The Heart is a recurring element featured in Disney media.
A heart (心 kokoro ) is one of the three parts which comprise a being in the Kingdom Hearts universe, the other two being body and soul. Hearts are one of the key elements in the story, and the antagonists often seek to use them for their own gain.
What actually makes up a heart is a mystery. What is known that the heart is primarily made up of light and darkness, the latter of which formed due to people's greed. The exceptions to this are the Princesses of Heart, maidens whose hearts are free of darkness, and hearts artificially made devoid of light or darkness, such as Ventus and Vanitas.
The heart appears to be responsible for the composure of memories, will, goals, and ambitions, as is the case in the transfer of Master Xehanort's heart into Terra and the internal struggle of wills inside Terra-Xehanort. Of course, this is not to say that a being without a heart cannot have these things, as Nobodies inherit them from their original selves.
The heart is also responsible for emotions, as beings lacking one, such as the Nobodies, cannot feel emotions.
Scholar Ansem the Wise was struck by a great curiosity of the heart and its true nature. He began research on the topic so he could better protect his world from the forces of darkness, together with his six apprentices, and started to write his reports. However when Ansem realized that his experiments could bring disaster to the world he stopped all his research.
However, Xehanort decided to continue the experiments and realized that when hearts were seduced by darkness, a creature he dubbed a "Pureblood Heartless" was born. He made note of how Heartless acted on instinct, and wished to try creating his own Heartless. To tell them apart from the Purebloods, he dubbed them "Emblems" and christened them with what would later become the Heartless insignia. He made note of how they behaved relatively the same way, continuing to experiment in other areas with which the heart was concerned. He had no idea that he had caused chaos to brew. However when Ansem became aware of Xehanort's activities, he ordered that his research be stopped at once. This strict request would lead to the birth of Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas, as well as the rebellion of Ansem's other apprentices.
Ansem's experiments on the heart would continue to haunt him even after his escape from the Realm of Nothingness, throughout the story of Kingdom Hearts II, as he came across the reports and heartless spawned by the research of himself and his apprentices. He was forced to recall his past mistakes and even failed to succeed in avenging his dignity, realizing all of his experimentation had gotten him nowhere. Upon his supposed death, which instead erased the majority of his memory and sent him to the Dark Meridian, one of the last things he would hear was Xemnas's accusations that he was the source of all Heartless, and that the chaos and turmoil that had resulted over the past years were all his fault.
Powers and Abilities
Hearts possess many unique powers and abilities. Hearts are able to produce emotion, something that members of Organization XIII crave. Strong hearts are also able to feel the emotions of those connected with them, demonstrated many times by Sora, who has unconsciously felt the sadness of Roxas, Ventus, and Xion, as well as Vanitas, who was able to feel some of what Ventus felt. As shown with Kairi and Ventus, if one's body remains intact when the heart is lost, and is not turned into a Nobody, the person will enter a state similar to catatonia until the heart is restored. Ventus, in particular, has been in this state for over a decade, without a change in his health, despite there being no one to look after him. It is unclear if he has aged.
Hearts are also able to merge with others or be split, as seen when both Xehanort and Eraqus join hearts with Terra, and when Ventus' heart merges with Sora's. A much later instance of this would be Kairi's heart merging with Sora's during his first journey. They can be split to produce an embodiment of either the light or the darkness, as seen when Master Xehanort produces Vanitas by unlocking the darkness of Ventus' heart. Hearts can also be merged to create unique Keyblades, major examples being the χ-blade and the Keyblade of People's Hearts. These Keyblades ultimately grant access to the grandest of hearts: Kingdom Hearts.
The heart also has a heavy influence on all that lives, having the power to produce Heartless and potentially Nobodies at its loss or corruption by darkness. As the heart grants emotion, negative emotions formed when Vanitas and Ventus were split caused the Unversed to spawn, hence their connection to the heart.
Hearts removed from their bodies, but not transformed into heartless, lose some of the limitations of a physical form. In addition to being able to enter other peoples' bodies, they can move through time itself, as long as a version of themselves is there to greet them, as revealed in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. In the original Kingdom Hearts, some disembodied hearts manage to escape the destruction of their worlds, becoming Summon Gems. Through the magic of the Fairy Godmother, Sora is able to use them as summons--temporarily giving them form, so that they may fight by his side. They do this through their own will and are fully conscious of themselves, as revealed when Simba and Mushu remember their adventures with Sora in Kingdom Hearts II. Finally, Ventus's and Terra's Keyblades, presumably directed by their hearts, rescued Aqua at one point in the Realm of Darkness, while Ventus's heart eventually resurfaced inside of Sora's to protect him from being corrupted by a Nightmare Dream Eater.
Magic is able to enhance the powers of a heart. In addition to the Fairy Godmother's ability to empower Summon Gems, Aqua created the Wayfinders, which allowed the user to temporarily gain power and abilities from the hearts connected with them. She also cast a similar spell on Kairi, which would lead her to someone who could protect her if she was ever in danger.
Newly born hearts have even stranger, more unique abilities. Sora's was able to seek out and unite with the broken fragments of Ventus's simply because Ventus was brought to Sora's homeworld. As a result of this, Vanitas took on an appearance similar to Sora's, and Sora's Nobody would later take on Ventus' appearance. The merge stabilized Ventus's heart, allowing him to eventually recover. Xemnas and Xigbar also revealed that a new heart could be "nurtured," even to the point where it became an exact replica of another person's heart, although they implied that they needed the power of Kingdom Hearts in order to do so.
A few types of Keyblades made from hearts exists. The only known Keyblades of this type are the χ-blade, which is made from a heart of pure darkness and a heart of pure light, and the Keyblade of People's Hearts, which is made from the hearts of the seven Princesses of Heart.
When Hearts are Broken
When a heart is damaged, the effects are catastrophic. The most obvious example is when the heart gives in to darkness and becomes a Heartless. The transformation is usually so extreme that the victim loses his or her sense of self, and if they are restored, they have no memory of their Heartless state.
Even after Sora was restored as a complete being, his corruption continued to plague him. The darkness in his heart would sometimes take over his Drive forms, causing him to transform into the feral anti-form. Although he showed no signs of the usual heartless behavior in this state, it was still a danger, because he couldn't heal or wield the Keyblade while in this form, and could not willingly change back.
A disembodied heart that is not turned into a heartless may sink into a semiconscious state, as with Kairi, who was unable to interact with the world, except to appear as visions to Sora.
When Master Xehanort divided Ventus's heart, Ventus was left catatonic. The last remnants of his heart fading away, he would have died, had Sora not combined hearts with him. Even after this, it took an unspecified but lengthy amount of time for Ventus to return to a sense of normalcy. During this time, if one attempted to interact with Ventus for more than just basic greetings or instructions, he would scream in pain and collapse. Ventus did not regain his memory of what happened to him until Master Xehanort explained it to him.
Even Master Xehanort suffered some ill effects from messing with his heart. He was not able to completely control Terra's body, and the aftermath of their clash of wills gave him amnesia. Ultimately, he had to give into darkness and become a Heartless in order to get his plans back on track. This heartless was incorporeal, being forced to manipulate events from behind the scenes, and could not use a Keyblade unless controlling the body of another Keyblade wielder. His Nobody inherited his amnesia, and was also unable to wield a Keyblade. It took Master Xehanort over a decade to regain himself fully.
- Main article: Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts is the largest and grandest heart of all. The heart of all worlds, it is a source of fantastic power and wisdom, and as such is sought out by many villains for different reasons. Upon a heart's release after the defeat of an Emblem Heartless, these hearts travel to Kingdom Hearts, empowering it. However, when a Pureblood Heartless is defeated, no heart appears.
- Main article: Heartless
When a being gives in to the darkness in their heart, their heart is consumed by it and becomes a Heartless. The entity separates from the body and soul and begins to act on a primal instinct to gather other hearts and corrupt them. This instinct results in Heartless attacking other beings to increase their numbers, and attacking the heart of a world by means of the Keyhole, causing it to be completely overwhelmed by darkness. Of course, as dictated by their instinct, the Heartless seek out the biggest heart of all: Kingdom Hearts.
Emblem Heartless defeated by the Keyblade give up the stolen heart, which causes it to return to the owner's original body. Heartless slain by another weapon return to darkness and eventually reconstitute elsewhere. However, in Kingdom Hearts II, the hearts went to Organization XIII, who captured the hearts within usually unseen dark corridors in the sky. Hearts will also not return to their owner if a Nobody was formed.
- Main article: Nobody
A Nobody is created when a strong heart is turned into a Heartless, and the body it leaves behind continues in life to the strong will it possesses. Due to a lack of a heart, a Nobody cannot truly feel emotions; many members of Organization XIII often pretend that they can, following their memories of their human selves.
Although Nobodies are born as empty shells, they are capable of developing hearts of their own over time. Additionally, the shells can be implanted with the heart of another, becoming a vessel for that heart.
Epic Mickey series
A Heart is a major plot point in Epic Mickey. Any cartoon character who is loved by many has a heart of their own. All characters who have a heart reside in the Toon World. Otherwise, once forgotten or retired, they are sent to The Wasteland and their heart disappears. The game's novelization states that people who lack Hearts feel hollow, abandoned and empty (similar to the Nobodies of Kingdom Hearts). Mickey Mouse has the most powerful heart of all, and the villains of Wasteland (by far mostly the Shadow Blot) want to use it to escape their imprisonment.
In the first game, The Mad Doctor attempts to extract Mickey's heart at the beginning of the game to help the fake Shadow Blot escape Wasteland, but fails. Near the end of the game, after Mickey has redeemed or defeated the fake Shadow Blot, the real Shadow Blot is accidentally unleashed from the Jug on Mickeyjunk Mountain, who then holds Gremlin Gus and Oswald hostage, and will release them if Mickey gives up his own heart. The deed is done, unfortunately, and now the trio must defeat the Shadow Blot from the inside.
Once Mickey destroys all the Bloticles inside the Blot, his heart is released, only for Oswald to grab it. After realizing that Mickey deserves it more than him, Oswald allows it to go back inside of Mickey's body, before unleashing a barrage of fireworks to destroy the Blot once and for all.
In Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, the Mad Doctor plans to become famous again by creating an artificial heart through the Toons. Utilizing a television transmitter similar to the one Gus constructs in the opening of the game, the Mad Doctor broadcasts his own television show to the Cartoon World, "The Wonderful World of Evil", and is hoping the ratings there will give him a heart again. To become a Toon once more, he pumps the Guardians from the ground beneath Wasteland in an effort to try and harness their power and get revenge on Wasteland by leaving it in an inert state (his machines were the cause of the surge in quake activity). And with the Brush, he would move to the top of the Disney Villain hierarchy. However, he defeated by the efforts of Mickey and Oswald.
Before the Curse
Rumplestiltskin, a powerful magic user, has a debt to settle with the pirate Killian Jones after the latter "stole" his wife Milah many years ago. However, Rumplestiltskin remains unaware Milah willingly ran away with the pirate until he tracks down Jones again. On board Killian Jones' pirate ship, Rumplestiltskin confronts Milah about leaving their son Baelfire. She admits she is the coward, and that she let her misery cloud her judgment. He asks why she was so miserable and she states, “I never loved you!" In his anger, he rips out her heart and crushes it, killing her instantly.
After Cora, the daughter of a miller, rises to power, she asks Rumplestiltskin to teach her how to rip out the King's heart, as a sort of revenge. When she meets with him, King Xavier teaches her "love is weakness". This prompts Cora to rip out her own heart instead, so she can avoid the heart break of leaving Rumplestiltskin for her future husband, the prince.
Many years later, Cora's daughter, Regina, falls deeply in love with a stable boy, Daniel. One night, they plan to run away together, but her mother catches them just as they are leaving. After a small struggle, Cora seems to understand the love Regina has for him. Cora and Regina reconcile, and make up with a hug. Cora embraces Daniel afterwards and speaks a few words of her own wisdom concerning how a parent always wants what is best for their child. Seconds after these words, she rips out his heart and crushes it; killing him. Regina is devastated and is forced into an arranged marriage to King Leopold.
Shortly following Regina's marriage to King Leopold, Rumplestiltskin teaches her how to rip a living creature's heart; with the victim being a black unicorn. Seeing it as a terrible reminder of how her mother ripped out Daniel's heart, she refuses to follow through with his methods, so Rumplestiltskin tears out the unicorn's heart himself. After the failed resurrection of Daniel by a scientist, Regina comes back to Rumplestiltskin a changed woman. She interrupts Rumplestiltskin and his new apprentice and rips out her heart to prove she deserves to be taught the dark arts.
After the death of her husband, the Evil Queen's guards capture the Huntsman. The Evil Queen wishes him to help her kill Snow White, the deceased King Leopold's daughter. She promises him large rewards in exchange. The Huntsman cares for naught except the protection of the wolves, which the Evil Queen promises, and so he accepts the job.
The Huntsman disguises himself as a guard to gain Snow White's trust, but she sees through his facade. Snow White manages to get away from him, but only for enough time to write a last letter to her stepmother. She gives it to the Huntsman, who is overcome with emotion upon reading it. He decides to let her go instead and takes the heart of a deer as a replacement for the Queen.
The Huntsman delivers the deer heart to the Queen. In the chamber of hearts, she holds the heart up, but none of the containers open. The Queen realizes it is not Snow White's heart she holds in her hands. Furious, the Queen turns on the Huntsman and takes his heart as payment. She declares he is hers now, and if he ever crosses her again, all she has to do is squeeze.
As the Evil Queen needed the heart of the thing she loved most for the dark curse to work, she ripped her father's heart out as the sacrifice.
During the Curse
After the successful activation of the curse, The Evil Queen's counterpart, Regina, rules the town of Storybrooke and its inhabitants. After two outsiders, Kurt and Owen, wander in, she befriends them and warms up to the idea of them staying permanently. When Kurt rejects the idea, Regina becomes desperate to stall their leaving. Still having the Huntsman's heart in her possession, she orders his counterpart, Sheriff Graham, to prevent them from leaving town by arresting Kurt for the charges of drunk driving. However, Kurt accidentally witnesses this and attempts to make a speedy escape with his son. He is apprehended at the town border and willingly allows himself to be taken so Owen can flee.
Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, has come to Storybrooke after 28 years. Not knowing the magic she possesses, it is triggered when Sheriff Graham kisses her and he has flashbacks of his life in the Enchanted Forest. Graham becomes convinced he lost his heart, and begs Emma to help him look for it. Regina gains insight that Graham is beginning to regain some memories of his life as the Huntsman in the Enchanted Forest. After he turns against Regina, and she, having no further use for him now that he is not loyal to her anymore, takes his heart and squeezes it to dust. The result is Graham dies of a "sudden heart attack".
After the Curse
While Emma, Mary Margaret, Aurora, and Mulan are away searching for a way to Storybrooke from the Enchanted Forest, Cora attacks the safe haven survivors and takes their hearts. She uses the hearts to command the corpses to rise. Several of the dead bodies head off into the forest to ambush the foursome.
In the midst of the corpse ambush, Aurora is kidnapped and taken as Cora's prisoner. Unwilling to give up information to Cora, she is knocked out. While she is unconscious, Cora's accomplice, Hook, sneaks in and takes out Aurora's heart without her knowledge. She awakens to see him standing over her. Though her guard is up, Hook informs her that he is helping her escape to foil Cora's plans. Aurora does not believe him at first, but Hook sticks to his story and asks her to pass the message along to Emma that she should have trusted him. Aurora thanks him and runs from the dungeon. Later, she meets up with her companions in the woods just as Mary Margaret is about to slice Mulan's throat open. Aurora orders her to stop, and helps Mulan up. Aurora tells them how she escaped, what Hook said, and asks what they will be doing next. Unbeknownst to the group, everything she is saying is via Cora's manipulation now that Aurora's heart is in her hands.
Emma, Mary Margaret, Aurora, and Mulan journey to Rumplestiltskin's old cell to look for the ink they need to defeat Cora. They find the jar of ink empty. Suddenly, compelled by Cora's grasp, Aurora throws a rock at a lever, trapping herself, Mary Margaret, Mulan, and Emma inside Rumplestiltskin's cell. When they find the parchment with the ink written on it and use it to escape, Aurora feels Cora's power over her is too dangerous, so she asks to be tied up and left behind.
In the middle of the battle at Lake Nostos, a satchel containing Aurora's heart nearly falls into the portal but is saved by Hook. With Cora and Hook being defeated, and Emma and Mary Margaret making their return to Storybrooke, Mulan takes the heart back to the dungeon and places it back into Aurora's chest.
When David and Mary Margaret discover that the Dark One's Dagger is hidden on the minute hand of the clock tower, they race to grab it first before it falls into Cora's clutches. Just as the two prepare to leave with the dagger, Cora and Regina teleport into the clock tower with Mary Margaret's beloved servant from the Enchanted Forest, Johanna. To compel Mary Margaret in handing over the dagger, Regina takes out Johanna's heart and begins to squeeze it and the life out of Johanna. Unable to watch an innocent life be vanquished in front of her, Mary Margaret surrenders the dagger. Satisfied, Regina places the heart back into Johanna's chest. Relieved, Johanna begins to run towards Mary Margaret's waiting embrace, but Cora cuts off the reunion by flinging Johanna out the clock tower's face and killing her.
In Neverland, Mr. Gold confronts Tamara, who apologizes for shooting Neal. However, Mr. Gold does not forgive her and instead rips out her heart before crushing it to dust.
To settle a long-standing grudge, Tinker Bell kidnaps Regina and threatens to poison her with Dreamshade. Regina offers up her own heart and lets Tinker Bell decide what to do with it. Instead, Tinker Bell explodes in anger over their past history and demands answers, to which Regina finally admits the truth. She tries to deter Tinker Bell from the path of vengeance and choose light over darkness. Eventually, Tinker Bell listens and hands back the heart to Regina.
Pan, who is losing his immorality, tricks Henry into believing Neverland's weakening magic will have a direct impact on everyone else. To "save" magic, Henry must give up his own heart, which will result in death. In actuality, Pan needs Henry's heart to regain his immortality by absorbing all the magic in Neverland. Despite Emma, Neal, and Regina's attempts to prove that Pan is lying to him, Henry goes through with the sacrifice and dies.
When harassed by Zelena, David chooses to give his heart to Regina for to create a second curse for to rejoin the Savior Emma Swan. However, Snow-White, with Regina's help, broke her own heart in two for to resurrected him.
- The user can crush the enchanted heart, killing the victim.
- The user has control over the victim's actions and speech.
- The user can use the heart to reanimate the victim's dead bodies.
- The user who rips out their own heart is unable to feel any true emotion until their heart is restored.
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