I am late talking about this, but last Sunday I woke up, forgetful of the Kingdom Hearts III promotion schedule, and was surprised, but also delighted, by a snippet of the KHIII opening.
Since this is a numbered title, of course the opening would have a new song. For a while, due to “Don’t Think Twice” playing in the trailers, many fans had assumed that that would be the opening song, but about two months ago it was revealed that the opening would actually be a collaboration between Hikaru Utada and Skrillex called “Face My Fears.”
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit skeptical of what the quality of this song would be, mainly because Skrillex was a participant in this creation. I feel as though quite a few people felt that way due to their disdain or to put it nicely, mismatched alignment of taste with Skrillex’s music. They’re reminded of EDM and dubstep songs with large beat drops and wub wubs that dominated the airwaves and became synonymous with Call of Duty on Xbox 360, Doritos fingers, and Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel.
What they haven’t understood is that Skrillex has mellowed out with the wub wubs, beat drops, and odd intermittent shouted phrases. Unfortunately, Kingdom Hearts fans hold the series’ music, its openings, seriously. Though, all in all, we’ve really been given only two openings prior to this: “Sanctuary” for KHII and “Simple & Clean” plus its orchestra and “Ray of Hope” remixes for KHI and all the other non-numbered titles, those songs slap. I used to listen to both of those openings on my iPod touch when I was in high school. And due to the high regard in which we hold these two songs, and a little bit of rose tinted glasses, falsified memory maybe, there were quite a few comments saying that the music of the KHIII opening doesn’t fit the Kingdom Hearts brand. But before I get to the audio and my favorable opinions, let’s talk about the visuals because they are clean.
So the video starts off with Sora, the fandom’s collective precious child, standing in what is theorized to either be Kingdom Hearts itself or Ven’s heart. Then transitions to the other central character of this narrative arc, primary antagonist, Xehanort, who’s messing around with chess pieces. Since about 2015 or so we’ve seen this theme of chess and the KH series. With each piece Xehanort places down, we get a recap of previous games. We see the wayfinder trio from BBS get devastated, we see the Destiny Island trio get semi devastated (and what’s fun about that segment is that as that starts, KHI Sora falls into his own chess piece, symbolizing when exactly he was placed into this battle, this chess match of the light versus dark.) and then we see the soul crushing events of 358/2 Days which transitions from Xion disappearing to the Axel vs Roxas battle. The raining, the smooth sequence, the fact that it’s on a chessboard, it’s all so good. We then get a tunnel view of the Seekers of Darkness chess pieces and a quick montage of Sora facing the bosses of his featured games: Ansem, Marluxia, and Xemnas, though he’s in his KHII outfit for all of that (which makes sense given that in the opening for KHII, Sora is small KHI Sora). We then see Young Xehanort morph into Master Xehanort flawlessly. There’s a major showdown with MX and his croonies (his heartless and nobodies) versus Sora, Riku, Kairi, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. Then the preview ends, with us wanting to see more.
So visually the video is stunning, except to some people don’t enjoy the aesthetics of soft pre-rendered CG vs what feels to be in-game graphics. That’s here nor there and I genuinely don’t mind the difference. It’s all beautiful. For most people the issue is the music, it’s too Skrillex to them, too off brand. And I’ll chime in and say that for the most part, it’s actually pretty on brand. Kingdom Hearts with the exception of Dream Drop Distance, has always had a funky electronic/ techno tune for their openings and “Face My Fears” seems to be no different. The chorus is catchy, the beat drop feels appropriate, and it’s a song that, had I an iPod touch anymore, I’d be bopping to right now on my commutes from here to there. And for those of you calling the song trash, I feel as though it’s something you’ll get used to. Anyways, I leave you with the opening to Kingdom Hearts, just so y’all can remember the opening some say isn’t at all like “Face My Fears.” Later days.