On a dull day in January, Seth Kearsley T-boned while driving his 1973 Datsun 240z, breaking most of his ribs, hips and pelvis.
His manager Eight Crazy Nights, The Looney Tunes Show, and Trollstopia was pulling out of a recording studio parking lot when a brush with death changed his outlook on life. He didn’t want to regret it.
He says the accident prompted him to dump a Holy Grail of lost media on YouTube: the unreleased 2003 Kingdom Hearts cartoon.
“Am I going to get in trouble for this? I don’t know,” Kearsley says Inverse. “After my accident, I don’t have much to give. This was something I wanted to share with the fans so much it hurt.”
Not so simple and clean
Many doors opened for Kearsley after directing Adam Sandler’s 2002 hit Hanukkah Eight Crazy Nights. After sharing his love of anime at Hollywood meetings, his agent connected him to Disney for a TV pilot based on the 2002 Mickey-meets-Final-Fantasy crossover. Royal hearts. He immediately played the game with his nieces and fell in love.
“I was really impressed with the game. It had a story that I wish we could do in American cartoons,” Kearsley said in an Oct. 5 YouTube video.
Royal hearts was a much simpler series back in 2003 — just the first title of what would become a 13-game, decades-spanning collaboration between Disney and Square Enix. Sora, holding a giant key, travels with Donald and Goofy to various worlds inspired by the classic Disney cartoons to find their friends Riku and Kairi.
There weren’t many timelines, dozens of hours of confusing story, and 13 versions of the evil Xehanort to deal with yet.
“It was something I wanted so badly to share with the fans wound.”
Kearsley says he hated the original pilot script, which he described in a YouTube video as “an episode Aladdin co-starring Royal hearts characters.” After some back-and-forth, he was given the opportunity to rewrite it. From February to September 2003, he helped develop the script, storyboards, and finally the animatic that was revealed this week. He himself designed a large part of the art.
“The whole thing was a fond memory,” says Kearsley Inverse. “I was convinced that not only was it going to go, it was going to crash. Instead, I was crushed when it didn’t work. Royal hearts it was the summer romance that disappeared with autumn.”
The 11-minute pilot condenses much of the game’s complex story into a curious exposition. Starting from Sora’s home on Destiny Island, he joins Donald and Goofy in Agrabah to retrieve the genie’s lamp. There, he meets Riku, who has been tricked into retrieving the lamp for the malevolent Maleficent.
“There was the added difficulty of getting executives to understand what the show was about,” Kearsley says. “Hence the over-explanation of things.”
But the full pilot was never produced and Disney shelved the series, leaving it lost to time. Well, almost.
An unexpected trip
That changed in 2013, when Kearsley posted the storyboard on Deviantart. Fans were excited to learn of the pilot’s existence, with teaser videos on YouTube keeping interest alive. But it was still very niche to the public, with only a few die-hard keyblade wielders even knowing of its existence.
“I posted them assuming a few people would see them,” says Kearsley. “I did not know KH The community was another thing, much less content-obsessed than they were.”
The pilot, released on October 11, went viral immediately social media. The YouTube video has garnered nearly 200,000 views in less than 24 hours. The animatics are rough and reuse a lot of in-game elements, but there’s no denying the charm and potential of this pilot.
“The fan response has been overwhelmingly very positive,” says Kearsley. “It’s a confirmation 20 years in the making.”
“Royal hearts it was the summer romance that disappeared with the fall.”
The next major entry in the video game series, Kingdom Hearts 4, still doesn’t have a release date, so it’s unclear when Disney’s beloved warriors will get new content. Baack in May 2022, rumors claimed otherwise Royal hearts The series is in the works on Disney+, but nothing has been confirmed.
This isn’t the first “lost” movie or TV show to resurface online years later. Nickelodeon pilots that never aired, Fool special offers and video games have been discovered all over the past few years. In June 2022, an episode of Sesame Street starring the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, deemed too scary for children in 1976, was accidentally dumped on YouTube.
“It’s like finding unicorns,” Kearsley says of the lost filers. “I am very happy to share that the unicorn was real. It happened. It’s real.”