Understanding Kingdom Hearts (and every other story) | Unraveled

Understanding Kingdom Hearts (and every other story) | Unraveled

Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally here. And I have received an excessive amount of
requests to explain the storyline. That seems perfectly reasonable. You want to be caught up before you hop into
the third game. But judging by the wording on a few of these
requests, it seems like I have a… TALL TASK ahead of me. But could I possibly help you understand the
gargantuan, magnificent, epic storyline of Kingdom Hearts? You sweet summer child. You babe swaddled in the cashmere blanket
of ignorance. YOU ASK TOO LITTLE OF ME. Because not only can I help you understand
Kingdom Hearts. But I will give you the tools necessary to
understand any story you are ever faced with for the rest of your life. *music plays* Please, oh baby, don’t go. ~Simple and clean is the way that you’re making
me feel tonight.~ *CLAP CLAP* Spoiler Warning! I’m about to explain the entirety of the
Kingdom Hearts series. Now, if you don’t want to be spoiled for
all of the games released up until now… I don’t know why you clicked on this video. Because I feel like the title kinda explained
that that’s what I was gonna do. So that’s on you. Uh, but ALSO. Potential spoiler warning! You see, when I explain the tools of the literary
trade, I might just be able to accurately predict the true ending of
Kingdom Hearts 3. Now, the game hasn’t been released yet,
and I have not played it, but… Consider yourself warned. We’re talking about the hero’s journey
or the monomyth. This is a concept that’s been around for
a long time. But it was popularized by a guy named Joseph
Campbell back in 1949 when he released a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell inspired plenty of other creative
writers and literary analysts, including a guy called Christopher Vogler, who wrote his
own book in the 1990s. But before that, in the 1980s, he was working
as a story consultant for a little company called Disney. When he was there, he sent out a seven-page
memo that basically broke down all the big ideas from Campbell’s book into 12 simple
steps to writing good stories. Did the memo work? I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Timon and Pumbaa? They… They’re from the Lion King. That was a movie that Disney Produced. A lot of people think it’s a great movie. Kingdom Hearts as described by the monomyth. We’ve got 12 stages up here, kinda like
a clock. It’s a story wheel. And I’ll go through piece by piece explaining
Kingdom Hearts 1, so that way you can understand what these stages are. Once you do understand these stages, you’ll
be able to understand any story! Because great writers, no matter how dense
their sci-fi or fantasy world may be, use these stages to help orient you. I’m talking Dune. Harry Potter. Space Jam. Number one, introduction in the ordinary world. In Kingdom Hearts 1, this is when Sora, Riku,
and Kairi are all just hanging out on Destiny Islands, doing normal kid stuff. Call to adventure. What’s this? Weird creatures showing up on the island? Sora has a sword that’s also a key? Refusal of the call. Now we hit a bit of a hiccup here because
he really does seem gung-ho to leave the island at some point. But I don’t think he wanted to do it on
these terms, so I’ll still call this a refusal. Meeting with the mentor. At this point Sora is in Traverse Town, and
he meets Leon, who ends up giving him some guidance on what he’s supposed to be doing. Crossing the threshold. Or as true literary critics call it… boarding
the gummi ship. Tests, allies, and enemies. This is pretty much the entirety of the Disney
worlds. You’ll notice that a lot of times in these
synopses of Kingdom Hearts, people just skip over them. It’s cause they all fit here. Reaching the innermost cave. This is such a pivotal moment in the story. In Star Wars, this is when Luke goes into
the cave and faces off against a shadow version of himself. And in Kingdom Hearts, this is when Sora goes
into Hollow Bastion so he can fight Riku, who is actually being possessed by Ansem, who is
the Heartless version of Terra-Xehanort, who was originally Terra but was then possessed
by Xehanort before him. Same thing. Enduring the supreme ordeal. After Sora has faced off against Ansem the
first time, he has to stab his own heart with a keyblade, so that way he can release it
and save Kairi. That’s a supreme ordeal. Seizing the sword. Now this is not a literal sword. Obviously, Sora already has one of those. But instead it’s the reward or the power
that Sora can take with him. So in this case, it’s him being resurrected,
having all of the princesses of heart saved, and having the power to defeat Ansem. The road back. Ansem has been defeated by Kingdom Hearts
being opened and him being ripped apart by the light. And they are able to seal the doors, but unfortunately,
they lose two of their friends in the process. Resurrection. Yeah, Sora did get literally resurrected a
few stages before this. Uh, but this is more of a metaphysical resurrection. Them finally coming back from the brink. Kairi going back to Destiny Islands. Return with the elixir. Sora, Donald, and Goofy all go back out, using
their combined experience to try to save Mickey and Riku. And that’s Kingdom Hearts! That was pretty painless, don’t you think? But granted, that’s not what people have an
issue with. People have an issue with all of the overarching
story of Kingdom Hearts. But, again, as long as we stick to these 12
stages, we should be able to take this apart, piece by piece. And though I am gonna stick with the 12 stages,
I am gonna add just, uh, one little extra piece. It’s called historical background. This is like The Silmarillion. Or JK Rowling’s twitter. In Kingdom Hearts, this would be Union Cross,
or Chi, or whatever the many names of this web/mobile game ended up being. Die-hard fans will get upset with me if I say this doesn’t really matter to Sora’s overarching story. But I’m gonna say it anyway. So this historical background is gonna just
be up here. And all of that knowledge is just gonna kind
of bleed immediately into Kingdom Hearts 1. Pat (offscreen): Uh, nope, you gotta do Birth
by Sleep. Pat: It’s a prequel. Brian: But, is Sora in it? Pat: No. No Sora. Brian: Who’s this guy, then? Pat: That’s Vanitas. Brian: Why? So I, uh, seem to have neglected, uh, like
three other heroes’ journeys in this hero’s journey. So I’m just gonna… I’m gonna move these over a little bit so
that way I can have a bit more space. We, we do have to talk about Birth by Sleep. Starting first with Terra’s. Um, now imagine it has all twelve of the stages
of the hero’s journey, I just didn’t want to write ’em all out, ’cause he gets norted,
so he’s not that good of a hero. Same goes for Aqua, which is intersecting
with Terra’s. And then we’ve got Ventus, who has the biggest
bearing on Sora’s hero’s journey. It means that it has to not only intersect
over here with Terra and Aqua. But, I’m sorry Vogler, I am gonna have to
include another step on your hero’s journey. So here we’ve got the Ventus Diagram, uh,
which intersects here at step point five. The part of the hero’s journey, uh, where
the baby hero’s heart goes and saves another boy. That’s the only big change we’re gonna do
to Vogler’s story wheel. Uh, everything else is gonna make sense in
Kingdom Hearts. And now we’re going to take the wheel, uh,
as if it is the overarching story of the entirety of the games. So Kingdom Hearts, the first one, instead
of going from 1 all the way to 12, is actually just gonna go from 0.5 to 5. And then we start 5 immediately at Kingdom
Hearts 2, which will begin with Sora… Pat (offscreen): Nope. Brian: What do you mean nope? Pat: There’s two more. Once again I seem to have neglected a few,
uh, interstitial pieces of Kingdom Hearts. Chain of Memories and also three five eight
days over two. Which is a totally normal title. It’s totally fine, because it just fleshes
out Sora’s hero’s journey. And also… a different guy and his name is
Roxas. *pained expression* I went ahead and I categorized
Chain of Memories as a “hero’s journey redux” since Sora is just fighting against his own
memories, the things that he has remembered from the past hero’s journey. So it’s just gonna hang out around here. And then we have 358/2 Days, which follows
Roxas, who is Sora’s Nobody. And a Nobody is like the shell of a person
after they’ve released their heart. 358/2 Days happens then, and since it’s the
hero’s Nobody, it’s actually within the hero’s journey, doing its own thing. Um, and, I’m gonna call this 4.5 remix. This is a pivotal part of the hero’s journey
when, uh, the hero’s shadow self goes off and eats ice cream. These two are tied together by a character
named Xion, who works in Organization XIII with Roxas, and also is made from the memories…
of Sora. She doesn’t really have like a hero’s journey… I’ll just tie it out for you. And since this oblong actually crosses through
the hero’s journey twice, we’re gonna make this easy to remember and call it the “Hero’s Memories of the Hero’s Journey Double Cross Oblong.” Or HMHJXXO. In Kingdom Hearts 2, we start out with Roxas
and Sora, and Roxas is on summer vacation. We’re gonna have him start over here and just
kind of go all the way up to enduring the supreme ordeal, where he finally gives up
his body to Sora so Sora can be whole. And we’re just gonna call that “The Antihero’s
Cradle.” Alright, so, we’re done with Roxas, we’re
back with Sora. So this should be a breeze. Kingdom Hearts 2. Alright, he’s already crossed the threshold. He does the tests, allies, and enemies. That’s just the Disney stuff, we’re gonna
skip it. He goes over, reaches the innermost cave,
that would be the World that Never Was, where he faces off against the supreme ordeal. Xemnas, Organization XIII. Seizes the sword. He gets the power to close Kingdom Hearts. And then finally, the road back. They get home. They get a letter from King Mickey, the contents
of which will be revealed in… Kingdom Hearts 3? Pat (offscreen): No. FUCK! ALRIGHT ASSHOLES. I have no more space here, so I made you a
DATA CUBE. ARE YA HAPPY? The data cube contains the entirety of Kingdom
Hearts Coded, which is all in a virtual space. The data cube is that thing where the hero
goes on a journey into his inner thoughts and finds some data that an old guy put in
JOURNEY. And then at the same time, we also have Dream
Drop Distance, which… is another hero’s journey inside of the hero’s journey, and
it’s part of seizing the sword. Because they have to go… into sleeping versions
of the world’s they’ve already been to. But also maybe they’re… they’re going into
each other’s dreams? And one of them is… No, it doesn’t fit here, I’ve got a better… There’s another part of the hero’s journey,
and it’s called the Dream Drop Bucket. And it’s where you put the Dream Drop Distance
until you need it later, and hopefully you won’t. That brings us up to Kingdom Hearts 3. Granted, I thought when I started this, I
would be able to… perfectly predict, uh, Kingdom Hearts 3. But, I don’t know, I feel like I”m just missing
something. *CAUSE He GeTs NOrTEd.* *BeING POsESSed bY
AnSEM.* *By XeHAnORT.* *CAUSE HE GETS NORTED.* I forgot about the villain’s journey. The villain’s tridecagon. The villain’s tridecagon is definitely the
key. The tridecagon of villainy. This is a 13-sided shape that goes one further
than dodecagon of the hero’s journey. We have almost entirely ignored Xehanort. He is the impetus for all of the anger and
anguish in Sora’s life. And so he deserves a wheel as well. We have to start at the very beginning of
Xehanort. And that starts in stage one of all villains. You have to be contacted by a future version
of yourself. That brings us to stage two. It gives you the ability to time travel. And that’s what this means. This special string just shows that they can
go wherever they want to in time. Step three, you need to learn about a great
power. This is when Xehanort first discovers Kingdom
Hearts and all of the power it could hold. What do you do after you find out about that
power? You nort a boy. Once you’ve got that boy under your possession,
time to get real into unethical science. That’s when you’re going to learn all about
Kingdom Hearts and how to release people’s hearts. That means you can become a guinea pig yourself,
therefore creating two versions of yourself. A Nobody and a Heartless. But are you happy with just those two versions
of yourself? You shouldn’t be! ‘Cause you’re a villain. That’s right, it’s time for nort boy redux. Stage eight. This is when Ansem, the Heartless version
of Terra-Xehanort, the original norted boy form, takes control of Riku. And now that you’re jazzed and ready to go,
time to fail. You do have to fail once, uh, in order to
succeed later as a villain. But don’t let that failure get you down, it’s
time for stage 10. You develop an organization to trick young
boy into committing Heartless genocide in order to create a new pseudo version of that great power you
discovered back in stage three. And then you fail again. But guess what! It’s time travel time. Your young self is gonna help you out by coming
from over in step two to step 12. You just do the same tenth step again, except
instead of using other people, you use 13 versions of your own self. Which leads us to the thirteenth point in
the tridecagon. The villain’s variable. You’re either gonna win, or you’re gonna lose. This is the thing that we were missing. The villain’s variable is what will tie together
the rest of story. It’s what will help us understand what will
happen in Kingdom Hearts 3. And judging by the villain’s tridecagon, I
can say that I don’t believe Sora will seal away the darkness. In fact I expect Xehanort to win… by norting Sora. And then think of the repercussions of this. Donald will kill Goofy by throwing him off
a dock. Riku will start cutting his own bangs. Kairi will continue to not matter. It’s so much more interesting. It’s the true way that this story should end. And I think this is what people want. This is the modern hero’s journey. The true thing that all stories should follow
from here on out. As Utada Hikaru would say: Simple and clean. So the next time someone tells you, “I don’t
understand Kingdom Hearts!” You say, “Hey Bucko. I think what you don’t understand is basic
storytelling.” Basic storytelling. Did that work? I don’t know. Ask… Aladdin. Did the memo work? Why don’t you ask Sebastian the crab. *sings
Under the Sea* You nort a boy. *laughing* Pat (offscreen): Ohhh no.

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100 Replies to “Understanding Kingdom Hearts (and every other story) | Unraveled”

  1. This feels like someone bet him he couldn't explain KH with the heroes journey and BDG was just like "hold my beer"

  2. had been waiting for a rainy day to watch this, broke it out for the first time tonight to see if it would help my boyfriend who needed help understanding the timeline of kingdom hearts. unfortunately this helped him achieve total enlightenment and he's been in the spirit realm ever since. please help

  3. Btw these tools are useless against the nonsensical might of your Zelda timeline, BRIAN. Try making THAT story make sense.

  4. I'm watching this while eating an entire tray of salted caramel brownies with nothing but a knife and I am a. Not sure I like brownies, and 2. Might be allergic to salted caramel, but I think it's what he would want

  5. i hope to one day make a story as complex and nonsensical as this, with someone losing their mind over diagrams and charts and questioning their sanity "WHAT DOES IT MEAN"

    The writers fantasy i tell you

  6. Cracks knuckles – Game on. Warning: Spoilers ensue.
    Also I put this in a Word Doc and it ended up being 10 pages, let's go cowards.

    Background: The universe of Kingdom Hearts is broken up into the Realm of Light (where the Disney worlds are and most of the characters hail from), the Realm of Darkness, and the Realm Between (which is made of up eldritch worlds with weird rules, usually undergoing some form of metamorphosis at all times or just constantly blinking in and out of existence). Worlds in the Realm of Light are more than just planets, caught in sort of pocket dimensions that aren't accessible by conventional starship travel; these "barriers" can be completely destroyed by a flood of darkness, or briefly pierced and passed through with magic.

    When a person from the Realm of Light is overwhelmed by darkness (be it black magic or just general negativity), their heart rips out of their body and develops an animated black shell, a monstrous creature of instinct called a Heartless; the form of the Heartless is dependent on the amount of darkness the person had in their heart before they changed. If the person is strong-willed, the remaining empty body can then zombify and become a Nobody, which retains the ability to think but also gains eldritch powers of its own. Yes, the names are backwards, it's meant to be ironic.

    When a Heartless is destroyed with a conventional weapon, the heart simply returns to the Realm of Darkness and forms a new Heartless shell around itself, sort of like demons in D&D. However, if a Heartless is defeated with a weapon of light, if it has no Nobody or its Nobody has also been destroyed, then the Heart and Body rejoin and become a person again.

    The story of Kingdom Hearts begins with the mobile game, Ux (read either Unchained Chi or Union Cross):

    Hundreds if not thousands of years in the past during the Age of Fairytales, all of the worlds of the Realm of Light were one, and a sorcerer called the Master of Masters developed the technique to extract a magical weapon from a strong-willed person's heart called a Keyblade (if you've ever seen FLCL it's like the guitars, or your Persona or Stand or whatever you want to call it — individual power based on your own strength of character). He also developed a power that allows him to fuse one of his eyes into his own Keyblade — the first and oldest — and use it to see along the Keyblade's entire history, giving it to one of his apprentices, Luxu, to pass along ad infinitum along with a locked black box, then he wrote down all of his witnessed history in a tome called the Book of Prophecies and gave copies to each of his other 5 apprentices, who become the "Foretellers", but tore a page out of all but one of those books detailing the identity of a traitor amongst these seven. The Foretellers then gathered other individuals who could wield the Keyblade into Unions in an attempt to forestall a dark prophecy at the end of the Book, but because of the distrust caused by the knowledge of the missing page from their Books, the Foretellers instead sparked a conflict between all of their Unions that led into an all-out Keyblade War that cracked the world apart into an entire cosmos. One of the Foretellers however, Ava, had a secret task to gather the best and brightest Keyblade wielders from among all the Unions and cast them into a parallel universe where they could survive the Keyblade War, then return to rebuild the world. Your standard Noah's Ark story.

  7. “Donald will kill Goofy. Riku will start cutting his own bangs. Kairi will continue to not matter.”

    One outta three. Not bad

  8. This does raise the idea that the thing that changes the premise of the hero's journey is the villian's story. Their stories will always intercept and it gets more complicated when the hero considers themself the hero and the villian to be the ordeal

  9. Polygon was not prepared, we tried to warn them…

    Honestly though, i think it would be easier to know the story by following each character's story individually, and piecing the whole story together using what we know from the cast individually
    That's how i learned about Roxas, Xion and Axel's arc
    Haven't learned them all yet, of course, but still, i found it much easier this way

  10. I get it's comedic but why is he intersecting individual hero's stories? The .5 should have gone into history since it doesn't effect the story structure directly and the rest should have fit on the circle acting as story beats that show the arc of soras story.

  11. for non-biologists: this video is basically what happened to the biological classification system, and what's why we have subphylums, infraclasses, and "clades"

  12. You completely forgot Namine lol. Also, I love watching people try and explain KH thinking it's gonna be simple and clean and then proceed to slowly go insane.

  13. I love coming back to this after learning the games story: “Die hard fans are gonna get mad if I say that [Kingdom Hearts X] doesn’t matter to Soras story, but I’m gonna say it anyway.”
    Oh you sweet summer child. You babe swaddled in the cashmere blanket of ignorance. How little you knew at this time.

  14. Ages ago, I commented that this video helped me outline what was going to be a 400,000+ book into a trilogy of slightly more reasonable length books.


    That trilogy is now the start of a 21 book series. If this thing ever makes it to publication, I will personally send BDG a copy of every single one.

    Because there is some #Deep Lore planned that I am RELISHING being pieced together. Is this a pipe dream? Probably. Whatever keeps the motivation going, y'know?

  15. Everyone hates recoded and its not even important to the plot or literally anything you should just stuff it in a corner and cry about its existence

  16. Anyone else have to pause at 5:29 and just say….Oh my sweet summer child…………… And then laugh so hard you have to stop the video when he said the KH X wouldn't matter. Neither did I….. neither did I……

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