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News ► The Kingdom Hearts Animated Series That Never Was



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Oracle Spockanort

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An animated series for Kingdom Hearts has been discussed frequently, usually as nothing more than wishful thinking. There were so many restrictions between Square Enix and Disney, it seemed like it would take a miracle to even get the project greenlighted, and don't even get me started on how exactly they'd be able to cram all the details without making sacrifices.

The thing is, this project was actually a reality! Technically speaking anyway.

This news comes directly from Seth Kearsley, who posted storyboards from the un-aired Kingdom Hearts animated series in November 2013. Kearsley, a former director at Disney Animation Studios, was originally hired to direct and develop an animatic, as well as write the script for a test pilot back in 2002, when only the original game had been released. Although the pilot was received extremely well, the decision was made to scrap the project so as to not jeopardize the relationship between Square Enix & Disney as they began to expand the franchise.

You can view the storyboards below, with details provided by Kearsley:

I actually played the entire game myself to the end and tossed the script they originally had because it read more like an episode of Aladdin guest starring the characters from Kingdom Hearts. I wanted to be very true to the game without just copying the game.  

The episode took place in Agrabah and centered around Sora and Riku trying to get the lamp, which was the key to Agrabah. It started on the island the way the game starts so we could meet Sora, Riku and Kairi then it turns into a bit of a nightmare and Sora wakes up on the ship with Donald and Goofy as they're approaching Agrabah.  

We see Riku with Maleficent and Jafar. Riku and Sora meet up in a fight against the heartless in the streets. They both go for the lamp. As soon as Riku touches the lamp it's as though Maleficent has control of him and ultimately Sora gets the lamp away from Riku before a giant heartless hand pulls him through a portal.

    

He also mentions something rather interesting! You may notice that there are no backgrounds in any of these storyboards. The reason for this is because they had originally planned to use the real production backgrounds from the original films!

So when Sora and Riku were fighting in the streets, it was the actual backgrounds from the movie. When Riku grabs the lamp, it was the background from when Aladdin grabbed the lamp.  

My plan was to do that for all of the lands they would visit in the series. I felt that using the actual backgrounds would not only save a bunch of money it would keep us from recreating the wheel for each of those lands and it would have a visceral effect and make you feel like you had seen this before. I thought it would do an interesting thing to the brain of any hardcore fans.

Source: Seth Kearsley's deviantArt

Thanks to forum member LightUpTheSky462 for the heads up!

 

Gram

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Can't say I'm to fond of what I see of SRK in those images. The disney characters look great though. =O
 

Taochan

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It kind of blows my mind that this came so close to being a reality. I can't even envision how different the KH series would be today with an animated series to accompany it.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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I'd love to see an animated series today to be quite honest. A short series running for 12 episodes, featuring the journeys of one of our favorite wielders (and preferably one that can be voiced by their original VA)

My dream studio would be Titmouse Inc because they are badasses at action scenes, but hahaha ha *goes to watch Motorcity on her computer*

The art is growing on me, honestly. It reminds me of the concept art from Kingdom Hearts that wasn't drawn by Nomura.
 

Rael_Oblivion

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Can't say I'm to fond of what I see of SRK in those images. The disney characters look great though. =O
Me either. SRK's faces seem really off. Although that hug with Sora and Riku is cute. I guess the disney characters look better because the illustrator was a lot more familiar with them/has easy references to their designs. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened to the franchise if they had been able to pull it off!
 

kreezy64

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Lemme just give a big no thank you to this. At first, many years ago, I thought it
d be cool to have a show or a movie or something else with KH, but now it just seems like a bad idea. The mangas are probably as far as I'll go with separate stories in this whole series, but even those like many have said before are pretty canon. This just seems like it'd be big and dumb and not relate to the series in a bigger way like chi is coming around to do.
 

sonickenshin

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Me either. SRK's faces seem really off. Although that hug with Sora and Riku is cute. I guess the disney characters look better because the illustrator was a lot more familiar with them/has easy references to their designs. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened to the franchise if they had been able to pull it off!
They're storyboards. Half of the time, characters don't usually look that great. XD; Like so. http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb...tasy/images/6/61/Crisis_Core_Storyboard_2.jpg

Their only purpose is to structure how scenes go and stuff. But, yeah...I actually would have liked to see an animated series.
 

Taochan

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This just seems like it'd be big and dumb and not relate to the series in a bigger way like chi is coming around to do.
Chi was marketed though as mostly a non-canon, fun social game. It's actually just started to be more relevant to the series with the reveal of the Foreteller's script.




I'm really curious about how this series would have affected KH. It definitely would have increased the exposure of the series in the West which would have increased the already impressive sales numbers. But would Disney have forced Nomura to develop a more cohesive series? Would they have asked him to scale back some of his ideas? What would have happened if Disney eventually cancelled the show, as they do many of their animated series? Would their support for KH have stopped? No matter what, I couldn't see an animated series of KH go on for 10 years like the games have.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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Lemme just give a big no thank you to this. At first, many years ago, I thought it
d be cool to have a show or a movie or something else with KH, but now it just seems like a bad idea. The mangas are probably as far as I'll go with separate stories in this whole series, but even those like many have said before are pretty canon. This just seems like it'd be big and dumb and not relate to the series in a bigger way like chi is coming around to do.

The manga is not canon. The novels are 3rd tier canon, though, if that was what you were thinking of. The manga is inspired by the games but it is not a faithful adaption.

Lol, it was an animated series scrapped over 12 years ago. You wouldn't have known if it would have been bad or not. If anything, I bet every single one of us would have loved it because back then it would have been the only other piece of Kingdom Hearts we would have had at the time.
 

Taochan

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Plus we would have all been a decade younger.

Disney channel was the shit back in the day.
 

rokudamia2

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It's fascinating to see that rumors over ten years old had some truth to them.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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Plus we would have all been a decade younger.

Disney channel was the shit back in the day.

Oh god we would have probably been bigger dorks over Kingdom Hearts if there had been an animated series. So many people who don't play games would have been into this series. I kind of lament this now.

Somebody tell Nomura the children are crying out for an animated series!
 

RoyalXIII

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I don't like this. If there is an animated KH series, I would want it done in Japan with the KH team working with it.
In any case, I feel like KH would be better suited with a movie akin to FFVII: Advent Children. A movie that isn't retelling any of the games, but adds to the story canon.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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I don't like this. If there is an animated KH series, I would want it done in Japan with the KH team working with it.
In any case, I feel like KH would be better suited with a movie akin to FFVII: Advent Children. A movie that isn't retelling any of the games, but adds to the story canon.

This is over 12 yeas old. xD It's not happening, but it is a nice bit of information. Trust me, when you were 7-12, you weren't thinking about this stuff. You all are letting your adult selves blind you to the fact that when you were kids this would have been the greatest thing.
 

LightUpTheSky452

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I'd like to add that in his interview on Kingdom Hearts Union, Mr. Kearsley said that he did all the storyboards himself because as he understood it, the director of a manga in Japan did everything for it. And since KH was a game developed in Japan, he wanted to stay true to that idea in the rough draft, so to speak. He later went on to say that if/when this actually would have begun proper development, he would have wanted to work with a Korean or Japanese anime company to make it as similar to the KH style as possible. So, long story short, the finished product wouldn't have looked like what we see here, but closer to the game.

Personally, though I understand why they chose not to go forward with this, it really is a shame. I would have loved to see it. And I know my younger self back then would have just eaten it up. Nothing would have been better for me back then than seeing Sora on TV as the hero I knew him to be.

But, yeah. Here's hoping we can maybe see this someday. I'd be interested to see how it would have been similar and different from the game. I'm all ready pleased in knowing how Mr. Kearsley wanted to stay true to the heart of the game, and bettered their original script for it, so no doubt I would have liked the finished product, too. It would have been different, of course, but I can't imagine I would have felt any differently about it than I do the manga or mostly decent book to movie adaptations.

I wonder if they might ever think of doing something like this again, though. Imo, after KHIII would probably be the best time for them to introduce an animated series or movie. They'd probably have a bit of time to work on it before the next Saga, and they'd have the entire Dark Seeker Chronicles to work with, so they wouldn't have to worry about stepping on toes and making it too different.

We'll see what happens, though, I guess.

But y'know... this really does make you think how things could have been different, if we'd also had fans of the anime joining us in discussions and that sort of thing right now:)

Edit: There's also a huge part of me that just wants to see how Disney would handle the KH story, tbh. In some ways, I think it would be better (as it would be less convoluted, probably), but in others it would probably be worse (as we probably wouldn't have Nododies and other dark things, since Roxas' backstory is pretty dark for a kids' game and stuff... or, more likely, they would have just toned it down for the anime), but it would have been interesting to see how they went about it, nonetheless.
 
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LightUpTheSky452

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Interview. Do you have a link?

It's on ITunes right now, but I think the people on KHU might be posting it on YouTube eventually (as they just posted about this on kh13 and said as much, it looks like). But if you go to ITunes and search "Kingdom Hearts Union interviews", I think it'll come up. I listened to it earlier today, but I don't remember if that's exactly what I typed in to find it. Sorry if it's not:/ If it isn't, just tell me and I'll try to look it up again:)
 

RoyalXIII

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I"m aware that this isn't happening, also I would have to disagree that I would love it as a kid. I was pretty picky about animation and things being "canon" even back then lol
 

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Kids are the world's toughest critics after all!

I think it would have been interesting at least to see what liberties they would take with the story.
 
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