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Ongoing biography of my KH life~
Le beginning: I played COM somewhen in either 2004 or 2005, don't quite remember. Fell in love with everything about it, and started playing the rest of the games one by one and reading articles to support and develop my theories about the series. I wrote a few fanfictions and drew lots of fanart (Trivia: My favorite ship used to be AkuRoku! Nowadays, I don't have one.)
Social media POV: I started admining this Kingdom Hearts fanpage on Facebook in late 2012, and for two years, I worked really hard to make it one of the best (imo the best) KH fanpage on FB at the time! We even got the official KH twitter to follow our Twitter account!
But my creativity was going in another direction, so I left and started another page, Kingdom Hearts Hypetrain. Still working on its website! You can also follow it on twitter.
Throughout the years, since 2012, I got to know a lot of people who were very active in the KH fandom and some of the best fans of the series. Among these were fan journalists such as Churro. I also got to know some other cool peeps such as the lovely Lauren and Darryl from KHUnion, to mention a few. I've also gotten to meet a lot of cool peeps from the Square Enix PR and marketing team, such as Dan Seto and Mat Kishimoto, and they're some of the most hard-working people ever! We are so blessed to have them market SE products outside Japan! I've also made some irreversible, very close relationships with some of the best people I could ever have dreamed of being friends with who shared my same passion. This includes Leamax, who is literally my partner in crime; Omelette, who is the creator and main manager of KHMemes, a twitter account followed by the official Kingdom Hearts twitter account; and Mihari-chan (pet name: Mihari Chai), arguably one of my bestest friends and project manager of the Keybearers' Alliance (formerly known as Project: Disneyland of Departure), who is also being followed by the official KH account on their twitter!
I've been sharing KH news as soon as it got online over the years, and did quite a bit of writing myself, so why not - I decided to join KH13.com as a News Team Member on March 2016. I've been encouraged by Sora96 to apply for this before, but I was skeptical of the role at first - but a few months into this role actually gave me a lot of insights! I've got to meet people who have read my articles in real life and it's the most amazing thing ever! I'm also Italian, so I've contributed to some translations that were featured here at KH13.com and in various Final Fantasy fansites! By attending certain KH-related events, I've also been able to contribute to the news in first person! The smallest contribution brings me joy, so I think I will continue with news reporting until I get sick of it
A year after joining the team, I am the News Team Leader at KH13.com!
Oh, and I now cosplay Aqua, so I share my cosplay adventures on social media too.
My "real life" POV: I try to attend any event related to Kingdom Hearts.
My first event was the KH 1.5 pre-launch event in London on 2013, where I just managed to win a ticket for (thank you KHInsider for that!). I got to meet Shinji Hashimoto (KH series executive producer) and Yoko Shimomura (KH series composer) and talk to them about their work - it was honestly a dream come true. I managed to ask Shinji Hashimoto a question about whether they'll make a HD remake for Days to make it playable (his answer was "we're not thinking about it at the moment"), and I got to tell Yoko Shimomura that I love her work, that she's a role model for me, and that my favorite track is Musique pour la Tristesse de Xion. Later, when I saw a KH13.com article with pictures from the event, I was literally screaming inside: "There I am in the picture OMG!" Same when I saw my picture from the green screen photo with Halloween Town as the background on the official Facebook page. Such a fangirl. Here's a picture:
As you can see I was a total dork, also I look nothing like that now. Yay for late-onset puberty.
My second event was the KH2.5 launch event in London, where I got to meet KH3 producer Rie Nishi and co-director Tai Yasue - and they signed my keyblade! So honored. This is also where I met Mat and Dan. One of the cool things about having friends who live on the other side of the Atlantic who also attend KH-related events is that you can talk about them with the Square Enix EU/NA team, who are always travelling back and forth - and they say: "Yeah, I met your friends over there, they told me about you!" Hurray for long distance friendships - we share the same sky! Here are some pics from that evening:
As you can see, I was still a total dork. But apparently, after I put that last pic as my profile picture on Facebook, I caught the eye of a talented gamer and former-Youtuber who sent me a friend request, and who later turned out to be my soul mate and someone I am now engaged to... but that's another side, another story. As you can see, everything connects to something else! Our hearts are connected.
After I got my keyblade signed at the 2.5 launch event, I developed this weird sort of habit to get it signed by anyone majorly involved in the production, development, and distribution of KH! Or whoever I like in relation to KH.
So I went to stalk Willa Holland in May 2016 (who btw totally got misled me into thinking she didn't hear anything about voice acting for 2.8, only to have the first trailer with her voice in it released a couple days after I met her!) And she signed my keyblade! Also, I love her performance from Arrow so that was a bonus. Here's a picture collage of Willa being adorable while telling me she's not allowed to say anything about KH
Another bonus was Katrina Law (Nyssa al Ghul), who was sitting right next to Willa, going around and getting instagram usernames from the fans! She ended up tagging me in her group photo with the fans, so that was a very nice experience as a fan of the Arrowverse!
OK by now I feel like I should tell you that yes, I have stalked some other really cool people at events, movie premieres, etc., but I don't actually have that many people I truly like in show biz. so it's not as extreme as it sounds! To me, the only thing I like to do at cons is to eat takoyaki, mess around with friends, buy jewellery and attend panels/signings. So basically, not much!
Anyway, by this time I had already become a regular geeky event-goer. They don't appeal to me as much now, having lost some of their initial novel luster, and I'll probably not go to Hyper Japan again, but while walking around the fair I spotted Kaoru Wada, who is in charge of arranging orchestral pieces for the KH series (Fantasia alla Marcia, anyone?), and I actually managed to have a five minute conversation with him without much trouble with the whole English/Japanese language barrier. But just my luck that I had forgotten to bring my keyblade with me to sign! Here's a picture though - maybe I'll catch him again next year at his Anime Insiders Panel!
After seeing the first proper trailer of KH2.8 I was too excited to play it. So I kept on the lookout for a demo being eventually playable in London. As I suspected, EGX, the biggest gaming event in the UK, confirmed the demo for its 2016 installment. I was so stoked that I went to play it early in the morning on the first day of the convention! I also met Dan Seto again there (pic below), who was promoting all the cool upcoming Square Enix games, including Dragon Quest Builders (LOOK AT HIS HAT OMG). I think the highlight of the convention was meeting a KH fan who told me that they came to EGX purely because they read an article on KH13.com about the KH2.8 demo being playable there. He was very pleasantly surprised to know that I was the one who wrote that article! Those are the moments to live for! Here are some of my pictures from EGX.
Have you booked your tickets for the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- yet? Before booking those VIP tickets in April 2016 (Wildfaery, where my tickets at?! They lost my tickets! > ), I actually booked some tickets back in December 2015 for Symphonic Fantasies, which took place a few weeks ago in early October 2016. The concert featured music from Kingdom Hearts, and even featured a special pre-concert Q&A with Yoko Shimomura! Imagine my luck when I got to talk to her again! She actually answered one of my questions (which was quite a personal one, to me). And the concert was purely amazing. Here is a picture I took for KH13.com:
I can't wait to meet her again at the World Tour in March!
A few weeks after Symphonic Fantasies, I went to the biennial MCM London Comic Con on October 29th and 30th. This had to be my most fun convention ever, even if I didn't do a lot or buy too much! I went to my first KH cosplay meet dressed as Aqua, and actually had the chance to meet Shinji Hashimoto again! This time, he signed my Kingdom Key! I also bumped into Dan Seto again (LOOK AT HIS HAT AGAIN OMG) who was casually representing Square Enix around the expo! But the most fun bit was getting to hang out with many other Kingdom Hearts cosplayers: we had a lot of fun, and I almost got kidnapped by a Sora! Here are some pics and a video!
I am so blessed to be able to attend all these events. It's not really about pictures or autographs or even simply meeting the people behind the things you love, but it's the whole atmosphere of solidarity and the emotions that come with the appreciation of true works of art. I've been able to meet a lot of my online friends, plus make some new ones.
A more personal POV: Most people, even when knowing my real name, just call me Aqua. (No, Aqua is not one of my favorite characters. I had literally no connection to Aqua when I got this nickname, but that story is probably irrelevant to you!)
When I started admining a page on Facebook, I used to post some really dank KH memes. Ever since then, most of the KH fans who know me from FB know me as some sort of a meme queen! (lol) I don't really make so many memes anymore, but people still complain about how I've ruined their childhoods! Memes aside, I love getting people involved in the fandom. Which is why I always try to make any original KH content I make as engaging as possible. I've done all sorts of other things including making vines, streaming Disney movies and KH music, conducting podcasts and Skype parties, modding Twitch streams, organizing KH-themed game nights, and much more. Nowaydays, I manage a brilliant team of KH fans who organize these things, rather than doing them all on my own. You can follow their (our!) work on Kingdom Hearts Hypetrain. You can also follow our Youtube channel for interesting videos - I occasionally work on some of the videos.
I love v-logging about my daily adventures around the UK. I am mostly accompanied by my fiancè, and together we're working on our list to visit all the cool places in the Kingdom and beyond! My KH community usually refers to my fiancè and I as RayQua(za) (Ray being his name, Qua from Aquaberry, and za to spell out the Pokèmon!).
Something else that I love to do is cosplay. By now you must have noticed that I wear a headscarf - also knows as a "hijab" (which also means something along the lines of "covering up", and "modesty"). I am therefore an average (or below average?) "hijabi". Cosplay is thus a bit more interesting for me, seeing how I incorporate the elements of the hijab in my costumes, oftentimes I come up with some really cool costume designs. After producing 4 successful cosplays, I was featured on a trending Buzzfeed article in my Konan costume. After that, I just knew I wanted to keep cosplaying even more characters! I debuted my Aqua cosplay at MCM London Comic Con on October 2016, and look forward to improve it even further for next year! Here are some of my cosplays, and you can follow me on Instagram to find more pictures of cosplay and other things.
Conclusion: KH means so much more to me than just the games: to me, it's really about the story and the different elements of it and how it unites the community. And I love being a part of this community! To me, it's not even about JUST KH anymore. It's all of the little things, perculiar hobbies, different fandoms, and dank memes that connect us all on the basis of our common passion for this videogame.
Anywho, here's (most of) my story so far, but expect this space to be updated with more experiences as time passes! And if you have any questions or just wanna say hi, feel free!
Ohhh, okay! (I just started watching Naruto recently, and Hinata still has short hair, so I didn't recognize your cosplay! My apologies!) That's pretty badass, though! I take it you're a big Naruto fan? :3
Oct 04 2016 08:26 PM
Yeah, I can see that! I'm liking what I'm seeing so far! And actually, I don't mind fillers, so I can just watch them, ya know? :3 But yeah, I wanna see more Hinata!!! She's too darn adorable! <3
Oct 08 2016 08:39 PM
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Below are some of the highlights of the interview.
Nomura stated that he is confident about releasing Kingdom Hearts III within the given release window. He talked of the planning of the development process, and reiterates why the development of the game had been taking longer than planned.
“In terms of when we decided that it’s going to be 2018, I can’t say for certain, but we knew that from the start of the project… We had determined how long the development period was going to be.
We had this goal that we set in our planning: we would spend this amount of time, and then our personnel would be increased at such timing. So the plan was already there, but there were some factors that tied-in with our company’s decisions. There was the decision to change the engine, also some personnel planning that had also changed. So there were some factors that were related to the company’s decisions which affected the actual timing at which we will be releasing. That being said, the period that we were planning to spend to create the game was still there, and it just naturally shifted. So we feel that we have been moving according to plan.”
In fact, as stated previously in a GameSpot interview, there was a decision made by the company to change to an external engine, the Unreal Engine 4. In his interview with DualShockers, he stated that this decision was made after a whole year of development of Kingdom Hearts III. He reiterates that this delay was not due to any problems with the development team, and that he was not part of making the decision to switch engines.
“The company had to make those decisions and it didn’t work out for the targets that we were hoping to hit.”
In regards to directing Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake at the same time, Nomura agreed that while it is the biggest challenge, he is not finding it as difficult due to the games being so different from each other.
“The differences between them actually work to my advantage. If both titles were too similar, they might start to look the same. With the two being so different, if there was one thing that I could not do in one title. I might be able to do it in the other. This actually works out well for me in that way.”
Nomura admitted to feeling a “little bit of pressure” in managing expectation for Kingdom Hearts III. However, he will not be deviating from his original vision and plans for the game, (“which was ambitious to begin with”) and that there are fewer chances now to make last minute changes and do trial-and-errors.
He cannot comment on the number of worlds in Kingdom Hearts III, but repeats that they will all be most likely revealed leading up to the release.
As with his interview with GameSpot, he also repeats that while nothing is confirmed in regards to DLC in Kingdom Hearts III, he has told the development team to prepare for downloadable content in the future.
He briefly commented on how Keyblade transformation was one of the main transformation assets they focussed on. You can read more about it in this interview he had with Game Informer.
He recapitulated how the development team is allocating more “fun and gameplay” into individual worlds than in previous titles, rather than making many small different worlds.
“Since these are HD graphics, we need to be efficient on how we’re working on creating these assets.”
Actually, having been at the June 11th concert myself, I can confirm that the orchestra actually didn't play Wave of Darkness over the trailer live. I mean, they DID play it that day, just not during the trailer, the trailer had a recorded part of it as part of the video like it does online. They just played Wave of Darkness a few movements later as part of their program.
tbf the article doesn't say the orchestra played WoD live *during* the trailer, just that the orchestra version of it is the track used in the trailer, and that the orchestra played it during the concert. otherwise that would have been something else
Another thing you should note is that the gameplay of the English and Japanese trailers, despite being nearly identical, are actually different recordings, which suggests that the game is farther along in development!
We like to try avoiding assumptions as much as we can