Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mickey's Conspicuous Absence (part 2)

In line with William's comment about the refrain from putting Mickey into the game until the results were known there is an interesting change near the end involving his, the King's, Mickey's, revealing at the door to Kingdom Hearts.

When King Mickey shows himself Goofy and Donald exclaim "王様” in the Japanese version and "Your Majesty" in the English version. King Mickey tells them to close the doors, but Sora worries about what will happen. Goofy calms his fears, but there is a slight difference. In the Japanese version Goofy says, "ソラ、王様を信じよう!" In the English version he says "Sora, you can trust King Mickey."

Whereas the Japanese version is unable to use the word Mickey in the entirety of the game, thereby limiting Mickey's existence beyond as an icon, the English version (and the subsequent International Version) insert the one verbal notation.

What does this mean toward logistics of using Mickey? Had the game simply garnered enough attention or been seen as positive enough by the corporate/bureaucratic powers that be so that the English dialogue was able to legitimately insert the name Mickey, or was it a matter of imbalance?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Territory and Being

There are two main themes that run through Kingdom Hearts. Not surprisingly the two themes, territoriality and metaphysics, match up one theme to each of the words in the game's title. The worlds one visits seem to be largely based on either one or the other of the themes, but they tie together in many ways.

Heart, what it means to be without heart, to be heartless, to have a conscience, and where friends, villains and heroes come into the mix. Worlds where the 'heart' theme is dominant are Deep Jungle (friend in/and heart), Coliseum (strength/heroism is through friends), Monstro (puppet with a heart; girl that lost her heart) and Halloween Town (creation of a heart).

The other theme is the border, sovereignty, territoriality and (trans)nationalism represented in the concept of Kingdom. The idea of crossing borders, maintaining a boundary, the concept of local vs. global (turned world vs. universe) and the foreign all come into play here. It is certainly not the main theme of the game in terms of overt readings. However, it is the more important for a political analytic approach.

Like Frederic Jameson noting that Jaws or the Corleone family being decoys, the issue of heart and goodness are decoys here. They are important, certainly, but they do not get to the ideological meaning. To approach that the allegory of transnationalism must be taken apart. Transnationalism as it is both allowed and disallowed between different characters depending on their bodily identity (human, heartless, nobody) and their national identity (world of origin, canonical Disney status, refugee).

This second theme is present within each of the worlds in small amounts (in the heart dominated worlds it can be seen in Jane's quip about a ship, the existence of Sephiroth and Cloud in the Coliseum, and in Monstro and Neverland, the two worlds in motion it can be seen in the simple transgression of the worlds themselves being mobile - whale and ship), but it takes center stage in Atlantica, the Little Mermaid inspired world.

The Little Mermaid is a story about difference, acceptance and getting what you wish only to find out it's not what you really wanted. The original story, if I remember my reverse Disney trivia, doesn't end happily. Of course, the Disney version involves Ariel getting her wish, getting to see the 'outside world,' which is to say the world above the sea, and eventually finding her man and living happily ever after. The Kingdom Hearts rendition maintains her desire to see the outside world, but of course this has a kink put on it when the world of Atlantica itself (visible from the world select screen) is simply an ocean world.

There is no land for her to reach, nor is there a handsome man for her to attain. There is simply the outside that she seeks to find. It is the same outside that Riku and Sora (eg: you, the player character) sought at the beginning of the game and found. However, unlike you/Sora, Donald and Goofy, and King Mickey, and unlike the movie, Ariel does not eventually get off the world to see the outside. You save her from her escape at the hands of Ursula and she remains in the end hoping to eventually see the world. You prevent her movement. This result is after multiple confrontations with Triton, the king of the ocean and the king of the Atlantica world, where he accuses you of meddling, of breaking the world order, but then requiring you to save Ariel and protect the world order/border.

You a) are justified in your intervention, b) prevent the heartless from opening the door and traveling, and c) prevent Ariel from movement, but at the same time she is made aware of the possibility of travel through your interventions and vows that she will find a door and travel to another world without hurting anybody. She in essence vows to travel of her own, individual power (read: neoliberal individuality).

Ariel's vow of self enabled travel is in fact enacted two worlds later when you encounter Beast in Hollow Bastion. He has moved from his world through sheer force of will/heart.

"A cast away. Though his world perished, his heart did not. When we took the princess from his castle he apparently followed her here through sheer force of will."

This is the same method of movement that allowed Sora and Riku to both survive the initial destruction of their own world. It is this form of travel that is deemed acceptable within the world order and Sora and Co. offer to bring Beast with them when they escape (something they refuse Aladdin) only to have him turn their offer down so that he can stay and continue his search for Belle.

The ties between the ability to acceptably travel and that individual's territorial and metaphysical ties are key.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Translation Issue 2: muddling/meddling; 参上/干渉

A second point of translational friction (see Tsing) comes near the beginning of the Wonderland segment when Sora, Goofy and Donald watch the initial section of Alice's trial.

Sora: なんだかかわいそうだなー
Donald: でもねえ
Goofy: 僕らは他の世界に参上したら
Donald: ”干渉”!
Goofy: そう、それはダメなんだよね

Sora: Hey guys, we should help her out.
Donald Yeah, but the... [interrupted]
Goofy: We're outsiders, so wouldn't that be muddling?
Donald: "meddling"
Goofy: Oh, yeah. And that's against the rules.

The Japanese dialog opposes sanjyou and kanshou (which itself is nearer to kachou/captain or kanchou/enema). Sanjyou means, roughly, to present oneself to the place of a person of higher status. Goofy's mistake of "going to other worlds is bad" is replaced by "interfering with other worlds is bad." It is necessary and proper for the Goofy and Donald in their position of importance and power to go to other worlds, but they are not supposed to interfere. Obviously, much like Captain Kirk and the Star Trek Prime Directive interfering is the name of the game (see Bernardi).

The English translation switches the malaprop to muddling and meddling. Whereas muddle indicates negatively impacting some existing system, meddle indicates interference into a system where one doesn't belong. The irony of course is similar to the first malaprop situation where Goofy plays the part of the idiot savant. They do not "muddle" as they improve the situation. Just as mid 20th century developmental theories how can it be "muddling" when it "improves" the situation (Schramm, Schiller)?

The different translations in fact reveal the same covert meaning to be believed over the overt meaning. They are not supposed to interfere, but in fact they are not interfering as they are improving. Again, it goes to an idea of transnational elite prerogative.

Finally, Goofy explicitly uses the term "outsiders" in the English version. The idea of native vs. outsider is important with the concept of who should/can travel across borders and ideas of ethnocentrism and fear of difference/others.

Bernardi, Daniel. Star Trek and History: Race-Ing toward a White Future. New Brunswick; London: Rutgers University Press, 1998.
Schiller, Herbert I. Mass Communications and American Empire. 2nd ed. Boulder: Westview Press, 1992 [1969].
Schramm, Wilbur. Mass Media and National Development: The Role of Information in the Developing Countries. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964.
Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Color Palette

I'm not sure why, but between the original and the international editions the color palette on many characters was switched. This includes minor characters as well as bosses. While the giant shadow boss Darkside's color was not perceptively switched the following two bosses had large alterations. Interestingly, there does not appear to be a coherent pattern in the alteration.

Boss 1: Darkside (Destiny Islands)
Original --------------------------- Final Mix

Boss 2: Guard Armor (Traverse Town)
Original ------------------------ Final Mix

Boss 3: Trickmaster (Wonderland)
Original -------------------------- Final Mix

While Guard Armor's palette is switched from purple and black to a swathe of primary blue, yellow and reds, Trickmaster's colors are switched from more primary black and red to valentine's day pink and purple. So, the two color palettes appear to be going in the opposite directions between editions of the game.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Character Recognition

The characters in Kingdom Hearts are in three categories: Disney, Squaresoft and Original/Other. Typically characters are characteristically represented depending on their categorical determination. A list of early characters as seen in Jiminy's Journal when first leaving Traverse Town is:

Donald Duck (1934)
Goofy (1932)
Minnie Mouse (1928)
Daisy Duck (1937)
Pluto (1930)
Chip (1943)
Dale (1943)
Huey (1938)
Duey (1938)
Louie (1938)
Broom (1940)
Jiminy Cricket (1940)
Leon [Squall Leonhart] (Final Fantasy VIII)
Yuffie (Final Fantasy VII)
Aeris (Final Fantasy VII)
Sid (Final Fantasy VII)
Tidus (FInal Fantasy X)
Selphie (Final Fantasy XIII)
Wakka (Final Fantasy X)
Moogle (Final Fantasy III)

The first type of characters are those introduced for the purpose of the game. The player and non-player characters (other than standard enemeies) are extremely limited being Sora, Riku, Kairi and eventually Ansem. These introductions are generally explanative as they are new characters, but they are not startling in most ways (Ansem might be an exception).

All of the Disney Characters are shown in the journal with their first Disney animated short appearance. All of the Disney characters are represented in as faithful a rendition as possible. The proportions are accurate and the voices are the same as with the shows (Donald and Goofy sound like they do in the cartoons and movies, Chip and Dale get their original, non-linguistic voices and not their Rescue Ranger voices). The introduction to these characters is generally uneventful and often does not even use their name or dwell on them (Chip and Dale, the Brooms). Donald and Goofy are both introduced onto the screen after a short pan, but the rest of the characters are almost expected to appear: all of the characters from Alice in Wonderland show up eventually as do the rest of the individual worlds' Disney characters. Perhaps the only character with a more forceful introduction is King Mickey when he eventually gets introduced in person during the closing scene.

Finally are the Squresoft characters. Actually, closer would be saying Final Fantasy characters. While Squaresoft had access to a host of characters from various popular franchises including Seiken Densetsu/Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, SaGa, Parasite Eve and many non-series games (and this expanded when Squaresoft became SquareEnix between the first and second games, and even more at present with the inclusion of Eidos), the only characters included in the Kingdom Hearts games have been from the Final Fantasy series. These include requisite Moogles (given no introduction) and Sid (given a longer introduction as the shopkeeper) it also includes fan favorites given dramatic entrances (Leon/Squall, Aeris, Yuffie and of course Cloud and Sephiroth later on). These characters are created to mostly resemble the original representations where possible (pre FFVII characters such as Setzer from FFVI seen in Kingdom Hearts II is an example of necessary adaptation due to graphical differences). However, it is only the Final Fantasy characters that are given any sort of modification such as age alteration. Selphie, Wakka and Tidus are all altered fron their original forms into children, similarly, Seifer and his two lackeys Fuu and Rai (from Fujin and Raijin) and the from Final Fantasy X-2 are turned into teens in Kingdom Hearts II.

Beyond the simple representation difference, where the Final Fantasy characters have a broader range of accuracies, the Squaresoft characters generally all have sudden and surprising entrances. Part of the reason is that unlike the Disney characters, where it is the world itself that is a surprise (which Disney movies/worlds will be visited) and the characters naturally follow, the Squaresoft characters are essentially random, based in fan appeal and meant to surprise and satisfy the fans. Therefore, their entrances and attitudes are completely different from the Disney characters.

On another level, however, there is also the question of universalization of Disney and localization of Squaresoft. This answer might be more intersting and worth dealving into in the future.

Translation Issue 1: Border/Order; 近所/秩序

One of my main interests is translation, especially with media that are either not considered to have translation 'issues' or where translation is almost unconsidered. Games are one of these. Playing the different versions of Kingdom Hearts is bringing out many of these translation issues. And (as expected) these translation issues are often based around the points of friction at stake: transnationalism, multinationalism, territoriality et cetera.

One of the most obvious early translation points of friction (there's got to be a good word for that), is when Goofy, Donald and Jiminy walk down to the Gummi Ship to leave the Castle. The transcriptions in English and Japanese as well as pictures are below.

Goofy: それじゃジミニー、キミのいた世界も消えてしまったの?
Jiminy: みなはなればなれになりー、私だけがこの城にたどりついたというわけで
Donald: グーフィー?
Goofy: わかってるよ。この城の外では僕たちがよその世界から来たことを明かしてはいけない。おたがいの近所の守るために
Donald: ”秩序”
Goofy: そうチツジョを守るために
Goofy: むこうについたらこの服も着がえなくちゃね

Goofy: Gawrsh, Jiminy, your world disappeared, too?
Jiminy: It was terrible, we were scattered. And as far as I can see, I'm the only one who made it to this castle.
Donald: Goofy?
Goofy: Oh, right... I gotcha. While we're in other worlds, we can't let on where we're from. We gotta protect the world border.
Donald: "Order"
Goofy: Right. World order.
Goofy: I guess we'll need new duds when we get there.

The scene involves Goofy making a word mistake, choosing the wrong word for what he wants to say. In Japanese he says "近所" (neighborhood) and Donald corrects him by saying "秩序" (order). While not homonyms, the second character of both is read jyo while the first changes from kin to chitsu. It is not particularly close, but it makes a nice joke. Goofy proposes protecting both (their world and the other worlds') neighborhoods, and Donald corrects him so that what is protected is each's order.

The English variation changes two things. First is that the pun is moved to border vs. order, which is a closer rhyme and therefore slightly more humorous, but far more pertinent for the idea of transnationalism, borders and crossing. Essentially, instead of Goofy saying the wrong thing (as in the Japanese variation), Goofy makes a Freudian slip and reveals exactly the point of contention, the border.

The border is the issue; preserving the "world order" (a term that has interesting connotations linked to NWICO and the Macbride Commission) is done through preserving the borders!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mickey's Conspicuous Absence

The name Mickey remains unspoken/unshown throughout the game until the last scene. Instead, he is represented in symbols, and referred to by your majesty, the king, 王様 and the like. On one level this is might be a matter of economics or politics in that the group developing the game needed to get greater authorization to include Mickey, the big Disney breadwinner. That said, Mickey as a sign saturates the game as lights on the wall, as signatures, as portraits of ancestors on the wall and as door outlines. Some are seen below.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Disney Princesses

After the first sequence on a beach, Sora wakes on a luminescent (stained glass/cel-shaded aesthetics) disc with the image of Snow White, the first of 6 princess spaces in the beginning of the game. The player/avatar is at his most innocent here; character configuration ("birth") and tutorial functions, etc. Next princess is Cinderella; then Sleeping Beauty (practice fighting Heartless), then Belle (early boss fight.) These are, perhaps, the princesses of already-captured world.

Disney Princesses started as a franchise of their own in 2000; they have their own line of videogames, media content, merchandise, etc.

Cutscene Notes (KH - English, IE)

Videos obtained from http://www.kh-vids.net/index.php

2) falls through the world/water to glass floor (Snow White)

3) You are the one who will open the door (Snow White to Cinderella to Heart motif to Sleeping Beauty to Beauty and the Beast's Rose)

4) Wake up on Island. Desire to see other "worlds" through boat. "thanks to you. if you hadn't come here i'd probably never thought of any of this" (the idea that injunctions from the outside, foreigners, bring new concepts: Kairi as a westerner brings the idea to go outside)
Disney Castle: "Your Majesty" (mickey head outline is sign/sigil)

5) Base of the tree as exploration: door is opened (by whom). "Once I go I can always come back here" - the IMpossibiility of return "We gotta protect the world border" -Goofy "ORDER" - Donald

6) Door opens. Gets sucked in.

7) Star goes out (Archipelago). Guy's heart comes out of his chest, enters dark patch. Dark patch then turns into heartless, which poofs into darkness. Leon (Squall Leonhart) (unknown while talking, then camera move to see his gunblade) fights. [FINAL MIX CUTSCENE A] Aeris pops up from behind and also has the audience recognition factor. Kairi: "those creatures that attacked you want the keyblade, but it's your heart they really want, because you weild the keyblade." Yuffie: I think you might have overdone it, Squall." Leon: "That's Leon"
Flipping between groups (Aeris, Donald, Goofy; Sora, Leon, Yuffie). Other worlds are supposed to be a secret and were until now due to them being tied (doors opened. Ansem studied the heartless, but his report was scattered.... fight heartless, when it is defeated the heart goes out of it with a flash of light (opposite of beginning of scene).

Three join up; baddies talk a lot (about "conquers the darkness" and "darkness swallows him")

8) scenes of following the white rabbit. Alice in court. Pun/misword "we're outsiders, so wouldn't that be muddling?" -Goofy "Meddling!" -Donald. Alice is kidnapped/disappears at the end. Heartless battle (heart goes up again).
Doorknob has keyhole in its mouth: end is it being sealed.

9) Tarzan. Friends. Fail to find friends and heartless arrive. Hunter joins/turns heartless. Disappears with chameleon boss (single heart, but both poof). "Friends in our heart" "Friends, same heart. Clayton, lose heart. No heart, no see friends. no heart, no friends." (Shut the keyhole.)

Baddies talking. Hunter lured the heartless there. Jafar says he was weak hearted. Plans: Open doors; get princess. Alice is prisoner.

10) Heroes. Can't enter games; Hades gives them ticket; Cloud Strife shows up and walks by; Hades wants Strife to kill Sora (on contract to kill Hercules, but Hades says kill him). Hercules shows up upon beating Cloud; Sora and company attack Cerberus. Become "Junior Heroes." Talk with Cloud: Searching for light. Malificent to Hades: "As you wish. Fight to your heart's content."

11) Riku shows up; pissing match. Riku can hold the keyblade (he's pure of heart?). Switch to Malificent telling Riku that Sora replaced his old friends with new ones. Plug the Traverse Town keyhole after beating the boss (twice).

12) Jafar and Malificent talking; Find key, find Jasmine, controlling heartless. Malificent warns Jafar not to stay in Darkness and be taken over by the Heartless. Rescue Aladdin. Jafar steals lamp and uses first wish to find the key hole. "wait a second, are you... Malificent?" Open? -Goofy; The door? -Donald Jafar is turned into a Genie, but not a heartless; Jasmine is kidnapped by Riku; keyhole is sealed. Genie is freed and does a "favor" for his "pals." "Jafar was beyond help, consumed by his own hatred. One should beware of letting it burn too fiercely" -Malificent You're like a son to me, i only want you to be happy.

13) (memories have no sound) Hearing a monster (young Riku and Sora), just the wind, find the door. Talk of getting off the island and "new girl at the mayor's house." In Monstro the whale; find Pinocchio who leads them to Jepetto. Riku playing with Sora; Malificent warns him of heartless. Riku steals Pinocchio as he lost his heart (as did Kairi) to the heartless. "heart or no heart, at least he has a conscience." Defeat boss; free heart; Riku on Hook's ship. "There are seven maidens of the purest heart. We call them the princesses of heart. Gather them together, and a door will open to the heart of all worlds. Within lies untold wisdom. There you will surely find a way to recover Kairi's heart." -Malificent

14) Section of learning how to play underwater - diagetic. Triton gets pissed when they say they're looking for the keyhole. He's frightened of strangers. Intro to Ursula. "Young man, you're not from another ocean. You're from another world. Aren't you?" (star trek non-interference policy being practiced) "As the key bearer you must already know. One must not meddle in the affairs of other worlds... You have violated this principle. The key bearer shatters peace and brings ruin." -Triton. "Let me guess, you wish to see other worlds. That shouldn't be too hard. Afterall, your new friends came from another world." Threatens to send her "to the dark world of the heartless." - Ursula. Fight Ursula once, then she turns huge. The trident comes out of her body and reveals the keyhole in the cave; Sora closes it. Ariel is forbidden the exit from her world as she is a) not a princess of heart, and b) not a "high class citizen" (transnational elite).

15) Ghosts (heartless) for the Halloween show, but aren't "scary" enough. "Why of course, the heartless need a heart. Doctor, do you think we could add a heart to that device?" - Jack " Certainly, a heart's not all that complicated." "To make a heart first take a container with a heart." "We need the key to this thing first." (Sora opens it) "The ingredients for a heart: Pulse. Emotion. Terror. Fear. Hope and Despair. Mix them all together and we have a heart." -Jack "It failed... Let's try adding memory" (Go find Sally for her memory - dried flower; heartless out of control now) Oogie Boogie wants to "nab that heart and control the heartless" and they steal the heart. Oogie Boogie swallows the heart then calls the heartless, but gets pissed when they don't come en masse. Defeat him once, then Oogie Boogie turns giant/linked to the house. Defeat and then seal the giant keyhole.

16) On boat. Old friends vs. new friends. Siding with heartless and not scared as "my heart's too strong" -Riku.Hook hears ticking (clock). "Oh my poor nerves" -Hook (nerves? heart?) "Anyone can fly. You wanna try?" -Peter Pan (flying as migration, space travel). Wendy not a chosen one. Fight shadow Sora; rescue Wendy; Pan takes off. Riku heads to Hollow Bastion. "Be gald I'm merciful, unlike the heartless. So, which will it be? The keyblade or the plank?" -Hook. Sora learns to fly. Hook escapes while being chased by the crocodile. "Kairi couldn't wake up, so maybe she's really lost her... - Goofy I can't believe it. I really flew... if you believe, you can do anything, right?" -Sora Close keyhole at the clock tower. (Back to silent memory land Riku turns back and sees keyhole, then to him at Hollow Bastion). " A cast away. Though his world perished, his heart did not. When we took the princess from his castle he apparently followed her here through sheer force of will." -Malificent to Riku "Peter, are you really going back to Neverland? -Wendy "Afraid so, but we can see each other any time. As long as you don't forget about Neverland that is.

17) Hope and belief. (memory? silent) "Long ago, people lived in peace, bathed in the warmth of light. Everyone loved the light. Then people began to fight over it. They wanted to keep it for themselves. And darkness was born in their hearts. The darkness spread, swallowing the light and many people's hearts. It covered everything and the world disappeared. But small fragments of light survived... in the hearts of children. With these fragments of light, children rebuilt the lost world. It's the world we live in now. But the true light sleeps, deep within the darkness. That's why the worlds are still scattered, divided from each other. But someday, a door to the innermost darkness will open. And the true light will return. So, listen, child. Even in the deepest darkness, there will always be a light to guide you. Believe in the light and the darkness will never defeat you.Your heart will shine with its power and push the darkness away. Do you understand, Kairi?" -Kairi's nurse? mother?

18) Win the coliseum. Strength of heart. Unity (not independence). Your friends give you strength. Team. The trainer rejects this concept; Hercules agrees with it; opposition of inter/in dependence. Seal keyhole.

19) "No vessel, no help from the heartless. So tell me how'd you get here." -Riku "I simply believed. Nothing more to it. When our world fell into darkness Belle was taken from me. I vowed I would find her again no matter what the cost. I believed I would find her. So, here I am. She must be here." -Beast Riku takes the keyblade "Only the keyblade master can open the secret door and change the world... you were just the delivery boy." -Riku Friends abandon; Beast goes on fighting; Sora finds purpose. Six Princesses in storage (Jasmine, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Alice, Belle) and Kairi in front with Malificent. Confrontation with Riku: "Quit while you're ahead. The darkness will destroy you." "You're wrong. The darkness may destroy my body, but it can't touch my heart. My heart will stay with my friends. It'll never die!" (Goofy stops blast - Sora as friend, liminal duty position) "I know now that I've got a better weapon. My heart." "Your heart? What good will that weak little thing do for you?" "Although my heart may be weak, it's not alone. It's grown with each new experience, and it's found a home with all the friends I've made. I've become a part of their heart just as they've become a part of mine. And if they think of me now and then... if they don't forget me... then our hearts will be one. I don't need a weapon, my friends are my power." (keyblade returns to Sora; Home as heart, nation) (defeat Riku, his battle clothes disappear) "Know this. The heart that is strong and true shall win the keyblade." -Cloaked Figure "What? You're saying my heart's weaker than his?" -Riku "For that instant, it was. However, you can become stronger. You showed no fear in stepping through the door to darkness. It held no terror for you. Plunge deeper into the darkness and your heart will grow even stronger... Open yourself to the darkness. That is all. Let your heart, your being, become darkness itself." -Cloaked Figure (gets his clothes back and a mixed evil voice). "I see the path has emerged at last." -Riku "Yes, the keyhole to the darkness." -Malificent "Unlock it and the Heartless will overrun this world." -Riku "What do I care? The darkness holds no power over me. Rather, I will use its power to rule all worlds." -Malificent "Such confidence." -Riku "Oh! Impossible! The princesses of heart are all here! It must be her." -Malificent "Without her heart she will never be able to release her power." -Riku (battle with Malificent; Riku appears) "Yes, a keyblade, but unlike yours this keyblade holds the power to unlock people's hearts. Allow me to demonstrate... [stabs Malificent] Now, open your heart, surrender it to the darkness! Become darkness itself." -Riku (Malificent turns into a dragon) Defeat Malificent, Riku says the heartless were using her; fitting end to a fool. "It's no use. That girl has lost her heart. She cannot wake up... The keyhole cannot be completed so long as the last princess of heart still sleeps." -Riku (Kairi's heart in Sora; Riku/Ansem reveals himself as "the seeker of darkness" then attacks Sora to complete the keyhole, so it can be opened, Sora wins the fight, but can't close the keyhole as it isn't finished yet) Sora stabs himself with the 2nd keyblade, smales adn disappears into 7 flashy balls that go into the various princesses, then disappears as Kairi wakes up [Utada Hikaru Light melody plays]. "Falling, falling into darkness" -Sora "So, you have awakened at last, princess. The keyhole is now complete. You have served your purpose. But now it's over... Impossible!" -Ansem "No. You won't use me for this! You gotta run. The heartless are coming." -Riku (One lost heartless [Sora] finds them and then turns back into Sora; they escape)

20) Telling Leon. "So the darkness is flowing out of that keyhole... nobody knows what will happen when it's sealed." "When I turned into a Heartless, you saved me, remember? I was lost in the darkness. I couldn't find my way. As I stumbled through the dark, I started forgetting things - my friends, who I was. The darkness almost swallowed me. But then I heard a voice - your voice. You brought me back." -Sora (hearts connected; light from hearts break through darkness) Memory linked with heart, light.

21) Beast finds Belle in the library. Team fights monster (Behemoth?) then gets to keyhole. "we may never meet again, but we'll never forget each other. No matter where we are, our hearts will bring us together again. Besides, I couldn't forget you even if I wanted to." -Leon, Aeris and Yuffie Sora closes the keyhole.

22) 100 Acre Woods. . Pooh is thinking how to say good-bye to himself as everybody has gone away (Going away as main theme of original). Sora finds Piglet who has a balloon for Pooh so he can float up and get honey. Tee aye double guh err. Bouncing games and other mini games. Everybody together again. Lonely. Brave alone. Sora goes looking for his friends who are waiting for him. Book closes and the lock shuts. Sora replaces Christopher Robin on the cover.

23) End of the World. water and detritus. "Gorsh, is that all that's left of the worlds taken by the heartless?" -Goofy. "Those worlds will be restored if we beat Ansem, right?" -Sora "You betcha" -Donald "But if we do beat him and all these worlds become restored and disconnected, what's going to happen to this place. And to us?" -Sora "Well" -Donald "This is a Heartless world, so maybe it'll just disappear... but no worries. Even if this place goes poof, our hearts ain't goin' nowhere. I'm sure we'll find our pals again. Yup, I just know that we will. [double meaning in Heartless World!] -Goofy

Falling down and start fighting a giant shadow creature; defeat it (no heart to go poof). Door opens, light spills out. At archipelago. "This world has been connected... tied to the darkness. soon to be completely eclipsed. there is so very much to learn. You understand so little. A meaningless effort. One who knows nothing can understand nothing. -Ansem's voice. "Take a look at this tiny place. To the heart seeking freedom this island is a prison surrounded by water. And so this boy sought to escape from his prison. He sought a way to cross over into other worlds and he opened hsi heart to darkness.... Don't bother. Your voice can no longer reach him where he is. His heart belongs again to darkness. All worlds begin in darkness, and all so end. The heart is no different. Darkness sprouts within it, grows, consumes it. Such is its nature. In the end, every heart returns to the darkness whence it came. You see, darkness is the heart's true essence." -Ansem "That's not true. The heart may be weak. And sometimes it may even give in. But I’ve learned that deep down there's a light that never goes out." -Sora "So, you have come this far and still you understand nothing. Every light must fade, every heart return to darkness!" -Ansem (Fighting; Ansem then tears up the island; more fighting) "Behold the endless abyss! Within it lies the heart of all worlds: Kingdom Hearts Look as hard as you are able. You'll not find even the smallest glimmer of light. From those dark depths are all hearts born. Even yours. Darkness conquers all worlds!" -Ansem "Giving up already? Come on, Sora. I thought you were stronger than that." -Riku (Sora flies up and fights giant monster's parts eventually getting to Ansem).

"It is futile. The keyblade alone cannot seal the door to darkness. Kingdom Hearts. Fill me with the power of darkness. Supreme darkness." -Ansem "You're wrong. I know now, without a doubt. Kingdom Hearts is light!" -Sora (light comes out of door and blows away Ansem) They try to close the door' The king (revealed as Mickey and finally called Mickey instead of ‘your majesty’ or ‘the king’) kills a couple heartless and brings out his keyblade "Now Sora, let's close this door for good... Don't worry. There will always be a door to the light." -King Mickey "Sora, you can trust King Mickey" (first mention by name). (they close the door from both sides; Sora runs to Kairi)

24) FMV
Kairi, remember what you said before? I'm always with you too. I'll come back for you. I promise.
I know you will.
(their islands split up - Sora on snow; Kairi on the sand/island)
[utada hikaru - simple clean]
(switching between the two as light falls making the worlds regrow - Archipelago is reborn)
(Lights flash up into the sky marking stars/worlds being recreated)
(Kairi wanders the island. Into the cave. Sees the star drawing and makes another star from her to him)
[credits roll - main names and static images]
[2nd credits roll - concluding scenes/montage]
at the castle
cloud finds aeris
Pinocchio as a boy
jasmine and aladdin
FFX characters running on beach
princesses of heart.
[3rd credits - just names]

25) In the field. Looking for Riku and King Mickey. Looking for Door to the Light. Pluto has a letter for them
"Remember, Sora. You are the one who will open the door to the light."

26) Special Secret - "Another Side, Another Story..."
people fighting. words on screen. Woman at beach.

International Edition Additional Scenes:
a) Riku arrives at Hollow Bastion (after the island goes), screams for Sora and Kairi; Malificent comes down to indoctrinate him.
b) Riku is in the world of darkness. Mickey starts talking to him. His heart was closed, but is okay now. Close the door from both sides with two keys and two hearts. Mickey says Riku can feel his friends in his heart.
c) Cloud and Sephiroth. Sephiroth as Cloud's "darkness." Fight
d) Memories of growing up on the island between Sora and Riku (sepia).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Abstract: DIGRA 2009

DIGRA 2009 Kingdom Hearts

Of Kingdom Hearts, Territoriality and Flow

This paper explores the relationship between companies Square-Enix and Disney as played out within the games of the Kingdom Hearts (キングダムハーツ) franchise. We contrast the relationship between these two transnational companies within the franchise's aesthetics and theoretical logics over the course of the various games. We are particularly interested in the games' own thematization and problematization of concepts of globalization, transnationalism and cultural flow. The games narratively and interactively foreground the collapse of membranes that separate worlds, producing legitimate and illegitimate modes of territoriality and intermixture.

Kingdom Hearts is a content franchise centered around a series of videogames, but also includes work in manga, novels and other media. The franchise is a collaboration between Square-Enix (a Tokyo-based videogame publisher) and Disney Interactive Studios (a California-based videogame publisher and wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company). When the player character's laconic archipelago is overrun by swarms of creatures called Heartless (ハートレス) he must flee to the "in-between" space, Traverse Town (トラバースタウン). As a refugee, the player embarks on a series of quests to identify the origin of the invasion that threatens to tear down the barriers protecting the various worlds, each representing a Disney franchise (Atlantica houses The Little Mermaid, Never Land is the world of Peter Pan, Tarzan lives in Deep Jungle, et cetera). Over the course of the games, more is revealed about the forces that are tearing down the barriers between worlds; the pressing goal of the player is to stop the invasion and protect the borders.

While the narrative of the first Kingdom Hearts game is about the retention and re-solidification of territorial boundaries (between worlds/narratives/companies/countries), in the process it creates a tertiary territory: the Kingdom Hearts franchise itself. The franchise thus acts as a place of mixture and transnationalism within a narrative and discourse of non-porous boundaries between territorial entities.

This territoriality is seen within the game in three different categories of place: the Disney franchise-worlds that the player preserves from disintegration by removing the invasive shadows; the interstitial Traverse Town which is home to refugee characters, and The World That Never Was (存在しなかった世界), a home to liminal Nobodies (ノーバディ), "non"-subjects that possess body and soul, but no heart. The ludic and fantastic metaphysics of subjects, heartless and nobodies which drive the narrative of the game are complex and richly allegorical; we will elaborate them in the full paper.

We play and refer to various English and Japanese editions of the games Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2), Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (Game Boy Advance), Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories (Playstation 2), and Kingdom Hearts II (Playstation 2); issues of translation, localization and global distribution also intersect with our interpretation and analysis. Two new titles, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 (Nintendo DS) and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (Sony PSP) are planned for release over the next few months, and will be incorporated into the final article.

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