Tetsuya Nomura Says Kingdom Hearts Is Not About Final Fantasy Characters Crossing Over With Disney

Yesterday, Game Informer released an extensive interview they conducted with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura. And while I provided a bullet-pointed list of that interview’s primary points, one particular note that deserves considerable discussion is his remarks on the incorporation of Final Fantasy characters.

Before moving on, Nomura’s full statements regarding the matter are below:

I understand there weren’t that many Final Fantasy characters in Kingdom Hearts III. One thing I want to clear up is that a lot of fans are saying that Kingdom Hearts is this collaboration between Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters. But I really feel like that’s not the basic concept of Kingdom Hearts; that’s not exactly what Kingdom Hearts is.

When we released the first title, we had only a few original Kingdom Hearts characters. When they were interacting with really well-known, beloved Disney characters, I felt nobody really knew these new characters, so it was harder for them to stand their ground just yet. And so, we had a lot of Final Fantasy characters involved to lend a hand for everyone to get to know these [original Kingdom Hearts] characters better.

Now, there are so many original characters from Kingdom Hearts that are so well-loved, and people want to see more of those characters. With Kingdom Hearts III, since we did have so many original Kingdom Hearts characters, it was hard to find room for including more Final Fantasy characters. We’re trying to find a good balance for that. I know that some fans were concerned about that and weren’t too happy and wanted to see more Final Fantasy characters. That’s something we definitely are thinking about. But just with the sheer number of original characters that we have now, it’s hard to say what the exact balance is going to be and how it will play out in Kingdom Hearts IV. We can’t really give you a firm reply on this just yet.

As expected, these statements have caused rippling arguments amidst the fanbase. Many individuals have always claimed that the root of Kingdom Hearts’ identity has always had to do with the involvement of Final Fantasy characters. Still, I’ve never really agreed with that notion, even slightly. Now, after reading this interview with Nomura and seeing its aftereffects, it has become clear to me that there is a rather drastic gap in how people see Kingdom Hearts as an IP.

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In a general sense, especially from those who don’t give the games a fair chance, Kingdom Hearts is seen as an overly contrived, nonsensical crossover whose only merits are its music, Final Fantasy characters, and memes. As a dedicated fan, it’s always a bit heartwrenching to see the titles so callously dismissed in the lattermost ways, primarily because Kingdom Hearts has grown to such a degree where its original characters and storylines are where it thrives. The Disney character usage is usually quite excellent too. While it’s cool to see Cloud or Squall show up, they’re never selling points or the real draws of the experiences.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want Final Fantasy characters included, but I feel like after Birth by Sleep, 358/2 Days, Dream Drop Distance, Union Cross, and 0.2 where their inclusion was essentially nonexistent save for an occasional appearance like Zack Fair, it’s time to admit that Kingdom Hearts does not need them to succeed or justify its existence.

The lack of a Sephiroth encounter in Kingdom Hearts III has always been used as a factor by the general masses to bash that game, which has never made sense to me because his appearance does not dictate the quality of the title in any way. Even as a longtime fan since the series began, Sephiroth being around was something I considered to be kind of cool, but more as a brief aside to the original narrative and characters that compelled me far more. The usage of Disney elements has also felt far more innate to the core of the series with its worlds and Disney characters regularly playing integral roles in the stories.

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I’m glad that Nomura is sticking to his guns here because aside from using Final Fantasy characters as devices to get to know the original cast in an experimental IP, they’ve never felt anywhere near as impactful as the original characters, and even a good chunk of the Disney ones, at least to me. As the initial trailer for the first game states, I view Kingdom Hearts as more of a joint effort between Disney and Square, with the latter’s incorporation being combat, character design, and storytelling.

Final Fantasy is its own thing, just as Kingdom Hearts is its own thing. If you don’t enjoy the original elements of Kingdom Hearts, then that’s completely fine, but the games are likely not for you at that point.

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In Kingdom Hearts IV, Sora is in Quadratum with Strelitzia, a prominent character from  Kingdom Hearts Union χ. This setting is an afterworld for the two characters following their tragic fates. Additionally, this new saga has been titled the Lost Master Arc. Further, some combat footage was showcased, with Sora performing Keyblade transformations against a giant entity that seems to be a Heartless? We don’t know for sure.

“The heart resides within the soul, which in turn is guided by fate to its rightful place” is a crucial phrase used at the start of this trailer for the upcoming mainline game.


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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual. Fan of JRPGs, Action, Platformers, Rhythm, and Adventure titles.