16 July 2014


Kingdom Hearts Character’s Report Vol. 1

King Mickey
We had decided long ago that as Mickey is the most special among all the Disney characters, and as we gave him the role of King in KHI, we would make him by far the strongest character in the game. On the directing side of things, we placed focus on having a mysterious and majestic atmosphere surrounding Mickey rather than just the general cheerful and bright figure. My favourite scene has to be the one where he throws off his coat. One of the charms of the KH Mickey is his coolness, and I think that’s the scene that highlights it the best.

Donald Duck 
If Mickey is the king, then following medieval fantasy tradition, his two retainers must be a knight and a magician. Then, I simply thought it would be very cute to hear Donald’s voice casting spells, so I made him the magician. Disney had the opinion that as Donald was the one with the temper he would better suit the knight role, but the image of Donald casting spells was already complete in my head, and nothing could change it. Please take note of the zipper on his hat. It actually goes in a spiral shape, so if you were to undo it his hat would become one long piece of cloth.

With Donald as the magician, then that meant Goofy had to be the knight, but I just couldn’t picture him wielding a sword or axe… So, I came up with the premise that he was the ‘weapon-hating captain of the knights’ and had him carry a shield. Disney told us they wanted him to be wearing traveller’s clothes, and as a way to have him fit in with Sora’s style I thought of goggles, and from there I developed the rest of his outfit. Story-wise, one scene that left an impression on me was in KHI, when he put himself out there and told Riku that he wouldn’t betray Sora. I think that’s the first time you really feel like Sora, Donald and Goofy are together as one.

I actually wanted to put him in KHI, but we already had plenty of villains and adding any more would have created too many loose ends, so I gave up. That did mean that in KHII as Maleficent’s henchman he fitted extremely well into various worlds and played a full and active role for me. Personally, I thought the part in Timeless River when he met and fought with his past self in particular was very funny. I was worried that Disney wouldn’t let me portray him that way… so I was very happy that they considered our intentions and gave us the OK.

In KHI, I tried to keep an emphasis on roundness in my designs to have them fit with the Disney universe style, but in KH2 I took it upon myself to try incorporating some sharper elements. Also as Mickey himself made quite a few appearances, I had to re-think the balance of the colour schemes. Sora, personality-wise, is an nice, honest kid. He simply doesn’t sweat the details. He just goes, ‘whatever,’ and makes things work (laughs). When he gave everyone a smile before thrusting the Keyblade into his chest in KHI, and when he cried upon seeing Riku again in KHII are scenes that left a deep impression on me. I think one of his charms is how straight he is in showing his emotions.

In contrast to Sora, he’s a character with a shadowy, real sort of coolness to him. He worries about a lot of things, and out of all the characters he may be the closest to a Final Fantasy protagonist. And outwardly, too, I deliberately made Sora the kind of hero I pictured when I was little, while Riku fits with what’s popular with young people today. Riku has an endless number of impressive scenes, doesn’t he. In particular the scene in KHI where he tells Sora to take care of Kairi from behind the door to darkness left a strong impression, but I also love and empathise with his line from the opening of the game where he says ‘just sitting here won’t change a thing’.

Kairi, who was a tomboy in KHI, became a little bit more mature in KHII. She changed a lot outwardly since at that age girls grow a lot faster than boys, but her lively personality didn’t fundamentally change. Enough that ‘with Riku and Sora gone, right now Kairi is the strongest person on Destiny Islands’ is an actual premise. I like the scene in KHI, when she watches the sunset with Sora, and tells him not to change. I thought it showed very well her anxiety and loneliness over how as we get older we find a distance growing between us and our close friends.

A lot of thought was put into this character. Based on the premise that he was ‘an expression of the reverse, hidden inside Sora’, I gave him pretty much the exact same face as Sora, just with slightly narrower eyes. And then, I made white the basis for his clothes, in contrast to KHII Sora. The black and white checkered pattern, ‘neither darkness nor light’, was to be a hint. My absolute favourite scene of his has to be the one at the end of the opening of KHII, when he says ‘looks like my summer vacation is over’. I put a lot of feeling into creating that, as I intended it to feel, for a moment, like the end.

I gave Namine the same face as Kairi. Also, in order to emphasise the ‘fragile little girl’ side of her, I made her outward appearance very pale, as though she might fade away any minute. She had a complicated birth that differed to proper Nobodies and could even be placed as a subspecies, which contributes to her extremely ephemeral atmosphere… but, there is that moment where she and Kairi get into a fighting stance together. I was pleased by that. I thought, you’re going to fight??

Alice isn’t the daughter of any royalty, so-to-speak, but as being a princess in a Disney work means being a heroine with a heart as noble as a princess, I chose her to be one of the women with a heart completely lacking darkness. In the game it ended up that she had an image of being trapped, from beginning to end in Wonderland and in Hollow Bastion (laughs).

Halloween Town 
A scene I particularly liked from this game was when Jack made an entrance in KHI, and when the revived Boogie tells Maleficent he’s not going to do things her way. I was also happy that I could genuinely reproduce the part in the movie where Jack wears a Santa costume.

Timeless River 
I knew I wanted to use Mickey from the early days of Disney. But as I wanted to protect the mysterious atmosphere around the King, after a lot of vexation, I decided to treat him more like a mascot than go into too much detail depicting the past. I love it when Mickey bounces around shaking your hand in the town from Gulliver Mickey, and when smoke comes out of Pete’s hat.

I wanted to introduce musical mini-games in KHII, so I was very glad to have Ariel sing Part of Your World for me. She was great, anyway! It was a stage upon which you could enjoy the music of Disney to your heart’s content, wasn’t it? I feel as though we succeeded at making it look as though the characters were singing in realtime.

Pinocchio was just wandering around aimlessly for the entire game, so perhaps you felt like telling him to sit still (laughs). He’s the kind of character you somehow just can’t hate, isn’t he. I wanted his nose-growing shenanigans to be even more exaggerated, but it was too hard in the end… At the very end of KHI he became a human, so he won’t be able to appear in the series any more, which is a bit of a pity.

Pride Land
Actually, The Lion King is my favourite Disney movie of all time. It made me so happy to be able to include it as a world in KHII and recreate lots of scenes from the movie. When we were making the scene where Scar tells Simba the truth, I was flooded with the feeling that it was just like the original.

100 Acre Wood 
In both KHI and KHII, the part where the cover of the picture book is completed at the end makes me cry. Pooh himself doesn’t realise that he won’t be able to see Sora and the others again–which is far too upsetting. I feel like I really am a child, or something. It’s very difficult to write dialogue for those peculiar characters. Each time I work very hard to give them their particular, odd voices.


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