If it wasn’t clear from the first post on this blog, I am an enormous fan of Kingdom Hearts, and of the man behind it, Tetsuya Nomura. Seeing how my upcoming novel is a YA Fantasy, it was deeply inspired by Nomura’s works. “But they’re just video games?!” you may exclaim. True, but to me, they’re more than that.
It all began with Kingdom Hearts. In the summer of 2002, I saw a preview on Gamespot for a game that combined Final Fantasy and Disney. Now, I wasn’t exactly a fan of Final Fantasy at the time, but the concept intrigued me. And the whole Disney villains joining forces plot reminded me of Fantasmic in Disney World. I purchased it the weekend it came out, and was taken in immediately by Utada Hikaru’s Simple and Clean and the dreamlike opening. It was the first game I was committed to finish on the PS2, and it took a couple months, but I succeeded.
Kingdom Hearts is one of the few things I can say I am a legitimate fanboy of (besides Lost). I can recite pages of dialogue off the top of my head, specifically from the endings of Kingdom Hearts I and II. I have watched the cutscenes online over and over again. I will buy a system just to play a new Kingdom Hearts game. This series connected with my heart, not only because of the obvious nostalgia from engaging with Disney stories from my childhood, but because I loved the original characters.
It started with Sora, Riku, and Kairi; three friends on an Island, two of them competing for a girl’s affections. Sora and Riku’s rivalry becomes something darker once Kairi goes missing and they’re thrown into the larger world they have always longed to join. The two stand on opposite sides even though they both seek the same goal: saving Kairi. This was not a children’s story, and it did not try to baby its audience. The themes were universal, and the characters were relatable.
As a fan, I can admit the story has become convoluted over time. As a storyteller, that’s an incredibly important lesson I’ve learned following it, and hope to avoid.
Now, Kingdom Hearts came from the mind of Tetsuya Nomura, and it was because I was so impressed with it that I investigated his other works. Down the rabbit hole I went, and it led directly into Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VII is one of the most beloved games in the series, with so many fans that they were able to convince Square Enix to completely remake it for current generation consoles. It’s the story of Cloud….what? Are you tired of my lackluster summarizations? Fine. Go look it up on Wikipedia.
Tetsuya Nomura inspires me with his stories. His worlds are fully immersive, and I get to play inside them. Themes of love, friendship, light and dark, identity, and exploration are prevalent in my works because of him. I can only hope that my fantasies come to close to what’s come out of his mind.