The May 10, 2012 issue of Famitsu Weekly magazine has included an on article on Kingdom Hearts, containing an interview with the director of the series, Tetsuya Nomura. Here, Nomura discusses both Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] and a future, currently unannounced title in the Kingdom Hearts series.
sqexgal has completely translated this interview, and you can read this translation below. Please note that the interview contains strong spoilers for Kingdom Hearts 3D.
Nomura: Overall, people seem to think the story this time was difficult to understand. (Wry laughter.)
— The setup certainly was different and trickier than before. In their travels this time they were essentially supposed to go to the worlds shut by sleep, but in the end, an entirely different world sets the stage.
Nomura: There are other worlds shut by sleep, from the start which ones they would go to was not decided. Even Yen Sid didn’t know which worlds they would go to. Amidst that, they were guided by two members of Organization XIII to the World That Never Was.
— What about when Riku looked upon the Brown Robed Figure and dived into another world, was it assumed he’d join Organization XIII?
Nomura: Since they knew he’d wake up soon, it’s reasonable to assume as much, but that wasn’t necessarily why the Organization had guided him. Still, they weren’t ready to completely give up on Riku, they wanted to win him over into the Organization. However, Riku had developed a resistance to darkness and as a result, they gave up.
— Riku really rose to the occasion, especially in the final battle, shouting lines like, “Still there?”
Nomura: As tension leading to the end of the story, I steadily added bosses that weren’t originally planned since it’d feel anticlimactic without a battle. As I was making progress writing the scenarios, I called the Osaka development team and asked if they could add more. The battle with the armor after the last dive was one that they added for me, I didn’t think it’d be clearly understood without a fight sequence.
— Riku had a lot going on this time. In comparison to Sora, he has the charm of a dark hero type. How do you see him?
Nomura: Riku grows while carrying various troubles with him, he’s a lot like a retro Square hero I think. Final Fantasy-esque, so to speak. On the other hand, I made Sora the sort of character you wouldn’t see in a retro Square game.
— Sora’s just a regular boy, huh. Why isn’t he the daring hero type?
Nomura: There is the thought that the player is equal to Sora. Naturally, there are people who are not like Sora. (Laughs.) But I had the premise that a heart like Sora’s exists within all the players. Sora is “ordinary”, therefore everyone is “ordinary”. I figure even if you’re “ordinary”, for something important everyone can exhibit a special power just like Sora.
— I want to ask more about the World That Never Was. Is that world a part of reality? Or is also a world of sleep?
Nomura: When that world’s logo appears, it indicates the boundary between the dream and reality. When Sora arrives, it’s reality and then goes into a world of sleep. Riku arrives in the sleeping world, and as you progress and the world logo appears, that’s when it becomes reality.
— When both of them are in the reality parts, they don’t return to their original bodies. Why is that?
Nomura: It’s because of Yen Sid’s magic that they’ve taken their old forms. If they didn’t return to Yen Sid’s place, their bodies wouldn’t return back to normal. Incidentally, their new outfits were thanks to Yen Sid’s magic as Sora suspected.
— Riku fights a Nightmare wearing a black coat in this world, just who was that?
Nomura: That Nightmare was the personification of the nightmare Sora was having.
— What about Xemnas and Ansem, essentially they weren’t inside anyone, was it due to circumstances of the worlds of sleep?
Nomura: First off, when Young Xehanort made contact with the Brown Robed Figure, that is to say, the Xehanort who called himself Ansem, his abilities were transferred to him. As a result of Master Xehanort tossing his physical body, he was able to exceed time, and this power was carried into the Brown Robed Figure. Thus when Young Xehanort made contact with him, he gained this power. Possessing this power. Young Xehanort functioned as a “portal”, summoning Xemnas and Ansem each time they appeared. That’s why Young Xehanort was there whenever they appeared. Additionally, when Sora and Riku dropped into the worlds of sleep, simultaneously Young Xehanort himself goes into the world of sleep.
— What about Vanitas?
Nomura: Vanitas is different than Xemnas and Ansem; he doesn’t necessarily have a physical form. He reacted to Ventus within Sora, so that’s how he was visible.
— After generating and before attacking Sora, were Xemnas and Ansem somewhere that exceeded beyond time?
Nomura: That’s right.
— When King Mickey stopped time, Young Xehanort began to move. Since he can control time, was he breaking the King’s spell?
Nomura: Young Xehanort wasn’t using his own power at that time. The King’s magic was broken because Master Xehanort was assimilating with Young Xehanort. Only “the mark of heresy” was added by Organization XIII.
— It was when the figures started appearing in the thrones.
Nomura: Indeed. Time was stopped just as Master Xehanort was materializing. So he moved his consciousness to Young Xehanort’s body. Reacting to this, King Mickey exclaimed, “That’s impossible!” Young Xehanort was holding a Keyblade that he originally wasn’t able to handle thanks to Master Xehanort’s power. Though the keychain on it is different, the Keyblade he takes out is Master Xehanort’s.
— I see. Young Xehanort himself is still in Destiny Islands and isn’t able to wield a Keyblade yet.
Nomura: Right. Even when he appeared as an additional boss in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, he wasn’t using a Keyblade.
—By the way, Braig’s dealings with Master Xehanort in Birth by Sleep make sense, he was to become a vessel.
Nomura: There is a certain reason for Braig to proudly exclaim, “As for me, I’m already half Xehanort.” Isa (Saix) is included too. I think you’ll understand the details about their circumstances eventually.
— What happens to the hearts of those who have had Master Xehanort’s heart planted within them?
Nomura: They’ll gradually be swallowed by it. As for Master Xehanort, he plans to control them completely. The planted parts of the heart are captured rather than disappear.
— Lea (Axel) ended up playing an unexpected role. I was wondering what was running through your mind when you thought to make him a Keyblade wielder.
Nomura: I figured since he had returned to being human, he wouldn’t have much luck bringing back the people he wanted without some sort of power. Throwing his chakrams doesn’t really count. (Laughs.)
— It’d be bad if he started a fire, huh? (Laughs.) Is he still able to pass through the Corridors of Darkness like before?
Nomura: Diz is also human and can pass through the Corridors of Darkness. Since Lea has the memories of being Axel, he saw the message Ansem wrote on the wall in Radiant Garden and thought that was the only way he could travel. Of course, using the Corridors frequently is dangerous.
— After that, he came to Yen Sid hoping to train.
Nomura: Yes. Since the Mysterious Tower is in an unknown spot, first you have to enter via King Mickey’s world. After that, they’re training in a place where time flows differently, managed by Merlin, the great magician who can exceed time, as well as the Fairies.
— Did he have any prior knowledge?
Nomura: In order to wield a Keyblade, the most important requirement is to be “the owner of a strong heart.” Regardless if it’s a good heart or a bad heart, a strong heart is necessary. Right now there are a lot of things that Lea wants to regain. That desire is connected to the strength of his heart.
— Even though Axel had been eliminated in Kingdom Hearts II, since that time, had you considered having him appear again in his human form Lea?
Nomura: I thought a lot about that. Should I leave him as he was or should I bring him back again? However, when I considered the people that Lea wants to bring back, his existence plays a big role. I think Lea has successively become a key character.
— Incidentally, Ventus’ body is in Castle Oblivion and his heart is with Sora right?
Nomura: Right. Even though he only appears a little bit in the end of KH3D, when Sora was surrounded by Dream Eaters, you see that he smiled because of it.
— I see. Were there certain intentions in that scene with the Dream Eaters?
Nomura: That scene was added in the final stages of production. It wouldn’t feel right to have worked so hard raising the Dream Eaters without some sort of closure. Also, since Sora has obtained the power to open doors into the worlds of sleep, I purposely wanted to show a scene where he used that power.
— Speaking of the previous titles, about when do you start thinking of the ‘next title’?
Nomura: It’s a gradual process. When Kingdom Hearts was in production, I was considering ideas for Kingdom Hearts II and Chain of Memories. And when those two were in production, I was thinking of ideas for the next three, 358/2 Days, Coded, and Birth by Sleep.
— Were you thinking of KH3D when those 3 titles were in production?
Nomura: KH3D was put together relatively quickly, I was still concepting the story when I brought it to the table.
— What about in the secret movie of Birth by Sleep Final Mix…?
Nomura: Well… (Laughs.) Now that you mention it, that secret movie was referred to as “A fragmentary passage”, meaning bits and pieces of something whole. A story connected to Kingdom Hearts exists out of that, but I don’t know whether or not it’ll be told hereafter.
— The secret message and secret movie of KH3D were loaded with things to wonder about. Is it finally time for KH3?
Nomura: I’ll leave that up to everyone’s imagination. Though, it might be a curve ball. (Laughs.)
— Lastly, a message for our readers.
Nomura: We’ve decided to distribute a KH3D demo in North America as well as Japan. You can play part of Sora’s scenario in Traverse Town. So if your friends haven’t played it yet, you can recommend it to them. And of course, give the co-op mini game Flick Rush a try. Also, an unannounced title is being prepared as well, though it’s something lighter. There are still songs continuing to be distributed for Theartrhythm Final Fantasy so you can look forward to that as well.