Template:Infobox Video Birth By Sleep is the new secret ending video to Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix and a follow up to Sunset Horizons, 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.
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 man 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 the old man responds by shifting the earth beneath them to create a rising plateau that carries the armored warrior above the rest. The old man then lifts the ground beneath himself as well, creating a cliff much higher than the surrounding terrain. It becomes apparent that the man and his companion have great power; while his guardian engages the three knights directly using magic and his own keyblade, the old man 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 the old man 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. The old man 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, the old man 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 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.
Originally called the "Armored Youth", the "Enigmatic Soldier" or the "Enigmatic Knight", Terra is the tallest and assumed to be the oldest of the three keyblade knights. The three are portrayed as the protagonists against the old man and his companion, and he, like the others, wields a keyblade. He begins the battle by rushing at the old man, but the old man avoids him by separating himself from the others with a makeshift cliff. Terra is hit by a blast of lightning from the old man's guardian, but ignores him to pursue the old man himself.
He is at first unable to reach the man because of the cyclone of keyblades, but after being aided by Aqua's magic, he is able to reach the man's cliff and attack him. The old man, wielding a keyblade of his own, is able to fend him off with a freezing spell. Once the old man gets a hold of Ven, a younger knight, Terra is thrown off the cliff by the keyblade cyclone, ending his involvement in the struggle. He is seen one last time after the appearance of Kingdom Hearts, when he pulls off his helmet to gaze up at it. His face and his reaction to the appearance of Kingdom Hearts, which turns his eyes yellow, have given rise to much speculation among fans, who have connected him to Xemnas/Xehanort, Saïx and other characters, though no concrete connection has been made by Nomura.
Terra did appear in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix as a secret boss, seeing Sora's similarites to Ven before attacking him. Unlike Sephiroth, another secret boss in the game, Terra fights against both Sora and his main companions, Donald and Goofy. After losing once, he can be challenged again, and mentions both Aqua and Ven before mentioning his harboring of a deep hatred for Xehanort. The origins of this hatred and its implications on the relationship between Terra, the old man and Xehanort are a subject of frequent discussion among fans. He, like the game's other secret bosses, is difficult to defeat; his main abilities are transforming his keyblade into various attacking forms and conjuring drone-like objects which fire energy lasers at Sora and his party.
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. 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, 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".
She and Ven briefly take on the old man's guardian together, but make no progress in defeating it. She is the only one of the three to use magic in the video, using 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 to 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 Riku 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.
Like the other two characters, her connection to the known storyline and characters of the series is unexplained, though her empty armor is seen in the Chamber of Rest in the depths of Hollow Bastion, referred to by Xemnas as "old friend"
The unnamed "Old Man", also known by fans as the "Bald Man" or "Old Bald Man", is the most mysterious of the new characters, having remained unnamed by Tetsuya Nomura. He wears almost the exact same clothes worn by Xehanort's Heartless, has yellow eyes, and has pointed ears, a feature found on no other characters in the series. The Old Man 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, and 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, the Old Man 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, the Old Man 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.
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. The guardian wears a mask over his face, wears a black and red muscle suit, 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.
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. 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.
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:
I can't give any specifics about that. He may just resemble him, and if there is a connection, Sora may be related too. What I can say right now is that these mysteries are all connected to the story.Tetsuya Nomura
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)