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Kingdom Hearts Series Explained > KH 3D

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Let’s face it: the Kingdom Hearts Series seems to get more and more confusing and complicated with each new installment. Well we here at Destiny Islands would like to simplify it for you. Our “Kingdom Hearts Series Explained” pages are designed to help clarify plot points that are confusing and hard to follow. These pages use an easy-to-follow question and answer format with images to to help explain concepts even further.

This Article Contains Spoilers!

Before reading the rest of the article below, you should know that some of the topics discussed may spoil plot points in the Kingdom Hearts Series. If you do not want to spoil anything for yourself, we advise you not to read this article. Both the text and the images in this article could potentially give things away about important plot points. Read this article at your own discretion.

The Kingdom Hearts Timeline So Far…

The Kingdom Hearts series was not released chronologically. Some of the games released after the initial titles in the series actually go back and fill in timelines from before games that were released before them. The timeline below shows the overall time frame in which the entire Kingdom Hearts story (so far) takes place.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Set directly after the events in Kingdom Hearts: Coded, Sora and Riku are summoned for their Mark of Mastery exam, which sets up the story for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. This game, being the first real direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts II, raises plenty of new questions about everything that has happened in the entire Kingdom Hearts franchise so far, as well as many questions about the future of the series as we know it!

What’s With All These Outfits?

Sora and Riku go through several outfit changes during their adventure in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Believe it or not, there’s actually a reason behind it. When Yen Sid set them out on their Mark of Mastery Exam into the Sleeping Worlds, Sora and Riku are brought back to the Destiny Islands, shown in their original outfits from Kingdom Hearts. The nature of the Sleeping Worlds rewinds time in that world to the events leading right up to when the world was swallowed by darkness. Because of this, Sora and Riku were rewound to the age (and look) they were when their world was lost in the storm.

When shown talking to Master Yen Sid, Sora and Riku dawn their outfits from Kingdom Hearts II. This is simply because these are their most recent outfits. After the events in Kingdom Hearts II, Sora and Riku returned to the Destiny Islands. Kairi brings them a letter from the King, telling them everything about the people who have fallen into darkness that must be brought back into light (namely, Terra, Ventus, Aqua, Roxas, Xion, Axel, and Namine). They are also summoned to Master Yen Sid’s tower to take their official Mark of Mastery Exam, branding them as true Keyblade Masters.

When Sora and Riku enter the Sleeping Worlds and arrive in Traverse Town, they dawn completely new outfits that have never been seen before. At first, they just assume that it was more of Yen Sid’s magic, but after the events of the entire game, it is revealed that their new clothes hold more of a secret than just a change of wardrobe. The white X on Sora’s shirt is known as the Recusant’s Sigil, which marked him as a potential new host for Master Xehanort.

Riku’s new outfit on the other hand, has a different power. When young Xehanort interceded in their Mark of Mastery Exam, Sora plunged into the Sleeping Worlds within his own heart. Without even knowing it, Riku became a Dream Eater to protect Sora from the Nightmares that terrorize the Sleeping Worlds. The Spirit Sigil on Riku’s back gave him the power to enter Sora’s sleeping heart and travel through the Sleeping Worlds with him.

What are the Sleeping Worlds?

The Sleeping Worlds are worlds that have not fully been brought back from darkness. They remain asleep, frozen in the events that led up to the worlds’ plunge into darkness. This is why characters that Sora and Riku have met before (such as Tron, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy) do not remember them. These worlds plunged into darkness before Sora and Riku ever visited them in their previous adventures, so the characters that live there haven’t met them yet.

Why Aren’t Sora and Riku Traveling Together?

In a sense, they are actually traveling to each world together. They just happen to be visiting different versions of each world. Because the Sleeping Worlds reside within Sora’s heart, Sora is visiting them on one side, while Riku is visiting them on the other due to the nature of how he entered the Sleeping Worlds. Riku entered Sora’s heart when Xehanort interrupted their Mark of Mastery Exam, turning him into a Spirit inside Sora’s dreams. Because of this, Riku enters a different side of the worlds than Sora, as they don’t exist in the same way within the Sleeping Worlds.

How are the Members of Organization XIII Still Alive?

When a person loses their heart to darkness, a Heartless is created by the heart that leaves the body. If the person was of strong heart, the empty shell left behind becomes a Nobody. When these two forms are both destroyed, the person returns recompleted. This is the same in the case of the former members of Organization XIII. Supposedly, their Heartless forms had already been destroyed, and having had their Nobody forms destroyed by Sora, they returned to where they had originally lost their hearts as recompleted people. They remember everything from their time before becoming a Nobody and from their time as members of Organization XIII.

Who is the Man in the Black Coat?

The silver-haired man in the black coat that keeps appearing throughout their journey is a younger Master Xehanort. He found a way to time travel and collect several versions of himself throughout time in order to bring them all together. In order to time travel, you must leave your body behind. There must also be a version of yourself waiting at the time and destination you are traveling to. Because of this, young Xehanort was able to travel through time to points where another version of himself (such as Master Xehanort, “Ansem”, and Xemnas) already existed.

What is Xehanort After?

Much like his older self, young Xehanort desires the most powerful Keyblade of all, the X-Blade. In Birth by Sleep, when Master Xehanort’s plan to force Ventus and Vanitas to clash failed to successfully produce the X-Blade, Xehanort devised another plan to obtain the legendary weapon. In the legend, it is said that when the Keyblade War destroyed the original X-Blade, and shattered it into 20 pieces – 7 of light and 13 of darkness. Xehanort’s new plan was to gather individuals who had succumbed to darkness, supplying him with the 13 pieces of darkness he needed to clash with the 7 warriors of light and produce the X-Blade once more.

This was the ultimate purpose of the original Organization XIII – to provide Xehanort with 13 vessels that he could use to create the X-Blade. When Sora and Riku defeated the original 13 members of Organization XIII (in Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II), it proved to Xehanort that relying on 13 separate-minded individuals was not the best plan. His new plan was to gather vessels of darkness and possess them with his own spirit to create 13 beings of darkness, all with the same mind – his.

Young Xehanort was able to recollect some of the vessels that Xehanort had already possessed (“Ansem”, Xemnas, and Vanitas) by traveling through time. Isa and Braig returned as complete people after their Heartless and Nobody were destroyed, and rejoined Xehanort as members of the new Organization XIII. Other versions of Xehanort, collected from various points in time, made up the rest of the vessels that Xehanort needed … except for one.

Originally, Riku was also intended as a potential host, but when he began to show signs of rebelling against the darkness inside him and even channeling it to fight for the light, Xehanort gave up on trying to possess him. When Sora plunges into sleep and begins to lose sight of reality while trapped within his own heart, Xehanort begins making plans to use Sora as the 13th vessel of darkness.

What is the Recusant’s Sigil?

The Recusant’s Sigil is quite simply the crest, signified by an X, that marks an individual as a potential vessel for Xehanort. The X on Sora’s shirt marked him as soon as young Xehanort interfered with the Mark of Mastery Exam. This is also the reason Xemnas gives the members of Organization XIII a new name with an X in it. Adding the X also marks them as potential vessels for Xehanort to posses.

What About Ventus’s Armor?

When Sora defeated Xemnas in The World That Never Was, it sealed his heart in its sleep and trapped him (much like the sleep that Ventus was left in after the events in Birth by Sleep). When Sora fell into the darkness in his own heart, the part of Ventus’s heart that remained inside his heart protected him by placing him inside Ventus’s Armor. Sora remained inside his own heart, protected by Ventus’s Armor, until Riku came to save him.

When Riku dove into Sora’s heart to wake him up, Ventus’s Armor became possessed by a Nightmare. The Armor began to act on its own and attempt to prevent Riku from reviving Sora. Riku defeated the possessed Armor, which released Sora from its hold on his heart. Free from possession, Sora was able to wake up from his slumber.

Who are the Seven Guardians of Light?

The X-Blade can only be reforged when the 13 beings of darkness clash with the 7 guardians of light. Xehanort has already assembled his 13 vessels of darkness, and so the question is: who are the 7 guardians of light? Originally, Sora, Riku, Mickey, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus made up six of the seven, but Xehanort already claimed Terra as one of his 13 vessels of darkness, trapped Aqua in the Realm of Darkness, and left Ventus’s heart in pieces. Presumably, Sora, Riku, and Mickey will one day rescue Aqua from the Realm of Darkness and reawaken Ventus from the Room of Awakening, but this still leaves them with two guardians unaccounted for.

Lea, who has returned as a complete person now that his Heartless and his Nobody have been destroyed, has managed to summon his own Keyblade after the events in Dream Drop Distance. With this new weapon at his disposal, it is only reasonable to assume that Lea will fill one of the remaining two positions and act as one of the seven guardians of light.

With one spot remaining to be filled, Yen Sid becomes aware that another has gained the ability to wield a Keyblade. In Birth by Sleep, Aqua used her magic to enchant Kairi’s necklace and ensure that she would be safe if she was ever in any danger. This gesture also acted as a Passing Ritual, ensuring that one day, Aqua’s Keyblade would pass on to Kairi. Yen Sid summons Kairi to his tower when he learns that she too is a Keyblade wielder. Could Kairi be the seventh guardian of light that will join the others to clash with the 13 vessels of darkness? Only time (and more Kingdom Hearts games) will tell.

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