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Should Kingdom Hearts Take "The Author Is Dead" Approach?



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HeartSeams

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I just posted this on my blog, but, I want to open it up to a greater discussion, so, I'm posting it here as well! Let me know what you think.

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[size=+1]SHOULD KH TAKE "THE AUTHOR IS DEAD" APPROACH?[/size]​

Lately, I’ve begun to feel that people put way too much stock in Kingdom Hearts director/creator Tetsuya Nomura’s interviews. A lot of people fail to understand that, when it comes to translating, it is more than just a direct word-for-word exchange. Translators make decisions, choose how something is worded and then it gets to the fans and they all take each and every word at face value, without understanding the process it went through. That isn’t to say that these translations are bad, it’s just that fans need to learn not to take them as law. Beyond that, I feel that people who work on Nomura’s word too heavily are destroying a great aspect of the series.

If there is every contradictions, or, what people like to refer to as “retcon” in the series, it’s usually because what happens in the games doesn’t line up exactly with what Nomura has said in an interview. People fail to understand that these games were works-in-progress when Nomura makes such comments and then when the game is finalized, people start screaming “liar” or “retcon” among other things. People just don’t understand. If they were to look at the games themselves, by themselves, people would see that no contradictions are made. The games mesh well with each other, it is only when interviews are taken into consideration does it seem a bit iffy.

It’s hard for me to explain why I feel like this now. For those of you who know me, in the past I even had an interview archive of Nomura’s interview (mostly because I was sick and tired of seeing posts that said “Nomura said…” when he never actually said anything like that). But this, in a way, highlights the problem. We’re all too focused on Nomura’s word. He is just one person, and it is more than just him that are making these games. Yes he is the primary creative force behind it, being the director, character designer, concept designer, and base scenario writer, but it isn’t just him. In the end, the games should stand on their own.

When people bring up things like the interviews and the novels and the manga, what they fail to realize is that those things are what we call secondary canon. The games are primary canon. Primary canon is what we should be concerned with as it is the final word on the actual story. If there is ever a discrepancy between the material, the primary canon wins.

I feel that when we hinge on Nomura’s word (Word of God, as some might say) we end up taking away one of the joys of the series: it’s mysteries. Kingdom Hearts is a series that plays largely with the idea of mysteries/answers. One game answers past mysteries while asking some new ones (or expanding old ones). The joy of Kingdom Hearts is trying to put the pieces together, but now we have Nomura answering mysteries himself in interviews, or saying something is this way instead of that way which causes people to “debunk” or shoot down fan theories. On one hand, this is nice because often confusing aspects of the series are explained simply; on the other hand, it limits the amount of creativity someone can look at the series with.

In my English class we talked about the idea of “The Author Is Dead” (what a shock, something taught in University is actually useful!). The idea behind this approach is that, when a piece of literary work is released and put out into the world (be it a novel, poem, movie, game, etc.) then the author is considered “dead”. That means, they no longer have a say in how their work is interpreted. That is, to say, there is no such thing as “Word of God”. All you have is the game to make your own conclusions off of. In this way, no interpretation or theory can really be false unless something in the canon/work actually goes against it. If you can build enough evidence for something, then you essentially can be right in your interpretation. If a new work is added into the canon (such as a sequel) that then disproves your idea, that’s alright because it still isn’t anything the Author is actually saying. It’s an interesting concept I thought, and, I’m beginning to wonder if this is how KH should operate.

For those of you who frequent KH forums, imagine going into threads without actually seeing “Nomura said this” or “Nomura disproves that”. Instead of just going to the Word of God, people would actually have to think for themselves, and consider new ideas and interpretations on how something in the series works or the answer to a particular mystery. They have to actually look at the -games- for the answers, instead of just “the manual” or “rulebook” that is Nomura’s word. Personally, I think that idea is a lot more freeing. We could look at unique interpretations of these games and their mysteries because we wouldn’t be chained down by what Nomura does or doesn’t say. All we’re left with is the games themselves.

The Author Is Dead.
 

siegleeagle

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I think this is a great idea and I generally have used this idea since days, bbs, and coded were announced.
 

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Oh, that would make it all simple. Back to the days when we didn't care about the interviews. I generally try to follow that, but there is always that "But Nomura said this" line. Word of God is a powerful thing, and I agree that we do put too much stock into his words and it would definitely make the forum less of a "Nomura says so it must be true" place. But even you know this won't happen.

Say all of the active members followed this right now, but there will always be those new members or "back from the dead" members who will come here and say "oh, in this interview it said" and cause a discrepancy of information. There will be the stubborn who won't listen...

I do miss the days when we all weren't so at each other's necks about accuracy. When theories could be said without everybody saying "That's wrong. /thread" And we'd get the creativity back in the KH section.
 

lilVon

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Heartseams, love your avatar and signature, No More H eroes 2 is my favorite Wii game.


Concerning the OP i disagree, id wright more but posting via PS3 is a pain in the ass.
 

HeartSeams

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Oh, that would make it all simple. Back to the days when we didn't care about the interviews. I generally try to follow that, but there is always that "But Nomura said this" line. Word of God is a powerful thing, and I agree that we do put too much stock into his words and it would definitely make the forum less of a "Nomura says so it must be true" place. But even you know this won't happen.

Say all of the active members followed this right now, but there will always be those new members or "back from the dead" members who will come here and say "oh, in this interview it said" and cause a discrepancy of information. There will be the stubborn who won't listen...

I do miss the days when we all weren't so at each other's necks about accuracy. When theories could be said without everybody saying "That's wrong. /thread" And we'd get the creativity back in the KH section.
It is sad, but, I do realize it probably wouldn't happen, at least not on a forum-wide level. But, if some key members started to do it, and actually stuck with it, I could see it kind of spreading. I mean, nowadays, when I see "Nomura said..." I kind of just get the urge to just say, "So?". Like, why should it really matter what Nomura says? Unless the games themselves contradict it, I don't see the problem with coming up with our own answers. Anything truly important will make it into future games anyway, at which point it will actually be primary canon, so, why can't we just ignore Nomura's comments on the plot, and just enjoy the series as it is presented to us?

I guess I just really miss those truly creative theories, or interpretations.

It's even worse when someone says "Nomura said..." and then proceed to list something he didn't even say. =/

Heartseams, love your avatar and signature, No More H eroes 2 is my favorite Wii game.
Thanks, I really love it, too.

Concerning the OP i disagree, id wright more but posting via PS3 is a pain in the ass.
Well, hop onto a computer then, son! I'm really interested in why you disagree.
 

siegleeagle

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Oh, that would make it all simple. Back to the days when we didn't care about the interviews. I generally try to follow that, but there is always that "But Nomura said this" line. Word of God is a powerful thing, and I agree that we do put too much stock into his words and it would definitely make the forum less of a "Nomura says so it must be true" place. But even you know this won't happen.

Say all of the active members followed this right now, but there will always be those new members or "back from the dead" members who will come here and say "oh, in this interview it said" and cause a discrepancy of information. There will be the stubborn who won't listen...

I do miss the days when we all weren't so at each other's necks about accuracy. When theories could be said without everybody saying "That's wrong. /thread" And we'd get the creativity back in the KH section.

I dont mean to sound negative or anything but I never got to see the forums in that state. I joined around two years ago and I was kinda disapointed to see the fan base really negative, mean, pessimistic, and whiny. I would like to have a chance to talk about the series in place were I can say my opinion without being shot down and chastised.
 

HeartSeams

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I dont mean to sound negative or anything but I never got to see the forums in that state. I joined around two years ago and I was kinda disapointed to see the fan base really negative, mean, pessimistic, and whiny. I would like to have a chance to talk about the series in place were I can say my opinion without being shot down and chastised.
In general, the most "positive" time on KHI was before KH2 released. I would say that was when there was a peak in the interest of KH, and the positive attitude toward the series. KH1 had come out and people loved it, and CoM was generally well received with how it introduced new characters and had a darker story. So, that made people pretty excited and positive with the series. Then KH2 came out and it generally went downhill from there.
 

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I agree with this so very much.
But, it is nice to take in consideration of the Interviews for theories, as those are possibilities, and not definite.
 

siegleeagle

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In general, the most "positive" time on KHI was before KH2 released. I would say that was when there was a peak in the interest of KH, and the positive attitude toward the series. KH1 had come out and people loved it, and CoM was generally well received with how it introduced new characters and had a darker story. So, that made people pretty excited and positive with the series. Then KH2 came out and it generally went downhill from there.

Yeah thats the image I got generally. This is one reason im excited about your blog. I feel like it will be a refreshing new way to think of the series. Oh im not saying im gonna bother you or anything im just wanting to see a more...... heck i dont know.....
 

HeartSeams

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But, it is nice to take in consideration of the Interviews for theories, as those are possibilities, and not definite.
It's a hard thing to balance, I feel. On one hand, some of Nomura's comments are good for understanding the series as a whole, while other comments tarnish the freedom someone could have had.

Yeah thats the image I got generally. This is one reason im excited about your blog. I feel like it will be a refreshing new way to think of the series. Oh im not saying im gonna bother you or anything im just wanting to see a more...... heck i dont know.....
Haha, well, I hope I don't disappoint then.
 

siegleeagle

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It's a hard thing to balance, I feel. On one hand, some of Nomura's comments are good for understanding the series as a whole, while other comments tarnish the freedom someone could have had.


Haha, well, I hope I don't disappoint then.

Oh even if I disagree or dont like something its still your opinion and vision of the series. Everyone views it differently even if there are major similarities in ideas.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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It is sad, but, I do realize it probably wouldn't happen, at least not on a forum-wide level. But, if some key members started to do it, and actually stuck with it, I could see it kind of spreading. I mean, nowadays, when I see "Nomura said..." I kind of just get the urge to just say, "So?". Like, why should it really matter what Nomura says? Unless the games themselves contradict it, I don't see the problem with coming up with our own answers. Anything truly important will make it into future games anyway, at which point it will actually be primary canon, so, why can't we just ignore Nomura's comments on the plot, and just enjoy the series as it is presented to us?

I guess I just really miss those truly creative theories, or interpretations.

It's even worse when someone says "Nomura said..." and then proceed to list something he didn't even say. =/

So do I. Even Grass has been holding back with theories. D: And I used to love reading them.

But I agree if key members did it, many would probably follow.

And you should say "So?" I think it would make people think about why these things might be true besides the fact "Nomura said it"

I dont mean to sound negative or anything but I never got to see the forums in that state. I joined around two years ago and I was kinda disapointed to see the fan base really negative, mean, pessimistic, and whiny. I would like to have a chance to talk about the series in place were I can say my opinion without being shot down and chastised.

The forums were less...like the way they are pre-KH2. I wasn't a member then but I would haunt this place like no other and it was very optimistic. People were excited about KH2, amazed at what the BHK was going to pull us into, why Sora was fighting thousands of Heartless, why Kairi's hair was darker, where Riku was, why Passion was such an amazing theme, and a lot of theories were things that should have actually happened in the games.

But KH2 came and disappointed a lot of people and things haven't really been the same. It is like when you find out Santa Claus isn't real...

In general, the most "positive" time on KHI was before KH2 released. I would say that was when there was a peak in the interest of KH, and the positive attitude toward the series. KH1 had come out and people loved it, and CoM was generally well received with how it introduced new characters and had a darker story. So, that made people pretty excited and positive with the series. Then KH2 came out and it generally went downhill from there.

Yeah. All of this D:
 

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This is really interesting; I do like reading the interviews but I see exactly what you're saying. I generally try to only use what the video games have said/shown in discussions; video game developing is a process, things change. I've never been mad because I've read something in an interview and then it changed for the video game but I have definitely seen anger because of that and it's very tense. The discussions can get really heated over the "Nomura said" battles... D:
I loved reading everyone's theories on KH and discussing things that could happen and from just being here the past couple of months I've noticed a decrease in theories. Which sucks, because they were a lot of fun to think about.
 

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This is a very good argument you have. However, I think Nomura's interviews should still be looked at. Not necessarily as complete fact, but as something that could explain discrepancies, which they often do.
 

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I understand completely where you are coming from, and to be honest I agree with most of it. But I also think that the reason we go to the "Law" (i think I'm gonna call it that now) is because it is more convenient and assuring to know when backing up a rhetoric theory. We have the games and we have Nomura's word. If we just had the game, which as you said has more room for interpretation and freedom, than many theories and ideas can be thrown around and we'd be completely off base. To some this is okay, even perfect, but to others some just like having that extra assurance. The game is primary canon but it is also vague and flexible to come up with anything (say for example someone saying that Eraqus isn't within Terra). Sure there are points in the game that shoot this idea down but others find little tidbits to make their side of the argument valid, but then comes the "Law" and there is extra evidence to counter the claim. In short, its convenient to some but a hindrance to others. It can go out of hand but it can also be used wisely. I don't know if I stated my argument clearly here but that's what I really took from your wall of text.
 

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I can see that, too. But I mean, the Law is only letting people know ahead of time. Eraqus being in Terra's heart is something that will obviously be brought up in the future, so, why can't that be used as the thing that defies the theory instead of the Law which says it months before the game even sees the light of day?
 

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I can see that, too. But I mean, the Law is only letting people know ahead of time. Eraqus being in Terra's heart is something that will obviously be brought up in the future, so, why can't that be used as the thing that defies the theory instead of the Law which says it months before the game even sees the light of day?

I guess its to either shoot people down before they start thinking otherwise or because people want to start predicting now but think they "can't" because people will be saying things like, "that's not in the game" or "where in the game does that say that?" or even "the game never specifically says or implies so and so". People want that extra support and reassurance in order to feel that they have a "strong" and persuasive theory that sets them apart from the "far-fetched guess speculation". I know that it seems petty and irrelevant to have that assurance before the game even comes out (at which point, like you pointed out, changes could be made) but people like the convenience as soon as possible. Hence the constant want for games that won't see the light of day for years, not to play for the games enjoyment, but to prove their theories right or shove the truth down the throats of others. That is why Nomura throws these bones at us. We'll eat ourselves alive and eventually take it out on the series.
 

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I don't know. I guess I just see more people using Nomura's words to shoot down other people instead of to support their own ideas.
 

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I don't know. I guess I just see more people using Nomura's words to shoot down other people instead of to support their own ideas.

yeah thats what most people are using them for but Nomura's intentions aren't to give people reason to bash others even if thats whats happening. he knows people want explanations for things. he delivers. people abuse it. and it could just be people on the translated side. i mean maybe the japanese audiences are using his words more productively but over here its just flame material.
 

HeartSeams

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I don't know. I guess what would be optimal is a balance to be struck. Though, I still think we would get by just fine if we never had anyone translating Nomura's interviews. Most of the things he says it more clarifying than it is outright answering. You can put a lot of the pieces together yourself just by playing the games and paying attention.
 
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