Kingdom Hearts 3’s ‘secret movie’ is full of surprises

Kingdom Hearts 3 has not only a post-game epilogue, but also what director Tetsuya Nomura calls a “secret movie.” The scene requires extra in-game effort to unlock: Players must collect a certain number of Lucky Emblems first, depending on their difficulty level.

But it’s absolutely worth putting the time in to watch this beautiful, bizarre, eyebrow-raising clip, because it points at a potentially wild future for the series.

[Warning: We are heading directly into spoiler territory for Kingdom Hearts 3, starting … now.]

How do I unlock the secret movie?

Step one is the same for unlocking the epilogue: Finish the game through the end credits. After that, the secret movie will only be added to the Theater mode if players photograph the required number of Lucky Emblems, Mickey Mouse-shaped marks scattered throughout Kingdom Hearts 3’s worlds. The number required varies based on which difficulty setting they selected from the start. Players on the Beginner difficulty need to find all 90 of the Lucky Emblems; playing on Standard requires taking pictures of at least 60 of them; anyone who cranked it up to Proud level needs to just find 30 Emblems.

After meeting that criterion, the secret movie, called “Yozora,” will unlock.

What happens in the secret movie?

The first shot is of a reflection in a puddle, showing what appear to be two brightly colored areas: one blue, one orange. Then we see a familiar, sleeping face. It’s Sora, who has conked out in the middle of wherever-this-is.

Sora rises, admiring his surroundings. Cut to Riku awakening somewhere else, but vaguely similar. Turns out both boys are now in cities vastly unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Kingdom Hearts before — modern, Japanese metropolitan areas, with cars and traffic cones, and skyscrapers dotting the skyline. And we actually have seen one of these cities before.

The Shibuya Scramble Crossing from The World Ends With You
The Shibuya Scramble, JRPG-style.
Square Enix

It looks like a version of Tokyo. You’ll recognize (a version of) the Shibuya 109 building and the famous Shibuya Scramble crosswalk, which Sora stands in the middle of. And if you’ve played The World Ends With You, you’ll know this Shibuya redux better than anybody; it’s the same one that appears in Square Enix’s 2007 role-playing game.

Meanwhile, Riku is in a less familiar area of Tokyo, and he’s being watched by a familiar-looking guy sitting on top of a building close by. And on another tower, a man in black robes, the kind worn by members of Organization XIII, makes a heart with his hands around the moon.

And, scene.

Why are Sora and Riku in Tokyo?

No clue. The ending of Kingdom Hearts 3 shows Riku lucid and hanging out with Naminé in the main world of the series, perfectly well-aware of where he is.

Meanwhile, Sora went off to find Kairi as per usual, but we have no reason to believe that he fell asleep on the way, or that it would require a trip to Tokyo. And certainly not the Tokyo of an entirely different, pre-existing Square Enix game!

What does this have to do with The World Ends With You?

The World Ends With You, a Square Enix-made action RPG re-released on Nintendo Switch last fall, follows a boy named Neku in his own quest to save his friends and the world. Unlike most fantasy RPGs, this one is set in a tweaked version of Shibuya. The tell that this is the same Shibuya in the secret movie is the Shibuya 104 building. That’s how TWEWY re-brands the landmark department store.

Neku in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
Neku helps out a drowsy Sora in Dream Drop Distance.
Square Enix

It’s not outlandish to assume there’s a connection between the two games, even beyond that. For one, Square Enix has never been above including characters from its other series in Kingdom Hearts (although strangely not in Kingdom Hearts 3). Neku appeared in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, alongside his friends. They tutor Sora in the area of Traverse Town, which is where Final Fantasy’s Squall (aka Leon) offers early-game mentorship to Sora in the very first Kingdom Hearts game. And Kingdom Hearts staffers worked on TWEWY, including Tetsuya Nomura, who maintains fondness for it.

Who is the person watching Riku?

An original character is eyeing Riku in the secret movie. We actually meet that person briefly earlier in Kingdom Hearts 3 — he’s Yozora, the hero of Verum Rex, a fictional video game whose teaser is the explosive intro to the Toy Story world.

Rex the dino confuses Sora for his beloved Yozora throughout that level; it’s very cute and meta. But Yozora actually looks more like Riku, thanks to their similarly colored hair. We thought Yozora was just a video game character in the Kingdom Hearts canon, but maybe the action hero is actually a real-world (in a manner of speaking) villain.

Does that mean Verum Rex is a real game?

We have no idea what Square Enix is up to, so who’s to say? There’s speculation that Verum Rex is intended to be a reference to Final Fantasy Versus 13, the game that went on to become Final Fantasy 15. Fans think the area Riku is in the secret movie looks like city of Insomnia from FF15, while a music cue sounds like one from the original Final Fantasy Versus 13 teaser. But director Tetsuya Nomura has a lot on his plate, and maybe Verum Rex will continue to be an ode to Square Enix’s catalogue, and nothing more than that.

The city of Insomnia in Final Fantasy 15.
There are some similarities between Insomnia and where Riku ended up … if you want to see them.
Square Enix

(Oh, also? Yozora’s name means “night sky” in Japanese. So does Noctis Caelum, aka the lead of FF15, in Latin.)

Who is the man in the black cloak?

We have a feeling it’s the Master of Masters, who remains unseen. He’s the man who kicked off the events that led to Kingdom Hearts in the first place, and plays an important role in the game’s epilogue. While many Kingdom Hearts villains wear black robes, the Master of Masters is the only one whose face has always been completely covered. Perhaps this is a sign that Yozora, and TWEWY, and Riku, and Sora are the keys to figuring out who he is, once and for all.

Is this Kingdom Hearts 4-related?

Who knows what’s up with Kingdom Hearts at present, let alone in the future? But we kind of hope that this is what’s next for Kingdom Hearts, whether it’s DLC or an entirely new game. (It’s certainly more interesting to us JRPG nerds than the density of the Keyblade War storyline that the epilogue gets into.)

Read more: Polygon

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