FEATURES By Spencer Aug 30, 2013 at 11:52am (EST)
The Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix Manga picks up right where the last volume left off. Sora, Donald, and Goofy are about to fight off Cerberus in order help Hercules save the injured Cloud. Now most people may remember that this boss battle in the game was quite difficult along with many other fights in the game. So you would expect this to be the manga's first real moment to have an all out fight.
You soon find out that is not going to happen and literally after a single strike to the head the guard to the underworld is down for the count. Now while this is explained later it is over so quickly later on in the story, this was the moment that brought up some warning flags. Up to this point the manga has had very brief fight scenes and normally just has our heroes discover the enemies weakness and win so suddenly you might feel like the author had forgotten there was even a fight happening.
In defense on Amano's adaptation, this was his time working on the Kingdom Hearts series and finding a balance with story and gameplay isn't always easy. Amano takes so much time hitting all of the major story elements that when the time comes for a final fight, it rushes things along almost like the manga is trying to do a speedrun of Kingdom Hearts.
While newcomers to the series may not have a problem with this, die hard fans who remember every moment in the series may feel almost gipped. This feeling is very similar to the ways players who wanted to see epic boss fights in 358/2 Days on Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix and all they got were story elements without all the action.
Going back to the story in Final Mix volume 2, we get a nice variety of worlds from the game once again. Sadly many fans will be sad to discover that Halloween Town is not present. This was most likely to avoid having to get the rights from Tim Burton to use it in the manga. While not getting to see Jack Skellington is a big disappointment, visiting Monstro (albeit very quickly), Atlantica, Neverland , and the final worlds finish off the story as strongly as it began.
Riku really plays a bigger part in the story which really helps you
understand where both friends motives are coming from. Sora is still getting use to his brand new responsibilities in these crazy new worlds. While Riku is trying to do whatever he can to get Kairi, Sora, and himself back together, but keeps getting manipulated by Maleficent.No matter how confused, hurt, or even angry the two are at each other, they will stop at nothing to make sure all three are reunited again.
While Kairi is asleep for most of the story, it is very disappointing to see how underutilized she was here. At least in the game once you rescued Kairi, her and Sora had a very nice talk together about him going off to save the world. What we end up getting really feels like the Wikipedia summery of their farewell talk. They were in such a hurry I was surprised Sora didn't get the lucky charm thrown at him on his way to the final fight with Ansem.
Now Ansem is a very interesting, yet mysterious in the first game. This is the same for the manga, but actually we get a bit of a better look at his backstory from not only the Ansem reports, but also Cid, Leon, and the others who actually remember him before he lost his way. It is great to have more than just a few lines of text talking about one of the most important villains in the story from the underused Final Fantasy cast members.
By the end of the book you get so wrapped up in finally saving all the
worlds and reuniting with your friends that by the time that you get to the end you just want to keep going. This is saying a lot for a book with over 300+ pages of content. The brand new content this time for Final Mix is a brand new special epilogue that has the first official translation of the Mysterious Figure boss fight in Hollow Bastion, as well as a very short look at Amano's take on the games secret movie Deep Dive.
The finale to Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix's manga does a great job at wrapping up the story (albeit a bit rushed in parts), but sadly never seems to bring over the gameplay moments as well. For a beginning to a now long running manga series, Final Mix still holds up as well even to this day. As long as you don't mind a few elements from the game not being present, then you will not be disappointed with volume 2.
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If you have read the Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix manga, be sure to post what you think about it in the comments below. If you also have any questions about the manga feel free to post them below and I will respond to as many questions I can answer.
I will be posting up my impressions for the Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Manga in a few days so be sure to be on the look out soon! Kingdom Hearts Union will have a brand new Kingdom Hearts manga impressions each week leading up to the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix.