It’s happening. Square Enix officially revealed Kingdom Hearts IV on April 10, with a brand new trailer during a livestream celebrating the franchise’s 20th anniversary. In it, we see the protagonist Sora land in the world of Quadratum, which looks suspiciously like the real-world Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo. After seven days passed out, Sora wakes up to a massive black Heartless attacking the city, which he defeats with top-tier parkour skills.
Last we saw Sora at the end of Kingdom Hearts 3, he was sent to Quadratum and stuck there without a way to get back to Donald, Goofy, and the rest of the keyblade warriors. This new trailer, rendered in Unreal Engine 4, gives Sora a brand-new look straight out of a Final Fantasy character's closet. Gone are his large yellow shoes, giant zippers, and comically pointy hair, replaced with more toned-down attire that wouldn’t be out of place in the sale section of your local Urban Outfitters.
After the reveal, fans flocked to social media to share their takes on the new design and what it could mean for the future of the character. On Twitter, some argued the semi-realistic style was a perfect fit for the franchise’s aesthetic, while other users expressed a mocking concern over how the look would mesh with the usual Kingdom Hearts aesthetic — can we expect a more realistic take on Donald and Goofy?
Sora’s usual shoes were a big topic of conversation, with some wondering how he shoved those mighty flippers into a pair of normal kicks. Other wanted to know when they could buy them.
One user on the Kingdom Hearts subreddit lamented, “I never thought I would see the day that Nomura turned Sora into a Final Fantasy character.”
Still, it’s fair to assume Sora won’t look this way throughout the whole game. For the franchises’ entire history, Sora and his gang of cohorts have been shapeshifting to blend into any world they visit. Sora’s been a lion, a mermaid, a monster, a pirate, and a monster (again) over nearly a dozen games over the past two decades. In the first game, Donald transformed his allies to blend in and maintain order in the worlds they are visiting.
But, even without a specific plot justification for camouflage, Sora’s outfit has constantly evolved. In Kingdom Hearts 2, the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty grant Sora a new outfit that can change form and allow him to wield multiple keyblades. In Kingdom Hearts 3, the wizard Yen Sid gave him fancier clothes that can shift into different designs, allowing Sora to maintain some form of continuity throughout his adventure and essentially blend in to any world he might visit.
Over the games, Sora’s outfits have evolved — he’s replaced his bouncy shorts for thick pants and toned the spikes on his hair down just a little bit. As the graphics on consoles get better, so did Sora’s drip.
Sora was bound to have a new look in Kingdom Hearts IV- seeing him evolve into an anime protagonist is just part of the game’s appeal. The confusing, breakneck pace of Kingdom Hearts forces fans to remember dozens of pages of lore and continuity shifts, so why would this title be any different.
Besides, if Sora stayed the same, there’d be no way to sell new action figures or merchandise at Hot Topic.
Kingdom Hearts IV is currently in development. The game does not yet have a release date.