Kingdom Hearts (2003 Pilot)
|This article is about the canceled 2003 television series. For other uses, see Kingdom Hearts (disambiguation).|
Kingdom Hearts is a 2003 pilot episode for a canceled animated television series loosely based on the game of the same name. Directed and produced by Seth Kearsley, the episode takes place in Agrabah as Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku search for the magic lamp, hoping it can help them find Kairi and return home.
The 11-minute pilot episode is an animatic, rather than fully animated: colored storyboard panels are displayed in sequence, with voice acting and music added.
After the completion of the film Eight Crazy Nights, Seth Kearsley's agent informed him of a project with Disney TV for an animated series based on Kingdom Hearts, so he attended a meeting to discuss the concept, looked through an art book, and was given a copy of Kingdom Hearts to play. He was impressed by the game and saw potential in its story.
Kearsley agreed to the idea, but was displeased with the initial script, which placed Aladdin as the main character with Kingdom Hearts characters as guest stars, rather than a Kingdom Hearts story taking place in Aladdin's world. He asked the head producer if he could do a rewrite, and despite initial conflicts, his request was approved. Kearsley was given a large amount of creative freedom with the project, even drawing all of the storyboards himself, and handling some of the editing and compositing. Kearsley was also allowed to use detailed backgrounds from the original Aladdin film from the Disney archives.
Kearsley took inspiration from the anime Cowboy Bebop when writing Sora, Donald, and Goofy's interactions within the Gummi Ship, and used the music track "Patricide" from the film Gladiator when Riku is taken by the Darkside in the lamp chamber scene.
The pilot episode was well-received by test audiences, performing better than all of the other projects being tested at the time. However, Disney ultimately shelved the project as to not conflict with the release of future games.
On November 21, 2013, Kearsley found storyboards of the pilot and posted his favorite panels on his DeviantArt account, revealing the pilot's existence to the public.
In July 8, 2014, Kearsley was interviewed by the website Gaming Union, where he described the plot of the pilot in detail. While Kearsley was willing to try and look for the pilot's animatic, he had concerns about legal action if he were to release it at the time.
On September 22, 2016, Kearsley's sister found a VHS of the pilot in her garage labeled "KINGDOM HEARTS "KH DVD V.6 MOV" ALT" and dated August 28, 2003. Kearsley posted a photo of the VHS on Twitter and tried to spread word of its discovery.
In January 2022, Kearsley was involved in a life-threatening car accident, and afterwards decided that he wanted to show off his work while he still had time. On September 27, 2022, Kearsley posted another photo of the VHS on Twitter, this time asking for help to transfer its content to a digital format. The following day, he released a cast list for the show, adding that Haley Joel Osment having a schedule conflict necessitated Bobby Edner voicing Sora instead.
On October 11, 2022, after some attempts to transfer the pilot himself, Kearsley went to a media transfer company to do it instead. He posted the 11-minute pilot to his YouTube channel later that day, but he later took it down. The animatic has since been uploaded to archive.org. Seth Kearsly briefly reuploaded the animatic as an unlisted video on February 2, 2023 before quickly taking it down again.
The pilot opens with narration by Jiminy Cricket, musing about how every world has a hero. The worlds, however, are in danger from the Heartless, whose origin are unknown. King Mickey leaves to face the threat, leaving Donald Duck and Goofy a message to seek the one who wields the Keyblade.
At Destiny Islands, Riku and Sora are in a sparring match, with Sora wielding his Keyblade and Riku wielding a black sword. Riku disarms Sora, sending his Keyblade flying, and Kairi calls the match a draw as it hits the ground. The trio rest on a horizontal palm tree and wonder about the existence of other worlds, but their conversation is interrupted - a portal appears and darkens the sky, as numerous Shadows appear on the island. Riku draws his sword and defeats several Shadows. Kairi kicks a Shadow aside and runs toward him, as Sora looks on in shock. A Darkside appears behind Sora, and as he turns to look at it, he notices he is on a floating chunk of the island high in the sky. The Darkside slams its hand into Sora and the ground, surrounding him in darkness. Sora suddenly wakes up on the Gummi Ship, revealing the prior events to be a nightmare. He looks at a photograph of himself, Riku, and Kairi, and affirms his vow to find them.
At Hollow Bastion, Maleficent demands the magic lamp from Agrabah to further the invasion of Heartless into that world. Jafar informs her that a "diamond in the rough" is necessary to retrieve the lamp, but Maleficent refuses his help, magically throwing him out of the room. She instead instructs Riku to find the "diamond in the rough" and the lamp, and assures Riku that she will help return him and his friends to Destiny Islands.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy use the Gummi Ship to arrive in Agrabah, where they've detected the presence of Heartless. Though Sora doubts his abilities as a hero, Goofy reassures him that a hero exists within everyone. Upon landing, Sora asks that Donald and Goofy keep a low profile, but they immediately start to loudly search the town for Riku and Kairi. The group quickly runs into Heartless such as Pot Spiders, Shadows, and Bandits, and start to fight them off.
Sora spots Riku fighting a group of bandits with his black sword, which now has a wing-like shape similar to the Soul Eater, and leaves a purple trail when swung. The two reunite with a hug, and Riku tells Sora that they need to get the magic lamp in order to find Kairi. The conversation is interrupted by Fat Bandits that approach from both sides of the area, and Sora and Riku each decide to take one side. Donald and Goofy arrive to assist Sora, to Riku's confusion. He watches the trio from the other side of the room, the group of Heartless behind him staying still and not attacking. He dispels the stationary Heartless with a snap of his fingers just before Sora finishes the last Fat Bandit by casting Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder in quick succession. Sora introduces Riku to Donald and Goofy, and the group go to the Cave of Wonders to find the lamp.
Riku reasons that Sora qualifies as a "diamond in the rough", and the cave's guardian agrees, granting access to the group. Sora and Riku arrive at the lamp chamber and race up the stairs, with Riku tripping Sora and being the first to grab the lamp. As he does, his eyes suddenly go white and the room darkens. A dark portal "to the realm of the Heartless" appears, and a Darkside among several other Heartless start to come through. Sora tells Riku to put the lamp back, and a seemingly-possessed Riku responds that the power of the Heartless is both necessary to find Kairi and too strong for Sora to defeat. He tells Sora that he is not a hero, but Sora affirms his resolve and declares that he is one. He charges up the stairs, defeating several Heartless as he does, and forcibly takes the lamp from Riku's hands. Riku claims that he lost control upon touching the lamp, and begs Sora to believe him—but before Sora can respond, the Darkside grabs Riku and takes him through the dark portal. Sora places the lamp back on the pedestal and walks away.
Riku returns to Hollow Bastion with news of his failure. Maleficent asks if Sora believes Riku's claim, and Riku says that he has to. Maleficent maniacally laughs as the scene fades.
Sora returns to the Gummi Ship, where he reaffirms that he must defeat the Heartless in order to save his friends. Donald and Goofy offer words of encouragement, and that they will help him every step of the way.
Worlds and characters
|Eddie Carroll||Jiminy Cricket|
|Frank Welker||Cave of Wonders Guardian|
Notes and references
- ^ Seth Kearsley on YouTube: Kingdom Hearts and Eight Crazy Nights connection.
- ^ Game Union interview with Seth Kearsley
- ^ Seth Kearsley on DeviantArt: Kingdom Hearts Pilot Board
- ^ Seth Kearsley finds a VHS of the pilot
- ^ Seth Kearsley on Twitter: "Who knows an easy way to import VHS to digital? #KingdomHearts"
- ^ Seth Kearsley on Twitter: "Cast list #kingdomhearts"
- ^ Seth Kearsley on Twitter: "Schedule conflict. He may have been cast as Sora if the series went and His schedule cleared."
- ^ Seth Kearsley on Twitter: "As some of you have already seen. The #kingdomhearts animatic is taken down. I got the call from an old friend at Disney who was politely asked to politely ask me to take it down."
- ^ archive.org: Kingdom Hearts Pilot Animatic