The Cancelled Kingdom Hearts Animated Series

Kingdom Hearts TV Show

For years fans have been pondering about a Kingdom Hearts animated series to go along with the games and the manga that have been released so far. What started off as a rumor over a decade ago, fans just thought it was something to throw into the fire of rumors while waiting for any announcement of Kingdom Hearts II.

Now that rumor can finally be confirmed as Seth Kearsley, the writer and director of the cancelled series, has uploaded a storyboard he had put together for the show’s pilot episode. This is what Seth had to say in his own words about the pilot:

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.

Here is a look at the storyboards that Seth had created:

So what do you all think about the cancelled Kingdom Hearts animated show? Would you like to see the show be brought back to life now that Kingdom Hearts is an established series?

Source: Seth Kearsley’s DeviantArt Page

77 Responses to “The Cancelled Kingdom Hearts Animated Series”

  1. Muhammad Says:

    might want to rewrite that a bit but I wish it was a thing. I’d say go for it.

  2. JoshOnTech Says:

    I would have loved for this to have taken off. I don’t see why it couldn’t work. I imagine it would be a retelling of the first game only it would have a lot of extra adventures that the group go on along the way.

  3. Raptormax9585 Says:

    Would’ve loved it, but the art style looked way too goofy (pun totally intended) on Sora and company. If it was done in the same “style” as the avatar shows, then yea Id be on board. Also Sora’s head in one of the panels, the second from the bottom up on the right side of the first story board, looks way to awkward looking and hilarious.

  4. Thomas Hind Says:

    Oh my god…I never realized that now they could do different Star Wars planets! Oh man…a lightsaber keyblade! How badass would that be?

  5. Darrin Tyler Says:

    They can easily still do it. And adding Kingdom hearts style Star Wars characters, And Marvel characters…that would be insane….
    because most of the time Marvel takes place on Earth always in a alternate universe. Sometimes on other planets or some place else but still…It’d be intense having Sora go up against like maybe Magneto or Mr Sinister! With the help of Jene or Rouge etc….it’d be crazy

  6. Thomas Hind Says:

    Wait…disney has rights to Marvel as well?

  7. Greg Ostertag Says:

    It would have been interesting to see where this could have gone but I’m skeptical on if it would have worked, I mean the guy who’s was making it did ‘Eight Crazy Nights’ which was pretty bad.

    So I don’t know if they had the right people to make this game translate well to television.

    I would have loved to see the TV Show take the game into a different direction maybe less anime and more cartoon style would have been better in my opinion.

  8. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Eight Crazy Nights wasn’t bad if you like Adam Sandler (story was a bit tired) he was doing more of a anime style which would’ve worked great.

  9. Greg Ostertag Says:

    I don’t like Adam Sandler actually, he’s always doing the same material over and over again.

    I actually would have liked to have it be a hand-drawn cartoon rather than a anime because anime feels at this point a self parody of itself.

  10. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Also maybe they could have told the origin story in the show, that would have been a better starting point then going to Argrabah, because the non-video gaming audience would get useful information on the plot

  11. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Nah but “anime” is still hand drawn so you aren’t really making a distinction if by “hand drawn” you mean “The Disney Style” then that would be an actual parody but he was just doing a pilot episode or a presentation so he could’ve done something with Cìté Dés Clochés if he wanted.

  12. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Good point. Being more specific I mean old school Disney/50′s Warner Bros. Style animation in which it’s not done in Anime style.

    Like Batman: The Animated Series not Anime show.

    One guy who I’d like to work on this would be Peter Jackson, which I know is a pipe dream but a boy can dream lol

  13. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Me personally I’d like to see a Square style anime type like Final Fantasy VII: The Last Order incorporating the Disney style might be harder in that case though, if the animator teams team up we could probably get an actual Kingdom Hearts animated series since one of KH greatest appeals is that it’s a product that if it didn’t exist we wouldn’t be able to picture it at all, ya know? The style Young Justice was done would be a good direction.

  14. Greg Ostertag Says:

    I really want a different company to play a part if this tv show came to be.

    I’d be more interested in Pixar doing the show then Square doing KH, because SQ seems to be a mess at the moment and have a lack of imagination. (Evidence being FF13)

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘it’s a product’ like you mean it’s two markets colliding? (FF/Disney Markets)

  15. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Yeah that but FF13 one, wasn’t done by Nomura and two, it kinda set the stage for XV in a way when you think about it FF13 was a world where technology was more common than magic and FFXV is “A fantasy set in reality”.

  16. Greg Ostertag Says:

    No Nomura worked on the ‘Lightning Saga’ he was the director.

    Isn’t XV a FF with the mafia?

    FF13 didn’t really look good, it looked ugly and looked like a game made in the early 2000′s.

    How would you feel about having a KH TV Show reboot the story and start all over?

  17. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    No it was Toriyama (not Akira) and yeah XV is basically the Mafia if the Mafia was a royal family, XIII-2 was the only one that used low res models but I think KH4 or whatever the one after will be KH3 will be called would benefit from an animated counterpart.

  18. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Huh, well I Stand corrected again lol

    Isn’t Toriyama that guy who said “lighting is the first strong female character?’

    But FF13-3 had only 22 frames per second for each level and had some faults of having two NPC’s who looked the same talk to each other.

    How so? In my opinion they’d need to do the whole story from the games or start a new story with new characters because you can’t leave your audience in the dust like that you need to inform them on what’s going on via TV or Game.

  19. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Well yeah he did and Light’s most notibale influences are Cloud (Dissidia incarnation) and Squall not really that bad since she was both the leading lady AND central character but “first strong female character” period would go to Tifa Lockhart if you actually know the character there’s more to her than “great Tits and a great ass” 22 frames per second isn’t as bad as it seems when a good AAA movie is still only 24 frames per second, my second point Nomura said even though 3 would be the last of Sora’s adventure it won’t be the last game made so they could make a separate game series and a good animated series would complement it.

  20. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Yeah but she lacks what made Cloud good, she’s boring and emotionless.

    Tifa got nothing on Jessica Rabbit lol

    Yes but the movie can still be good unlike FF13 and they look better. Pixar’s better than Square actually when you think about it.

    So separate animated series or re-tell the games story?

  21. Greg Ostertag Says:

    And didn’t Nomura say KH3 won’t be Sora’s last game just Leonard Nimoy’s last game?

  22. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Let’s leave Light alone but uh think more Pokémon but if Red was the main character in the show instead of Ash.

  23. Greg Ostertag Says:

    I don’t like Pokemon that much. How about Korra?

  24. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    If by Leonard Nimoy’s last game you mean the last of the Xehanort saga yeah he also said that Sora might not be the playable character or focus character in future games too.

  25. Greg Ostertag Says:

    They’ll keep Sora. They’ll piss off to many people if they kill him off. Except unlike killing superman this won’t bring more creditability to their franchise.

    I personally don’t care but that’s how I see it

  26. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Korra won’t “translate” like that I was talking about an animated series accompanying the game not a simple continuation which is why I used Pokémon, do you like Zoids?

  27. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Where did you get “killing off Sora” from there’s a thousand and one ways to continue the games without Sora dying, like for instance restoring Land of Departure and having Sora being a Master training new Keyblade wielders and the story starting from there with one or a group of students, Yen Sid would still be a character since he’s kinda a walking history book for the universe.

  28. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Oh. As for Zoids? No haven’t seen it sorry.

    Are you talking about games that can translate to tv well or shows that the KH Series can follow.

    If it’s the former I say ‘last of us’ can be a good show

  29. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Well not really, does Bayonetta work? Or Devil May Cry?

  30. Greg Ostertag Says:

    That would require pushing the timeline a decade or two.

    But Sora’s character makes allot of money for Square/Disney so that’s another reason why they won’t do it.

  31. Greg Ostertag Says:

    As a horror show? Depends who you get to work on it.

    How about Assassins Creed?

  32. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Nomura never said the next game after 3 would be a direct sequel either Square would do it and I’m sure Disney could be convinced to agree to it, I’m sure Sora isn’t going to be the next Mario and that’s coming from someone who loves Nintendo.

  33. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Do you know what a Movie tie in game is, besides a half assed tempt to make more money on a movie?

  34. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Max Payne and Hitman? Those are what I can think of games that sucked as movies.

    A film adaption of a video game?

  35. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Nomura’s a business man first, he’ll keep the characters that are the most marketable.

    But why do you think Disney wouldn’t be able to convince Nomura to keep him alive, if he wants to end the use of Sora?

    Yeah I love Mario too, he’s actually a better character than Sora by a mile, Cause he’s more fun to have in your game.

  36. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Okay now we’re getting somewhere I think if done right the series could influence more people to buy the game or vice versa, even if Sora is a secondary main character in a new game series Yen Sid could serve a major role too so it’s not mandatory to play the other games to get the full lore since he is a character in the KH universe that knows anything the player would need to know moving forward. Is it making sense yet?

  37. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Can we fuse the discussion please but Nomura wouldn’t have a problem letting Sora take a back seat in Dream Drop Distance Riku was the focus character not Sora.

  38. Greg Ostertag Says:

    So a TV show about Kingdom Hearts would make more people buy the games and read the manga?

    Who would you like to be the main character if not Sora?

    I’d like Yen Sid be like a guide to the characters and be like the Yoda to the three young characters.

  39. Greg Ostertag Says:

    Yeah sure you start it off. Fusing the discussion I mean lol

    Well it’s not like Sora had nothing to do in DDD. He still was a part of the story and shared the stage equality in my opinion with Riku.

  40. Greg Ostertag Says:

    What do you mean by the way?

  41. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Bingo in a nutshell, and I’m not sure to be honest a created character would be ideal choosing dexterity, hairstyle, normal grip or or reverse grip, skin tone, faces, etc. would be awesome IMO but even another preset character would work too.

  42. Greg Ostertag Says:

    I’d always wanted Square to do a completely normal character just like the audience and put him or her in the KH or FF games as the protagonist so we can have someone to relate too and have fish outta water characters moments.

    Like Star Wars or Last Starfighter.

    Anyone of the existing characters you’d like to see be a big player in the story soon?

  43. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    You mean the second part? Nomura said that the main focus of KH3D besides the Mark of Mastery exam is Riku’s growth in the series (it makes more sense if you wonder why a collection of data would want to know someone’s name) on that note in KH2 Ansem the Wise asks Riku his name to which Riku replies “Ansem” in Xehanort Seeker of Darkness’s form so when he asks him again in KH3D and Riku replies “Riku” it shows he has truly accepted the darkness in his heart and truly “walks the road to dawn” he said he would in Re:CoM, at the start of KH3D Riku summons Soul Eater when wondering if he was worthy of the Keyblade after allowing darkness into his heart, later Way to Dawn appears when Riku needs it, it’s pretty complex but that’s what the “Chronicles” function in DDD is for.

  44. Ostertag00 Says:

    You mean road of twilight? #Uselessinformation

    I never liked the way Nomura always brought back Ansem, it never really developed into anything it was just an excuse to have a boss-fight.

    And wasn’t that Soul Eater weapon his cause he got it from joining the evil side or something?

    So you think DDD was more about Riku conquering his fears more than about Leonard Nimoy time traveling?

  45. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Is that (Road of Twilight) the Japanese name, Ansem Seeker of Darkness is one of the thirteen darknesses, and “conquering his fears” not even close it was his character development, Leonard Nimoy didn’t really time travel it was the Younger version that did as a back up plan and just set the stage for KH3 big revelation but not really a real focus.

  46. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    That could work even a created character could fit it, a big player? Lea’s ability with the Keyblade would be good one.

  47. Ostertag00 Says:

    No I think they said that in the cutscenes.

    Riku to me always just seemed like a common sad character that enix seems to do allot, he’s kinda like Squall where he’s kinda a jerk. Anyways on his character development I guess there was some in DDD but he could have been more interesting.

    By the way why do the younger Xehnort’s aren’t voiced by Nimoy?

  48. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Oh and Soul Eater was a “mock Keyblade” Maleficent gave him that became a base for all his Keychains like the Kingdom Key is for Sora

  49. Ostertag00 Says:

    Axel? I don’t know about him. I was thinking more along the lines of Donald and Goofy or Merlin or maybe Kairi

  50. Ostertag00 Says:

    Okay but why does he still use it?

  51. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    The name of the weapon in the English is Way to Dawn although in KH2 he still referred to it as Soul Eater, then was quite a bit of development for him, but uh yeah they aren’t all voiced by Nimoy Ansem is Voiced by Billy Zane, Xemnas Paul St. Peter, and I forget Young Xehanort’s voice actor the other darknesses include Repliku (Riku Replica), Xigbar or Braig, Saïx or Isa, Old Master Xehanort Leonard Nimoy, Terranort (Terra’s body possesed by Xehanort) they aren’t all voiced by him because it would be weird for a young looking guy to sound like a really old man.

  52. Ostertag00 Says:

    But Leonard Nimoy is a more capable actor then those guys so although It might be weird to see him play all those people, it be more fun in my opinion lol

    Okay. I guess that checks out.

    How about if the show did KH1 story over again? I didn’t mention that before right?

  53. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    That could work but there’d be some trouble getting the rights for Tarzan and they’ve had to go through that just for 1.5.

  54. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Oh Kairi would be a treat maybe a more attack oriented Aqua thing in gameplay and maybe take some inspiration from her role in Dead Fantasy too.

  55. Ostertag00 Says:

    Why what’s up with Tarzan?

  56. Ostertag00 Says:

    I don’t really like Aqua, her voice actors pretty bad.

    I think just making her a strong female lead would be enough, no need to go more FF with this game.

  57. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    After KH1 Disney lost the rights to it so Square obviously had to convince copyright law makers it was for them and not Disney.

  58. Ostertag00 Says:

    Who’d they sell it too? And they can just do something different with the show. Maybe have the slideshow be a Indian ceremony and show what the slides did like in Pocahontas

  59. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Lost as in it expired, but they could combine the two visits or Square themselves could obtain the rights but that’ll still make an anime more probable.

  60. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    I was referencing Aqua gameplay wise Aqua is a magic based character.

  61. Ostertag00 Says:

    But didn’t they make the movie?

    I don’t think Square has that money to throw around

  62. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    They did but apparently they didn’t get to keep the rights when they were remaking movies but Square could probably get some sort of special liscence.

  63. Ostertag00 Says:

    If rather see them do Jungle Book

  64. Ostertag00 Says:

    Well yeah most Keyblade users are

  65. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Not in the way Aqua is where Terra, Ventus, Sora, and Riku a balanced physical and magic or more physical move set Aqua’s is almost exclusively Magic

  66. Ostertag00 Says:

    Didn’t she pick the wand in the dive of heart then if she relies on magic so much?

  67. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    I would’ve liked to have seen a revamped Tarzan world in DDD because of the Flowmotion mechanic

  68. Ostertag00 Says:

    Maybe. What I also want them to do for the new games is make it easier for you not to get lost

  69. JustDroppingIn Says:

    Interesting.

    To note, though, these are storyboard sketches. The whole point is to get the basic idea down, quickly, and set up the pacing of the scenes. It’s very common for storyboards to look completely different from the official character designs.

    Not sure I’d be too crazy about reusing archived Disney backgrounds though, at least not as the general rule. That just seems like it would stifle a lot of creativity, forcing the episodes to play out inorganically. Maybe key scenes could benefit from that technique (which would make them stand out more anyway) but utilizing already-used backgrounds across the board would only allow for likewise recycled action, just with different/extra characters in place.

    Also, of course this would deviate from the games’ storyline. It would have to, not just because of the format, but because otherwise what’s the point?! I think it would have been pretty cool if episodes followed a format of flashback-to-present—episode opens up with a few minutes reflecting on something from Destiny Islands or the plot of Birth by Sleep, then the main story picks up and ties in thematically to whatever was in the opening. So it really does become a rather piecemeal narrative over the course of the series—still episodic so that younger viewers are digesting a concise story each episode, but cohesive enough from episode to episode that the overall narrative weaves together into the longform story we’re familiar with the more it goes on.

    In that format, the larger plots stemming from Xehanort could still be explored and still remain fairly similar to the games, but the individual worlds could sustain the format of the show. Say, a 26-episode season to cover the story of the first game? Doesn’t seem too out of the question.

  70. Ostertag00 Says:

    Also I’d like to see better level design and have bigger disney worlds to walk through as opposes to a limited world like most of the KH games are

  71. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    The only badly designed level in DDD was the “Ocean Depths” in Prankster’s Paradise since the underwater and Flowmotion didn’t mix well the levels themselves had to be made bigger than they ever were before to make the Flowmotion mechanic mesh well otherwise you’d be dashing around out of control.

  72. Ostertag00 Says:

    Flow motion was a good addition to the games but also I liked that you could run faster in DDD.

    Underwater worked well in KH, it always looked bad and handled poorly. I don’t really wanna see a underwater world in the next game or a return of the gummi ship for that matter.

    Weren’t you in Monstro during the Pranksters Paradise mission?

  73. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    You were only in Monstro on Riku’s side.

  74. Ostertag00 Says:

    Oh yeah Monstro just blew Sora back to land in his story.

  75. JoshuaMariguez197 Says:

    Yeah then Sora connected the dots about meeting Pinocchio and Jiminy

  76. Ostertag00 Says:

    Yeah I don’t think I understood what he was talking about but I think I know who to blame for that mess. Adding time travel to a story is never a good idea

  77. Ostertag00 Says:

    I don’t know if I asked this before, but who would you want to write and produce a KH tv show

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