January 29, 2019 came and went and you were probably hoping for an explanation for why nerds all around the world went berserk After all, what was this Kingdom Hearts (KH) that everyone was losing their marbles over? Welp, allow me to explain.
Kingdom Hearts is a video game franchise that was first released all the way back in 2002. The last true sequel, however, came out back in ’05. And just now, 14 BLOODY YEE-HAW YEARS LATER, the final entry to the saga came out, which partially explains peoples’ craze. The series, (although each has its own, different, complicated, and interconnected storyline), revolves around a boy named, “Sora,” who is chosen to wield a weapon called the Keyblade, and uses it to fight the forces of darkness. A bit cliché-sounding so far, but I’m not done. Sora then teams up with Disney’s Donald Duck, Goofy, and other Disney and Final Fantasy characters and embarks on an adventure to find his friends and defeat evil. Wait—what. Yup, you read that right—Donald Duck and Goofy. Aside from obvious gameplay, music, etc. one of the obvious reasons that KH appeals to so many adults is nostalgia.
The KH series includes hundreds of Disney characters and worlds you interact with and explore, showering you with ocean-loads of childhood nostalgia. These are the same Disney characters you’ve experienced as a child. These are the same momentary visions of color that pinned you down a tunnel of swirling characters, dreams, and desires and washed everything else around you away. It’s magic on its own, and it’s this such magic that leaves you with a renewed optimistic view of life—no matter how old you get and how complex the hardships you face.
The hardships we face as adults are without-a-doubt frightening. But it isn’t just frightening in the sense of what we have to lose or gain. It’s also frightening in the sense of how our hustle n’ bustle lifestyle we’ve assimilated to muddles our minds and robs us of our memories, which causes us to lose ourselves in the process—our individuality, happiness, and strength. That’s why I’ve listed a few of the big themes and values of life that KH reminds us of for the better:
- Standing Your Ground: It isn’t always easy sticking up for what you believe in. And we often forget that, especially when stress, sadness, desire, and peer-pressure cloud your judgement. That’s why stepping back from the situation, drawing a line, and refocusing on your goals and needs is always helpful in remaining headstrong in your beliefs.
- Betrayal: Betrayal hurts—pretty dang bad from both sides of the spectrum. That’s why rather than focusing on the act itself, it’s better to figure out how to pick yourself up afterwards— whether it’s forgiving yourself or another person, or simply knowing how to live life after that. The main thing is to ask yourself how to not let such a significant experience go to waste, and how to make the lesson acquired worth it.
- Redemption: AKA setting out to correct a wrong and forgiving yourself in the process. A wrong can be any demon that haunts you—whether it was physically, emotionally, psychologically, or verbally harming someone, committing an immoral act, treating yourself like garbage, hurting the one you love, etc.. It’s terrible, and you want to stay in your bubble of self-indulging pity and anger because you think you deserve it. And I get that. But for how long? How long until it slips beneath your control and into your subconscious where it crumbles you. How long until it ingests and destroys you whole? The point is that you can always decide to take control of your life and mend your ways no matter what happened in the past.
- Positivity: Keep smiling. Keep smiling in the midst of a crisis. Keep smiling in the midst of loss. Keep smiling in the midst of suffering. Keep smiling in the midst of darkness. And keep smiling in the midst of questioning humanity. Just keep smiling, for yourself and others. A smile does wonders in radiating someone’s world.
- And Lastly The Strength of Love: Perhaps one of the cheesiest themes of all: Love! *spins around while tossing confetti into the air.* I know, it’s bad. Whenever a character referenced the ‘power of friendship,’ or some greasy BS like that, I’d always roll my eyes so hard back that I’d give myself a headache. But there’s some truth to it. Love does indeed melt away the pain of isolation, the pain of self-loathing, the pain of self-degradation, the pain of self-doubt, the pain of distrust, the pain of hatred, the pain of war, etc. Remembering who loves you and who’s there for you and accepting that love and investing it in return replaces pain with all that is good and that takes you to far-off places you never imagined yourself going to. It pushes you to keep fighting for what you believe in. It strengthens you and makes you whole. It’s such an underrated value that propels you so far in reminding you of the love you should have for yourself and others—and nothing else compares to it.
To the average joe, Kingdom Hearts is a pretty cheesy and cringy game at times. Heck, if I never played it as a child, I never would’ve bothered played it as an adult. But that’s what makes it special. As a child, it installs a reminder of hope that you need as an adult you need every now and then.