I had a bunch of tags on a post about pre-Dream Drop Distance era Kingdom Hearts fandom, and I decided to make a post about it because in retrospect it’s hilarious. Like i feel like people coming into the Kingdom Hearts fandom post-DDD aren’t getting the true experience™, because like. Okay let’s look at the creme de crop of the KH fandom era. Which, I’d say, was 2005-2010. So which games came out in that time? Kh2, BBS, and 358/2 Days.
Let’s recap, shall we? Kh2 ends, relatively happily, with Sora Riku and Kairi back home and together. HOWEVER. Kh2 started with Roxas and Namine, and ends with both of them essentially ceasing to exist. Despite them not being true protagonists, the audience naturally formed a relationship with them, and, obviously, latched onto their essentially doomed existence as Nobodies.
And as an extension to that, basically all the Nobodies in the game get reimagined (without much effort) as ultimately tragic figures. Deaths of humourous characters like Demyx, who literally dies saying ‘I don’t want to disappear’, are particularly painful, because it gets sort of dismissed by the main narrative and protagonist, so obv the audience has to pick up the slack re: grieving.
and then there’s Axel. and how much he cared for Roxas, despite not being ‘able’ to care. And then he goes and DIES for you. and it’s like???? okay, ow.
So KH2 ends with numerous, pretty damn sad character deaths, and two characters the audience has grown attached to being consigned to non-existence. And boy howdy did KH2 era fanfic reflect this. The ANGST. The focusing on Roxas and all his ANGST. The focusing on Roxas and Axel’s relationship and all the ANGST. you’d think we were being melodramatic but in retrospect it really was quite fucking sad.
And then along came Days.
Man, Days was basically made to rub salt in the wounds for everyone who got hit by a case of the Feels because of the Nobodies in KH2. It was like, ‘oh, you like these characters? here let’s give you prolonged and amiable relations with them, make you sympathize with their motives, all while you remember that they literally all die in the next chronological game’. like. and that’s not even touching on Xion. Xion, ‘my existence is literally killing the person closest to me also i am literally a clone shaded in with some stolen memories my only choice is to kill my best friend or let him kill me and when he kills me he will forget me’.
Days does not have a happy ending. The ending of Days is the beginning of KH2, and the beginning of KH2 for Roxas is a pile of angst and sad. and the end of KH2 for Roxas is non-existence.
As if this wasn’t enough angst to fuel a fandom for years, ALONG CAME BIRTH BY SLEEP.
BOY. FUCKING. HOWDY.
EASILY the most tragic game in the KH series. You all know why. There is, once again, no happy ending. Terra is possessed, Ventus loses his heart, Aqua gets trapped in Hell, game fucking over. alsldksjsfldf. and because, again, salt in the Nobody-shaped wounds, the game has you interact with a bunch of pre-Nobodies, who at this point, are canonly dead forever. Meeting Lea is like being stabbed repeatedly with a rusty serrated knife. Because Axel is dead. Axel is dead and everyone who would remember him no longer exists. like, what the shit. the fandom wept, and rightly so.
pre-DDD was such a time of ANGST. i mean, I think someone looking at KH fandom now would say we over-exaggerate the angst and sadness in our series. but that’s because DDD retconned so much of it. all the Nobodies are alive again, including Axel, which makes playing BBS and seeing Lea not hurt as much. And it’s pretty much confirmed that Ventus and Roxas, as well as Aqua and probably Terra will be saved, whereas previously their fates were super uncertain. Pre-DDD we had nothing but our own tears to cling to and that, to me, will always be the essence of the KH fandom experience.
I swing between loving DDD for finally giving us a game with a goddamn happy/hopeful ending and not drowning us in angst, and hating DDD for invalidating so much of the glorious glorious angst of the previous games. god we lived off angst back then. so much death cab for cutie. those were the goddamn days.