personality of their own, I've seen enough movies / animes / games that some day had some episode or plot with clone armies, Kingdom Hearts is better than that. As for improvement of the plot, hmm, maybe I would've liked the idea of a cult, similar to the original organisation, that people were following MX because they believed in what he says is worth accomplishing, not because they are "already half Xehanort".

If you find grave flaws in my thoughts, feel free to point them out, this is how I've puzzled DDD together to make sense for me.
 

Sephiroth0812

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Another problem I have with the time travel and 13 norts stuff is the question of free will. While I consider the basic idea of "not one enemy, but 13" is a cool one, it bothers me that due to the addition of time travel and the revelation of the SoD being nortified, it kinda ruins the idea of them being original beings with wills of their own. I liked the idea that Ansem and Xemnas derivated from Terranort but had their own, at times twisted goals (Xemnas due to having broken memories) which all was kinda screwed over when DDD came around. As I understood one interview of Nomura, MX was able to get around Mickey's stop spell by possessing Young Xehanort for an instant, thus not having a part of the soul in him as I always thought, but being able to DIRECTLY control people at will. Kingdom Hearts always had problems with identity questions, everyone kinda being a something of someone else and DDD took it up to eleven. Not having time travel in it or at least having it a little different, in a way that not every Nort is basically MX but maybe that every SoD ultimately had the same goal would've been more appealing to me. I only would've liked the clone / replica idea if those replicas would've had a personality of their own, I've seen enough movies / animes / games that some day had some episode or plot with clone armies, Kingdom Hearts is better than that. As for improvement of the plot, hmm, maybe I would've liked the idea of a cult, similar to the original organisation, that people were following MX because they believed in what he says is worth accomplishing, not because they are "already half Xehanort".

If you find grave flaws in my thoughts, feel free to point them out, this is how I've puzzled DDD together to make sense for me.
Oh, in terms of "free will" the norts actually do have such a thing (except maybe Ansem SoD and Xemnas, depending on interpretation), the catch is however, which you have understood completely correct, is that the moment they decide to do something that isn't in the interest of the Overnort (aka Master Xehanort), he can immediately override their will with his own and control them like mere puppets/robots.
Fully Norted people are basically prisoners in their own body (if their own heart is present alongside the nort-seed) and have only as much autonomy in every minute of their life as Xehanort allows them to have.

Theme-wise, this is playing into Sora and Xehanort being diametrical opposites in their approach to hearts, other beings and their roles.

Making the true Organisation too similar to the first one like i.e. the cult-theme would have made it even more of a cheap rehash though and as the new secret ending of Re: Coded showed us, not even Braig or Young Xehanort are exactly sure what the old man even wants to accomplish.
Even if we go by the "official" premise of Xehanort wanting to destroy the whole universe via starting a new Keyblade War and the measly propaganda bullcrap of "rebalancing light and darkness" no one who has everything remotely together in his/her brain would follow such an idiotic perceived goal willingly because of the more than severe implications behind it.
As Ansem the Wise says in KH II, anything created by Xehanort would be "an Empire of Ignorance" since while he undoubtedly has immense knowledge and powers, he hasn't truly understood any of the truly important stuff.

The idea of them "being original beings with wills of their own" is exactly what Xehanort does want to "ruin"/destroy.
It's only Xehanort's will that counts/is truly important in order to fulfill his personal ambitions and satiate is curiosity.
Several plans of him have already failed due to interference of different wills so this time around he wants to minimize the risk, that's the whole point of the "new" Organisation and Xehanort's current plan.
 

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Oh, in terms of "free will" the norts actually do have such a thing (except maybe Ansem SoD and Xemnas, depending on interpretation), the catch is however, which you have understood completely correct, is that the moment they decide to do something that isn't in the interest of the Overnort (aka Master Xehanort), he can immediately override their will with his own and control them like mere puppets/robots.
Fully Norted people are basically prisoners in their own body (if their own heart is present alongside the nort-seed) and have only as much autonomy in every minute of their life as Xehanort allows them to have.

Theme-wise, this is playing into Sora and Xehanort being diametrical opposites in their approach to hearts, other beings and their roles.

Making the true Organisation too similar to the first one like i.e. the cult-theme would have made it even more of a cheap rehash though and as the new secret ending of Re: Coded showed us, not even Braig or Young Xehanort are exactly sure what the old man even wants to accomplish.
Even if we go by the "official" premise of Xehanort wanting to destroy the whole universe via starting a new Keyblade War and the measly propaganda bullcrap of "rebalancing light and darkness" no one who has everything remotely together in his/her brain would follow such an idiotic perceived goal willingly because of the more than severe implications behind it.
As Ansem the Wise says in KH II, anything created by Xehanort would be "an Empire of Ignorance" since while he undoubtedly has immense knowledge and powers, he hasn't truly understood any of the truly important stuff.

The idea of them "being original beings with wills of their own" is exactly what Xehanort does want to "ruin"/destroy.
It's only Xehanort's will that counts/is truly important in order to fulfill his personal ambitions and satiate is curiosity.
Several plans of him have already failed due to interference of different wills so this time around he wants to minimize the risk, that's the whole point of the "new" Organisation and Xehanort's current plan.
Interesting addition. Thanks. :)
Well, MX could have fed them other explanations for his doings, pretty much like Xemnas lied about the orga members striving to get hearts while they were actually being prepared to be nortified. But I agree on your point, if you put it that way, it sounds like a rehash.
I seriously hope there can be some way that the Seekers of Darkness break free from Xehanort's will, even if not fully, but maybe accomplish to hold their body still or something. It might turn the tables at an unexpected moment if there's betrayal in your own team, I hope to see something like that from Braig. Braig has clearly been shown to have some unknown agenda of his own and I expect to see something of that in KH3, otherwise all that build-up was in vain. If that happens, I doubt MX would go along smoothly with it because I don't consider Braig to be that kind of character who makes plans that other people than himself benefit from (maybe MX, but I'm not too sure about that). The wiki states his plan to be able to wield a keyblade of his own in exchange for Nort taking him over gradually, but if that really was his whole plan, there would've been no real need to act so fishy and flimsy around the Xehanort incarnations. I really hope for an unexpected twist on that part.

Another thing that bothered me about the whole nortification-thingy was the technical aspect of this. What exactly is it that MX puts in other people to make them his vessels? His heart? His mind? Either I don't remember it or it wasn't clearly stated in the games but I can't imagine he'd be able to split his heart into 13 pieces without that seriously damaging his corporal condition. Ventus couldn't even live properly with his heart being split in half (even though it might be a bit different her due to this being the result of outside force, not of free will). I also can't really imagine he splits his mind - like, how is that supposed to work? I can imagine that this works with Seekers he has a direct connection to - namely YX, Xemnas and Ansem - because those are part of him and already share a similar mindset. Even though he doesn't need to permanently control his Seeker's doings and thus is not permanently stressed out, I still can't really imagine how you would you split your mind / will on 13 people without doing severe damage to your mind or identity (which doesn't seem to be the case). Do we have a word of god or the games on this matter?
 

Sephiroth0812

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Interesting addition. Thanks. :)
Well, MX could have fed them other explanations for his doings, pretty much like Xemnas lied about the orga members striving to get hearts while they were actually being prepared to be nortified. But I agree on your point, if you put it that way, it sounds like a rehash.
I seriously hope there can be some way that the Seekers of Darkness break free from Xehanort's will, even if not fully, but maybe accomplish to hold their body still or something. It might turn the tables at an unexpected moment if there's betrayal in your own team, I hope to see something like that from Braig. Braig has clearly been shown to have some unknown agenda of his own and I expect to see something of that in KH3, otherwise all that build-up was in vain. If that happens, I doubt MX would go along smoothly with it because I don't consider Braig to be that kind of character who makes plans that other people than himself benefit from (maybe MX, but I'm not too sure about that). The wiki states his plan to be able to wield a keyblade of his own in exchange for Nort taking him over gradually, but if that really was his whole plan, there would've been no real need to act so fishy and flimsy around the Xehanort incarnations. I really hope for an unexpected twist on that part.

Another thing that bothered me about the whole nortification-thingy was the technical aspect of this. What exactly is it that MX puts in other people to make them his vessels? His heart? His mind? Either I don't remember it or it wasn't clearly stated in the games but I can't imagine he'd be able to split his heart into 13 pieces without that seriously damaging his corporal condition. Ventus couldn't even live properly with his heart being split in half (even though it might be a bit different her due to this being the result of outside force, not of free will). I also can't really imagine he splits his mind - like, how is that supposed to work? I can imagine that this works with Seekers he has a direct connection to - namely YX, Xemnas and Ansem - because those are part of him and already share a similar mindset. Even though he doesn't need to permanently control his Seeker's doings and thus is not permanently stressed out, I still can't really imagine how you would you split your mind / will on 13 people without doing severe damage to your mind or identity (which doesn't seem to be the case). Do we have a word of god or the games on this matter?
Exactly, this would have been even more of a rehash than it already is. If I'm completely honest I do already consider this partly an rehash in any case, especially since the original explanation as to how the X-blade is formed from BBS (which back then was worded like Xehanort truly believed that it was the correct procedure instead of an experiment to see if one can take a shortcut as he claims in DDD) was cast aside in favor of a new one with the whole 7 vs 13 thingy, which can from some angles clearly create the impression that this was done only for the sake of bringing back Organisation XIII in some form.

Considering this is KH where new ways to do things are always a possibility and more than 70% of the lore and "facts" are kept ambiguous to a degree it is certainly possible there will be happening something like that. Braig is a candidate but considering the opposition Terra is an even better one, also speaking narrative-wise as it would add more weight and credibility to the Terra/Xehanort scenes in Blank Points and Terra's claim that he'll never stop opposing Xehanort.

The wiki always has to be taken with a grain of salt because sometimes there are theories and "possible" explanations from interviews presented as actual facts.
In DDD itself Xehanort states that "the last vessel shall bear my heart like the rest" and it's also confirmed in the Ultimania.
Xehanort is indeed placing pieces of his own heart in other bodies or "attaching" them to other hearts in order to eventually take them over. Those are the "many seeds scattered" (japanese original version) or "many roads able to be taken" (english version) MX speaks of in Blank Points of BBS.
That's also the source and origin of the golden eyes. Having those indicates a close connection with or having a piece of Xehanort inside you.
It is a known ability/trait of hearts in general that they can be split and the offshoots can even develop/grow into their own independent hearts apart from the original, like cell division in biology.

You can't really compare Ventus' case with MX, the procedure being forced/voluntary is certainly an important point, but not the only reason these cases are different.
MX is a fully grown adult and fully trained Keyblade Master with decades of experience, Ventus at the time of the heart-split was a 10/11year old kid who was additionally already weakened by prior attacks from Heartless as shown in the BBS flashbacks.
In the BBS Reports Xehanort also mentions that Vanitas took "too much" of Ventus' heart and that Ven lacked the constitution for such a procedure which he confirmed again when goading on Terra during the BBS finale.

It isn't confirmed yet anywhere but I do imagine that the pieces Xehanort breaks off from his own heart are much smaller than the outright " big cut" he delivered to Ventus and he lets those grow later when already present in the intended vessel by feeding on Darkness.
It's likewise not officially confirmed anywhere, but the "Ansem SoD" that was haunting and troubling Riku throughout Chain of Memories could very well have been such a Xehanort seed/piece of Xehanort's heart. Eventually Riku learned to access the abilities and powers of this piece (hence him able to summon the Guardian, but also taking on Xehanorts/Ansem SoDs appearance) but without succumbing to Xehanort's control.

The heart pieces Xehanort scatters around have possibly some of his memories and may act largely towards the same goals he has because they're a part of him and he considers them as such. It gets complicated when the original "owner" of the vessel, the other heart, starts to oppose the will and intentions of the Xehanort part within them. If the Xehanort piece can establish control by itself then the "main" Xehanort is capable of interfering and taking direct control, although it isn't clear yet if the main Xehanort can directly control several vessels at once.
In 0.2 Terra also says that "Xehanort became a part of him", much like Riku's problems during CoM and Days, that's also a reason as to why Xehanort let Xemnas work on the KH 2 plan and the whole big lie about Nobodies being incapable of gaining hearts via any other procedure than Xemnas says.
Both Terra's and Riku's case show Xehanort that having an opposed heart present is not good, even if he's able to subdue the opposing heart in 99% of cases, the more vessels like this he has the more energy he needs to keep all of them subdued, hence why he wanted bodies without hearts present or with only weak, not fully grown replacement hearts which he could easily overpower.

Like said above, this shows exactly how Xehanort and Sora are polar opposites. Sora considers his "offshoots" and beings created from himself as their own people and insists they deserve to have their own life, which he emphasizes to Roxas in DDD, while Xehanort does the exact opposite and considers not only every "offshoot" and beings created by him as his personal property and pawn to enforce his will, but also other hearts as nothing but tools serving to further his own goals.

It goes all into the theme of existence, identity and how people see themselves and others, which Joshua from TWEWY summarizes in DDD and which is later reinforced and more or less confirmed by both Xemnas and Ansem the Wise.
 

Rodin

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The game was pretty confusing before time travel entered the picture tbh. You could take it out but you would have to involve the realm of sleep more in the plot. Right now its just the backdrop and the justification for the new enemies (youtubers tend to see them as discount pokemon).

Time travel does work as a way to bring Young Xehanort in the fold and set up his older self. Hirokey explained it more poetically than i want to right now.

the mickey worlds would have been a good sequeway between the dream worlds and time travel because those felt like you were time traveling to a different point in mickey's life.
 
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