OTD in 2002: Kingdom Hearts releases and alters the course of my life

Sora’s old enough to have a beer now! Let’s reminisce and get excited for what’s next for the beloved series

It’s actually insane that the original Kingdom Hearts game is now 21 years old. Where did the time go?

I feel like the 20th Anniversary event and the reveal of Kingdom Hearts IV was just yesterday. But, another year has gone and here we stand!

I’ve touched upon Kingdom Hearts A LOT. Whether you’re friends with me, you’ve read this blog, or you’ve watched my YouTube channel, you’ll know that this series is my favorite series of all-time.

There’s nothing more I can say that I didn’t say in my 20th anniversary video, so enjoy that below (but then come back for a bit because I need to address some KH4 discourse happening online right now):

Funnily enough, the end of that video features a blissfully unaware past me not knowing that just a few short weeks later, Kingdom Hearts IV would be revealed at the 20th Anniversary Event on 4/10/22.

After 21 years, this series still has entries to look forward to! I never thought I’d have the hype level for a game release after Kingdom Hearts III. Go back through my YouTube channel and watch the buildup to that release as time moved along.

A glaringly obvious thing is that once that game came out, my level of productivity on YouTube went to like zero. I’ve been through a lot in life since that game came out. 3 jobs, lived in 3 different states, a global pandemic, etc. All those things added together certainly affected my upload desire.

But once there were whispers and rumors that KH4 could exist, a surge went through the community that hadn’t been felt since both KH3‘s DLC came out in 2020 and prior to KH3‘s original release date on 1/28/19.

Once KH4 was officially revealed, the hype was BACK.

I released a reaction to the KH4 trailer and a breakdown of the trailer on back to back days and that was the first time I had done something like that in a long time.

But up until this week, we hadn’t heard anything about KH4 since the announcement trailer. This is the online discourse I referred to earlier.

Last week, the Kingdom Hearts Second Breath concert occurred in Tokyo and the series director Tetsuya Nomura made an appearance to thank fans for their support. But he also shared an interesting dialogue on stage with the series’ music composer Yoko Shimomura:

Tweet from @aitaikimochi translating a witness to Nomura’s statement

So, people are freaking out because Nomura said “something” from the 20th anniversary event determined the course of the series moving forward.

A bunch of people think Disney is going to distance itself from Kingdom Hearts, people think KH4 is getting delayed, people think he’s being fired, and so on.

All baseless claims and worries that struck a cord in the community. One thing I will say after 21 years, the KH community never fails to disappoint when it comes to breaking down every little thing Nomura says or does to the greatest and/or worst of means.

I’ll be the first to say:

A.) KINGDOM HEARTS IS DISNEY AND DISNEY WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF THE SERIES. 2.) The game isn’t delayed because we don’t even have any idea when it’s going to come out. And D.) Nomura also isn’t going to be fired because the series is his.

So everybody please…RELAX!

Here’s what I think it is:

During the Kingdom Hearts IV trailer, we’re shown this forest environment that looks more realistic of a world than we’ve ever seen in a Kingdom Hearts game before.

Many people (myself included) have plenty of contextual evidence that all but proves this location as the Forest Moon of Endor from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983).

Ever since Disney acquired the Star Wars IP, it’s always been speculated when Star Wars would come to Kingdom Hearts. It seems now that it is.

However, it was not confirmed what this world is and it could very well not be Endor. But, there was one tiny little detail from the trailer that everybody noticed that absolutely makes it Endor.

What appears to be an AT-ST Walker foot in the Kingdom Hearts IV trailer

I discussed this in my 5 Questions for Kingdom Hearts IV video, but check that section out below before I wrap this blog up:

Watch 8:05-11:51 for the specific question about Star Wars

In the shots of the trailer that “could be” Endor, it’s very clear that an AT-ST Walker foot is visible, thus, making it Endor. This was not confirmed or denied by Square Enix or Disney because they want to reveal it at their own pace. But, it set the internet ablaze.

Now, I believe that this situation with the AT-ST foot unofficially confirming Star Wars for Kingdom Hearts IV is the “something” Nomura was talking about. I think we could all agree that Star Wars would be the largest Disney property ever in the franchise and I’m sure Nomura’s a little peeved that we all saw the Imperial Walker foot before they could reveal it properly.

But it’s this kind of speculation that’s made the Kingdom Hearts community a community that I call home. So much has adapted and changed in 21 years, but my love for the series has only grown.

There’s a reason why I would type this much about a series. I love it that much. So everybody calm down (a bit) about Nomura’s little tease and just ramp up your excitement for the series that we fell in love with 21 years ago.

I’ll wrap up this blog by saying: Thank You Tetsuya Nomura, Square Enix, and Disney for bringing us Kingdom Hearts on this day in 2002. As Sora says in the first game, “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!”

No truer words have ever been said. This game taught me more about hearts, love, and friendship than anything. I wouldn’t be who I am without it.


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