I didn't grow up in a gaming family. We didn't own a Nintendo, we didn't stare longingly into Game Stores, and the only reason we owned a Game Boy or a Playstation was they were gifts from family members. Even then, my game universe consisted of bowling, Looney Tunes, Crash Bandicoot Racing, and Rollarcoaster Tycoon on the computer. I liked the Tycoon the best, but basically didn't see gaming as anything beyond a mild diversion, like playing solitaire.
Then a RPG (role playing game) came into my life called Final Fantasy IX and everything changed. A complicated and compelling story with interesting characters we come to know very well that I actually get to interact in and be a part of?
By the time college came around and I personally owned a PS 2, my love of games was firmly set, as was the genre I played. So when I was informed of the game these manga are based on, I knew I had to have it. A RPG, with Final Fantasy characters from various games paired with beloved Disney characters? Clearly someone had read my mind.
And while my gaming interest have grown and I have finally looked beyond merely playing RPGs, this game holds a very special place in my heart. I still pull it out and play it and there are times playing something else, I'll compare it to this game and find it wanting.
This wildly off-topic introduction explains why I, once again, devoured these books, though I've read them more times then I could count.
Sora, a young boy seemingly trapped on a small island humorously called 'Destiny Island', dreams along with two of friends of traveling to new and unknown worlds. Their dreams come true, sadly not in the way they'd hoped when their world is devoured by the Heartless - shadowy clones with glowing eyes that steal people's hearts. Sora is separated by from his friends and finds himself in a strange town with a strange sword shaped as a key. Donald and Goofy have traveled to the same town, on the orders of King Mickey who has disappeared in hopes of saving the worlds that are being destroyed, to find the 'key' or the keyblade and stick with it and apparently, it's wielder. This sets the stage for their travels to various familiar world such as Wonderland, Agrabah, Ariel's underwater world, and more. We meet characters we've known since childhood, watch a young boy grow into a hero, and discover what is threatening to destroy these beloved worlds.
The manga is quite good, not great, but the characters are perfectly rendered (easily done as they were already cartoons) and the settings are well drawn and familiar. There are issues though, more for lovers of the game then casual readers. The books, particularly the illustrations, seem cheaply and hurriedly put together; as if they believed the series would be bought by fans who'd not care for quality. Secondly and much worse, the game story has been cut, with a couple of worlds simply left out. As one of these is Halloween Town with Jack Skeleton, the absence is keenly felt.
Still, this is a fun series and a great way to either introduce someone to the game or read an interesting Disney story if games simply don't interest you.
Now excuse me, I'm off to wield a keyblade!