Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some Japans.

In a recent interview, Tetsuya Nomura noted: "If Sora was a country child, Roxas would be the urban child." Reflecting this are two of the areas created by Square-Enix (rather than Disney) - Sora's Destiny Islands, a nostalgic archipelago of beaches (Kingdom Hearts) and a quiet community of chirping cicadas (Kingdom Hearts II) that feels unbearably small and provincial for Riku; and Roxas' Twilight Town, an urban space of (relatively likeable) gangs, skateboarding, job boards and public transit; both local and yet modern. Twilight Town, as the name suggests, has a sky in perpetual sunset, a "land of the setting sun;" Destiny Islands as a playable space is usually marked by dawns and mornings.

The sense of twilight is also reflected in the seasonality of the sequence in Kingdom Hearts II: it is the last few days before summer vacation ends, and school begins again. As Roxas says, reflecting on his pending absorption into Sora, "I guess my summer vacation is over."

Another allusion to tropes of spatiality is Hollow Bastion/Radiant Gardens, a world straddling an apocalyptic moment which led to the obliteration of even the memory of the original name of the space; it is, ironically, only after digital archives are released from the TRON-based world of "Space Paranoids" that the natives of Hollow Bastion - all characters drawn from Square's "Final Fantasy" legacy - recover their lost memory of the name and nature of their homeland. (Amnesia and false memory are a plot-device for Chain of Memories and a well-worn plot mechanic in anime, manga and videogame narratives; for the most part, however, it is a problem only for Square-Enix created characters. With the notable exception of Winnie-the-Pooh in Kingdom Hearts II, the Disney characters do not suffer memory loss.

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