What the heck does Kingdom Hearts 3 Re: Mind even mean? – A story analysis
Well Kingdom Hearts 3 Re: Mind finally came out, and it was… weird. It somehow had too much story content and not enough at the same time. We time traveled, dove into data worlds, and quite possibly broke through the barriers of reality itself, yet all we really did was fight bosses we had already fought before and one secret boss. Still, this expansion was absolutely dripping with new story details, and we could rant about them for hours, but you wouldn’t read an article that long. So we have narrowed things down to two major theories about Re: Mind’s plot that we think will mean the most for Kingdom Hearts’ future.
Seriously, what is a heart?
For our first crackpot theory, let’s talk about what a heart is. In Kingdom Hearts a person is made up of three parts, a heart, a body, and a soul. The body is just that, your fleshy bits. The soul is your spirit. Every living thing has one and for the most part, Kingdom Hearts doesn’t touch it. Then there’s your heart, the important part.
A heart in Kingdom Hearts isn’t so much that organ that pumps blood through your body, but is sort of the center of your being. It’s what makes you, you. It’s your personality, emotions, memories, and more, it’s the center of basically all magic in the Kingdom Hearts universe.
The sticky bit is that hearts aren’t exclusive to people. Anything can have a heart as long as it has enough experiences to formulate one. Explicitly heartless entities (that’s lowercase h heartless, not the enemy) such as computer programs, chunks of land, or Nobodies, which are defined as bodies without a heart, can form hearts so long as they keep forming bonds and memories. Worlds have hearts, the entire universe has a heart in Kingdom Hearts itself, journals have hearts, and it’s actually pretty difficult to not have a heart.
On the surface it appears that hearts are the total summation of events that created, well, you. This is why hearts are so linked with memories. Change someone’s memories, and you change their heart.
This is where we are going to spiral off into tinfoil hat territory, so buckle in. Our theory is that hearts are essentially a sort of fourth dimensional construct. That is, they exist independently of time.
There’s this concept called a “world line” which is basically the path that you trace in the 4th dimension of time if we mapped time out as space. Basically you’d look like a giant worm weaving your way through the cosmos, with the beginning of the worm being the very moment you came into existence, the middle being every single point in time you are alive, and the end being the point that you die.
Hearts in Kingdom Hearts are kind of like this. You build up experiences that layer one on top of the other and that eventually makes you. Of course, this is a Disney crossover so particular focus is given to friendship and other happy fluffy Disney keywords, but it appears as if any amount of accrued experience can create a heart.
How does one corrupt a heart? Well the very first Kingdom Hearts says that they fall to darkness, and darkness is a real force in this world. But what does darkness do? We think it alters your memories, or rather your heart’s memories. This would explain why Namine altered Sora’s memories in Chain of Memories, it would explain all the gaslighting going on in Dream Drop Distance, and it would explain the series’ focus on memories in general. Basically, when a heart’s existence no longer synchs up with the body that it’s currently in, it books it, detaches from the body, and becomes a Heartless (the enemy).
All of this is actually pretty tangential to the main point which is the 4th dimensional construct thing. In Re:Mind we get to see Sora use the Power of Waking to essentially travel back in time. We see this a couple times at the end of KH3’s main plotline as well. It’s been established that in this universe, the only way you can time travel is as a heart, and you can only go backward in time to places where your heart already was. Think of this as moving along the 4th dimensional world line to the place you want to go.
The big catch here is that Sora (and other characters) seem to be able to alter history when they time travel. They “trace the connection” of their hearts back to an important point in time, alter history (which Chirithy says is taboo) and then go back to the current time to reunite with their body.
But Sora disappears at the end of KH3 Re: Mind. Why is that? Well, it’s possible that, in his attempts to alter history and create a world where Kairi doesn’t get fridged by Xehanort (seriously Square Enix? Couldn’t you have done better?) he may have made a timeline in which there is no body for him to return to. This causes his heart to get stuck between worlds and, more importantly, timelines.
Is Nomura just making Versus XIII?
OK, let’s talk about Yozora. In the Toy Story world of KH3 the characters joke around about Sora looking like Yozora, the main character from the game Verum Rex. Verum Rex was very clearly a sendup of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the project that would eventually become Final Fantasy XV, which Tetsuya Nomura was working on before being yanked to work on KH3, and turning over the project to Hajime Tabata. It’s pretty clear that Versus XIII changed quite a bit when it became XV, including a tremendous story rewrite that dragged the plot away from the original conception we were shown in early trailers.
There appeared to be a reference to this in KH3 proper when the Nameless Star says that Yozora’s heart has been replaced with that of another’s and that he no longer remembers her but if he did he would miss her. Many fans took the Nameless Star to be Stella, Versus XIII’s original deuteragonist (get it, Stella, star?) who eventually became Lunafreya in XV, a character with a much smaller role in the overall plot.
In the final ending of Re: Mind, Sora finds himself stranded in the final world, heavily alluded to be where your heart goes after you die, after saving Kairi. With no way to return to his world he calls out for someone and meets Yozora. Yozora seems surprised that Sora knows him, and Sora seems surprised right back. Sora is especially surprised because he figures that this can’t be the “real world” if he’s meeting a fictional character, but Yozora seems to act the same way. Yozora then goes on to say that this isn’t what he “really looks like” once again alluding to the fact that he may actually be Nomura’s original conception of Noctis.
Then they fight and you get one of two endings. Either Sora beats Yozora and he says his power isn’t needed yet, dissolving into nothingness before waking up in a car ride which almost perfectly mirrors, shot for shot, and early Versus XIII trailer. Or Yozora beats Sora, at which point Sora turns to crystal and he wakes up in the same car ride. They then end on the first line of KH1: “I’ve been having these weird thoughts lately, like is any of this for real or not,” a line that was never fully explained.
What does this all mean?
Well first of all, Yozora notes that this can’t be the real world, but for all we know it is the “real” afterlife in Sora’s world. Canonically, Yozora is visiting this world in a dream, however. Does that mean that Sora isn’t real?
Maybe, in a small way. Yozora recognizes Sora and vice versa, but Sora recognized Yozora from a work of fiction, a video game specifically. Yozora may be doing the same. He may recognize Sora as the protagonist of Kingdom Hearts.
We theorized at the end of KH3 that Nomura might be pulling the game away from Disney worlds to focus more on videogame worlds, where he has more control. Yozora says that he accidentally found himself in the world where he and Sora face off, went through some trials, and was told to “save Sora.” It’s important to note that this world is the world of The World Ends With You, another Nomura RPG which made a brief cameo appearance in Dream Drop Distance. However, this does mean that the characters of this world know Sora.
If it’s the case that just about anything can have a heart, including inanimate objects and works of creativity like journals, then it’s possible that works of fiction can have hearts too. Nomjura may be pulling a Marvel/DC on us and making his fictional worlds real, to some extent, inside a greater work of fiction. A meta-fiction if you will. In Yozora’s world, Sora is just a video game character, and vice versa, but both of them, to some extent, are real.
This explains the two endings at the end of Re: Mind. If you win with Sora, Yozora just kind of goes away saying he isn’t needed, but if you lose, you see Sora get crystalized (something we have seen both in the XIII storyline and in a way to Ventus in the notorious Birth By Sleep cutscene where he fights Master Xehanort), and then Yozora says he will save him. This is because Yozora’s win is from the perspective of his game, a game we haven’t played yet. Maybe that’s the explanation for that quote. Sora and Yozora can’t tell if any of this is real or not because the definition of what is real and what is fictional is kind of breaking down.
All of this is to say that Nomura might be using Yozora to tell the story he always wanted to tell in Versus XIII in the Kingdom Hearts universe. If Yozora’s ending is to be believed, and if Nomura’s statements about this being the end of “Sora’s story” are true, then perhaps Sora won’t be the main character of whatever Kingdom Hearts game comes next, whether its KH4 or the teased “An Oath to Return” title that we were shown at the very end.
Now here is what we think ties it all together. We mentioned earlier that a heart is a sort of 4th dimensional construct made up of all your experiences and that time travel is sort of tracing your world line back to places where different hearts intersect. So what if hearts can connect even if you’ve never met a person. What if Sora’s experiences in the Toy Story world connected him to the real Yozora, and so when he sought to connect with someone, stranded in the final world, that’s who he connected with. What if hearts can transcend reality to whole other worlds with different rules? Maybe Nomura is going to completely break the fourth wall, go full Undertale on us, and make us, the player, and important figure in his story?
As always, it’s difficult to say for certain. All of this is speculation at this point and the Kingdom Hearts plot is so wacky that it’s hard to guarantee anything. Nomura does kind of just make things up as he goes along, after all.
What do you think? Are we going to dive into more fictional worlds in later Kingdom Hearts titles? Is Yozora our new protagonist? Let us know your tin foil hat theories in the comments.