This is a theory I came up with years ago, but I had a difficult time figuring out how to put it into words to share with others. I gave it my best shot, but it's pretty lengthy! Some of the details might be a bit hard to follow if you haven't played KH1 in a while.
Before I can answer any of these questions--if you donâ€™t already know about it, you need to learn about the Dream Sequence.
This comes up again in the game waaaay later, after Sora defeats Riku at Hollow Bastion. Sora goes back to Traverse Town, talks to Kairi, gets a badass keyblade, and then a mural in the Underground Cavern changes from a sun to a moon. This switch from â€œdawn/middayâ€ to the â€œdead of nightâ€ symbolizes a switch in the playerâ€™s leveling pace.
*Note: This Dream Sequence stuff isnâ€™t part of my theory. Itâ€™s certified canon.
Okay, now that weâ€™ve got that squared away, we can partially answer one of the questions: what do the Hotel Paintings mean?
In the Second District of Traverse Town, thereâ€™s a Hotel with 5 cryptic paintings adorning its walls. If you click â€˜Xâ€™ next to the paintings, the game tells you their titles, which are:
â€¢ Midsummer Dawn
â€¢ Midday Jungle
â€¢ The Autumn Dusk
â€¢ Bald Mountain -7:00am-
â€¢ 18:00 in the Past -Time Flies-
Hmm, dawn? Midday? Some of these paintingsâ€™ titles are strikingly similar to the Dream Sequence. Sure enough:
Pretty interesting parallel! It seems each of these paintings represent a part of Soraâ€™s adventure from the first game.
It also implies that Soraâ€™s journey begins in midsummer and ends in autumn, which is probably more metaphorical than literal. Seasons are often portrayed with symbolic meanings by poets and writers; Iâ€™ve listed some of the most common ones below:
So weâ€™ve figured out the meaning behind three of the five Hotel Paintings. That just leaves Bald Mountain -7:00am- and 18:00 in the Past -Time Flies-. I canâ€™t explain these two without outlining some other points, though, so weâ€™ll come back to them later.
The Hotel Paintings point out a seasonal metaphor within Kingdom Hearts, as well as one other metaphor--one relating to the time of day.
Dawn = beginning of the journey
Midday = midway through the journey
Dusk/Dead of Night = climax of the journey, â€˜the beginning of the endâ€™
A lot of things throughout the game exemplify this metaphor, including the Dream Sequence, the Underground Cavern mural, and even the Disney worldsâ€™ skylines. You may notice, by looking at the skylines, that it looks like it is midnight in Traverse Town, roughly noon in Deep Jungle, and night by the time you get to Halloween Town. This indicates the passage of a full day:
Note that Sora isnâ€™t literally traveling through all of the Disney worlds in a single day. This is merely one huge metaphor that shows the progress of his journey.
This symbolism is REALLY cool imo, because it also ties into the â€œlightâ€ and â€œdarknessâ€ theme of the game. In general, the â€œdaytime/lightâ€ parts of the game tend to be easier and more lighthearted, while the â€œnighttime/darknessâ€ parts of the game are harder and more serious. Also, remember when the game gives you this iconic line during the tutorial?
As you progress through the story, you go from dawn to midday, and the sun gets closer to setting, which brings out more â€œshadows.â€ You confront the ultimate darkness (Ansem) in the dusk/dead of night when it is completely dark out. And then you get a new sunrise at the end of the gameâ€”a new light. (â€œI KNOW NOW, WITHOUT A DOUBT.....THAT KINGDOM HEARTS IS LIGHT!!1!â€)
This metaphor is also supported by clocks scattered throughout the Disney worlds, which roughly indicate the passage of a full day:
Some of these times are approximated. And this is NOT all of the clocks found throughout the game; Iâ€™ll spare you a list of all of them. But for the most part, with very few exceptions, the clocks fit nicely within the time metaphor.
(One exception, for instance, is the White Rabbitâ€™s clock in Wonderland, which displays a time of 5:00. This doesnâ€™t make any chronological sense, since by that point weâ€™ve already seen a clock during the Wonderland opening cutscene that says 7:00. But in traditional depictions and illustrations, the White Rabbitâ€™s clock often says 5:00...so itâ€™s merely a design element and is not counted as part of the time metaphor.)
The season/time metaphor is elaborate and pretty awesome imo, and Kingdom Hearts hints at in a lot of subtle little ways throughout the game. It adds some nice flavor to Soraâ€™s story.
Bear with me here, because now weâ€™re going to delve into the stuff that will end up explaining the meaning of the remaining two Hotel Paintings, the Gizmo Shop clock, and the Green Room clock.
If we expand upon the â€œworld skylinesâ€ idea, we can actually lump Kingdom Hearts into a journey of 7 metaphorical days:
Days 1 and 2 take place on Destiny Islands. They are pretty straightforward, as you can literally see the passage of time with the skyline and Sora going to bed and whatnot. These days are what the Hotel Painting Midsummer Dawn is referring to.
Day 3 encompasses the bulk of Soraâ€™s journey, with the Hotel Painting Midday Jungle marking the midway point of the day. You can see the worldâ€™s skylines progress from morning to midday to evening to night. (I included the coliseum tournament skylines in the timeline above to help exemplify this.) Sora gets to Big Ben, which displays a time of 12:00am, announcing the end of Day 3.
Tons of major plot stuff happens during Day 4, which takes place mostly in Hollow Bastion. The Riku fight, portrayed in the Hotel Painting Autumn Dusk, occurs on this day. This day concludes when the Underground Cavern Mural switches to â€œdead of night.â€
Off-topic a bit, but this is also the day Roxas is born. Kind of fitting that it occurs during the â€œtwilightâ€ of Soraâ€™s adventure, eh?
Day 5 is a day of tying up loose ends before the final showdown. Sora returns to Hollow Bastion to seal the Keyhole, which unlocks the long ass 50-seed Hades Cup--which is so dang lengthy it spans the entire day (as you can see with the changing tournament skyline, from dark to light to dark again). Sora hunts down remaining trinities and puppies, does last-minute item synthesis stuff, and fights whichever optional bosses his heart desires.
This day ends when Sora travels to The End of the World, which is evidenced by the Bald Mountain -7:00am- Hotel Painting. (Iâ€™ll explain that soon.)
Day 6 is lots of plot plot plot plot. It consists of traversing through The End of the World, battling Chernabog, and shoving a Keyblade up Ansemâ€™s ass. It ends when the door to light is opened, revealing the â€œlightâ€ of a new day.
Day 7 is â€œthe endâ€ of the game as well as the epilogue. We finally see the Mickey Mouse cameo weâ€™d been waiting for, and then Sora runs down some strange path chasing Pluto.
So there you have it, the 7 metaphorical days of Soraâ€™s journey. This theory is supported by the synergy between Hotel Paintings, the worldâ€™s skylines, and the worldâ€™s clocks.
The timeline also fits well with the seasonal metaphor. It might be a bit of a stretch, but you could even argue that most of the Disney worlds you visit are â€œsummer-like.â€ Halloween is an autumn holiday, so visiting Halloween transitions us into Autumn. And then eventually you get to the End of the World, which is winter-like with its snowy fragments of landscape (pictured below). And finally, the epilogue, with its bright blue sky and lush greens, brings us into â€œspring.â€
With all of that explained, we can get back to the Hotel Paintings. We can fit Midsummer Dawn, Midday Jungle, and Autumn Dusk on our metaphorical 7-day timeline:
Where does that leave the remaining two paintings, Bald Mountain -7:00am- and 18:00 in the Past -Time Flies-?
Bald Mountain -7:00am- refers to the battle against Chernabog in the End of the World. We can deduce this because â€œNight on Bald Mountain,â€ composed by Modest Mussorgsky, plays in the background during the Chernabog battle. -7:00am- tells us that this happens chronologically at the beginning of this new day. It tells us this is â€œmorningâ€ occurring after the â€œDusk/Dead of Night,â€ building up to yet another climax in Soraâ€™s journey.
18:00 in the Past -Time Flies- is talking Soraâ€™s fight against Ansem. 18:00 is about 6pm in military time, so it is referring to some point in the â€œeveningâ€ of the game. In the Past represents Sora going back to where he lived in the Past--in other words, Destiny Islands. -Time Flies- is like, â€œWow, Iâ€™m back here on Destiny Islands? Seems like only yesterday I was dreaming about getting off this island. Man, time sure flies.â€
With that being said, both of these Hotel Paintings denote events that occur on Day 6 of our timeline:
So thatâ€™s what the Hotel Painting titles mean! They highlight some of the key points in Soraâ€™s journey and establish a metaphor about seasons and the passage of time.
When Sora first visits Traverse Town at the beginning of the game, the Gizmo Shop clock displays 12:00. (Almost all clocks in Traverse Town say 12:00, actually.) This marks the beginning of Day 3 on the 7-day metaphorical timeline:
But after Sora makes his way for Atlantica, oddly the Gizmo Shop clock freezes at 6:54.
This potentially fits into our timeline in a few of different places. It could be symbolism for any of the following major events:
â€¢ Defeating Riku and rescuing Kairi in Hollow Bastion - (Day 4) We know the Riku fight occurs during â€œduskâ€ thanks to the Autumn Dusk Hotel Painting. And in Autumn, dusk comes sooner in the day, sometimes as early as.... *drumroll* ....6:54pm.
â€¢ Sora venturing to the End of the World - (Day 6) Assuming the Gizmo Shop clock freezes at 6:54am instead of pm, this could be a metaphor for time â€œstoppingâ€ because Soraâ€™s at a â€œdeadâ€ world. We know Sora sets foot in the End of the World before 7:00am thanks to the Bald Mountain -7:00am- Hotel Painting, since that represents the fight against Chernabog in the End of the World.
â€¢ Defeating Ansem/the Door to Light opening - (Day 6) We know Sora goes back to the remnants of Destiny Islands at 6pm thanks to the 18:00 in the Past -Time Flies- Hotel Painting. So if the Ansem fight metaphorically spanned about an hour, it would make sense for him to be defeated and the door to light to be opened around 6:54pm.
Personally, I think itâ€™d be coolest if the Gizmo Shop clock freezing at 6:54 symbolizes the door to light opening at the end of the game. Just my personal opinion. What do you think?
The Hotel in Traverse Town certainly seems to contain its fair share of mysteries. In the Green Room of the Hotel, there is a seemingly meaningless easter egg.
A clock hangs above the door, displaying a time of roughly 9:35...which is odd considering most clocks in Traverse Town read 12:00. If Sora bashes the clock with his Keyblade enough times, it will *ding* a couple of times and eventually yield an item.
Every time Sora whacks the clock, the time changes. With one hit, it changes to 10:00, then to 11:00, and so on. The clock *dings* when it reaches 12:00, and again when it reaches 6:00. Finally, a treasure chest appears at 7:00.
The initial display time of 9:35 represents the Midsummer Dawn Hotel painting.
The *ding* at 12:00 represents the Midday Jungle Hotel painting, symbolic for when Sora is at Deep Jungle.
The *ding* at 6:00 may represent one of two paintings (or maybe both?):
â€¢ Autumn Dusk (Riku fight)
â€¢ 18:00 in the Past -Time Flies- (before the Ansem battle)
And the treasure chest that appears at 7:00 is probably meant to represent the Bald Mountain -7:00am- Hotel Painting, the Chernabog fight in the End of the World. But 7:00 also fits in our timeline as:
â€¢ when Sora defeats Riku on Day 4, or
â€¢ opening the door to light and beating the game on Day 6.
Those two events are much more significant in the game and make some way cooler symbolism imo.
So thatâ€™s my theory! Thereâ€™s some other minor little inconsequential parts to it that I didnâ€™t include, but this is the vast majority of it. If you read this all the way to the end, thank you very much! Iâ€™d love to hear your thoughts.
(Also, I'm a total noob on this site, so I apologize if posting this many times in a row is a violation...I didn't know any other way to do it since there's a limitation on how many pics you can post at one time...Also ALSO, I posted this theory on my tumblr blog as well if you'd rather view it in that format.)
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