YenPress describes it:
After a terrible storm shatters the peace of his tropical island home, a young boy named Sora is set adrift from his world and his friends, Riku and Kairi. Meanwhile, Disney Castle is in an uproar when it is discovered that King Mickey has gone missing, leaving it up to Court Wizard Donald and Captain Goofy to find him! When Sora, in search of his friends, and Donald and Goofy, in search of their king, cross paths, their fateful encounter will change the destiny of the universe forever!
by Shiro Amano
Based on the popular video game, manga artist Shiro Amano takes Tetsuya Nomura’s series Kingdom Hearts and converts it into a manga style story. The manga was originally and released from Tokyopop and later YenPress got the rights for the manga instead and later convert the books into omnibus sets called Final Mixes. For this review, I am going to talk about this particular story out of the series, only focusing on Kingdom Hearts 1. There won’t be any spoilers.
Previously mentioned, this manga focuses on the very first Kingdom Hearts video game. To put it bluntly, it’s about a kid named Sora who must save his friends after being separated from the darkness that hate their home island. He acquires a powerful weapon called the Keyblade in which can fight darkness and lock it up in each world. He also has to help Donald and Goofy to find the missing King Mickey and restore light to the world.
Sounds like a simple plot. The manga takes the complications of the game and makes it simple for readers who wants to know about the story of Kingdom Hearts. As a fan of Kingdom Hearts, I had to get this book. The Kingdom Hearts manga is great read if you want to get into the story and also if you don’t have a game console to experience it. The main themes of the story revolves around light and darkness with a mixture of Disney. The story also focuses on friendship and trust especially when Sora first meets Donald and Goofy and must trust them as they visit worlds and fight against Disney villains and the monsters, Heartless. When you first read the manga, the story starts off slow and steady to help readers meet the characters and comprehend the plot. I felt like this was a good thing to help newcomers. The story also has some funny and light-hearted moments in the beginning but once we get through halfway to the story, it begins to get darker and serious.
Maybe it’s just me because I played the game, but I also felt like the manga could have slowed down in and showed in depth in fight scenes. Without giving away the story and I want point some parts of the manga. In one of the moments in the manga, Sora, Donald and Goofy participate in the Olympus Colosseum tournaments (Hercules). Hades calls in a hired fighter named Cloud Strife to take down Hercules and Sora’s friends. We don’t get much of the fight but we do see the outcome. Another moment is when Sora faces his best friend Riku and tries to free his other friend Kairi and save her heart; we don’t get a fight scene either and we just see the end results. In the video games, we actually get to participate in the fights and see what is the results (excluding Cloud’s fight since in the game, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose but the game ill progress). Another let down is that some of the worlds didn’t make it into the manga but it’s okay since I bet that the author didn’t want to drag on and do the same with every world Sora goes to.
The art in the manga is really something. Amano really knows how to draw Disney characters. If you look at the pages, you can see how well he does with the Disney characters. He also does an excellent job on drawing the KH characters like Sora and his friends. They look really young and it matches the character’s appearance from the game. I also want to bring up the fact that he can also draw Final Fantasy characters really good and I am not exaggerating. With the story and content. he can also make it possible for Disney manga because he can draw out expressions and funny segments. Besides the funny stuff, he can create dark and eerie characters and Heartless along with the Disney characters. I really like his art style.
The characters, just like the game and movies, match in the manga. Sora is young boy who values friendship and also enjoys having fun. His friends Kairi and Riku are like their game counterparts where Kairi is a sweet girl who cares about Sora and Riku, and Riku acts like a big brother to them and acts cool. The Disney characrters also stay true to their personality like Donald who is short tempered and serious and Goofy is a funny, simple-minded friend. In short, if you seen Disney films, it’s pretty much the same here. I did notice however some Final Fantasy characters may have been altered. Characters like Squall (Final Fantasy VIII) is now named Leon and acts like a caring leader in Traverse Town and of course, we have Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII) who acts very enigmatic; not to mention, he is wearing Vincent Valentines (FFVII) clothes in which makes me wonder why the game should have included Vincent in the games.
Overall, the Kingdom Hearts manga is a great adaptation that follows the main story of the original story of the game. The art of the manga is good and the artist does an excellent job on drawing Disney and Final Fantasy characters and original characters. The story balances between good light-hearted and dark moments. However, if you played the game first, get ready for some fast pacing in the story. Would I recommend this manga? In my opinion, I would especially if you are either a fan of the series or just want to be able to read the story in manga format. I would also recommend it if you want to get into the story even if you don’t have a PS2, PS3, or PS4 console. What is your opinion on the manga if you already read it? Comment down below.
Happy 15th Anniversary Kingdom Hearts!
If you want to buy the manga, make sure you type in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix.