Some positivity for KH2 Sora for a change!



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BlackOsprey

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Figured I'd share this here. It's a video a tumblr friend linked me. It's not anything negative, it's actually a decent or positive opinion on Sora in KH2 and beyond. It was really nice to see in the ocean of KH2 bashing and made me rethink KH2 a little.
It's a short video so enjoy.

[video=youtube;45Z_Of2uRjU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Z_Of2uRjU&feature=youtu.be[/video]
 

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Oh hey, birdbrain is back.

Jokes aside, I thought this was a good video covering the emotions of Sora, but I would have been interested to see you provide evidence (if there is enough, which there might not be) to show if Sora is going to be that same happy-go-lucky kid in KH3. Remember, he's going to be a bit more mature now, but will that change him in KH3?
 

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great video! I think he may be giving the franchise/Nomura a little too much credit for how good Sora is, however. If the writers were aware that Sora was the perfect Kingdom Hearts protagonist, why would we get multiple games without him or someone even remotely similar to him?
 
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I liked the video and agree with the central premise that Sora is a generally agreeable protagonist. There are reasons to view some of his shifts in character over the years with skepticism, but that's not to say he's unlikable.

Not so much a fan of the really simplistic and flawed analysis of why people gravitate towards different styles of storytelling and the kind of counter-classing of people who prefer youth-oriented entertainment as somehow inherently superior to people who tend to feel an authentic engagement with genres like tragedy or serious drama. The application of the term "dark" is, as it tends to be in these kinds of discussions, totally nebulous and lacking in definition, so it's hard to follow the value premise here. But some of the causative reasoning espoused is just plain wrong: people (generally speaking) don't dislike movies like Batman V Superman because it's "dark," but because it is poorly written and makes failed efforts at a kind of thematic depth the raw material simply doesn't support. But then you have, on the other hand, wildly successful outings along the same atmospheric vein such as, y'know, The Dark Knight, which is (arguably) deliberately plotted and hits enough of its beats to satisfy the audience's need to feel invested. I agree with the idea that, generally, people like a little bit of everything: but in advancing that argument, the video maker seems to have unwittingly conceded the importance of a serious narrative approach when the situation calls for it in order to make certain dramatic moments land (the "stakes" she refers to); if a work is always bubbly and superficial then it runs the risk of giving the audience the impression that it has no stakes, and that's one of the criticisms which is levied at Sora's characterization post-CoM. I'm not saying I agree with it fully as I think he's more dynamic than a lot of people give him credit for, but that range of character is best argued by referencing moments of actual dramatic impact-- which is exactly what this reviewer does, to her credit.

Being "dark" isn't good or bad, it's just an aesthetic choice in framing a story, and sometimes it's the only appropriate way to go about things. Or should we expect an important cinematic touchstone like Schindler's List to engage in slapstick and self-referential attempts at humor?
 
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raccoonscity

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I kind of don't like the video's thing attitude of "You're silly if you want to take the story seriously" and the way it looks down on people who like stories that are dramatic or characters that try to relate to people's negative emotions (like misery or insecurity). There's plenty of reasons why people like stories or characters revolving around "dark" or "mature" themes besides not wanting to be seen as "kiddie". Like you know, relating to a person's feelings or experiences, for one thing. It's nothing shameful to have negative emotions or to enjoy stories that are sad or tense.

The video mentioned BBS, saying "It's so filled with sad moments and the characters are always sad/anxious so there's no weight behind them". I don't think this is the case; for one thing, there's plenty of happy moments with the 3 characters and with the Disney characters they interact with. It's tone is sadder/more serious for sure, but all the games have a mix of sad and happy moments. Second, I wouldn't say there's "no weight behind them" because it's "always sad", but rather because they don't actually show us enough to be sad about. The main focus of the narrative is how the falling out of these three friends lead to their downfalls, but 1) they never actually show us what they were like as people or as friends before falling out and 2) they never address or give enough importance to some of the sadder events after the fact. For example, Eraqus's death -- Ven never finds out, Aqua and Terra barely talk about it, and Aqua never talks about her feelings towards Eraqus and his death. They also never talk about the fact that they lied to Ven about him always living with them.

I wish people would realize Sora's portrayal is a little more nuanced beyond "He's always happy even though everyone else is sad!". I do think his characterization in DDD and Re:Coded definitely waters him down to this, and there's certainly a lot that they should have done or should have done better with him. But as the video mentioned, in KH1 he was more melancholy after losing his home and friends, and in CoM he was confused, desperate, horrified, angry, etc. We actually see him have a range of emotions in most games. We often see Sora as someone who puts on a happy face even when he's not happy. A big, recurring theme with Sora is that he defines himself with the connections he's made with others; in DDD they brought up (and didn't do much with) the idea that he's just "copying" aspects of others. I personally think that it adds more weight to Sora, that he's someone who actively tries to be happy or is happy even though there are things that make him sad/insecure.
 

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Okay, well... I'd be lying if I said anything else that I disagree.
Let's see, I'll try to be constructive and not just a nay-sayer.

"Looking at the cutscenes of later games one could be forgiven for thinking that you're supposed to take this diddly seriously but you're not. Like, I'd be very surprised if Nomura came up and said he expected anyone to take this story seriously"

But... you just said moments ago shows that try to play it darker due to insecurities (also a concept I'd like to discuss) should look up to Kingdom Hearts for how it stays loyal to its stupid premise and lays it completely straight. How am I not supposed to take this seriously then?
Also, prepared to be surprised, I guess. I have heard the "Nomura is also aware of the flaws and it's part of his plan" stance and frankly I don't buy it in the slightest. They said the same things about George Lucas back in the day.

"So Kingdom Hearts is very dumb, but it makes that clear through the gioval attitude of the protagonist"

Does it though? Are you sure about that?
What about... when... we got that one dumb game in which the protagonists were not so giovial and the giovial protagonist was a 4 years old tertiary character?

"And not *list of protagonist for you to project onto*"

But that's Sora's intended take. It has been confirmed Sora shoudl represent the ordinary boy, in order for ordinary boys that play the games to project onto him.

"Having such a happy and cheerfuly protagonist means that when sad moments happen, they hit hard"

Or they could, even when good by themselves, look kind of weird and in stark contrast after hours and hours of this seemingly unbreakable Jesus figure who will grin when a Disney baddie vanishes with a bloody scream but instantly freezes in denial when Goofy is hit by a rock, who will unconditionately trust and forgive a recently met Neku for tricking him and selling him out but when a character the plot doesn't want you to like does it then it's Keyblade out for war.
I agree when the sadness is always at 8 or 9 sad moments lose value, but this could be its own case of inconsistent writing.

5:12 - 5:31

Worst sequence in KH ever, due to aforementioned writing and pacing. Moving on.

"Sora acts as a necessary grounding rod to keep this story from becoming so grim as to burn people out"

Boy, did it fail spectacularly if that was the intention.
The overall opinion of Kingdom Hearts from non-fans is that "it's a grim anime cliche story with Disney elements" and that drove away many people from getting into the series. (Same with many reactions from the latest KH III trailer everytime parts of the main story were shown. People were bummed and burned out by edginess they didn't understand or relate to)
And even in the fandom, discussions about happy endings are so frequent that clearly the negative emotions stuck out way more in many people's minds.

Let's try and say something good about the video. I liked him quoting BB's video, I liked him acknowledging Sora was more melanchonic in earlier titles (but those got kinda brushed to the side here: why not considering the fact that the two games recognized by mostly everyone to have the better writing also have the "other" Sora?)
I also thinks he makes some actual good examples when talking about the unnecessary tragic tones, like with the superhero movies: but overall I feel like he's a bit too sure of his ideas (as much as complexed characters got done to hell and back and can be notoriously bad and washed up stereotypes, some of the greatest characters in literature and fiction were born from complexes and insecurities, you can't just lump all of the together) and some of his points in the discussion are (perhaps willingly) disjointed.

As I said, Birth by Sleep: he also makes fun of it and criticizes its flaws, but that's another "dumb" KH game and doesn't have all the Sore elements he spoke about. Which, personal opinions aside, means that maybe those aren't this masterfully crafted balance of light-heartedness and sadness, but just that Sora is an inconsistent character and one dimensional, or close to it. I'd say he's a 1.5 final mix dimensional character at this point.
 
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KeybladeKnightQ

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I never did and probably never will understand why people hated KH2 Sora, DDD Sora I can understand as I also dislike him in that game too but Sora in KH2 acts pretty much like almost anyone would who has a light hearted, easy going personality in the situations he’s placed in all throughout the game. Why’s he more happier in this game? Cause he knows Kairi’a safe and knows near the beginning of the story Riku must back from the Realm of darkness. Why is he so emotional when he sees Riku for the first time? Cause of how vague everyone was being with about what happened to him it sounded like he was possibly dead. We even see Sora at one point almost give up on everything and lose almost all hope when it’s revealed the organization is using him so how can people say he’s “bland” for a lack of a better term in KH2?. Sora’s Character in KH2 is the perfect example of how his character should always act in the series. He isn’t being a constant downer or being sad or worried ALL the time like almost all KH1 but he’s not immune to showing emotion or getting upset, sad, or angry. Sora is literally meant to represent the light or hope in the series, if he wasn’t an easy go lucky happy character and was all sad dark and depressing than he’d be like mostly all the other characters which wouldn’t make him stand out and defeat the point of his character. It would also make what the series pushes towards him being this lovable guy who draws people to him and brings out the best in them completely unbelievable. It also gives a solid and lovable feel for the SDG relationship as they play off each other so well in KH2, they have a legitimate friendship that really stands out, they take only the important things really seriously but being very light hearted in happier moments instead of just constantly taking everything seriously even the Disney characters and worlds like KH1. I mean imagine instead of Sora being the main character someone like Terra, Riku, or Roxas was and they just acted serious, distant, and a downer all throughout seeing and meeting these lovable and beloved Disney characters and was traveling with Donald and Goofy? Do you think we could get anything as genuine or heartfelt or establish a real connection with all these characters as we did with Sora?
 
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BlackOsprey

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Aw sweet, some discussion!

Oh hey, birdbrain is back.
har-har. -w-

Jokes aside, I thought this was a good video covering the emotions of Sora, but I would have been interested to see you provide evidence (if there is enough, which there might not be) to show if Sora is going to be that same happy-go-lucky kid in KH3. Remember, he's going to be a bit more mature now, but will that change him in KH3?
It's hard to say, but by "mature," I figure it just means that Sora will just be a little sharper and more experienced from his past journeys. I doubt he's going to be any less of a cheerful optimist.

great video! I think he may be giving the franchise/Nomura a little too much credit for how good Sora is, however. If the writers were aware that Sora was the perfect Kingdom Hearts protagonist, why would we get multiple games without him or someone even remotely similar to him?
I agree, the video is a *bit* lenient on the writing of the series overall, especially for KH2. I mean, the plot is sort of a total dumpster fire of confused threads and half-realized themes, and that's coming from someone who legitimately enjoyed playing the game. There's a good chance that the effects of Sora's characterization were totally accidental and the original intent was to make him more like a typical 2005 shonen hero. Still, I found this was an interesting way of looking at what we did get.


Not so much a fan of the really simplistic and flawed analysis of why people gravitate towards different styles of storytelling and the kind of counter-classing of people who prefer youth-oriented entertainment as somehow inherently superior to people who tend to feel an authentic engagement with genres like tragedy or serious drama. The application of the term "dark" is, as it tends to be in these kinds of discussions, totally nebulous and lacking in definition, so it's hard to follow the value premise here. But some of the causative reasoning espoused is just plain wrong: people (generally speaking) don't dislike movies like Batman V Superman because it's "dark," but because it is poorly written and makes failed efforts at a kind of thematic depth the raw material simply doesn't support. But then you have, on the other hand, wildly successful outings along the same atmospheric vein such as, y'know, The Dark Knight, which is (arguably) deliberately plotted and hits enough of its beats to satisfy the audience's need to feel invested. I agree with the idea that, generally, people like a little bit of everything: but in advancing that argument, the video maker seems to have unwittingly conceded the importance of a serious narrative approach when the situation calls for it in order to make certain dramatic moments land (the "stakes" she refers to); if a work is always bubbly and superficial then it runs the risk of giving the audience the impression that it has no stakes, and that's one of the criticisms which is levied at Sora's characterization post-CoM. I'm not saying I agree with it fully as I think he's more dynamic than a lot of people give him credit for, but that range of character is best argued by referencing moments of actual dramatic impact-- which is exactly what this reviewer does, to her credit.

Being "dark" isn't good or bad, it's just an aesthetic choice in framing a story, and sometimes it's the only appropriate way to go about things. Or should we expect an important cinematic touchstone like Schindler's List to engage in slapstick and self-referential attempts at humor?
You make an excellent point. The narrator *does* come off as rather condescending towards the idea of being "dark." However, I think it's important to keep in mind that the narrator didn't state that stories like Schindler's List were inferior in some way just because of their dark and adult-oriented tone. It's a kind of scenario where the dark tone is necessary to tell the story and those lighter tones would undermine that. It's a very different story aimed towards a rather different audience than... a FF-Disney video game crossover.
I believe the narrator was complaining about stories that are "dark" with no letup just for the sake of it, and don't have the good writing or quality (like, say The Dark Knight had) to justify it.

It's a problem when there's so much aimless levity that stakes seem to be inconsequential (the first half of FFXV, for example), but it's also an issue when it's just a constant stream of grey and melancholy to the point where all the terrible things happening stop standing out and just blend together into a monotony (like in the video's example of Steven Universe). As you said, darker stories can avoid this pitfall by deliberate efforts to make the darkest moments hit hard. But let's be honest, KH, while dark for what it is, does not (and probably was not intended to) have that kind of realism and grit.

Serious writing is fine, but the narrator argues that the best way to implement it into a "brighter" setting like KH is to juxtapose it with the levity. It does make those moments stand out a lot more than they would otherwise.

I kind of don't like the video's thing attitude of "You're silly if you want to take the story seriously" and the way it looks down on people who like stories that are dramatic or characters that try to relate to people's negative emotions (like misery or insecurity). There's plenty of reasons why people like stories or characters revolving around "dark" or "mature" themes besides not wanting to be seen as "kiddie". Like you know, relating to a person's feelings or experiences, for one thing. It's nothing shameful to have negative emotions or to enjoy stories that are sad or tense.
I'll agree, the video does generalize this a lot. People like that are out there (most of em are impressionable tweens trying to grow up too fast) but there's nothing wrong with a story's done dark with a purpose. Like, as you said, relating (or just digging into) feelings and experiences. Hell, I love Game of Thrones and KH angst is a guilty pleasure of mine.

The video mentioned BBS, saying "It's so filled with sad moments and the characters are always sad/anxious so there's no weight behind them". I don't think this is the case; for one thing, there's plenty of happy moments with the 3 characters and with the Disney characters they interact with. It's tone is sadder/more serious for sure, but all the games have a mix of sad and happy moments. Second, I wouldn't say there's "no weight behind them" because it's "always sad", but rather because they don't actually show us enough to be sad about. The main focus of the narrative is how the falling out of these three friends lead to their downfalls, but 1) they never actually show us what they were like as people or as friends before falling out and 2) they never address or give enough importance to some of the sadder events after the fact. For example, Eraqus's death -- Ven never finds out, Aqua and Terra barely talk about it, and Aqua never talks about her feelings towards Eraqus and his death. They also never talk about the fact that they lied to Ven about him always living with them.

I wish people would realize Sora's portrayal is a little more nuanced beyond "He's always happy even though everyone else is sad!". I do think his characterization in DDD and Re:Coded definitely waters him down to this, and there's certainly a lot that they should have done or should have done better with him. But as the video mentioned, in KH1 he was more melancholy after losing his home and friends, and in CoM he was confused, desperate, horrified, angry, etc. We actually see him have a range of emotions in most games. We often see Sora as someone who puts on a happy face even when he's not happy. A big, recurring theme with Sora is that he defines himself with the connections he's made with others; in DDD they brought up (and didn't do much with) the idea that he's just "copying" aspects of others. I personally think that it adds more weight to Sora, that he's someone who actively tries to be happy or is happy even though there are things that make him sad/insecure.
I think this another example of the difference good writing can make, ha. Whatever the tone of the story is supposed to be, it's kinda hard to sell an audience on the emotions behind a scene if the writing just... doesn't genuinely support it. BBS fails to properly contextualize these characters' relationship nor does it really follow through with sad moments, so they kinda ring hollow. By contrast, KH2 Sora... well, you know he's normally all happy-go-lucky in most circumstances, so you know something truly shook him if it was enough to break either his typical cheerful optimism or positive facade, whichever way you interpret it. It's simple but at least it works on selling the severity of a moment.
 

Rodin

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I don't disagree with her points but I think its more a matter of execution than anything else. But i gave up on Sora as a character after DDD so I'm probably not the person this was aimed for.
 
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Guernsey

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I will admit that I am one of those individuals who hate Sora's portrayal in KH2 but it wasn't later in like that I read some analysis and learned that Sora isn't the happy go lucky protagonist that I thought he was. I posted a thread where I stated Sora was basically broken in KH2 due to having his memories and heart tampered with.
 
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