Kingdom Hearts pilot Kingdom Hearts pilot

A thing of legend on message boards and fan forums across the internet for two decades, the long-unavailable Kingdom Hearts pilot animatic is now online, posted by the show’s director Seth Kearsley (Dilbert, Eight Crazy Nights, The Looney Tunes Show).

Kearsley posted the video, explaining:

I don’t own this. I claim no rights to any part of this except that this is my work. I’m not profiting from it. I want to show my work. It’s been 20 years.

This is not without [its] flaws, which I have [no] doubt will be pointed out, but I was really proud of the story we were able to tell in the time we had. Setting up the entire premise of a series and doing a ‘typical episode’ is a tall order. I feel like we pulled that off, and when they tested it with kids, it tested better than anything else they were testing in that round.

In an video posted on his Youtube channel on October 5, Kearsley first announced he’d be posting the animatic, which he’d had all along on VHS tape, and shared a detailed backstory about the development of the pilot, explaining its look and diving into why he ultimately decided to put the video online.

When the Kingdom Hearts project came across his radar, Kearsley went out and bought the game, binging it over the course of a week. He says it felt a perfect fit for his ambitions, and that he couldn’t wait to get started.

Unfortunately there were several speedbumps along the way. The pilot was meant to be episode seven of the show, leaving Kearsley without the possibility of telling any origin story or doing any worldbuilding. That made for a rushed narrative that the director says he would have liked to expand on if he’d had the opportunity.

He also explains that the original script read like an episode of Aladdin but with Kingdom Hearts characters. That didn’t work for him, so he talked to the head of production and convinced them to let him rewrite it as an episode of Kingdom Hearts that happened to take place in the world of Aladdin.

Kearsley says that the animatic of the pilot tested fantastically but got shelved anyway. He still believes today that a Kingdom Hearts show would “crush,” and says he would love to be involved if Disney would have him. Although, he did admit that he hasn’t kept up with the Kingdom Hearts franchise after having his heart broken by the shelving of his original series idea.

Kearsley finishes the video saying why now is the time for him to share the animatic. The director was involved in a nearly fatal car accident earlier this year in which he fractured all of the ribs on his right side – four of which now have plates on them – as well as half the ribs on his other side, both hips, and his right pelvis, as well as a collapsed lung, lacerated heart, and ruptured spleen.

“I almost died, and there is some shit I wanna put out in the world that almost never got to be put out in the world, so I’m gonna put out in the world,” he says.

Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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