Kingdom Hearts is notorious for not having a simple story, so much so that the internet is littered with Top 10 lists and videos explaining it all to people who haven’t played the series. Actually, I can bet you even people who have played the games still clicked on some of those links just to make sure they, in fact, know what the heck it’s about.
While I’m not here to explain to you the whole series in detail, I do want to bring up one piece (or a whole lot of pieces) of it that have added that extra depth to the games. The Reports aren’t just something you collect to get you closer to 100% completion so that you are awarded secret endings, they’re the answer to some very important questions. But they raise a whole lot more.
How did we get here?
The Kingdom Hearts games span across nine titles, excluding the recent bundles (re)released on current consoles, and each has a very important story to tell. But how did we get to the events of Kingdom Hearts I?
This question has a two part answer; 1. Everything that goes down in Birth By Sleep (which takes place 10 years before), and 2. The Ansem Reports that are collected during your playthrough of the two main games. Though the reports start off innocently enough, they later reveal the dark and troubling truths about the author.
The story of Kingdom Hearts, at the core, is rather simple. It’s a tale of light against dark, good vs evil, Sora and his friends against a mysterious force that unleashed darkness onto the universe. The intricacies in the story come from figuring out who this force is, and why they’re doing it. This is why the reports are extra vital, they shed light on some things we can only guess at.
The way you unlock the reports in the game proves that they are curated in such a way as to ensure that only bits and pieces get revealed at a time, though. Until you have all of them, it’s difficult to guess at what the finished puzzle will look like. Of course, to those who have already experienced all the plot points thus far the reports make some form of sense in the grand scheme of things. But what do they mean for the rest of the series?
In Kingdom Hearts II it gets revealed that Ansem The Wise wrote a series of secrets reports that reveal the true nature of the original set of notes from KHI. In fact,(SPOILER ALERT) it turns out that he only wrote the very first report in the original series. Someone else had penned the ones explaining the horrible experiments they performed under his
The reports also, however, spoil major plot points of Kingdom Hearts I and II, while the reports of Birth By Sleep should only be read after experiencing the stories of both. I do encourage you to read each set, though, as they have vital information that never gets revealed in the main story of the games. They tend to be over-looked, and it causes confusion later on since the writers assume you read them.
The main take away from the reports is that the story is never as simple as it seems, which isn’t very. I do really hope that they continue with the reports, perhaps those of Master Yin Sid, in Kingdom Hearts III. They, and all the other supplementary letters throughout the game, open a very special window into the behind-the-scenes of the series. They often lead to conspiracies and fan-theories, and while some are just ludicrous it’s always so interesting to hear what others took away from these simple pieces of writing.
If reading walls of text isn’t your thing, or maybe you don’t have time to watch a 10 hour movie of all the cutscenes, secret endings and secret secrets available in the games try this: Dream Drop Distance has a set of Glossary pages that break down every topic in the games so far into bite-size pieces in a very eloquent way. It’s kind of a TL;DR for the series, in a way.
For your convenience, I’ve compiled a gallery of the reports starting at 1 and moving into the Secret Ansem Reports. But if you’d rather read it in one swoop just head over to this wiki page to find them all in order. I’d love to hear your theories and thoughts on them, so if you have any drop them in the comments!