• Regarding KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory Spoilers

    Copies of KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory are out in the wild, which means spoilers are likely to appear at any point. Although this game has very few cutscenes and story content, we still request that users follow our standard spoiler procedures.

    KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory spoiler policy will end on December 13th, 2020.

    Spoiler threads will need to be tagged with the "Spoiler" prefix. Discussion inside of the thread does not need to be put under spoiler tags, so it is at your discretion to use them.

    Spoilers outside of spoiler threads MUST be hidden using the spoiler tag.

    If you do not follow these rules, your account will be banned.

Is Kingdom Hearts poorly written?



REGISTER TO REMOVE ADS

Rodin

Active member
Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
894
Awards
0
Location
USA
@AR829038 honestly I could see Kingdom Hearts as an average shonen anime. I don't know if it would be as successful as the big 3( Naruto, Bleach, One Piece). But I could see it lasting a while like Katetokyo Hitman Reborn.
 

The_Echo

SENA Hates Him!
Joined
Mar 16, 2013
Messages
1,642
Awards
8
  • Kingdom Hearts χ[chi]
  • Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ
  • Dandelion
  • Completionist
  • Look at This Stuff!
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX
That's a big question.

People often say KH is poorly-written because they have difficulty following along, for whatever reason. Alternatively, because they find fault with the very basic premise. Surface-level judgments by surface-level brains who think they know more than they do.

When it comes to "writing," there's a lot more than just "yes/no." Of course you have the basic plot, the sequence of events. Then you have the cast, how they're utilized within the plot, the various subplots they're apart of, their personal character arcs and development, and then the dialogue that stitches all of this together.

Naturally Kingdom Hearts isn't a dense, meaningful Charlie Kaufman script. In a general sense, it's in the same league as the broad range of "shonen battle" manga/anime. But the genre/purpose of a work doesn't necessarily make something good or bad (some people behave as if it does). Good writing is about execution, not purpose.

I think a mostly agreed-upon summation of KH's faults per the writing can be narrowed down to two issues:
1. The development of the cast
2. The pacing of the plot

With the exception of a small few, KH's central cast is largely static and unchanging. Lessons may be learned, battles may be fought, but at the end of the day the character's goals or behavior typically haven't changed. In some cases, like Sora, this is 100% intentional and a part of his character. Others, not so much.
In most KH titles, the plot is backloaded heavily, with most major plot events pushed to the ass-end of the game after all of the Disney content has been dealt with. To an extent, I feel this may be a consequence of the premise and might be a limitation the team simply has to work around. With games like CoM and Re:coded, and even BbS to an extent, it's clear that they can write more evenly-paced plots (and with the introduction of interstitial scenes in DDD and overlapping plot progression in UX).

KH is in a difficult position when it comes to telling its story, in large part due to the Disney presence. We're all very aware how draconian they can be with their properties, to the extent of actively making it more difficult for the team to do their job, which was already hard to begin with.
Having to juggle a cast of KH's size, develop a universe that incorporates so many wildly different settings and plots, and weave in an original narrative that doesn't infringe on the sovereignty of the incorporated works is no small task.
I certainly don't envy the position Nomura and the various writers are put in here.

Returning to the main question, "is Kingdom Hearts poorly-written?" In my opinion, no. I think there are elements that need work on a series-wide scale, and I think that there are scenes, characters, or even whole games cough cough DAYS that I would put somewhere on the "poor" end of the scale.
But overall, KH is successful in what it sets out to do, and for so many to remain invested after so long, clearly something is being done right.
And with the baggage of the Dark Seeker Saga mostly cut away, I think the narrative is heading into a much better direction. I would already contend that the χ narrative features some of the best writing in the series' history, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of stopping that train.
 

Foxycian

Active member
Joined
Aug 1, 2016
Messages
793
Awards
0
I think yea, the fact you had to make this topic is one of the proofs it is

is it terrible? No not really... does it have great ideas? Yes definitely! Were the ideas executed perfectly? Tbh it’s 50/50, Is the story confusing? Yes unfortunately, Could it have been Better? Yes... yes it could have, is it bad overall? I say no but again it could have been better, so it’s Ok I Guess.
 

AR829038

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 27, 2018
Messages
386
Awards
0
@AR829038 honestly I could see Kingdom Hearts as an average shonen anime. I don't know if it would be as successful as the big 3( Naruto, Bleach, One Piece). But I could see it lasting a while like Katetokyo Hitman Reborn.
I guess that's why KH1 is still my favorite of the series. It was the least Shonen-y game in the franchise. It had much more of a Disney feel to it that subsequent games have replaced with more of a battle-focused power-scaling and convoluted plot points reminiscent of Dragon Ball Z or Naruto. KH1 focused more on the feels and the characters and the childish whimsy, whereas most of the games since have focused on the plot and the problem-solving. I think KH3 was the worst offender in this regard, and I pray that Nomura reverses course going forward, but it's hard to imagine that he will.
I do think his turn toward a more Shonen-style approach probably comes from being overworked. The man has literally carried Square Enix on his back ever since Sakaguchi left the company back in the early 2000's, and he hasn't gotten a single breather. I can imagine that when you're in the constantly overworked position that he is, you get drained of your charm and originality and lean a bit more on familiar things, which in Japan would be Shonen anime as probably the biggest influences of anime culture over there. The series does still manage to pull the heartstrings here and there, but if I'm being honest, I do think that has a lot to do with nostalgia and our connections to characters who are still around but we mainly love them for the way they used to be. I can't see most people being as invested in the fate of Ephemer, Skuld, and Brain, or the Scala ad Caelum crew in Dark Road, as people were in SRK, RAX, and TAV. Of course, that may be my bias talking, just cause I REALLY hate the mobile games. But, on the other hand, Yozora does seem like he could be a breath of fresh air in certain respects, and the Master of Masters does come off as unique following in the wake of the Evil Lord Wigglefingers. So, we'll see, but unfortunately, I do anticipate the Shonen-y style to stick around, just 'cause that's been the series' core identity since KH2.
 

GreyouTT

Active member
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
296
Awards
0
I think it's fine. It has a couple dumb moments but overall there's a lot of cool stuff and more good moments than bad.
 

SS501

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Messages
38
Awards
0
I've watched a lot of dumb anime and read a ton of low quality shoverlware isekai manga and i enjoyed them all. So my standards are low when it comes to stories. KH is super entertaining so that's all that matters to me, i think most people would benefit from just learning to go with the flow sometimes and learning to enjoy dumb stuff without questioning every little thing. Just enjoy it.

To answer the question, i personally don't think that the KH series is badly written from game to game but it does have bad writing here and there overall.
It sacrifices good writing regularly for the sake of entertainment. If it means they have to retcon something to surprise the players they'll do it without a second thought, if it means they have to add a plot that is connected to past events despite that not being the initial intention they'll do it just because it is interesting. Sometimes it's well executed (Luxu), sometimes not so much (Mickey shirt) but it's entertaining regardless and i appreciate that.
 
Last edited:

Rove

New member
Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
3
Awards
1
  • 7 Days Later
I think all around, the writing isn't very great. The structure is all over the place and Nomura does overtime to explain everything in order to alleviate that. The quality in dialogue madly fluctuates. There are some serious rock bottom moments but some unironically spectacular moments, and I feel like the way it jumps around so much is part of the charm. Even if their dialogue isn't always great, the series shines with its characters. Is whats happening to them stupid and completely out of nowhere just because Nomura wanted some spicy drama? Hell yeah it is but I care about them so I'm still invested in it anyway.
 

NoWay

Active member
Joined
Feb 6, 2016
Messages
352
Awards
0
Well KH may not have a TLOU type of writing. But still.. I love KH for the mess it is. Although there are also many things I’d criticize, it’s still not that bad for me to hate the series. I love KH with all my heart.
 

Madnoke

New member
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
2
Awards
0
Poorly written?

Some characters: Kinda
Others characters: Nah
Dialog: Sometimes
Story: Kinda, but not really if you can remember everything without missing details.

Just a guess, but maybe kingdom hearts is written with focus on characters involved and the gameplay, rather than what fully connects the dots.
 

Rodin

Active member
Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
894
Awards
0
Location
USA
@AR829038 I'd say Final Fantasy has equally convoluted plots and that convoluted plots aren't limited to the East. The difference between Ff and KH is character and i don't think KH's characters can hold a candle to FF's.

I think KH would have been better swapping characters out like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure or Pokémon Adventures. But that's the benefit of hindsight because I think Sora could've stayed interesting longterm. I just don't see Kingdom Hearts as pulling that off because he just got weaker as character over time.

I feel Sora would've worked better in more standalone series like Sonic the Hedgehog than the ongoing epic.

I don't mind the Shonen battle manga aspect I just don't think it does it well. It feels like it picked up the bad parts of BLEACH, Naruto etc without the good stuff.
 
Last edited:

Shramp

Active member
Joined
Jan 31, 2020
Messages
79
Awards
0
Imo, KH being easy to understand or is all over the place is the least of my concern. I wouldn't mind if it weren't for the writing going out of it's way to avoid doing anything fun or exciting. I wish the plot was an "Cuh-razie!" as people say it is, because atm it's mostly loads and loads of boring exposition about shallowly pretentious concepts while shoving the character-driven narratives aside.
 

KeybladeLordSora

Motivation.
Joined
Oct 11, 2015
Messages
2,609
Awards
5
Location
The Multiverse
  • Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ
  • Union X
  • Kingdom Hearts III
  • Vulpes Union
  • 7 Days Later
Imo, KH being easy to understand or is all over the place is the least of my concern. I wouldn't mind if it weren't for the writing going out of it's way to avoid doing anything fun or exciting. I wish the plot was an "Cuh-razie!" as people say it is, because atm it's mostly loads and loads of boring exposition about shallowly pretentious concepts while shoving the character-driven narratives aside.
I honestly believe all the exposition rn is a consequence of people complaining about how confusing it is.
 

AR829038

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 27, 2018
Messages
386
Awards
0
There's another interesting wrinkle in this, and that's that there are several ways in which KH's story is ridiculous, and some are passable or even charming while others are not. For me, KH gets a LOT more leeway than other stories because the series from its very conception was Disney-FF fanfiction that just got way out of hand. So, I don't complain when they do stuff like time travel, or multiverses, or pull a bunch of ridiculous scenarios and plot devices out of their hat, because it feels hypocritical to criticize the series that was founded on a ridiculous concept for turning around and doing ridiculous things with it.
The part where I think it gets ridiculous in the way that rubs most people wrong is the way Nomura doesn't make it clear what's happening, or contradicts the rules.
The power of waking right now is the most egregious example of this: He introduced the concept without clarifying exactly what it is or how it works. Eventually, when he does explain it, it's a very vague and broad function like, "allows someone to restore a heart to its original state." Okay, that's vague but I can at least get the gist of it. But then, in KH3, they just out of nowhere start using the power like a portal to reach other worlds and go into people's memories, which now seems to serve as its more primary function. And it doesn't jive at all with what we're told the power of waking is supposed to do. Furthermore, for having such dire consequences as wiping Sora out of existence, they never actually explain HOW abusing the POW causes you to vanish, just that it DOES, and only when it feels like it I guess, because the events of ReMIND would have us believe that it was Sora using it the PROPER way to rescue Kairi that actually got him excommunicated from reality, whereas it was the earlier time when he rewrote history that we're told is the abuse that cause him to disappear.
And the POW is just the most heinous example out of a littany of examples of ideas that Nomura simply chooses not to clarify, or actively contradicts in the next breath when he does. And the worst part is, whenever Nomura does show too much without telling, he then has to overcompensate by telling too much without showing. For every scene in the series where something happens and we don't actually understand what we're seeing, there's another dull exposition scene of people talking in a room about stuff that either happened offscreen that we DIDN'T get to see, or explaining to death something we did see but couldn't wrap our heads around. And that's a special kind of ridiculous that I think people really can't stomach, because it isn't fun, it's just frustrating to try and understand, and it makes it feel as if Nomura himself isn't following along with what he's doing, which ruins the players' investment on their end.
 

Cumguardian69

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
492
Awards
0
Pow erssed Sora from KH realm because he rewrote time, and accelerated his erasure when he revived Kairi from the past and brought her to the new future.

The problem with that is we know Sora is going to be a-okay AND he won't gain any new character. He's still gonna be prattling on about muh power of friendship even though he's in a SEEMINGLY more precarious situation.
 

kirabook

Bronze Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,372
Awards
0
Location
RoL
On the issue with power dynamics and powers in general, I think the issue is deeper than just "Nomura doesn't understand power dynamics".

In the beginning, I like to think Kingdom Hearts had a mixture of "hard magic" and "soft magic". It had simple set rules that were rarely broken (or was a HUGE deal to everyone in the game if it was broken. Such as there being more people who can wield a keyblade)

As time has gone on though, I feel that Nomura writes himself into this holes that can't be explained other than to use softer and softer magic. Dozens and dozens of new rules are added and then almost immediately get broken. (You need the power of waking to save Aqua. But do you really? Getting back and forth from the dark realm to the light realm is extremely difficult, Aqua was trapped there for a decade, if you aren't a wielder of darkness. But oh, keyblades can do it now no prob)

I think Nomura and the writers are afraid of laying characters to rest permanently, so the "magic" gets softer and softer until there's basically no consequences at all. For almost any problem they have now, if they just believe hard enough, somehow they can overcome anything. What if Xion really was gone? What if Aqua didn't make it and passed off the answer to Castle Oblivion to the new generation? What if in destroying Terranort, Terra was finally free but he was all used up and disappeared too? What if Kairi got permanently fridged? What if that rock really did kill Goofy?

But you know, soft magic isn't always bad! It's something commonly used to defeat the final bad guy in all kinds of stories in almost every genre. It's part of the journey of being strong enough to hold your own and then needing one last boost in confidence to seal the deal. KH1 used it spectacularly.

But now... Kingdom Hearts is kinda doing that for.... well, everything. It's using these rules to hold characters back from progressing (Sora forgetting how to use the power of waking for some reason, so he isn't allowed to help save Aqua for 80% of the game) but then when it time is right, just hand waves it away (again, did he need the power of waking to save Aqua? Uh, no.)

"Soft magic" is ok... but I think for a story like this, you need a mix of hard and soft so that your story has structure, consequences, but also a feeling of achievement when the characters accomplish something. That feeling of accomplishment admittedly is getting smaller and more fleeting with every new entry.

When Nomura sets rules, he needs to keep them. If he doesn't plan on keeping them, he shouldn't write them at all. Nomura seems to have a set path from point A to point B, but the filling in between is making less and less sense, which brings down the enjoyment of point B.
 

Absent

Nomura's Biggest Fan
Joined
Sep 16, 2013
Messages
2,907
Awards
0
Location
World between Worlds
On the issue with power dynamics and powers in general, I think the issue is deeper than just "Nomura doesn't understand power dynamics".

In the beginning, I like to think Kingdom Hearts had a mixture of "hard magic" and "soft magic". It had simple set rules that were rarely broken (or was a HUGE deal to everyone in the game if it was broken. Such as there being more people who can wield a keyblade)

As time has gone on though, I feel that Nomura writes himself into this holes that can't be explained other than to use softer and softer magic. Dozens and dozens of new rules are added and then almost immediately get broken. (You need the power of waking to save Aqua. But do you really? Getting back and forth from the dark realm to the light realm is extremely difficult, Aqua was trapped there for a decade, if you aren't a wielder of darkness. But oh, keyblades can do it now no prob)

I think Nomura and the writers are afraid of laying characters to rest permanently, so the "magic" gets softer and softer until there's basically no consequences at all. For almost any problem they have now, if they just believe hard enough, somehow they can overcome anything. What if Xion really was gone? What if Aqua didn't make it and passed off the answer to Castle Oblivion to the new generation? What if in destroying Terranort, Terra was finally free but he was all used up and disappeared too? What if Kairi got permanently fridged? What if that rock really did kill Goofy?

But you know, soft magic isn't always bad! It's something commonly used to defeat the final bad guy in all kinds of stories in almost every genre. It's part of the journey of being strong enough to hold your own and then needing one last boost in confidence to seal the deal. KH1 used it spectacularly.

But now... Kingdom Hearts is kinda doing that for.... well, everything. It's using these rules to hold characters back from progressing (Sora forgetting how to use the power of waking for some reason, so he isn't allowed to help save Aqua for 80% of the game) but then when it time is right, just hand waves it away (again, did he need the power of waking to save Aqua? Uh, no.)

"Soft magic" is ok... but I think for a story like this, you need a mix of hard and soft so that your story has structure, consequences, but also a feeling of achievement when the characters accomplish something. That feeling of accomplishment admittedly is getting smaller and more fleeting with every new entry.

When Nomura sets rules, he needs to keep them. If he doesn't plan on keeping them, he shouldn't write them at all. Nomura seems to have a set path from point A to point B, but the filling in between is making less and less sense, which brings down the enjoyment of point B.
In that same vein, ever notice how every time new lore or rule is introduced they gotta have an exception? The rules of magic or the worldbuilding are always being modified with new add ons to explain something. Nomura and crew build their stories like kids who don't want to lose a game so they make up rules or exceptions to override past mistakes.
 

Chie

Active member
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
185
Awards
1
  • 7 Days Later
I think most of the observations about KH or writing in general in this thread are very flawed, but that's okay, I'm used to being the only person who can like something the way that I like it.

I don't really give a shit about rules if the story has more important concerns. The only reason the rules become a problem is because of all the fluff half-exposition about those rules to convince you they're important when they really aren't. That kind of dialogue is a plague on many JP works these days. When Kingdom Hearts cuts past that, it can still deliver excellently written scenes.

I don't think KH is really that shonen either, but it teeters on the edge of falling into that and fan desires don't help. KH3 was a low point on this in both regards. But my favorite KH stories emphasize tone over the fights. (By the way, my opinion on KH is basically "the weirder the better" and I think Days is the best game in the whole series, but Roxas prologue in II is even better.)
 

Cumguardian69

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
492
Awards
0
"I don't really give a shit about rules if the story has more important concerns."

Lol. Just lol. How can you say this when the game's story goes out of its way to downplay any and all threats at every corner possible?

KH1 - Sora loses both Kairi and Riku and spends the entire game trying to get them back. He gets Kairi back BUT at the expense of his own life (he becomes heartless)...but literally minutes later he gets restored due to bullshit plot hax. Sora loses Riku behind a Door...conveniently with another Keyblade Wielder. The Keyblade in KH1 is supposed to be unique, a HUSH HUSH type item...but at least three are known to exist (Sora's, Mickeys, and Riku-ansem's). Like what?The game shits on itself.

CoM - Again, Sora gets his memories of Kairi and his friends siphoned away by CO/Namine, only to get a "re-do" button at the end of the game.

KH2 - Sora killing heartless is supposed to be part of the Org's big master plan...forcing him to stop killing heartless and putting people in danger. But yknow...that doesn't fucking matter because Goofy says "bruh what is you talmbout u gotsa help fellas" and this plot point isn't touched at all. Even when Xemnas gets the fake KH amp at the end of the game, Sora and Riku easily run a train on that clown.

KH3 - YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH IS THAT WHEN THE PLOT NEEDS YOU TO SOMETHING MAGIC HAPPENS XD
 

redcrown

Active member
Joined
Dec 21, 2015
Messages
947
Awards
0
I think the plot being poorly written wouldn't matter as much if it didn't consume SO much of the cutscenes and character interactions, which at this point is just being wasted overexplaining and drawing so much attention to itself, overshadowing other potentially great facets that could come out of experience of watching and playing it.

Think of how much of the cutscene's time in games since DDD (which I love but it really kickstarted this trend in KH) is being spent explaining the lore as it's happening or explaining past lore; the actual amount of minutes, animation of just the characters standing around and listening or talking about it.

If the plot didn't place itself as THE most important aspect of the series, it not being that great wouldn't matter as much; if it was just the skeleton background placeholder to facilitate adventures and character relationships changing or growing or conflicting. The plot and lore are just eating the series whole at this point.

I don't get the point of the games having journals anymore either if everything in them is just going to be explained anyway in painstaking detail in every cutscene now.
 
Last edited:
Top