In this post I will be discussing the art of kingdom hearts and how the separate art styles from final fantasy and Disney come together in the main character, Sora.
Like most people my age, Disney was a large part of my childhood so when I saw a game called Kingdom Hearts riddled with characters from across Disney, I was excited to play it. For this I will focus on the main character of the series, Sora.
The initial design for the main character of this game created problems as Disney wanted Donald Duck to be the protagonist whilst Square Enix wanted Mickey Mouse instead. The lead designer at Square Enix, Tetsuya Nomura, had a different idea. He decided that he wanted an original character to take the lead in this game and he started to make a design.
This was the original concept for the main character that took aspects from both Disney’s art style and Square Enix’s and it would combine them both. In this version of the design he had a chainsaw that would later be changed to match the younger audience that Disney would bring to this game. In this design you can see the cartoonishly large hands and feet that would commonly be found in Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse. There are also animalistic parts of this original design which is commonly used in Disney cartoons as they find that animals are not only easier to animate but they also make it easier to keep a child’s attention to an animal.
Square Enix is known for having large amounts of chains, belts, zippers and identifying features on characters and weapons alike and this can be seen on this concept. With chains that you can faintly see on on his front as well as the recurring crown mark on his design which helps make the connection to the title.
You can see these features on this character, Squall from Final Fantasy Viii. You can see this design in the fact that Squall has three belts on, a keychain from his weapon, a lot like how all of the weapons that Sora gets has. There is also a large similarity in the pose that Square Enix protagonists often take up.
This is a pose often used by Square Enix to show off a characters design as it shows a lot of aspects of their character as well as give a good scale for their weapons and their armor pieces. This pose also portrays a protector which is a good value for their protagonists and is once again seen in Sora and it shows in his personality as he finds a need to find and protect his friends throughout the story.
As this went on they further developed the character of Sora and dropped the lion like design to make the character fit in more with the Square Enix roster and they started to add aspects to also fit into the Disney style.
As you can see here by this illustration, the final design for Sora takes a lot from the Disney art style and even has the same colour scheme as Mickey mouse as a little reference to the fact that at a part in the development the main character was Mickey mouse, both the previous ideas for the main characters were not lost either as they both play active roles in the game, Mickey being a king that you have to search for and Donald being an ally and a friend to Sora. You can also see here that Sora has kept the pose as well as the zips, belts and chains that come from the Square Enix art direction.
In conclusion, the art style in this game came to be a nice mix of the two producers styles by having the proportions and colour scheme from Disney and the pose and outfit from Square to make him easily fit in most