In 2013, the director and producer Seth Kearsley shared storyboards from a cancelled Kingdom Hearts television pilot that he was working on for Walt Disney Television Animation in 2002/2003. Now, nine years later, it seems he's gone one step further than that, giving us a closer look at an animatic for the 'lost' project.
In the 11-minute animatic, we see a horde of heartless attack Sora, Riku, and Kairi on Destiny Island, leading the three teenagers to become separated. Then, like in the original game, Riku ends up in the company of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, while Sora teams up with King Mickey's court magician Donald Duck and Goofy, the captain of the guard, to search for his missing friends.
According to Kearsley in a video on his YouTube channel, the project emerged because he had been talking about the concept of 'American Anime' following his work on the Adam Sandler holiday film Eight Crazy Nights. 'American Anime' was a proposed idea for animation processes that were more similar to those in Japan, where the directors could make key creative decisions and not the other cooks in the kitchen.
This would allow for the director and animators to do more long-form storytelling across several episodes, as opposed to having to tie everything up in a neat bow at the end of every 20 minutes.
His agent phoned him up one day and told him that they had the perfect project to realize this vision; it involved him adapting the video game Kingdom Hearts for Walt Disney Television Animation. He familiarized himself with the source material and also got to work on a rewrite of the script that made it feel more like the game than "an episode of Aladdin".
So why didn't it come out? Well, as Kearsley states in the video:
"They were going to do more games. So even though it tested better than anything else, they put it on the shelf. It hurt so bad when they were like, 'Yeah, we're not going to make it because we're going to make more games, and maybe at some point in the future we'll do something with it.'"
It's a fascinating story and one that will likely be heartbreaking for fans of the series to hear. Nevertheless, we're glad that Kearsley was finally able to share more of his work and give it some necessary context.
What do you make of this animatic? Would you watch a Kingdom Hearts TV show? Let us know in the comments!
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