|This article is about the video entitled Birth by Sleep. You may be looking for the upcoming PSP game.|
"Birth By Sleep" is the secret ending video to Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+ and a follow up to The Gathering, the secret ending video to the original Kingdom Hearts II. The video, centers around three armored warriors wielding keyblades and an unnamed foe, and is meant to introduce Tetsuya Nomura's newest Kingdom Hearts project, the details of which are still scarce. However, it is trailer for one of the newly confirmed games "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep" (for the PlayStation Portable), will obviously deal with the characters mentioned here. Birth by Sleep will take place ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts.
The video begins with an old man approaching three armored individuals who are seen in Sunset Horizons picking up keyblades stuck in the ground (including one that looks like the Way to the Dawn and another that resembles King Mickey's keyblade of the Realm of Darkness). It is set in a desert area as the sun is setting, and the characters are surrounded by countless keyblades stuck into the ground. The old man is named Master Xehanort, and he wears clothes like those worn by Xehanort's Heartless, has pointy ears, and bears a malevolent expression. He is joined by another entity wearing a muscular suit of red-and-black who appears to spawn from the essence of the old man.
The two are charged by the largest of the three keyblade warriors, and Master Xehanort responds by shifting the earth beneath them to create a rising plateau that carries the armored warrior above the rest. Master Xehanort then lifts the ground beneath himself as well, creating a cliff much higher than the surrounding terrain. It becomes apparent that Master Xehanort and his companion have great power; while his guardian engages the three knights directly using magic and his own keyblade, Master Xehanort is able to manipulate the keyblades on the ground into a winding cyclone, which he uses to aid his guardian and attack his three adversaries.
As the three armored warriors attempt in vain to overcome their enemies, their faces are revealed one by one. The first is a blue-haired female, whose name was later confirmed as "Aqua" in an interview with Nomura; she discards her helmet after being thrown to the ground by the keyblade cyclone. The next is another young knight whose name was later revealed to be "Ven", who attacks Master Xehanort from behind after his short keyblade bout the older knight. Ven's face is revealed when the old man vanishes, only to reappear behind him and grab him by the head. Master Xehanort shatters Ven's helmet in his hand before freezing his body solid and dropping him off the makeshift cliff. He is caught by Aqua, after which his face is seen close-up, showing a striking resemblance to Roxas.
The last face to be shown is that of the tallest armored warrior, named "Terra" in an interview with Nomura. After disposing of Ven, Master Xehanort conjures up what appears to be Kingdom Hearts by means left unexplained, and Terra, having been thrown to the ground by the old man's keyblade tornado, takes off his helmet to look up at it.
The video ends with King Mickey looking at the supposed Kingdom Hearts in the same area but from a distance.
The characters are not named in the video, but the three armored keyblade warriors were given names confirmed by Tetsuya Nomura in a May 2007 interview. The main characters demonstrate no concrete connection to other characters in the series, but much speculation has arised regarding various attributes they have, including the implications of the keyblades they wield and their physical resemblance to other characters.
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Persumably the oldest of the three keyblade knights, it is revealed that he has some connection with Master Xehanort, which will play an important role in the game.
Ven is the name of one of two younger knights and the male of the pair. He fought against the old man's guardian with Aqua, but the two were unable to defeat it, although Aqua did momentarily force it to flee by using a lightning spell. His most memorable role in the video is his capture by the old man, who teleports behind him when Ven attempts to attack him from behind. Ven struggles against the old man's grip, but to no avail; the man squeezes his head hard enough to crack his helmet and freezes his entire body before letting him drop from the cliff. Ven's body is caught by Aqua after hitting the cliff wall, shattering his keyblade and most of what remains of his helmet. When his face is fully revealed, apparently still alive (you can see his eyes trying to focus on Aqua.), it is shown that he is nearly identical to Roxas. The connection between the two is not explained or even confirmed as an existent connection, leading to scattered theories among fans.
Ven's full name is speculated by many fans to be Ventus, since the three knights are meant to represent water (Aqua), earth (Terra) and wind, both Latin translations. Ventus is Latin for wind, and the knight's name, which is shortened, is "Ven". His resemblance to Roxas is even more uncanny in his unarmored attire.
The latest magazine indicates that Ven will be a playable character, and is revealed of capable in conjuring Thunder-like magics.
According to an interview with Nomura, Ven is expected to play a huge role in the upcoming PSP game named after the video, perhaps even bigger than just being a male protagonist.
She and Ven briefly take on the old man's guardian together, but make no progress in defeating it. She used a spell reminiscent of Reflect to shield Terra from the keyblade cyclone generated by the old man. She is a spectator for the rest of the battle, being too far away to reach their enemies before Ven becomes trapped by the old man's grip. She is seen looking on in horror as Ven struggles fruitlessly, and catches his frozen body after he is dropped off the cliff. She was orginally seen in magazine scans as staring up at a glowing heart, and due to her hair color and style, was seen as connected to Kairi by some fans. The video ends with her holding a helpless but still living Ven, gazing up at the newly appeared Kingdom Hearts in the sky.
She is currently the most mysterious Birth by Sleep character as no images of Aqua has been released outside the video other than the promotional art depicting Birth by Sleep, coded and 358/2 Days. Furthermore, no information has been given concerning her role.
The once unnamed "Old Man", now revealed to be called "Master Xehanort", but also also known by fans as the "Bald Man" or "Old Bald Man", is the most mysterious of the new characters. He wears almost the exact same clothes worn by Xehanort's Heartless, has yellow eyes, and has pointed ears. Master Xehanort is portrayed as the antagonist in the video, and fights against the three keyblade warriors with a Guardian of unexplained origin.
The man shows himself to be immensely powerful during the struggle, capable of dramatically altering the terrain and creating a tornado out of the keyblades that are abundant in the area. He also can fight using a dark blue and black keyblade, which is notably the only keyblade in the Birth By Sleep that has a chain dangling from the end of it. He also exhibits proficiency in the use of magic; he freezes the arm of Terra after fending off his keyblade attacks, and freezes Ven's entire body solid.
In addition to being a powerful figure, Master Xehanort also exhibits much brutality during the battle. After vanishing from thin air to avoid being struck from behind by Ven, he grabs onto his helmet and shatters it in his hand while Ven kicks and struggles to free himself. His freezing of Ven's body and dropping him off the high cliff have become somewhat iconic of the video.
After defeating the three keyblade knights, Master Xehanort causes an enormous glowing heart to appear among the clouds, which is assumed to be some form of Kingdom Hearts. Both the process by which he causes it to appear and his involvement in its origin remain thus far unexplained.
The name "Master Xehanort" was revealed in the announcement for the three new games. It was stated in the announcement that currently he and a apprentice of his disappeared, an omen of a great disaster, and that Terra and the others were sent to find him.
Like the Old Man, the Guardian is not named by Nomura and is known by several fan names. The exact nature of the Guardian is also a mystery, but it appears to originate from a part of the old man himself, and has been speculated to be his Nobody or his Heartless, despite the absence of heartless and nobodies during this time period. Some speculate that it may be a hybrid of the two or a completely new class of enemies. The guardian wears a mask over his face, wears a black and red muscle suit (very similar to Riku's in the first Kingdom Hearts game), and wields a darkly-colored keyblade.
After the old man creates the cliffs to avoid Terra's charge, the Guardian leaps down to engage the warriors directly, blasting them with lightning and ice magic. After the old man creates the keyblade cyclone, the Guardian leaps onto it, allowing it to carry him at great speed around the area. After Aqua is thrown aside by the keyblade cyclone and Terra and Ven attack the old man, the Guardian is not seen again until after Ven is caught by the old man. When Terra makes to run at the old man, the Guardian arrives on the heels of the keyblade cyclone, which throws Terra off the cliff. The Guardian remains by the old man's side until the end of the video.
It was announced that Master Xehanort has an apprentice. The Guardian could in fact be Master Xehanort's apprentice.
King Mickey makes a brief appearance at the end of the video, looking with a grim expression at the area where the battle occurred. He is seen wearing different clothes than usual and wielding the Star Seeker keyblade, apparently ready to fight Master Xehanort and his Guardian. The appearance of this keyblade, which is associated with Yen Sid, has led some fans to believe the shot shows Mickey in his apprenticeship under the great sorcerer.
Commentary by Nomura
Tetsuya Nomura, the head storyline designer for the Kingdom Hearts series, originally gave very few details about the secret ending. Originally, the only information he disclosed was that all the characters in the video were new to the series, despite any physical resemblances. The time and place of the video were all left ambiguous as well. However, Nomura stated in a recent Famitsu interview that this video is the non-playable ending of the PSP game, and that the game might take place 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game.
In a May 2007 interview dubbed the "Scenario Mysteries Interview", Nomura revealed more insights into the video and its implications for the series. He confirmed the names of Aqua and Ven and introduced the name of the third keyblade knight, Terra; however, he also stated that "Ven" was only a nickname for the young male knight, and that the full name is "a little bit longer".
Nomura had this to say of Ven's resemblance to Roxas:
He also gave no details regarding the change in color of Terra's eyes from blue to gold, saying "I think everyone's imaginations are pretty capable so please try and anticipate a lot of things". His final comments regarding the three warriors' names were that the names of Sora, Riku and Kairi are meant to signify Sky, Land and Sea, while the names of Ven, Terra and Aqua represent three different properties of the world: Wind, Earth and Water.
Birth by sleep (video)