Review: ‘Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories’
Sora, Donald, and Goofy continue on their journey to find their friends Riku and King Mickey, who were locked in the darkness. They are detoured along the way by a mysterious hooded stranger who leads them to the ominous Castle Oblivion. There, they may find clues that will lead them to their friends—but at the cost of their memories.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
By Shiro Amano
Yen Press, $19.00
Like the first series, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is based on a video game, this time from the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, and it is a bridge to the second series, Kingdom Hearts II. The story picks up shortly after the end of Kingdom Hearts, with Sora, Donald and Goofy searching for Riku and King Mickey. They are led to Castle Oblivion by a hooded stranger who tells them “To find is to lose, and to lose is to find”: They may find their friends, but they may lose their memories in the process. Sora chooses to press on, and they begin to explore the castle. They are both helped and hindered by the hooded figures who turn out to be part of the mysterious “Organization XIII.” These figures are after Sora as the Key Bearer, but they are also divided, with half plotting to take over the organization. Meanwhile Riku has been separated from King Mickey and has his own trials while searching for him, as he is haunted by the darkness still within him.
This volume is very different from the first Kingdom Hearts. Where the first story was all about visiting the other worlds and meeting other Disney characters, Chain of Memories is all about Sora. As the group explores the castle, they visit different worlds that are made from Sora’s memories. They visit Tranverse Town, and Agrabah with Aladdin, and Riku relives his battle with Maleficent, but that’s it for revisits from the first story. The rest of the story revolves around Sora and his memory of another friend, Namine, who left the island mysteriously, and who he has sworn to protect, as well as Organization XIII’s machinations. It was kind of a nice switch, to get away from all the retellings of Disney movies to develop Sora’s character more.
It also serves to introduce Organization XIII, who become one of the adversaries in Kingdom Hearts II. The members of Organization XIII are made up of beings called Nobodies, and they seem to not have a permanent physical form. When they are defeated, they dissolve, like digital video breaking up. Their reason for wanting Sora and their overall purpose are never explained. Neither is the reason for Sora needing to take this detour. It’s Riku who really benefits from encountering Organization XIII, as he comes to terms with his giving in to Ansem in the first story, strengthening his determination to continue to fight the darkness.
The video game elements are toned down in this volume. Sora has cards he collects that allow him to open the doors to the worlds in the castle. He, Donald, and Goofy also gain a new power, the Absolute-Zero Friendship Tobogganing, where they combine their powers to take on their adversaries. The story flowed much more smoothly without all the video game collecting gimmicks, and it felt more like something to be read than to be played
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was a good solid read. It’s fairly thick, as it is a 2-in-1 omnibus. There isn’t as much battling as the previous series, so it’s best for readers at a minimum age of 8, though it’s probably best for tween-to-teen readers. While Chain of Memories is a stand-alone story, it feels like a prologue. There isn’t any real depth given to the members of Organization XIII, making them feel rather one-dimensional, but the ending also makes it clear we haven’t seen the last of them. It might not be necessary to read this title to continue on to Kingdom Hearts II, but I would recommend it.
Review copy provided by publisher.
About Lori Henderson
Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!
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