REVIEW: ‘Kingdom Hearts III,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kingdom Hearts III Volume 1

Kingdom Hearts III Volume 1 is from mangaka Shiro Amano, lettered by Lys Blakeslee, translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley, and is published by Yen Press. The original concept for this manga is by Tetsuya Nomura, creator, and director of the Kingdom Hearts video game franchise. As a giant fan of the video game series, this manga in particular was very intriguing to me. While Kingdom Hearts III the game, was polarizing to many fans of the series, I quite enjoyed myself the whole ride through and the manga is a perfect extension of the game.

The manga starts off almost frame for frame like the opening cinematic of the game. Young Master Xehanort and Young Master Eraques are talking about the ancient keyblade war. As the series deep dives more into the world-building, the muddled nature of Nomura’s story-telling is boiled down into more digestible chunks within this manga. Amano was able to clearly convey the overreaching ideas of the heartless and the master of masters. However, that is not the focal point of this volume.

Sora has discovered that he needs to find the power of waking and to remember how to be a hero. He, Donald, and Goofy travel to Olympus to seek out the advice of Hercules. It is here that Amano breathes new life in a story I already know. Sora is given more of his plucky nature as he faces the adversity thrown at him. He faces various challenges such as the ever-looming threat of Master Xehanort trying to invoke the second Keyblade War, Hades in Olympus working to sway Sora off of his path, as well as helping the townspeople of Olympus escape from the wrath of the Elementals.

The art deviates from the game significantly. Kingdom Hearts III, Volume 1 goes for a more gentle approach to the character designs we are all accustomed to. The characters are more slender, less angular, and starry-eyed. My favorite page in this book is a splash page of all of the keyblade wielders, including Axel, Xion, and Roxas alongside Aqua, Terra, and Ventus. The panel work is fun and attempts to contextualize and adapt the game for different media. Even a lot of the dialogue, translated by the Nibley’s feels character-appropriate and authentic to them. The lettering was easy and concise to follow with good use of different dialogue boxes and colors for different characters.

Overall, Kingdom Hearts III Volume 1 is a very fun manga that adapts its source material well. It feels as cinematic as the series has always been. The artistic shift to a cutesy and softer look for our beloved characters of Sora, Donald, and Goofy feels like a treat and is different enough to make this volume feel fresh. If for some reason you felt hesitant to play the last game in the franchise, I would recommend reading this volume as it does a fantastic job at being supplemental material for new and old fans alike. It is a perfect starting point and a great return for those who want to explore more of Sora’s journey.

Kingdom Hearts III Volume 1 is available wherever books are sold.

Kingdom Hearts III Volume 1
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, Kingdom Hearts III Volume 1 is a very fun manga that adapts its source material well. It feels as cinematic as the series has always been. The artistic shift to a cutesy and softer look for our beloved characters of Sora, Donald, and Goofy feels like a treat and is different enough to make this volume feel fresh. If for some reason you felt hesitant to play the last game in the franchise, I would recommend reading this volume as it does a fantastic job at being supplemental material for new and old fans alike. It is a perfect starting point and a great return for those who want to explore more of Sora’s journey.