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Regarding the Voice Actor Switch for Kairi...



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Cooper Newton

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Hi,
It's been a while since I have been on here, but I have something that I would like to hear some people's thoughts on. Let me know if I can do anything to improve on this.

As the title of this thread suggests, I have some thoughts regarding the voice actor situation with Kairi (the switch from Hayden Panettiere to Alyson Stoner). I understand that most fans aren't really big on the change in voice actors, but while I acknowledge the issues people have Stoner's performance in the recent games, there were some factors that may have contributed to the voice actor change:
  • I had read in People magazines that Panettiere was having some personal troubles (particularly treating postpartum depression during the development of the last seasons of Nashville) for the last several years. These troubles were occurring around the time they were likely working on 0.2 Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts III (2016-2018) so I think. She in fact took a break for the last few years from acting, only returning to work as of this year from what I've heard.
  • Panettiere had been pretty inconsistent with working on the series following KH2 (missing Re: CoM and Days due to work on Heroes), which led to Stoner filling in as both Kairi and Xion in the first place.
  • Stoner has been working steadily as a voice actor (she's in Young Justice, Legend of Korra, and Voltron Legendary Defender to name a few), which contributed to her being readily available to reprise Kairi and Xion whenever Square needed someone to do
  • Kairi and Xion share the same voice for plot reasons (in the Japanese version, Risa Uchida has been Kairi and Xion's seiyuu consistently, despite not really doing much voice acting outside of Kingdom Hearts).
The one thing I should add is that the only confirmed tidbit regarding the voice actor switch is that Panettiere wasn't asked back to return to the role for KH3. I think it is because Square decided to continue using Stoner for the reasons I mentioned above. I personally thought she did good in these last few games and prefer her as Kairi than Panettiere in certain ways, but then again I thought Jason Dohring, Willa Holland, and Rutger Hauer did okay in KH3 (I do agree that Hauer didn't fit Xehanort's hammy moments and Square should have gone with Christopher Lloyd right from the get-go, but what is done is done) and I know for fact that most people didn't like them in the game. Or maybe the fact I haven't really heard much of Panettiere as Kairi recently may skewered my thinking about this a bit.

If this thread has some fundamental flaws, again, let me know. I wish everyone well.

Best regards,
Cooper Newton
 

Cooper Newton

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I think that appearance and Panettiere's appearance as Kairi in BBS (which amounted to 2 lines, as well as a possible cameo from her as Xion) were done after Heroes was cancelled and before Nashville began, but you still make a good point.
 

Face My Fears

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I was hoping that with KH3's huge budget, they would have been able to afford her.

However, she tweeted out that SHE DIDN'T EVEN GET A CALL. So that clearly indicates that Nomura is done with Hayden and only wants Stoner. I was really sad that they replaced Hayden as she was great as Kairi. Stoner was great as Xion. It just feels kind of weird that the lead female character seemed to have her voice role treated as a second thought/no push to keep Hayden there.
 

palizinhas

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I was hoping that with KH3's huge budget, they would have been able to afford her.

However, she tweeted out that SHE DIDN'T EVEN GET A CALL. So that clearly indicates that Nomura is done with Hayden and only wants Stoner. I was really sad that they replaced Hayden as she was great as Kairi. Stoner was great as Xion. It just feels kind of weird that the lead female character seemed to have her voice role treated as a second thought/no push to keep Hayden there.
First, Nomura has nothing to do with it. Why would he actively handle the English dubbing in any way???

Second. I need you to think on the side of the production. Hayden showing up until DDD means that before KH3, every time they needed Kairi they asked her first. Yet all of Kairi/Xion's appearances with over one or two lines post-kh2 were done by Alyson.

Which means that they kept asking Hayden and consistently got a 'no' as an answer unless it was small enough she only needed to record like five words. It's extremely demeaning for Kairi as a character to have an inconsistent VA - and if the original one couldn't do it 4 out of 6 times, they needed to permanently choose the one who always said yes.
 

Chaser

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It was disappointing that Hayden's agents weren't contacted for Kingdom Hearts 3. Like Palizinhas said, the inconsistency in Hayden's schedule and response might have made them decide to move ahead with Alyson, especially if they want to keep things consistent.

Having worked with production coordinators and production managers for projects requiring talent, I can see from their point of view that the tight schedules they have with the budget that they have might have made them decide to forgo reaching out to Hayden's people entirely in favour of an easier, and more consistent, option in Alyson. Alyson is also in Disney's books, having regularly worked on Disney projects recently so it would have been easier to try and work around her schedule.

Not to mention Hayden went through a lot, and a lot that also seems to be unspoken trauma too. Even now she is still in the news for some truly heartbreaking stuff. I don't think voicing a character for a video game was at the forefront of her mind. I do hope she has gotten the help she needed and is feeling a lot better.

If she does want to return to voice acting and to this series, I do hope they find a place for her and for Alyson. Both of these people are amazing and I think we need to celebrate both instead of putting one down to uplift the other, which is something that's happened a lot since Alyson first stepped in for Kairi and Xion.

I think with Kairi being more of a mainstay in the series, continuing on with Alyson is the better option. Maybe they could ask Hayden to voice Strelitzia or another character, if it is Hayden's wish to return and Square Enix can work something out with her team?

First, Nomura has nothing to do with it. Why would he actively handle the English dubbing in any way???
I believe Nomura has been involved with casting for the English version, and I think we heard about it mostly with Birth by Sleep.
 

palizinhas

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I believe Nomura has been involved with casting for the English version, and I think we heard about it mostly with Birth by Sleep.
Casting I know, he's influenced some of the choices over the years. I'm talking about it being his decision to keep or replace a VA
 

Chaser

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Casting I know, he's influenced some of the choices over the years. I'm talking about it being his decision to keep or replace a VA
Keeping or replacing voice actors falls under casting. Like any creative project, I think a director and producers would have a say in who is hired. I know it is tricky since it's the English side of development and Nomura would be mostly focused on the Disney side but I would believe that he'd have been kept in the loop for the hiring decisions for Kingdom Hearts 3.
 

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I personally do prefer Hayden's voice over Alyson's, simply because I'm biased towards Hayden (I love her acting) and I prefer it over the tidbit more high-pitched version of Alyson's Kairi. However, I completely understand not wanting to give Kairi an inconsistent voice actress; Stoner has come a long way as a voice actress and she does a fairly good job, and she's been more consistent than Hayden who has been dealing with very serious issues.
 

Elysium

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The fact that BbS and 3D were both only one or two lines for her may have contributed to Panettiere deciding not to come back for 0.2. If she was already feeling bad at the time 0.2 was being dubbed anyway, it probably didn't feel worth the effort for what she might have assumed would be almost nothing. How many lines did Kairi have in 0.2 anyway, I don't remember her in that one??

While I like Panettiere separate from Kairi, her character in KH admittedly does feel very minor most of the time.
 

Agroogrooiya

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Im glad Hayden left the kh games esp with kh3 and mom rawdogging kairi and not givibg her an actual role. To waste good talent like that would be despicable tbh.

That being said The stoner alyson did a great job differentiating xion fdom kairj Nd i think even tho she ks ob disney payroll that she just needs to develop a higher range. For ex in JPN KH3, Uchida makes xion sound deeper and hardier and kairi sounds lighter snd sweeter. In eng stoner makes xion sound more robotic/emotionless and kairi more "cutesy"
 

Cooper Newton

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Everyone has made some good points regarding the voice actor switch for Kairi and it is really interesting to read some of these.

I do think Oracle Spockanort's point about the idea of having Panettiere returning to the series as a different character (as either Strelitzia for KH4 or some other character like Skuld) is an interesting idea, though I wouldn't be surprised that it won't happen considering what has happened between Panettiere's agents and Square's casting team. Either way, it will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

Also, I wish both Panettiere and Stoner the best wishes, considering what both of them have gone through their lives.
 

Antifa Lockhart

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The fact that BbS and 3D were both only one or two lines for her may have contributed to Panettiere deciding not to come back for 0.2. If she was already feeling bad at the time 0.2 was being dubbed anyway, it probably didn't feel worth the effort for what she might have assumed would be almost nothing. How many lines did Kairi have in 0.2 anyway, I don't remember her in that one??
Five. 0.2 is told as a story by Mickey to Riku and Kairi. She speaks in the epilogue when Yen Sid is assigning tasks and sends her off to train with Lea.
 

Raz

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Hayden is a fantastic actress and gives Kairi some added "oomph" and characterization that the writing does not accomplish on its own. Stoner is one note by comparison.

Which is not to slight Alyson. I love her performance of Xion. But there's more to chew on with that character.
 

Face My Fears

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First, Nomura has nothing to do with it. Why would he actively handle the English dubbing in any way???

Second. I need you to think on the side of the production. Hayden showing up until DDD means that before KH3, every time they needed Kairi they asked her first. Yet all of Kairi/Xion's appearances with over one or two lines post-kh2 were done by Alyson.

Which means that they kept asking Hayden and consistently got a 'no' as an answer unless it was small enough she only needed to record like five words. It's extremely demeaning for Kairi as a character to have an inconsistent VA - and if the original one couldn't do it 4 out of 6 times, they needed to permanently choose the one who always said yes.
When did they actively get a "no" from Hayden? She showed up to work when they called even for just 1 line. The few absences were probably her agent's doing, they were probably paying her peanuts to record one line and her packed schedule didn't really allow it.

Obviously her reaction to not getting the call for KH3 shows that she was very interested and wanted to get booked. It's also telling that they just didn't bother. Which I find insulting. It's like not even bothering picking up the telephone and calling Haley Joel Osment to be Sora, and just casting someone else. How hard is it to ASK Hayden to come back. She didn't do anything wrong at the time and showed that she still cared - she recorded one line for a handheld game. It's clear she would open up her schedule for KH3, let alone accept the main title pay check.

I think they should have phoned or paged her at least, then if she said "no" then reward Stoner with the role for good.

To whoever said that Hayden should be demoted to another role like Streletzia or Subject X, that was truly shocking and uncalled for. I wouldn't have a problem if Hayden took over for Kairi in KH4, but it was pretty sad to not hear her perform in KH3/ReMind and MoM. Maybe they can recast Streletzia with Stoner and put Hayden back as Kairi?
 

Chaser

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I wonder if the initial agreements for voicing KH0.2 had the contract say they'd be locked in to reprise the roles in KH3. If Hayden and her team turned down 0.2 and Alyson and her team said yes, it would explain why Hayden wasn't contacted at all for 3.

To whoever said that Hayden should be demoted to another role like Streletzia or Subject X, that was truly shocking and uncalled for. I wouldn't have a problem if Hayden took over for Kairi in KH4, but it was pretty sad to not hear her perform in KH3/ReMind and MoM. Maybe they can recast Streletzia with Stoner and put Hayden back as Kairi?
The issue with putting Hayden back as Kairi is what if in the future she is unavailable again and they have to bring Alyson back in? It's just repeating a cycle that they seem to have decided to stop. And how was it truly shocking and uncalled for? If they're unable to have Hayden in as Kairi then at least I was trying to think of an alternative character so people can enjoy having her back in the series. That seems like a win-win to me.

I also don't know why you'd think Hayden voicing another character in the series is a demotion. Strelitzia looks to have a very big role in KH4, being Sora's guide in Quadratum. She's more than likely going to get more screentime than Kairi from KH1-2-3 combined.

I apologise for any offense you took from a simple, harmless, hypothetical solution.
 

Sign

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When did they actively get a "no" from Hayden? She showed up to work when they called even for just 1 line. The few absences were probably her agent's doing, they were probably paying her peanuts to record one line and her packed schedule didn't really allow it.

Obviously her reaction to not getting the call for KH3 shows that she was very interested and wanted to get booked. It's also telling that they just didn't bother. Which I find insulting. It's like not even bothering picking up the telephone and calling Haley Joel Osment to be Sora, and just casting someone else. How hard is it to ASK Hayden to come back. She didn't do anything wrong at the time and showed that she still cared - she recorded one line for a handheld game. It's clear she would open up her schedule for KH3, let alone accept the main title pay check.

You're making a lot of assumptions about a situation we really know nothing about. So far, you've accused Nomura and others of having a personal vendetta against Hayden, as well as claimed that she was super invested in this series and was both willing and able to return but robbed of any opportunity. Both of these are completely baseless.

All we have to go on is Hayden saying she wasn't asked. Perhaps SE's casting team really didn't do so because they made a completely justified reason (as mentioned above) to go with Alyson moving forward. Maybe they did reach out to her agent who denied the request on her behalf (Is this a thing that can happen? I don't know shit about showbiz). Or who knows what else?

At the end of the day, none of us know what happened, so maybe take a step back and breathe and stop taking it as a personal attack?


Also, I'd like to ask that you treat Alyson with the same respect you have for Hayden and the rest of the cast, because the way you are only referring to her by her last name is unbelievably rude.
 

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I think I’ve said this before, but I wish there was a way to have both actresses on the series without one having to replace the other.
To me, I heard Hayden first as Kairi, so she’d be who I’d think of first as the character, and the same goes for Alyson as Xion, though I think she does fine as Kairi.
I know in the Japanese they have the same voice actress, but I think for the English version it’d be nice to have both voices on as their respective characters, to show that even though Xion initially came from Kairi, she‘s different enough to be her own person like she is by the end of KH3.

But at the end of the day, it’s like Sign and Chaser have said already. We aren’t aware of what goes on behind the scenes other than if certain actors say they got the call to reprise or not. Sometimes it’s a matter of availability, other times something more personal might be going on which may have them unable to attend, or on the sadder occasion the actor/actress in question has passed away.
And sometimes it just comes down to whether or not the casting team thought to ask. But we dont know why they made the decisions they do in the end, and it’s probably not even our business to know.

Like I said, I would love to see both actresses in the series sharing the stage, so to speak. And honestly, regarding Hayden as Strelitzia, having a new character be voiced by a returning cast member wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It’s happened before, so why not?
But if the final decision is we’re getting Alyson as both Kairi and Xion from here on out in the series, then we have to live with it.
 

Face My Fears

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I wonder if the initial agreements for voicing KH0.2 had the contract say they'd be locked in to reprise the roles in KH3. If Hayden and her team turned down 0.2 and Alyson and her team said yes, it would explain why Hayden wasn't contacted at all for 3.


The issue with putting Hayden back as Kairi is what if in the future she is unavailable again and they have to bring Alyson back in? It's just repeating a cycle that they seem to have decided to stop. And how was it truly shocking and uncalled for? If they're unable to have Hayden in as Kairi then at least I was trying to think of an alternative character so people can enjoy having her back in the series. That seems like a win-win to me.

I also don't know why you'd think Hayden voicing another character in the series is a demotion. Strelitzia looks to have a very big role in KH4, being Sora's guide in Quadratum. She's more than likely going to get more screentime than Kairi from KH1-2-3 combined.

I apologise for any offense you took from a simple, harmless, hypothetical solution.
It's obviously a demotion for THE Hayden Panettiere to get kicked out and fired from voicing the female lead of the KH series, to then voicing some minor character. That's like firing Keanu Reeves from playing Neo in the Matrix, then telling him that they hired someone younger to pay Neo, but they'll bring Keanu on as Bank Robber #2 or something. Total insult. It's not the same as Haley playing both Sora and Vanitas. If Hayden played Kairi and Strelitzia, that would be different.

If Square/Nomura were sly enough to pull off what you said in your first statement, then that's just sick! They trick Hayden into thinking they only want her for one line in 0.2, but in reality there was a package deal of KH3/ReMIND/MoM's starring roles hidden inside? There's no way Hayden would have turned down the starring role of 2 main console games and a DLC expansion that heavily featured Kairi. Again, she said that she didn't even get a call and was upset.

I don't see the problem with having Stoner voice Kairi for one-liners and Hayden do the main games. It's like Tom Hanks and his brother for the role of Woody.
You're making a lot of assumptions about a situation we really know nothing about. So far, you've accused Nomura and others of having a personal vendetta against Hayden, as well as claimed that she was super invested in this series and was both willing and able to return but robbed of any opportunity. Both of these are completely baseless.

All we have to go on is Hayden saying she wasn't asked. Perhaps SE's casting team really didn't do so because they made a completely justified reason (as mentioned above) to go with Alyson moving forward. Maybe they did reach out to her agent who denied the request on her behalf (Is this a thing that can happen? I don't know shit about showbiz). Or who knows what else?

At the end of the day, none of us know what happened, so maybe take a step back and breathe and stop taking it as a personal attack?


Also, I'd like to ask that you treat Alyson with the same respect you have for Hayden and the rest of the cast, because the way you are only referring to her by her last name is unbelievably rude.
I never said it was a personal vendetta against Hayden. I'm just saying it boggles my mind that no one at Square Enix even thought to pick up the telephone and call Hayden. Who are you to say that it's baseless to claim that Hayden wasn't super invested in the series? How do you know if she cared for the series or not? The fact that someone on Hayden's level came in to do one line for a handheld game shows me that she cares. Hayden could have easily said "let the other girl do the one line, call me for the real game", but Hayden showed up.

To me, it all comes back to Hayden not even being asked. Whether Square/Nomura felt that they needed someone like Stoner to be there full time and felt that she was "more reliable" (which is very insulting since they treat Hayden like she always called in sick to her job) or whatever the reason may be, I just wish they had at least asked Hayden. It would have been nice if they asked Hayden and she turned it down and handed the crown of Kairi to Stoner.
 

palizinhas

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When did they actively get a "no" from Hayden? She showed up to work when they called even for just 1 line. The few absences were probably her agent's doing, they were probably paying her peanuts to record one line and her packed schedule didn't really allow it.
Alyson wouldn't even have been HIRED to replace Hayden if she always said yes

And Days movie ABSOLUTELY wasn't one line, and that was right after DDD, so Hayden probably got asked too. Honestly I think that was the biggest role the Kairi/Xion VA has ever had, the thing was three hours long and Xion was the second most important character
 
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