And by this title I don’t mean the Japanese voice acting – being produced in Japan, it is not uncommon to have Japanese dubbing over the trailers released so far for the upcoming main title in the Kingdom Hearts series. We have already heard the voices of Miyu Irino and Mamoru Miyano reprising their roles as Sora and Riku in the latest Kingdom Hearts III trailers at D23 2018 Japan, for instance. The event has also seen an interview with voice actors pointing towards the return of the original voice actors for characters such as Kairi and Aqua.
But what of the English dubbing?
Haley Joel Osment might as well as have confirmed his return as Sora way back in 2014, where he stated that he talked with Square Enix shortly after the announcement of Kingdom Hearts III at E3 2013. (Later on, he voiced Sora in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-, a direct prologue to Kingdom Hearts III.) He also stated:
The recording of the dialogue is one of the last parts of the process.
So it is only expected that fans rejoice at any news of major voice actors confirming or even hinting at their involvement in Kingdom Hearts III. We all know by know that the long-awaited game is set to release in the next 8 months (!), but there is still a sense of greater satisfaction that comes with considering the state of voice recording in predicting exactly how close we are to its release.
The first and only Kingdom Hearts III trailer featuring English voice dubbing is the E3 2015 trailer, showing an intriguing exchange between a Young Xehanort and a Young Eraqus. Fans instantly recognized the returning voice of Ben Diskin from his previous performance as Young Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. However, it was only almost 3 years later that many fans’ assumptions of the voice behind Young Eraqus came to be confirmed – or at least, seemingly so – by Drake Bell, who retweeted fans @letmethinkofone and @SuzyLuGME, who were convinced that it was indeed his performance.
This consequently led to the reawakening and revamping of the old Drake and Josh meme…
It took me over an hour, but here it is!!!!!
God this is great. pic.twitter.com/S3JCAXVjrX
— KHWaterBlock (@KHWaterBlock) March 29, 2018
But I digress…
James Woods also casually dropped hints towards reprising his role as Hades in Kingdom Hearts III, although more directly than Drake Bell. He stated that he’s been busy working on a “new Kingdom of [sic] Hearts video game” (cue slight twitch of eye) – which could only be Kingdom Hearts III.
No. I was playing a poker tournament and working on a new Kingdom of Hearts video game. https://t.co/CObvA3CyUn
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) March 30, 2018
These recent reveals seem to be pointing at the start (or continuation) of English voice recording for Kingdom Hearts III and its upcoming English trailers.
The other English voice actors seem to be more respectful of any NDAs in place (or at least, neutral towards disclosing any information or answering any questions about their involvement in Kingdom Hearts III), but it might be safe to say that according to the performances in Kingdom Hearts 0.2, many actors may be returning to star in the next main game of the franchise. Namely:
- David Gallagher as Riku
- Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck
- Bill Farmer as Goofy
- Bret Iwan as King Mickey (replacing late Wayne Allwine)
- Willa Holland as Aqua
- Jason Dohring as Terra
- Richard Epcar as Terra-Xehanort
- Corey Burton as Yen Sid
The voice for Kairi in 0.2 was provided by Alyson Stoner and not by her original voice actor Hayden Panettiere.
The voice acting for the Kairi/Namine/Xion has always been a bit questionable: Hayden Panettiere voiced Kairi in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, a role Alyson Stoner took over in the other games – but, curiously enough, this was reversed in Kingdom Hearts 3D, where Panettiere gave voice to Xion, while her existing voice assets from the original Kingdom Hearts game were used to voice Kairi in “flashbacks”. Alyson’s Camp Rock co-star Meaghan Martin voiced Namine in Re:CoM and Re:coded; but Namine’s original voice in Kingdom Hearts II was of actress Brittany Snow. These complications in the trio’s voice acting arrangements seem to point towards Alyson Stoner returning in Kingdom Hearts III, being the most consistent of the trio, but they still pose more questions than answers to who will be ultimately voicing who in the final instalment of the Xehanort Saga.
Another VA to pose such questions is James Patrick Stuart, the voice talent of Braig and Xigbar, who has decided to stay true to his character in responding to fans’ queries.
And other speculative voice actors, such as Zachary Levi, the original voice actor for Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert in Tangled and its animated series, seem to have no clue of their involvement in Kingdom Hearts III yet.
Furthermore, Scott Adsit, the voice of Baymax in Big Hero 6, has already expressed his interest in voicing his character in any of his further iterations in the future.
Perhaps, one of the saddest questions and one of the most anticipated answers surround the main antagonist of the Dark Seeker Saga – Master Xehanort. It was a grim day for all on February 27, 2015, when the legendary Leonard Nimoy left us forever, with his Xehanort legacy in Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. Hearing his voice again in the 1.5+2.5 and 2.8 collections only made fans miss him more and wonder who will take his unique place Where Nothing Gathers in Kingdom Hearts III.
Other voice talents from the series who have left us include the aforementioned Wayne Allwine, Eddie Carroll (voice of Jiminy Cricket), and Alan Young (voice of Scrooge McDuck).
In a sea of questions and speculations, Ben Diskin is always one to turn to for his wise advice.
People REALLY need to stop trusting VAs regarding KH3. Here’s how it was for KH:DDD: Everyone was given misinformation along with true stuff to make it impossible to spoil the plot. They kept us all in the dark. Up was down… except when it wasn’t. WE KNEW LESS THAN THE FANS.
— Ben Diskin (@BenjaminDiskin) April 10, 2018
This isn’t the first time Ben disclosed how secretive the directions can be towards VAs working on the Kingdom Hearts series. On an AMA on Reddit, he said:
Answering your questions a bit out of order here, but: Did they give me a breakdown of the plot? Well, I ASKED for one to which they responded with laughter. After they had finished cracking up, they explained that the plot was so complex that by the time they’d finished explaining what had happened across the previous games, we’d be out of time to record. 😉
As for the recent trailer, I liked it! I was EXTREMELY relieved to see the character design for Young Xehanort. See, this is another example of how secretive the KH franchise is. They COULD have told me during the recording process, “Okay, Ben. This takes place before the events of KH3D, so your character will be a bit younger. Can you lighten your voice a bit to represent that age difference?” What they did INSTEAD was say, “Okay, we’d like you to raise the pitch of your voice to match the Japanese seiyu’s voice.” I then pointed out that I’d never done that in the game and that MY Young Xehanort voice has always been deeper than the one in the Japanese version. They basically just said, “Yeahhhh….. Well, we want you to match his vocal pitch anyway. It just sounds better.” So, they couldn’t even tell me WHY they were making me change my voice and I left the session thinking, “Oh, Geez. This trailer’s going to hit the Internet and people are going to get mad at me for not remembering how to do my character’s voice. Why’d they have me change it so much??? This is gonna be embarrassing… :'(”
So, I liked the way the trailer turned out, but I wish they could have given me a FEW details so I didn’t think I’d screwed up. XD
There are also speculations that Kingdom Hearts III will get a Spanish language localization (much like its main console predecessors Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II), as the Spanish voice talents for Hiro and Baymax from Big Hero 6 have teased their involvement in an upcoming “new game”. And if there is to be a Spanish voice localization, then why not a German one or a French one, for old time’s sake?
Despite the little amount of information we know and assumptions we have made about the English voice acting of Kingdom Hearts III so far, there is no doubt that Disney will continue to ensure the quality casting and performance the series has been known for ever since its first release and localizations in 2002. And with the recent updates from VAs hinting at their involvement, could this mean that Kingdom Hearts III might be finally reaching voice recording, one of the last stages of its development?
Whatever it is, it seems that the game is definitively slated for a 2018 coming, with very little on its way to release.