Most gamers know about Kingdom Hearts, even if they haven't played it. It's popular, and fuses elements from Disney movies and Square-Enix games. But even people who have played through the series don't fully understand the plot. It's rife with awkward inconsistencies and big head-scratchers. While the game tried to dodge these issues with metaphorical language, the majority of fans (including myself) ended up oblivious.
Though, it's safe to say that irregularities are natural when a game forces together aspects from a wide variety of incompatible sources. Many characters' placements and their motives come into question. However, the mysteries with Kingdom Hearts' story extend beyond that. There are even core concepts to the world that players are forced to accept simply because that's how the game is.
As Square releases more and more sequels (and prequels and spin-offs), a huge mass of lore often needs to be retconned each time to manage the new information. So perhaps it's inevitable for the game to have convoluted answers while its slapdash universe continues to grow. Our only choices are: to not overthink it, or scour the given information. Read on for my explanations for common confusions.
15 King Mickey's Knowledge
King Mickey is one of the most cryptic of all Kingdom Hearts characters. It seems like he knows things that he shouldn't know, but he also often seems like he's learning new information that he should already know. Sometimes he even refers to characters as friends though he had never met them. Then again, sometimes he's pretty clueless about beings he'd already met.
Early on, Mickey leaves a mysterious letter asking Donald and Goofy to 'Look for the Key.' He's oddly unclear about it, though they had all encountered keyblades before the first game (a trait shared by many other Disney characters). As one of the few remaining keyblade users, he spends a lot of time with the darkness rather than saving entire worlds. And with what he seems to know, he should have started his journey a decade ago.
14 Why Is Sora Special?
As noted in the previous entries, there isn't much of a reason why Sora should be special. All three of the main characters from Destiny Islands had an encounter with a previous Keyblade-wielder. Also, Sora was used over the Anti-Form, accessing the Heartless he once was using his... special clothes. Fans wondered if this meant Sora too can be possessed, which we see in Dream Drop Distance.
Perhaps Sora's destiny is due to things outside of his control. Since Ventus (pure of heart, since Vanitas was destroyed) resides in Sora's heart, perhaps this made him special. Or maybe it goes beyond that, to when he was an infant. I can understand believing that a baby's heart is pure, and could somehow influence the broken Ventus. But why, was he able to enter the Awakening dreamworld and meet him there in the first place?
13 The Keyblade War Legends
Some game text states that the aftermath of the war split the world from one into many. It also seemed to cover the universe in darkness. Since Ventus didn't age much during the supposed time since this creation myth, perhaps it wasn't too long ago (barring time-travel/clone/spirit shenanigans).
In Kingdom Hearts χ, it's revealed that the keyblade-wielders already knew about the Keyblade War. They'd received prophecies of it, and one of them was even tasked with ensuring that it would happen as foretold. All keyblades are apparently imperfect copies of the χ-blade, which is supposed be the only way to open Kingdom Hearts. Despite these claims, we see enough occasions when a χ-blade or Kingdom Hearts is available anyway.
12 The Existence Of Ventus And Vanitas
There are a lot of weird situations surrounding these two. Originally, Ventus is a hope for the future, during the Keyblade War. It isn't explained, but he barely ages between then and becoming an apprentice under Xehanort. As Ventus is somehow useless now, his Master decides to split him in two, creating his dark counterpart, Vanitas.
Ventus' heart needs to heal and begins to do so thanks to meeting an infant Sora in a dreamworld. This causes Vanitas to take on Sora's face... Vanitas creates monsters out of his own emotional pain for Ventus to become stronger. This is done so that when the two of them clash and reunite, they can create the χ-blade. They do, but Ventus destroys them both from the inside. In the dreamworld, his heart asks to stay with Sora. When Sora later splits in two, Ventus goes into the Roxas half. Confused yet?
11 Aqua's Fate In The Darkness
Before reading further into her, I felt a lot of pity for Aqua. By the end of Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, she's one of the last Keyblade masters, and she's lost her friends. After Ventus is in a coma again, she leaves him in an unsafe place (I'll get to that later) and goes to try and save Terra from Xehanort. She fails, and they both fall into the Realm of Darkness.
At this point, Aqua decides to sacrifice herself to save Terra's possessed body (though she meets his heart there...). Saving Xehanort begins the chain of events that allows him to wreak havoc throughout the worlds. Then, twelve years just kind of fly by. Fans still speculate as to why anyone else that gets trapped in the darkness doesn't get stuck for long at all.
10 The Minds And Bodies Of Terra And Xehanort
When Xehanort uses his keyblade to unlock his own heart, his body dissipates. Instead of splitting into a Heartless (or transforming like Maleficent), he just enters Terra's body. The explanation for this is just that it was because he was harnessing Kingdom Hearts. The bodiless Terra then possesses his armor instead. Yet, Terra is also within Xehanort as they often converse or fight.
And also strange, Aqua speaks to Terra who is also in the Realm of Darkness. And he's later shown, next to Ventus' comatose body. Despite both the Nobody and Heartless halves of Terra-Xehanort eventually being destroyed, Terra somehow always exists in multiple places at once (perhaps he's in Riku now?). And if Master Eraqus' heart is still helping Terra from within, what's his part in Xehanort's many forms?
9 Disney Villains And Death
It's not so unimaginable that Maleficent becomes obsessed with hearts and enlists the villains of each world. Maybe it's odd that they would agree to plans that could end up destroying their own homes, but maybe they wanted to follow Maleficent's example as she conquers Hollow Bastion. Aqua shows mercy on Maleficent, and this too is a fatal mistake for entire worlds.
But, it's strange that even when Sora destroys a villain, some (like Ursula) seem to be able to come back. Even after Maleficent has her heart unlocked and transforms into a dragon (only to be destroyed by Sora), she's able to come back simply by magic. Death isn't clear in Kingdom Hearts. There are a lot of people that die and come back (or exist in other forms), and there's even an Underworld where the dead Auron can join you.
8 The Motives And Placement Of Final Fantasy Heroes
Why does Cloud hate Sephiroth in this universe? There's no Nibelheim for him to burn, and Aerith wasn't killed. And why are most of the Final Fantasy VIII and X characters a decade younger in this appearance, while Squall, Yuna, and Rikku are a couple of years older? Why are the Gullwings little fairies? Maybe the developers just did whatever they wanted.
As a child, I was excited at first at the prospect of seeing Final Fantasy characters together in one game. But now I find their placement odd. What are they doing there other than serving cameos? These are questions you might ask of any guest character, of course. But unlike the Disney heroes, it seems like the Final Fantasy characters were just placed wherever convenient. Without their pasts why would they behave the way they do?
7 Why And How: Naminé And Memories
Naminé is another odd existence. So to summarize, she's captured, causes a mess of Sora's memories, and takes a year to fix it. Only to be told that she shouldn't exist. The player can infer that she's Kairi's Nobody, the way Roxas is Sora's Nobody. Perhaps this didn't create a Heartless since Kairi is one of the seven Princesses of Heart.
By being created when Sora lets out Kairi's heart, Naminé only has power over Sora's memories and those close to him. But if that's the case, why was she useful to Organization XIII during the short time before this? How do stolen memories create the likes of Replica Riku and Sora's clone, Xion? It seems in Kingdom Hearts, memories might be the building blocks of a heart.
6 Kairi And Keyblades
A young Kairi gets cast out into the oceans of worlds (space?), but is protected by a good luck charm. Years later, without explanation, Kairi's heart enters Sora while her body transports to another world. When she awakens, she recovers Heartless Sora's heart by hugging him. Is this because they're close or because she's a Princess of Heart? Some felt this meant killing Heartless was immoral since it's curable, but destroying them can actually lead reviving a person.
One of the things that upset fans was when Kairi was given a keyblade. People began to feel just about anyone can have a keyblade. And, in one of Xehanort's journal entries, it seems as though there are even more. Apparently, Kairi became able to wield a keyblade when she first touched Aqua's keyblade. In that case, why did anyone seek Sora? Why didn't Mickey just knight a few of his best soldiers this way?
5 Riku, The Seeker Of Darkness
Terra passes on the ability to use a keyblade to Riku. This is unfortunate, as apparently, Riku opening the secret door is what unleashes Heartless on Destiny Islands. Later on, Maleficent tells Riku that he was supposed to be the original 'chosen one' (another nod to Sora not being special). When Ansem took over his body, it's Riku's heart that gets stuck in the Realm of Darkness. Though later, it seems like it was his full physical form. Is this why he's stuck with Ansem's face when darkness takes over?
This continues to be a problem for Riku even after Ansem is killed twice. But why does DiZ's machine exploding revert his Ansem-face? Some believe Riku's heart was freed somehow due to the destruction of the fake Kingdom Hearts, others say it was just Kairi's influence. The only reason why the True Organization XIII later choose to go after Sora is because when Riku overcame his darkness, this somehow made him immune to possession.
4 Hollow Bastion And Castle Oblivion: Changing A World
Castle Oblivion was created when Aqua locks the Land of Departure. While it's supposed to trap intruders in oblivion, it just lets you relive memories and fight with cards. Aqua sets this up to keep Ventus' body safe, but also in order to keep the castle's secrets from being abused. Yet, it's while in its new form that it becomes exactly what Organization XIII takes advantage of. And it seems like just about anyone can get there by walking for some reason.
Maybe one would think by this precedent, Maleficent or a Xehanort had corrupted Radiant Garden by unsealing it. And yet, the change seems to be caused by something else. When everything (except the castle) is first overrun by Heartless, all the inhabitants lose much of their memories about it. So, the solution isn't sealing it with the keyblade or killing Maleficent, but instead by destroying a computer program and relearning its name.
3 What Is Kingdom Hearts?
It seems like Kingdom Hearts is literally made of the hearts of the dead. In Kingdom Hearts II, Organization XIII goes to great lengths to build their own Kingdom Hearts by destroying tons of Heartless to build it up. But damaging the entity just releases the hearts again as an army of Heartless. The game describes the real thing as the heart of all worlds. So it's a sort of core, where if corrupted would darken all worlds, and if absorbed would give all power.
Despite the legends surrounding how to open it, in the first game it just opened because Sora sacrificed himself for Kairi. Further still, it's odd that both the realm of darkness and light were both behind the door. Why did the light destroy Ansem but not the Heartless in there? How did closing the door prevent the darkness from overrunning Kingdom Hearts if it was all inside? And how could doing this repair destroyed planets?
2 Minions: Heartless, Nobodies, Unversed, And Dream Eaters
Some fans complain that enemies don't crossover enough into other games. Unversed (being creations of Vanitas) are rare and likely die out after Birth By Sleep. It isn't clear how the painful emotions in Vanitas mass produced them though. Meanwhile, Dream Eaters are only on sleeping worlds that are safe from Heartless. They're supposed to be made by the darkness a world naturally produces on its own, yet somehow half of them are good guys.
In the past, Heartless weren't artificially created yet, though there were still Purebloods. When Emblem Heartless are created and escape, they reproduce for every heart they consume, spreading like zombies. And Nobodies, being the counterparts created from the left over body and soul, should have appeared much more, particularly in Chain of Memories. And, without a body or soul, why are Heartless called this when they're actually hearts? Being metaphysical, they're somehow able to enter dreamworlds, computers, and travel through time.
1 Time Travel And The True Organization XIII
When both the Nobody and Heartless halves of a person are destroyed, they come back in their original form. This makes fans wonder why more people aren't restored, but regardless, with Ansem and Xemnas dead, old man Xehanort revives. Apparently, Heartless Ansem from the future had enlisted young Xehanort to scour time gathering versions of himself, including Xemnas, and apparently Xigbar and Saïx who are also part-Xehanort for some reason. This new Organization XIII tries to make take over Sora as their thirteenth vessel.
Time travel rules seem to force people back to their own time when the source (in this case, Young Ansem) runs out of power. It also makes any traveler lose memories of their travels when they return, so Xemnas and Ansem were forced back to before their defeats as usual. On another note, why was Pete so much stronger, braver, and nobler when Sora goes into the past in the Timeless River? It's not like that world follows any time travel rules.