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    I recognize canon, though I sometimes don't agree with it, but I won't argue when the story follows it though I'll likely complain. I think what bothers me more about the FFVIII theorist is not necessarily they're insistence of being right over what's stated, but their failure to see how their pet theory creates more problems for the story than what it's suppose to fix.

    I can agree with them that R=U takes a really flat character like Ultimecia and makes her 100x more interesting, but I can't look past the fact that such a story beat runs completely counter to what we see in the game proper. I need that logical consistency to enjoy a piece of work and when the information presented either runs counter to what we're being told or simply lacks too much information for there to be a feasible leap in logic as the writer asks, I get a little annoyed. Generally, how I deal with them is simply pointing out how their pet theory creates more problems in the narrative than fixes, and watching them try to methodically piece it all together can sometimes be entertaining but usually just ends in their frustration.

    As for communication, that's a kind of a loaded subject that may derail us even farther. Linguistics has never been my strong suit, and most people would agree I lack any strong interpersonal communication skills.
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    I wouldn't say coming up with your answers to a story concept, even if it runs counter to the official explanation is void of value. Perhaps in discussion of the subject itself of course, but coming to ones own conclusion or utilizing someone else's ideas for you own is in many ways the basis of art itself. I mean Disney itself has made most of their success based on remixing classic fairy tales and stories which are hardly close to the original if we were to say they are the truth.

    I can say I prefer my interpretation of what is really happening to Riku and Ansem, and while it will not get me far in a KH discussion out side of a "that sounds like a better idea" or "that's awful, I prefer the official explanation" I can still always take my own version and utilize it for something more personal and original. So I wouldn't say it doesn't merit any value to edit and write your own conclusions to official works.

    In the case of works where there are plotholes and inconsistencies, I feel the author obviously doesn't know or doesn't care enough to give proper answers, at which point they forfeit their right to complain about how fans see it. I mean if they didn't care enough to give a proper answer, then why should they be bothered when others misconstrue the meaning of the piece. The value of a work, regardless of whether it's artistic or not, really comes from those who care about it. There is always the author's view of a work, but it coincides with the public reaction and the way they see it as well. One simply has to look at Alan Moore's Watchemn series in the 80s to see what I mean, because while he's been pretty candid about the purpose of the work, the misinterpretation of it created a whole era of Comic Books that we still feel the impact of today. I mean I know he kind of looks back on it now and wishes he never wrote the piece, but objectively speaking, I feel the fact his work inspired so many, even though they missed the actual point of the story, grants it greater value than had everyone simply came to the same conclusion and moved on from it.

    On the rare occasion I let anyone read my writings, I'm not necessarily as concerned about people getting my message or idea across, of anything I find the wild speculation more interesting. My current comic book project had a moment where I was talking to my artist friend about one of the characters to give her an idea who they are so she could draw them, and she jumped to an odd conclusion about the nature of this figure that I didn't even think about. I liked her idea enough that I actually rewrote his entire scenario to fit into this new interpretation because it was more interesting than what I was planning, and I feel the work is now much richer for it. So regardless of intention, I feel that for the sake of creativity, it's better to look at a work subjectively rather than objectively. If ones opinion happens to coincide with the official explanation, that's perfectly fine, but coming to ones own conclusion is not wrong either as long as the logic is sound.

    I mean, I don't like the R=U or "Squall is Dead" theories, largely because they're off base from what we see in the official work, but I would agree with it's advocates that the theories are interesting and still consistently provide a means to come back to VIII and really delve into the story, characters, and message. I myself have gained a far greater understanding of VIII's story simply arguing with the people who propose these theories. So even for people who staunchly adhere to the official version can often gain some new insight into a work they love by indulging in fan speculation and trying to set them right.
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    I simply use the term "revived" because writing out "time traveled Ansem from KH1" is too cumbersome, it's also why I put it in quotation because we both understand it's not a real revival.

    As for my feelings on his continual existence, I feel that my uncertainty comes mostly from the fact I prefer the idea he was metaphorically still with Riku as opposed to actually being there, even though the latter is the canon explanation of what's going on. I prefer the former idea because I feel it adds to Riku's character more. Like he personified his own darkness as the being who took advantage of him and when he tapped into that power to beat Roxas, he took his form because Riku loathes and envy's his power sounds more interesting and adds some interesting layers to who Riku is from a character building perspective than to simply say it's actual just Ansem because he body snatched him and now they're forever connected so even if Ansem is destroyed, his will forever lives on within him. None of which I feel has been helped by kind of how hands off that whole plot thread became after CoM. In hindsight, I wonder if it was meant to have more to it in KHII or 358/2 and was simply cut for time? Something to ponder I guess. I accept the official explanation, but I don't agree with it being the best choice.

    As for the issue regarding the nature of Ansem's being, I'm not sure I would say his consciousness of being within Riku is completely him, though mostly because for my own World View and to a lesser extent, Kingdom Hearts own mythos seems to be moving in the direction that a person is the sum of their parts. So even though his consciousness lives on within Riku, the destruction of his temporal form in KH1 may have been enough to fulfill the requirements Xehanort needed. My point is, you may be projecting your own concept of being on this matter which is creating the inconsistency. Though it also seems I'm trying to deduce a solution without all the facts since I haven't played KHIII yet and I'm likely missing something very important. Your explanation is insufficient because you're trying your best not to spoil it for me which is causing this discussion to go in circles. So yeah, we'll probably have to get back to this once I have all the facts so we can talk more directly on the problem.

    As for communication issues, I think it may stem from both of us just having very different way of viewing things. You strike me, and forgive me I'm off-based here, as someone who is very literal and just the facts. Whereas I'm the type of person who can't accept things at face value and I try to find other meanings or perspectives to look at things. Unfortunately, that means I tend to repeat things that are understood because I'm both trying to make clear we're on the same page, but I'm also constantly mulling over the information to see if there is something I missed or a different angle I can see it in. That's not to say I feel everything has subtext and other meanings, but things that don't rarely hold my attention. You said you preferred concrete answers and official explanantions, but I honestly prefer speculation.

    Sadly, I'm not sure if you'll rectify these inconsistencies within the story of KH because as you know, Nomura purposely leaves gaps in explanations because he thinks it's fun for fans to speculate on the matter. So you may never get an official explanation and have to rely on your own conclusions instead.

    If it's almost a thousand pages though, it may take me a while to get through the whole dissertation.
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    Well, after reading an overview of Ansem from the Wiki, minus the KHIII stuff that will likely joss my own interpretation of the solution to this dilemma, it seems that Ansem is in fact attached to Riku up until the events of KHII when the real Ansem's Data Encorder blows up and finally destroys the last bit of him within Riku's heart. Since it is technically him and he embraced his power to beat Roxas, there isn't really an inconsistency with Riku using the Guardian's power in the battle with Roxas and KHII since he would be literally channeling the Heartless Ansem, that is of course assuming KHIII doesn't change this.

    As usual of any story, the moment you introduce Time Travel, the plot gets really screwy, not helped by the fact that being associated with Disney, "death" doesn't seem to really exist in KH or at least not the way we know it in real life. So the whole "Ansem exists because Riku carries a part of him through memory" doesn't feel far fetched, especially when you consider Xion's own existence still somehow persists despite 358/2 saying her entire existence is gone.

    I feel the issue here is simply that Heartless Ansem's temporal form is destroyed in KH1, and while a part of him lingers due to his connection to Riku, the important part of him that was directly linked to Xehanort was destroyed which allowed for Xehanort to revive based on the rules of Heartless/Nobodies established in coded and 3D. Yet since a part of his essence has been connected to Riku, he could still know about the events he physically didn't exist in because of that connection. I don't necessarily feel there is as much of a problem here because KH1 firmly establishes that Ansem's temporal existence was destroyed in KH1, and while he lingered within Riku's heart because of their connection, he was eventually snuffed out by Riku's strong heart and some poorly explained sci-fi mumbo jumbo in KHII, before Ansem was "revived" by time paradox in 3D. Yet due the franchise's cosmology concerning the heart and the power of bonds and connections, Ansem is able to still perceive all the events that transpired after his temporal demise because a person can never be truly destroyed within the series setting as established by characters like Roxas, Namine, and most damning of all, Xion. So I feel that Ansem did "die" in the fact that his existence was reduced to a point where he could no longer influence the story or world outside of being a reminder to Riku of the darkness within, but then he was brought back in 3D by poorly defined time travel that ignores causality, complicated by the rules concerning hearts and bonds in the series that are kind of left up to interpretation but seem to largely state that such bonds transcend reality and physical laws as we know it.

    I remember in the interview I linked earlier, that Nomura mentions that when Ventus meets Sora for the first time, technically it was meant to happen before Sora was born meaning Sora existed in some capacity before his eventual birth, but they downplayed it in the English adaption due to being overly sensitive to the ongoing debate in the U.S. about the subject of when life begins. Still, this sort of points out that a being within this universe always exists in some capacity whether they are killed, retgone, or even unborn. It's also established that the bonds and connections made between people pretty much transcends logical physical laws and states of being, so to me it's not far fetched that a past version of Ansem, through these connections holding on by Riku, could be aware of things that happened while he was dead as if he was there all along. So I'm not sure if there is a real inconsistency here as much as it's an issue of the metaphysics of the game are muddled, unclear, and steeply entrenched in Zen Buddhism.

    Again, I am working here with no real knowledge of KHIII, so there is likely a complication here that I'm ignorant of that josses this whole interpretation.
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    Also, I have no idea who the guy in the picture is, outside of him looking like a real like Xehanort.
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    I always felt that Ansem SoD appearing before Riku was simply how Riku perceived the darkness in his heart as opposed to it being literally him, it doesn't feel far fetched that Riku would see his own darkness as the guy who tried to hijack his own body, but I may be mistaken of course. Though I feel if you take most of Riku's run ins with Ansem in CoM and taking his form in KH2 as more a physical repercussion of a metaphorical event, then Ansem's death at the end of KH1 despite his continual appearances sill makes sense. Again, I've not read up on all of Nomura's interviews or the Ultimania concerning him, so I am likely wrong. This was simply how I perceived the inconsistent appearances after KH1.
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    You're preaching to the choir here about the series inconsistencies with it's own rules.

    There's a lot of fan wank concerning Ansem through Riku using the keyblade in KH1. I mean technically the keyblade he was using was incomplete but like you said, there is no actual answer, simply speculation that has to deal with inconsistent rules. I simply have reached the point where I feel you can't even bring up the first game anymore, and any rule established in that title can just be chocked up to the early installment weirdness before the writers had a better grasp of the type of story they wanted to tell. I mean replaying it now, the whole Keyblade deals feels like a twisted play on Arthurian Myth with the Kingdom Key being special and mostly one of a kind except for it's Realm of Darkness counterpart, and yet later on this was retcon to Keyblade wielders being KH Jedi and Riku saying he was chosen was because he remembered Terra giving him the Rite of Passage when he was like five or six. It's kind of awkward going back into this game because the feel of the story which is more like a Fairy Tale in contrast to a Shonen Manga feel that CoM and beyond took the series.

    As for Roxas appearance, I can agree that the way it was established was kind of confusing. It might have initially worked if the writers had given Ventus a different look and instead simply state that Nobodies resemble but don't necessarily look like their original selves as many fans speculated after KH2. I mean Xemnas and Ansem look alike, but there's enough variation between their faces and even the Terra-Xehanort model they used to imply this idea could have been true. I mean isn't Roxas' face basically Sora's? Yet as you mention, it still doesn't really make sense Roxas would look more like Ventus instead.

    I vaguely remember an interview with Nomura around the time of KH2's release where he once again coyly mentions that Sora and Xehanort's Nobodies are unique because of the circumstances of their creation since both of them purposely extracted their hearts, but that may very likely be due to Nomura laying down the groundwork for Birth by Sleep at that point.

    The time travel nonsense, ugh, I hate it when stories use time travel because if the rules are not established well right off the bat, then theories and inconsistencies of their use can go everywhere. [chi] or I guess I should say Union X at this point is kind of weird with how time works and I'm still baffled by how Donald and Goofy managed to reach Daybreak Town since it's heavily implied the Keyblade War took place before Mickey's time. Made weirder now that Ventus has shown up and we're meeting Malruxia and Larxene's original selves. I know the game isn't finished yet with it's story, but my own theory is simply that the events of the game are not real but likely simulation someone is running of what they know happened back then. Thus the Foretellers stuff is canon to the series, but your own player interaction and the introduction of characters who are out of time are more palpably able to co-exist with this setting without having to further complicate the timeline or bring in more time traveling shenanigans. Granted I'm not far into the game, so I can be way off base here, but it's my impression of the game at the moment.

    Overall, it's largely because the series has a hard time keeping it's lore straight that I find dealing with it exhausting, especially because you never know when their going to retcon one part or completely downplay or outright ignore other rules. As I mentioned in Fynn's retrospective thread, I feel like KH runs more on Rule of Cool nowadays, which doesn't have to make sense, but can be really irritating for people who dig the rules and lore of a setting. It will be interesting to read your own thoughts on the franchise, though I may have to wait until I tackle KHIII for myself. I look forward to it though.
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    Yeah, I know Roxas' Keyblades are basically Sora and Ventus. I think I brought up the question because I was reading a translation from the Birth by Sleep Ultimania, and Nomura said something interesting when the question came up.

    Quote Originally Posted by BbS Ultimania Q&A
    -- Roxas, the "Sora + Ventus" Nobody, was able to use a Keyblade. In contrast Xemnas, the "Terra + Master Xehanort" Nobody, wasn't able to use a Keyblade. Why is this?

    Nomura: I'd rather that point remain a mystery. It's possible that he intentionally wasn't using one.
    It just made me wonder if there was more to it since it sounded like he was being coy. Personally, I think it was likely just a design choice. It's difficult to determine how far ahead the plot of KH was planned, so Xemnas' abilities were probably finalized before the whole Terra-Xehanort plot had been finished so there was never a need to address this inconsistency. Headcanon, your suggestion sounds about right. Not like Sora was an impressive Heartless. Hell, it's possible that Roxas was only able to use the Keyblade because Sora still existed as one being, whereas Terra-Xehanort lost the power because they were split into their two halves as Ansem and Xemnas. If Kairi hadn't restored Sora, perhaps Roxas wouldn't be able to use the Keyblade. This gives me something to mull over.
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    Replaying KH1 now, I can agree they held more of a purpose in the first game, but I honestly felt like they just felt contractually obligated to show up in subsequent titles. Not helping them for me is that my favorite entries in the franchise largely ignore the FF characters.

    Though replaying the series, I also feel the Disney worlds suffer this too, being very intricate to the first game before the later entries dropped most of the Disney villains for the original characters. The first game did the best with making this feel like FF meets Disney, but starting with CoM, I feel like the franchise went in a very different direction that simply kept both franchises around for the novelty factor while the series became more of it's own thing. Personally, I kind of felt KHII ended the story of most of the FF cast, and while I would love to have seen a few more cameos, I just feel like the FF characters were left behind around KHII. By this point, I'm more interested in seeing what will happen with the Keyblade trio and Xehanort than see what Leon and Cloud are up to, which is why I'm not terribly bothered KHIII didn't bother. We'll see how I feel once I get to the game though.

    As for the Disney Worlds of KHIII, though I don't know all of them, frankly I don't have as much nostalgia for them like I did for the first three games that stuck to the 90s films. I like Pixar, but I'm not in love with them and most of the 3D Disney flicks of the last decade are okay, but don't hit that nostalgia vibe I got from some of the other world choices. I guess for me, it's the difference from enjoying something from your childhood versus something you enjoyed as an adult. I'm looking forward to Monsters Inc and Tangled, but I honestly never cared for Toy Story, Big Hero 6, and Frozen. I'm honestly more annoyed that my least favorite world from KHII, Pirates of the Caribbean, came back as a setting. Kind of wish they had saved Tron Legacy or Fantasia for this game.
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