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  1. Article: Disney nearly made an animated KINGDOM HEARTS TV series

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Disney nearly made an animated KINGDOM HEARTS TV series

Disney nearly made an animated TV series for KINGDOM HEARTS. Seth Kearsley, the rejected TV series' director and writer, released a storyboard on deviantART dating back to 2002. Here, he reveals that a short pilot episode was producted, but that Disney eventually decided to not go ahead with the series. You can view the storyboard below, and also read his words that he posted on his DeviantArt page.

This goes back to about 2002. Only the first game had come out at this point. I was hired by Disney TV animation to develop and direct an animatic for a possible Kingdom Hearts animated series. I played the first game from beginning to end and was so excited to get this opportunity. This would have been the perfect thing for me, especially because of my action/comedy background with Mummies. It was dark. It combined anime and classic disney characters. Are you kidding me? This was awesome. I also had control of the script on this so it was INCREDIBLY DARK...but then so is the game. The darkest moment in the pilot was when Maleficent possessed Riku after he snatched the lamp. That's the very last panel here.

You'll notice a series lack of backgrounds in these boards. There was a pretty good reason for that. As part of the project, I was able to go to the Disney Animation Archives. The episode took place on Agrabah, so I pulled actual production BGs from Aladdin and boarded with it in mind that I would use this backgrounds.

This is one of those projects I really wish I could go back and have another crack at. Especially with the technology now. Looking back at these drawings, I can't believe how small some of them are. I also can't believe I inked them and did marker tones on all of them. I must have been temporarily insane.

At any rate, the pilot animatic tested exceptionally well but it was decided there wouldn't be an animated series because they planned on making many more games. WHO KNOWS...there could be a Kingdom Hearts animated series at some point.

------

I actually played the entire game myself to the end and tossed the script they originally had because it read more like an episode of Aladdin guest starring the characters from Kingdom Hearts. I wanted to be very true to the game without just copying the game. The episode took place in Agrabah and centered around Sora and Riku trying to get the lamp, which was the key to Argrabah. It started on the island the way the game starts so we could meet Sora, Riku and Kiri then it turns into a bit of a nightmare and Sora wakes up on the ship with Donald and Goofy as they're approaching Agrabah. We see Riku with Maleficent and Jafar. Riku and Sora meet up in a fight against the heartless in the streets. They both go for the lamp. As soon as Riku touches the lamp it's as though Maleficent has control of him and ultimately Sora gets the lamp away from Riku before a giant heartless hand pulls him through a portal. SOOO....quite a lot of information to get through in a 7 minute pilot presentation.

Ultimately, it tested very well but there was so much respect for the Japanese Director who was doing the games and there were still so many games in the works that they didn't want to muddy the water with a series. Who knows. Maybe they'll still do one down the road. When I see Disney acquiring Marvel and then LucasFilms, all I think is, "Those would be awesome worlds to battle heartless."

It would have been such an amazing show. With the pilot, I actually went to the Disney Archive and pulled production backgrounds from Aladdin to use as backgrounds for the pilot and then did the board with those backgrounds in mind. So when Sora and Riku were fighting in the streets, it was the actual backgrounds from the movie. When Riku grabs the lamp, it was the background from when Aladdin grabbed the lamp. My plan was to do that for all of the lands they would visit in the series. I felt that using the actual backgrounds would not only save a bunch of money it would keep us from recreating the wheel for each of those lands and it would have a visceral effect and make you feel like you had seen this before. I thought it would do an interesting thing to the brain of any hardcore fans.

So...yeah...it was the coolest project that never got off the ground for reasons that had nothing to do with the project itself but more company wide strategizing.

Update: @_branden_ of @khunion has conducted an interview with Seth Kearsley, the series' director and writer. You can listen to it here, or below on YouTube.


Disney nearly made an animated TV series for KINGDOM HEARTS. While it was apparently rumoured for about ten years, it wasn't confirmed until Seth Kearsley, the TV series' director and writer released a storyboard. You can view the storyboard below and also read his words that he posted on his DeviantArt page.
 

This goes back to about 2002.  Only the first game had come out at this point.  I was hired by Disney TV animation to develop and direct an animatic for a possible Kingdom Hearts animated series.  I played the first game from beginning to end and was so excited to get this opportunity.  This would have been the perfect thing for me, especially because of my action/comedy background with Mummies.  It was dark.  It combined anime and classic disney characters.  Are you kidding me?  This was awesome.  I also had control of the script on this so it was INCREDIBLY DARK...but then so is the game.  The darkest moment in the pilot was when Maleficent possessed Riku after he snatched the lamp.  That's the very last panel here.
 
You'll notice a series lack of backgrounds in these boards.  There was a pretty good reason for that.  As part of the project, I was able to go to the Disney Animation Archives.  The episode took place on Agrabah, so I pulled actual production BGs from Aladdin and boarded with it in mind that I would use this backgrounds.  
 
This is one of those projects I really wish I could go back and have another crack at.  Especially with the technology now.  Looking back at these drawings, I can't believe how small some of them are.  I also can't believe I inked them and did marker tones on all of them.  I must have been temporarily insane.
 
At any rate, the pilot animatic tested exceptionally well but it was decided there wouldn't be an animated series because they planned on making many more games.  WHO KNOWS...there could be a Kingdom Hearts animated series at some point.  
 
------
 
I actually played the entire game myself to the end and tossed the script they originally had because it read more like an episode of Aladdin guest starring the characters from Kingdom Hearts.  I wanted to be very true to the game without just copying the game.  The episode took place in Agrabah and centered around Sora and Riku trying to get the lamp, which was the key to Argrabah.  It started on the island the way the game starts so we could meet Sora, Riku and Kiri then it turns into a bit of a nightmare and Sora wakes up on the ship with Donald and Goofy as they're approaching Agrabah.  We see Riku with Maleficent and Jafar.  Riku and Sora meet up in a fight against the heartless in the streets.  They both go for the lamp.  As soon as Riku touches the lamp it's as though Maleficent has control of him and ultimately Sora gets the lamp away from Riku before a giant heartless hand pulls him through a portal.  SOOO....quite a lot of information to get through in a 7 minute pilot presentation.
 
Ultimately, it tested very well but there was so much respect for the Japanese Director who was doing the games and there were still so many games in the works that they didn't want to muddy the water with a series.  Who knows.  Maybe they'll still do one down the road.  When I see Disney acquiring Marvel and then LucasFilms, all I think is, "Those would be awesome worlds to battle heartless."
 
It would have been such an amazing show.  With the pilot, I actually went to the Disney Archive and pulled production backgrounds from Aladdin to use as backgrounds for the pilot and then did the board with those backgrounds in mind.  So when Sora and Riku were fighting in the streets, it was the actual backgrounds from the movie.  When Riku grabs the lamp, it was the background from when Aladdin grabbed the lamp.  My plan was to do that for all of the lands they would visit in the series.  I felt that using the actual backgrounds would not only save a bunch of money it would keep us from recreating the wheel for each of those lands and it would have a visceral effect and make you feel like you had seen this before.  I thought it would do an interesting thing to the brain of any hardcore fans.
 
So...yeah...it was the coolest project that never got off the ground for reasons that had nothing to do with the project itself but more company wide strategizing. 

 

 

kingdom_hearts_board_by_sethkearsley-d6v

 

Update: @_branden_ of @khunion has conducted an interview with Seth Kearsley, the director and writer. You can listen to it here.

This had some potential. The backgrounds thing sounds amazing.

So there have apparently been rumors of an animated series for Kingdom Hearts. Turns out that this came from a pilot that was pitched back in 2002 after the first Kingdom Hearts. So even though there isn't really going to be an animated but there was at one point, would you want one?

 

To be honest, I would prefer that Kingdom Hearts just stick to manga and the games. Usually game franchises either get butchered or are portrayed as super kiddy when it gets it's own tv show.

 

Besides. The way I see it, the games are already like an animated series. So I see no need for it.

 

What do you guys think?

Hmmmm...
I've heard similar rumours were all over the fandom way back when KH1 was first released, does anyone from back then want to give their opinion on it?
Man, the wasted potential in this reeks.

I really don't see why people are so persistent on having Kingdom Hearts become an anime so they can complain about it later when all their favorite moments couldn't get put in or some other stupid thing like animation or whatever. Kingdom Hearts is a long series, so it's really too much to mold into an anime. I don't mind the manga but geez people, a Kingdom Hearts anime is never gonna happen. Period. 

I want to cry.

Bleh. I'm glad this never got off the ground. No disrespect to the guy, I'm sure he wanted to remain very faithful to the series, but I prefer KH not being spread out into mediums other than games and manga. (Or those novels that seem to be hard as balls to find translations of, for that matter)

This certainly seems....interesting. But considering the quality of Kingdom Hearts V-Cast, yeah I'll pass on anything KH that's not made by Square or by the manga writer.

I would love a KH anime. Even if it's a KH equivalent to Sonic X or something, or it strays from the actual KH plot I'll still watch it because KH nonetheless.
Although I hope that whole stray from the story line wouldn't happen, I would freaking love an animated series.

I really don't see why people are so persistent on having Kingdom Hearts become an anime so they can complain about it later when all their favorite moments couldn't get put in or some other stupid thing like animation or whatever. Kingdom Hearts is a long series, so it's really too much to mold into an anime. I don't mind the manga but geez people, a Kingdom Hearts anime is never gonna happen. Period. 

I would never be able to wrap my mind around Cloud Strife being on disney channel.

I would love a KH anime. Even if it's a KH equivalent to Sonic X or something, or it strays from the actual KH plot I'll still watch it because KH nonetheless.
Although I hope that whole stray from the story line wouldn't happen, I would freaking love an animated series.

This^ xD

Haha. I gotta apologize. I just made this same thread but I didn't see that you made it before I did.

I'm glad this didn't take off! The story just wouldn't have matched up with the other games! But I think a Kingdom Hearts tv series would be pretty cool if they could make one that's true to the games!

Oops. I didn't know someone made a similar thread just an hour before I did.

I really don't see why people are so persistent on having Kingdom Hearts become an anime so they can complain about it later when all their favorite moments couldn't get put in or some other stupid thing like animation or whatever. Kingdom Hearts is a long series, so it's really too much to mold into an anime. I don't mind the manga but geez people, a Kingdom Hearts anime is never gonna happen. Period. 

that's a negative way to look at it

that's a negative way to look at it

Im a negative person in general  

I would love a KH anime. Even if it's a KH equivalent to Sonic X or something, or it strays from the actual KH plot I'll still watch it because KH nonetheless.
Although I hope that whole stray from the story line wouldn't happen, I would freaking love an animated series.

me too

Im a negative person in general  

ooooohhhhhhh

Wow, this is such a neat little thing!  I mean sure, it's been more than 10 years since this was planned out, but hey, it sounded promising!  It can still be done!  When the Xehanort Saga ends, Disney and Square can collaborate with Seth to make an anime series about the entire Xehanort Saga!  With Square's direct supervision and Disney's watchful eye!  It's fullproof!

Wow, this is such a neat little thing!  I mean sure, it's been more than 10 years since this was planned out, but hey, it sounded promising!  It can still be done!  When the Xehanort Saga ends, Disney and Square can collaborate with Seth to make an anime series about the entire Xehanort Saga!  With Square's direct supervision and Disney's watchful eye!  It's fullproof!

 

This an't an anime though.

This an't an anime though.

I know, but it could be made into one. :)

If there was a TV show, I would've liked it to be an anime and to be canon to the KH games...so I'm glad this didn't happen because it doesn't seem to follow the games and its not an anime.
I'd like to see this happen someday. It sounds promising.

If there was a TV show, I would've liked it to be an anime and to be canon to the KH games...so I'm glad this didn't happen because it doesn't seem to follow the games and its not an anime.

 

It would follow the games, but it wouldn't have been canon. It would have been completely Disney.

 

But you know what, it still sounds awesome to me. They were going to use the actual backgrounds from the Disney films.