Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally just around the corner and after 16 years of waiting in the Realm of Darkness, we’re finally getting the final piece of the trilogy. Now, this isn’t going to be an explanation of the crazy convoluted storyline of Kingdom Hearts. This is a breakdown of all the terminology that might confuse you that’s going to come up.
So what exactly is Kingdom Hearts? Besides being the title of the franchise, Kingdom Hearts is the heart of all worlds. In the game, it’s pictured as a giant blue heart floating in the sky, like a moon. Think of Kingdom Hearts as a kind of heaven for hearts. When a person dies, or even a world dies that is where their hearts would go.
It’s the source of ultimate power and knowledge and like the sun it gives light onto the World binding it together in peace, harmony and all that other good stuff. Unlike the shattered fragments of different Worlds that we see in Kingdom Hearts today, the Worlds previously all used to be just one World bound together by Kingdom Hearts’ light.
The Keyblade War
When there’s a source of great power just floating in the sky, there are going to be those that’ll make a grab for it. Before the Keyblade War began The Master of Masters, blessed with the power of foresight predicted the upcoming Keyblade War and wrote the Book of Prophecies. Isn’t that a great name? The Master of Masters, truly the Boaty McBoatface of his time.
The Book of Prophecies is a record of the future that the Master of Masters has seen with the power of his Gazing Eye, an item that allows the Master to witness any future events that it has seen. Yes, anything that the Eye sees in the future is then seen by the Master in the present… past… whatever. It’s Kingdom Hearts, just accept it. Anyway, the Book of Prophecies foretells of an event known as the Keyblade War in which the light will expire and the world will end; knowing this so he decides to gift a copy to 5 of his 6 apprentices and then subsequently disappear. Thanks MoM.
Yes, what is a Master without an Apprentice, famous last words from Emperor Palpatine I’m sure. And him being the Master of Masters, he of course needs 6 of them. To 5 of his Apprentices, he gifts them with Keyblades forged from the power of their hearts, the knowledge of their ultimate demise and a specific role to play in preparation for it. These 5 would go on to become the Foretellers who each formed their own Union of Keyblade wielders in an ultimately futile attempt to combat the darkness and prevent the destruction of the world. These Unions are the Unicornis, led by Ira, the Urus, led by Aced, the Anguis, led by Invi, the Leopardus, led by Gula and the Vulpes, led by Ava.
To his last Apprentice, Luxu, the Master gave him a second-hand Keyblade with no name attached with his Gazing Eye, a black box he is never allowed to open and instructions to be a wandering hermit. I’m still not entirely sure who got the short end of the stick here. Luxu was also instructed by the Master to observe events as they unfold and to pass down the nameless Keyblade from Master to Apprentice so that he may continue to invade other’s privacy… I mean …relay future events back to him.
After the disappearance of the Master of Masters, the Foretellers continue to lead their Unions in the battle against the Darkness whilst trying to fulfill their role given to them by the Master. Ira was chosen to succeed the Master as the leader of the Foretellers, Aced to be his right hand, and Invi to be an observer and mediator between her fellow Foretellers. Gula however, was gifted with a Lost Page from the Book of Prophecies which tells of a traitor emerging amongst them, and his role was to find out who that is. Ava was also tasked with a heavy burden, knowing that the War was inevitable, she was instructed to avoid the conflict and instead gather a group of exceptional Keyblade wielders, regardless of their affiliation, and convince them to be part of another faction called the Dandelions whose mission was to travel to other worlds and ensure the survival of the light. Yes, Ava created the world’s first Hippies. Peace and Love Man!
Eventually, through a series of events that raised suspicions, fear and infighting amongst the Foretellers, Gula snaps and decides to summon Kingdom Hearts to lure the Master of Masters back for answers, leading to an all-out scuffle for the X-Blade [pronounced kye], the original Keyblade from which all other keyblades are imperfectly modeled after. The only way into Kingdom Hearts is to summon its door with the X-Blade, created when a heart of pure light intersects with a heart of pure darkness. Hundreds of warriors led by the different factions of each Foreteller fought over this legendary weapon in the Keyblade War which caused the X-Blade to shatter into 20 pieces, seven of light and 13 of darkness, and plunging the True Kingdom Hearts into Darkness.
But all was not lost; the World was saved by the light that remained in the hearts of the people and children in the Dandelion faction. Their light drew the fragments of the World back together saving it from complete annihilation.
Did you know that during the design phase of the Keyblade that Tetsuya Nomura-san originally wanted it to look like a chainsaw? So what would Sora be doing? Sawing down the Door to Darkness? Thank goodness it came out looking like this, much more elegant.
The first Keyblades were created by the Master of Masters who forged them from the hearts of his apprentices’ (not literally of course, symbolically – this is still just a Disney game). I know the Keyblade Wars makes it look like they were handing out Keyblades like candy back then but in the present day, we’re only aware of a few Keyblades in existence.
The Kingdom Key from the Realm of Light is wielded by Sora and its inverse the Kingdom Key D from the Realm of Darkness is wielded by King Mickey. Riku originally uses the Keyblade Soul Eater, which is a Keyblade that grows more powerful when used with Darkness, but after learning to use both the powers of the light and the dark his Keyblade morphs into its present day form Way to the Dawn. As well as the ones that Aqua, Kairi, Lea, Ventus and Terra use.
“The wand chooses the wizard, Harry”, so does the Keyblade choose its wielder. Even if, let’s say Captain Jack Sparrow was to take your Keyblade, it would disappear from their hand. Other Keyblade Masters, however, are able to choose a person to inherit their powers. If the Keyblade accepts the Bequeathing ceremony then that person would be able to summon their own Keyblade. A Keyblade can also be inherited when a person with a strong heart makes contact with it.
We previously mentioned the Keyblade No Name, the one with the Master of Masters Gazing Eye? It’s with Xehanort. Because of course, it is. It’s been presumably handed down over time beginning from Luxu and it explains Xehanorts’ ability to travel through time. Xehanort’s aim is to recreate the X-Blade and the Keyblade Wars.
When the X-Blade shattered in the last war, it shattered into 13 pieces of Darkness and 7 of Light. In order for Xehanort to recreate the war, he’s attempting to create 13 vessels of himself – which we’ll explain later in Organization 13. That will battle 7 wielders of light – presumably our main characters Sora, Riku, Kairi, Mickey, Ventus, Aqua and Terra. But we never know what kind of wrench Tetsuya Nomura-san will throw into the mix.
“A Heartless are those without hearts”. Thanks, Squall, Rinoa is a lucky lady.
The best looking guy here isn’t wrong however as a Heartless is indeed a being without a heart. What he fails to elaborate however is that the Heartless are born from the darkness within people’s hearts.
That’s the theory; however, the main big bad Xehanort has found a way to create these beings artificially. These heartless are called ‘Emblem’ Heartless and they’re the little black bug creatures that you can find in most of the Kingdom Hearts games. Their main goal in life is to devour the hearts of others. Not like in a scary Silence of the Lambs way, but in a more symbolic embrace of darkness. This is still a Disney collaboration guys.
A Nobody is a byproduct when a person loses their heart to darkness and becomes a heartless. They’re what is left of the body without a heart.
Generally, the ones you see are these silverfish looking things. But those with strong wills such as Sora, Kairi, Xehanort and all the members of Organization 13 are able to retain their human form as Nobodies. Rule of thumb is, the more human looking a Nobody the stronger the will of the person. But the opposite is true for a Heartless. The more soulless a Heartless the bigger and darker it begins. With the exception of Ansem the Seeker of Darkness and that’s because he willingly gives himself over.
Fun Fact: The humanless Nobody enemies you fight in Kingdom Hearts are named after Final Fantasy job classes. Such as Ducks, Creepers, Twilight Thorn.
Adorable little bouncing neon lights, Dream Eaters are the manifestations of Darkness and Light in the Realm of Sleep. They come in two forms – Spirits and Nightmares. This gets pretty confusing because they look the same except for the colour and I’ve more than once tried to attack my own Spirit friend.
Like the name states, these bouncy neon lights eat dreams. Spirits eat bad dreams and Nightmares eat good dreams. Dream Eaters are only present in the Realm of Sleep and Heartless and Nobodies are unable to enter that Realm.
The last and least popular type of enemy in the Kingdom Hearts universe is the Unversed. Present in Birth by Sleep, the Unversed are a manifestation of emotion. They were created when Master Xehanort split Ventus in two and extracted from his darkness – Vanitas.
Vanitas was the testing phase for Xehanort’s eventual creation of the Emblem Heartless. While both share the same genetic makeup of darkness, Vanitas is plagued with those pesky emotions that keep us so unstable. The Unversed are extensions of Vanitas himself and by destroying them he absorbs them and creates more Unversed.
Organization 13 is one of the most confusing aspects of Kingdom Hearts because just like the Big Brother House it’s full of betrayal. I’m talking double, triple and quadruple crossings right here.
Organization 13 is made up of thirteen Nobodies led by Xemnas-Xehanort. The members were told by Xemnas that they were Nobodies, literally and figuratively. They didn’t belong in the Realm of Light and they didn’t belong in the Realm of Darkness and even the personalities that they had were just leftover from their memories of being human. So they were always going to feel incomplete. Unless they followed him because he could open up Kingdom Hearts and restore their hearts.
But in actual fact, Xehanort, who is playing all sides of the table, plotted to use the members of Organization 13 as empty vessels to fill up with his own essence and create his 13 Seekers of Darkness.
The names of the Organization 13 members are strange and confusing but it might be easier to remember if we divide it into groups. In the first group is Xigbar’s team, he doesn’t really trust Xemnas but wants the power that he’s promising them. Together with Xaldin, Vexen, Lexaeus and Zexion, they’re the most invested in the fake plan of getting their hearts back.
In the other camp are Axel and Saix who actually want to overthrow the Organization from within. Saix does this by rising through the ranks to become Xemnas’ right-hand man, which he does. While Axel takes care of the more shadowy parts of the coupe. Unfortunately for Saix, you can’t fly that close to the sun without getting burned. We don’t know how but he slowly starts to become possessed by Xehanort. Axel in the meantime is spending more time with Roxas, causing his heart to regrow and creating a rift between Saix and Axel.
The last four Demyx, Luxord, Marluxia and Larxene are the latest recruits not from the original Ansem the Wise creation period. Marluxia and Larxene have also decided that they want to overthrow Organization 13 but they’re pretty bad at the whole subterfuge game. You’ll see this all play out in the events of 358/2 Days and Chain of Memories.
By the end of Dream Drop Distance Organization 13’s members are all but gone. Most have gotten killed and changed back into Heartless and the ones that haven’t have been possessed by Xehanort. As it stands now in Organization 13 we have Master Xehanort, Young Xehanort, Xemnas, Ansem Seeker of Darkness, Saix and Xigbar along with 6 hooded figures. He still needs 1 more to complete his roster and it’s anyone’s guess who it could be but they better bring Aqua back!
The Kingdom Hearts Universe is divided into 4 Realms – The Realm of Light, The Realm of Darkness, The Realm Between and The Realm of Sleep, that lies parallel to them all.
All the Disney Worlds are in the Realm of Light as well as Destiny Islands and Radiant Gardens. The Realm of Darkness is where all the Heartless live and where Kingdom Hearts resides. The Realm Between consists of Worlds that border the light and dark realms such as Traverse Town, Castle Oblivion and so on. And lastly, the Realm of Sleep consists of Sleeping Worlds.
When Sora sealed up the Door to Darkness on a World, he saved them from further attack from the Heartless and Nobodies. However, during a World’s recovery, they sometimes went to sleep and were unable to return to the Realm of Light. These are called Sleeping Worlds and they resided in the Realm of Sleep. In order to wake them, you predictably need to unlock a keyhole.
There’s also a Realm of Nothingness briefly mentioned in Kingdom Hearts 2 but we don’t know much about it and it’s never been shown. It’s basically what its name’s states though, a real place where nothing exists, not even the passage of time.
Princesses of Heart
The Princesses of Heart came into being when Disney decided they wanted to push more Princess merchandise, after the events of the Keyblade War. When the X-Blade was shattered 13 fragments of Darkness splintered off while the 7 fragments of Light wound up inside the hearts of 7 Princesses. The Princesses are maidens with hearts of pure light, devoid of any darkness and if you bring them together you’re able to summon the Final Keyhole to Kingdom Hearts.
Xehanort needs the Princesses of Heart to open up Kingdom Hearts and it’s up to Sora and his friends to make up with the Seven Guardians of Light to defend them. The Princesses of Heart are Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, Snow White, Alice and Kairi.
So that’s our Kingdom Hearts lore video! With this additional terabyte of knowledge, you’ll be ready to understand what’s going on the story!