It’s still hard to believe that Kingdom Hearts has finally arrived after years of waiting and countless spinoffs later. At the time of writing, it’s been a week since the game launched, and I’m sure many players will have finished the game by now. Some will even have unlocked the cryptic and mysterious secret ending after collecting those hidden Mickeys, or Lucky Emblems as they’re referred to in-game.
I will be discussing full spoilers from Kingdom Hearts 3‘s ending, epilogue, and secret movie below, as well as what I believe the future of the franchise will be. It’s not too late to turn back, because I won’t be holding anything back.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Ending
As much as I personally loved the ending of Kingdom Hearts 3, I do recognize that there are many others who dislike it. For me and other longtime fans, the game’s ending provided closure for almost all the franchise’s lingering plot threads and characters, giving us everything we ever wanted and more. For others, the ending was not exactly the definitive end of the franchise that was seemingly promised by franchise creator Tetsuya Nomura all these years.
To recap the ending of Kingdom Hearts, the seven guardians of light have been gathered, consisting of Sora, King Mickey, Riku, Aqua, Ventus, Kairi, and Lea (who are also accompanied by Donald and Goofy). They reach the Keyblade Graveyard but find themselves severely outmatched, losing their hearts in the process. However, Sora then finds himself in the Final World, his heart still somehow intact, albeit in many pieces.
In the Final World, Sora gathers the pieces of his heart (with the help of dream eater Chirithy) and helps recover the hearts of all the other guardians of light too after he discovers that the ‘power of waking’ has been inside him all along. After that, all of them return to the Keyblade Graveyard and defeat most of the Organization XIII members.
A lot (and I do mean a LOT) of stuff happens during this time. This includes Roxas returning via his heart being placed in a Replica body, Terra regaining control of his own body from Xehanort, and the surprising reveal of Xion existing again. All of this leads to the tearjerking and long-awaited reunion between Terra, Aqua, and Ventus, as well as Xion, Lea, and Roxas.
It then turns out that this was all according to the original Master Xehanort’s plans, as he prepares to summon Kingdom Hearts. He does this by destroying Kairi’s body and stealing her heart to complete the thirteen hearts of darkness and seven hearts of light needed to forge the χ-blade. He then disappears to Scala Ad Caelum, the nexus and origin of all worlds.
The other guardians of light stay back to try and close Kingdom Hearts, while Sora, Donald, and Goofy follow Master Xehanort to Scala Ad Caelum for a final earth-shattering battle. The other guardians of light then arrive just as Master Xehanort is defeated. While Master Xehanort is dying, a heart comes out of Terra’s body, which turns out to be the long-presumed-dead Master Eraqus.
Master Eraqus convinces Master Xehanort to surrender. It’s revealed that Master Xehanort’s ultimate plan was actually to have Kingdom Hearts reboot the entire universe to its initial state, one that’s pure and free from darkness. Master Eraqus and Master Xehanort then depart to join Kingdom Hearts, as all hearts do in the end.
Sora then uses the χ-blade to seal Kingdom Hearts and help everyone escape from Scala Ad Caelum. It’s heartbreaking that everyone received a happy resolution except Sora, who decides to embark on a new journey to find Kairi alone and revive her using his ‘power of waking’, despite the risk of losing himself in the process.
The next few scenes unfolded rapidly (which brought tears to my eyes), as we see Aqua, Ventus, and Terra returning to a restored Land of Departure, while Roxas, Lea, and Xion are eating sea-salt ice cream with Hayner, Olette, Pence, and Isa in Twilight Town. Namine returns when her heart is placed in a Replica (just like Roxas), when she is then picked up by Riku on a Gummi ship.
As everyone gathers on Destiny Islands for a celebration, we see Kairi sitting with Sora before he suddenly fades away as the two are holding hands and watching the sunset on top of a crooked Paopu tree. Kairi starts to cry (and I do too), as it seems that Sora sacrificed himself to reclaim Kairi’s heart and body. Fin.
That’s the simplest recap I can think of. Obviously, there’s more to all that but you’ll have to play the game for the details. If you’re still not convinced, go read my review of Kingdom Hearts 3 here. Anyways, the ending of the game was emotionally-satisfying for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, maybe a happier ending for Sora and Kairi would have been nice but we can’t have everything we want.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Epilogue
I would have loved nothing better than to see Sora smiling and reunited with his friends in the Kingdom Hearts 3 epilogue. Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, the epilogue is actually planting the seeds for the future of the franchise, marking the end of the Xehanort Saga (or Dark Seeker Saga) and the beginning of a new one.
The epilogue begins at the Keyblade Graveyard, as Master Xehanort’s Keyblade plummets from the sky to the ground. A hooded figure picks it up, saying “Finally, back where it belongs.” Four more figures in animal masks then appear, who turns out to be the Foretellers from Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover (read my story recap of that here). The Foretellers were the earliest Keyblade Masters, who each had their own factions of Keyblade wielders called Unions. The first Keyblade War began when these Foretellers and Unions fought each other.
The hooded figure reveals himself to be Xigbar (or Braig), one of the Organization XIII members. However, he also reveals that his true name is Master Luxu, one of the six Foretellers. In truth, all six Foretellers were apprentices of the Master of Masters, who mysteriously disappeared all those years ago.
The four Foretellers demand to know why Luxu has summoned them. He said that he has finally completed the secret role and task given to him by the Master of Masters -each Foreteller was given a unique role to fulfil. One foreteller, named Ava, is noticeably absent, and Luxu notes that it must mean that she has completed her own role too.
We then see the black box, which was entrusted to Luxu by Master of Masters, was by his side. This is the same box that Maleficient and Pete was hunting for throughout Kingdom Hearts 3. However, the epilogue does not reveal the contents of the black box, which is presumably being saved for Kingdom Hearts 4 or any future instalment of Kingdom Hearts.
The final scene in the Kingdom Hearts 3 epilogue shows a young Master Eraqus and young Master Xehanort still playing chess. However, this time Eraqus rearranges the chess pieces to include seven black pieces (representing darkness) and one white chess piece (representing light).
It seems likely that the seven black pieces are meant to represent the six Foretellers and the Master of Masters while the one white chess piece is meant to represent Sora. If this is true, then Luxu and the rest of the Foretellers, including the Master of Masters himself, will probably be the next main antagonists of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
According to the secret reports in Kingdom Hearts 3, this has all been an elaborate plan by Luxu to instigate another Keyblade War to bring back the Foretellers and the Master of Masters for a yet undetermined purpose. Ava and the remaining Dandelions are also seemingly on another worldline (the franchise’s equivalent of parallel worlds or parallel timelines), thanks to a ‘lady of magic’ (which is hinted to be Maleficent).
Kingdom Hearts 3 Secret Ending
The Kingdom Hearts 3 secret ending is even weirder than the epilogue. We see Sora and Riku waking up and finding themselves in two very Tokyo-like cities. The short footage ends with an unknown hooded figure making the shape of a heart with his hands and projecting it onto the moon in the sky, symbolizing Kingdom Hearts.
What the heck is happening? Let me tell you.
Sora looks like he’s actually in Shibuya, the main setting of the Square Enix JRPG, The World Ends With You. That particular game was originally developed by the same team behind Kingdom Hearts for the Nintendo DS. The game has also already crossed over with the Kingdom Hearts franchise for the first time in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, with characters from the former appearing in the latter.
Meanwhile, Riku is in what appears to be the city from the Verum Rex video game that we see the promo of in Kingdom Hearts 3‘s Toy Box world (and also when Rex was playing the game). We can see Yozora, Verum Rex’s main protagonist, looking at Riku from afar. Fans are speculating that Verum Rex is actually based on Tetsuya Nomura’s original plans for the scrapped Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which later went to Hajime Tabata and became Final Fantasy XV.
What’s most interesting about these two is that both The World Ends With You and Verum Rex/Final Fantasy Versus XIII are from Tetsuya Nomura himself. I’m sure everyone noticed not a single Final Fantasy character appeared in the entirety of Kingdom Hearts 3. Perhaps Nomura is saving them for the next game, where we will probably also see Final Fantasy Versus XIII come to life.
The fact is that Sora sacrificed himself to save Kairi in Kingdom Hearts 3, which means that he basically died. It’s fascinating that he finds himself in Shibuya of all places. Why is that? It has everything to do with the main premise of The World Ends With You.
In The World Ends With You, everyday life goes on in the Realground (RG) while the chosen dead are brought to an alternate plane of existence called the Underground (UG). The UG is also the venue for the Reapers’ Game. By offering their most treasured possession to enter the Game, the dead obtain the chance to contest for the prize of being brought back to life or transcending to a higher form of spiritual existence. See the connection? This could be the way for Sora to come back to life.
Last but not least, I think that the hooded figure at the end of the Kingdom Hearts 3 secret ending could be none other than the Master of Masters himself, who was very eccentric and mischievous. The way the hooded figure was tracing the shape of a heart onto the moon felt like something no one but the Master of Masters would do. I can’t imagine Xigbar or any of the Foretellers doing the same thing (they’re a serious bunch).
What We Can Deduce About Kingdom Hearts 4 So Far
Thanks to the Kingdoms Hearts 3 ending, epilogue, and secret ending, we can now glean what Kingdom Hearts 4 could possibly be about.
- Moving forward, the main antagonists will be Master Luxu and the Foretellers.
- The Master of Masters will be the wild card (due to his unpredictable and eccentric nature). Moreover, we still don’t know his ultimate goals and motivations, as well as the true identity of the Master of Masters.
- Sora waking up in The World Ends With You‘s Shibuya will lead to his eventual resurrection, due to the premise of that particular world, where the dead enter the Game for the prize of being brought back to life (or transcending to a higher form of spiritual existence).
- Riku might be looking for Soram which is how he finds himself in Verum Rex. Verum Rex will be our chance to witness Tetsuya Nomura’s lost vision of Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
- The question of what’s in the black box remains the biggest question of all. What’s inside it and why is it so important?
- Where is the one remaining Foreteller, Ava? Is she the one mentioned in the Kingdom Hearts 3 secret reports?
- Expand the concept of Worldlines, which is the franchise’s equivalent of parallel worlds or parallel timelines.
As of now, all of the above is simply my theories and speculations about the future of the franchise post-Kingdom Hearts 3, none of which have been confirmed. I only hope that Kingdom Hearts 4 (or whatever the next instalment of the franchise will be, which hopefully won’t be a spinoff) will arrive sooner rather than later.
I speak for everyone when I say that no one wants to wait another decade or more for a sequel. Regardless of how everyone else feels about Kingdom Hearts 3 (and its ending, epilogue, and secret ending), I remain optimistic and genuinely look forward to whatever Nomura has in store for us in the near future.