Square launched the original Kingdom Hearts video game on PlayStation 2 in 2002, and pretty much ever since, Disney and Square fans have been asking for a TV or movie adaptation. As it turns out, that almost happened extremely soon after the creation of the franchise. Tonight, Eight Crazy Nights director Seth Kearsley has shared online a full Kingdom Hearts cartoon pilot animatic dated to September 30, 2003, clocking in at 11 minutes of rough but imaginative animation he created. It even includes the voice acting (with apparently some but not all of the original voices) and sound effects.
Kearsley’s reason for uploading the footage now, after 20 years, is simply: “I want to show my work.” That’s an excellent reason. He went on to explain in the YouTube description that the job of this Kingdom Hearts cartoon pilot animatic was to set up the premise of the whole series and effectively do a “typical episode.” Indeed, this animatic introduces all of the main characters, including Sora, Riku, and Kairi, and even sends Sora on an adventure with Goofie and Donald to Agrabah, where they eventually discover Riku has fallen to the darkness. It’s pretty epic for 11 minutes of rough animation, even though the designs for Sora and Riku look kind of, well, off.
In any case, Kearsley said they tested the 2003 Kingdom Hearts cartoon pilot animatic with kids, and “it tested better than anything else” being tested in that round at that time with children. Ultimately, Disney and Square passed on the series, which is a shame, since this pilot really had some potential. Let us know what you think of it and if you would have watched this in the early 2000s. It’s definitely something novel to think about while the long wait for Kingdom Hearts IV continues.