Well, my friends… Let’s talk about Text Analysis! Oh, but not just any Text Analysis: I am talking about the interpretation of Song Lyrics!
It’s no secret the KH series is loaded and cramped with symbolism left and right and up and down. it’s been a staple of the series from literally the very first second you play it – I mean seriously, look at the title screen of KH1 and tell me you didn’t seriously wonder what Sora gnawing a fishbone, standing ankle deep in the ocean was supposed to mean – and thus it’s only natural that everything in these games is subjected to analysis by a portion of the fanbase again and again. This includes, of course, the title songs by Utada Hikaru: Hikari, Simple&Clean, Passion and Sanctuary. Four different songs with 2 melodies but each with a very distinct set of lyrics.
Hikari, being the main theme of the series of sorts has been the most analyzed of those songs, with it’s English “Sister”, Simple&Clean ranking close second. Passion and Sanctuary, only having been used as Opening of two games, however, have gotten less attention. Though, maybe not rightfully.
Indeed, I find that especially “Sanctuary” is much easier and more clearly to interpret in context of the KH games than all three of the other songs (Also including Passion).
KH Song interpretation usually faces the problem that each interpretation, especially of “Hikari” or “Simple&Clean”; faces slight contradictions in the lyrics at some point: The lyrical “I” cannot be pinpointed. There is never a character who seems to fit the role of the lyrical “I” perfectly. Or, if there is, it’s just really hard to figure out.
However, there is one lyrical “I” I think I finally managed to pinpoint recently, years after the song in question has been released.
Why have I never been able to pinpoint that one before? Because they existence of that character wasn’t even known when that song was first used in the games.
Well, hello again! You sure show up a lot in my theories, don’t you?
You probably suspect it already (if the title didn’t tick you off to begin with). I am talking about everyone’s favorite (Or not. Your decision) Replica, Xion. And I am proposing that she is the lyrical “I” of Utada Hikaru’s “Sanctuary”. And I have evidence to back it up.
Okay, you may say now: “Xion? But you just admitted that she wasn’t even around yet when KH2 came out! That’s not logically possible, what are you talking about?”
Well, first of all, I’d like to quote Wikipedia’s Article on Xion (Yeah, there is one) here, which clearly states:
“The idea of Xion’s character was made during development of Kingdom Hearts II, game in which the staff showed Roxas leaving Organization XIII. They thought that such action was due to the influence of someone close to him and chose a female character from his own age.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xion_(Kingdom_Hearts))
Ergo, even if Xion wasn’t physically around in KH2, her story was already being written at the time, possibly even in a somewhat developed state already. Trust me, I am a writer myself, and once you got an idea for a character like this, ideas just start flying around. I could imagine that a lot of details regarding the character that would later become Xion were pinpointed before Utada Hikaru had ever even finished writing the lyrics for the English KH2 theme, Sanctuary. So, who is to say Nomura didn’t tell her about the character they planned to have been the whole reason Roxas was in the position he was in in the start of the game and Utada decided to integrate this into the English song? It makes sense, given how the song is played right before we are shown what is basically several hours of watching Roxas dying without even realizing it. Singing about what brought him there in first place before that would only make sense. It’s out of question the lyrics for “Passion” were written first, which explains why this doesn’t apply for them (I will get to Passion in a later contribution, I have another theory for that one), but Sanctuary’s lyrics, as I will explain now, contain a lot of points that bear startling similarity to events and points in Xion’s story, as well as her character. In fact, it could be that Nomura and Tanemaki got some inspiration for the scenario of 358/2 Days from “Sanctuary”, explaining why exactly this song fits so incredibly well. Well, however, now, enough of the pre-explanation, let’s get down to analyzing!
First of all: The opening video that goes with the song itself. The idea for this “essay” first came to me when I realized that the Seashell in the beginning of the KH 2 opening, which is washed away by the waves takes on a whole new meaning after playing Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: Originally, I believed the shell being washed away stood for Naminé (the wave) taking away the memory of Kairi (the girl playing with Thalassa Shells). This is still a legitimate interpretation, though a bit less impressive when you realize that this opening sequence is meant to represent the reconstruction of Sora’s memories. Kairi appears a lot in the video after the shell is washed away… so the memory of her was already *back* by that point. Wouldn’t it make more sense to show the shell being washed *back* onto land?
It makes somewhat more sense when you realize that Sora’s memory of Kairi spawned something else in the extended plot of the games. And that something else was Xion. So the seashell being washed away *does* symbolize Kairi’s memory being *returned*, rather than being taken away. It’s Xion’s death. As the Seashell is being washed away, the most frequent line in the song, a reverse “I need more affection than you know” is being uttered. I will get to the significance of that line later, but let me just say: It is very significant to Xion. Especially after the revelations of KH3D.
Not long after the seashell is washed away and we got a bit of Sora’s memories… The Song speeds up. Rapidly. Could this symbolize the speed up in Sora’s memory reconstruction that occurred because the stolen memories contained in Xion were returned?
While we still thinking about this, let’s move on! From here on out, it’s lyrics time!
Let’s start with the repeated chorus:
“In you and I,
There’s a new land,
Angels in flight-
(Rev: I need more affection than you know.)
My Sanctuary, My Sanctuary, now,
Where fears and lies melt away,
Music will tie-
(Rev: I need more affection than you know.)
-what’s left of me. What’s left of me now?
“In you and I there’s a new land Angel’s in flight”
This sounds like a typical love-song cliché refrain at first, but… if you put in context of the plot it turns into a few other, slightly… disturbing things. Namely, there’s two things I found this chorus to imply. Neither of them all to positive, both fitting with Xion. Well, alright.
Remember all the talk in 358/2 days about Xion and Roxas being special?
I’d like to create a lyical connection between the words “Land” and “Kingdom” for the first interpretation of this chorus…
… And suddenly, the first line in this turns into a statement about their “Destiny” to create a second Kingdom Hearts.
Why do I think of Kingdom Hearts here? ”Angels in flight” is why I associate it to Kingdom Hearts. Angels are the massagers of Paradise and the closest thing to Paradise known in the cosmology of KH is Kingdom Hearts itself.
Then, a reversed “I need more affection than you know”.
The reversed “I need more affection than you know” is one of the few things this song has in common with “Passion” and I think I know what they stand for.
Something important, told, but in an unintelligible way. Those are unspoken words in my opinion. The truth about the lyrical “I” that she doesn’t know herself. Her words that she never said as clearly as she should have, because she didn’t understand herself.
For Xion, who knows NOTHING about the heart, let alone that she had one, this is a great problem, even if she arguably handles it better than her friends, Axel and Roxas.
‘I need you guys. I need something from you, but I don’t really understand what it is, so, I can’t tell you.’
This is what I read out of that line. When Xion dies, she claims it was alright, but was that true? Her diary says otherwise. She *wanted* to spend more time with her friends. But she didn’t really understand it either. She told Roxas that cared a lot about him and Axel. What she never *truly* mentioned to them was her answer to the question “What do you want to do Xion?” She didn’t tell Roxas that she did want to stay. That she wanted more time with him and Axel. “More affection than they knew.” She goes out with a smile, but later reappears in KH3D within Sora’s heart with a frown. Because she wasn’t ready to go and didn’t want to.
“My sanctuary, my sanctuary”
We could stick with the interpretation from before now and see this as another mention of Kingdom Hearts… Or we move on to the interpretation I prefer: Sora.
Sora’s name is often interpreted as “Heaven” in the sense of, again, “Paradise.”
Xion said upon her death: “I belong with Sora and now I am going back”.
Well, let’s take a look at this then again, as a single sentence:
”In you and I, there’s a new land. Angels in flight (to), my sanctuary, my sanctuary”
We are putting the “Creating Kingdom Hearts” interpretation aside now and make room for a new one: The entire chorus could actually be referring to Xion… and Roxas, returning to Sora.
I tend to interpret this song as an attempt of the Xion to soothe Roxas’ fears of the inevitable- Sharing her fate of reabsorption into Sora. And that’s mostly because of above line and interpretation.
“Where fears and lies melt away”
Two lines from when Xion died once more:
“I *belong* with Sora.” and “It’s too late to undo my mistakes.”
Mistakes… These unclearly defined “Mistakes” of Xion could be the “Lies” the song mentions.
‘The lies of her existence are forgiven if she returns.’ …This sounds like a hope she would have. Xion’s whole existence was plastered with lies. Lies too her, lies about her, and the “sins” she committed without even realizing. The hope expressed her is the hope of this all being undone. Everything becoming “Right and true”, if she just becomes one with Sora again.
As for the fears… Well, Xion had a lot of fears. Till the very end, she was afraid of many things,. Rightfully. It only makes sense that she would hope that the fears that she has lived with the entire duration of her existence will vanish as well.
“Music will tie-
(Reverse: I need more affection than you know)
-what’s left of me.
What’s left of me now?”
One of the more obvious parts, I think. I associate “Music” with Emotion”. Which is why the reverse text comes again right after. I think the reverse text seems to appear whenever she hints at them having emotion. This could be related to her own doubts. She’s unsure about the things she claims. Here too.
“Music will tie – what’s left of me. What’s left of me now?”
‘What remains of me will be tied into Sora. But, actually, what is left of me now? I don’t even know.’
The conflict between the fact that her love for her friends is still there, but she doesn’t actually exist anymore. She tried to soothe herself by telling herself something would remain. She wouldn’t forget and she would be happy with that. But… is that really true? No, she’s not really happy that way, as Frown!Xion in KH3D proves sadly. She doubts her own words because her fears DID not all disappear like she hoped. This theme ties itself through the song, from how far I can see: She makes a soothing claim, the reverse text is uttered, she grows unsure and her insecurity shows in the lyrics.
OK. Let’s get more tangible.
“I watch you, fast asleep.
All I fear means nothing.”
“I watch you, fast asleep”
Ehem. What did she do for a several days when Roxas was out?
Alternately, she could also be watching him as he dreams of Sora’s memories in the simulated reality. Or both. They are simmilar. Watching over Roxas as he slept was an important part of them becoming friends, after all. It could be her reminiscence.
“All I fear means nothing”
Again with Xion trying to soothe her own fears and doubts and trying to make decisions, for the sake of her friends.
‘Even if I am afraid, it means nothing, I need to decide, even if I am not ready, I have to do this.’
Lines like this are in her diary and in other form even spoken by her in the end of the game.
“Watching Roxas fast asleep” is her remembering that they are friends, have been as long as she can think. He and Axel are important to her. “All she fears means nothing”, because she has to make a decision for their sake. Fears or not.
What follows is the chorus once more. I’ll not analyze that one again.
Let’s move on straight to the bridge.
“(Reverse: So many ups and downs)
My heart’s a battleground.
(Reverse: I need true emotion
I need more affection than you know,
I need true emotion.)”
I think this entire bridge is lamenting over the overall depressing atmosphere of 358/2 Days. Another expression of Xion’s true desire for a happy friendship with Axel and Roxas and nothing else. She “feels” that she wishes their friendship hadn’t gone through all this rollercoaster of pain. But because it’s a feeling, she doesn’t truly understand…
…Then, she admits that it conflicts her in her *heart*. And barely does she admit to having a heart- again, just like earlier: Backwards test. Except for several lines.
Truths she can’t grasp, because she wasn’t taught to deal with emotions.
“You show me how to see
That nothing is whole and nothing is broken”
This is an easy one. I interpret this as:
‘Thanks to you guys I learned that, even if we’re not whole, we’re not worthless either. Not me, not you.’
She is a Replica. Roxas and Axel are Nobodies. But she has learned that, even if they are’t whole, none of them is “broken”. Not her, not Roxas, not Axel.
Note how Utada sings the second “Nothing” in a disorted way, however, that makes it sound like “Heart-thing”. Was this intended? If yes, this could, again, be Xion’s doubt showing through her only apparently-firm hope. A “Freudian Slip”, if you will.
‘That thing called “Heart”… if I have it, I think it’s broken now.”
This is close to the end of the song. Maybe Xion thinks her hopes have betrayed her. She’s vanished into lonely oblivion. She is left “Heartbroken”. Even if she tries to go out with a smile, the truth is, she’s less hopeful than she tries to be. She’s only trying to be strong for Roxas.
The Chorus once more, with all the hopes and doubts it implies. And the reverse text, of course.
The song ends on
“My fears and lies melt away
(Rev: I need more affection than you know.)”
…A last attempt to hold on to hope perhaps, despite sadness? The same sadness that Sora later mentions having felt in his nightmare in KH3D, I think.
A huge point that I could bring up: In KH3D, when Sora is close to snapping, he says that he followed the nightmare brought forth by Roxas, Xion and Ventus’ hearts because “Those hearts… felt so sad.”
Xion and Roxas can have gone out with a smile a hundred times, the fact remains: No. No, they did not truly accept their fates. They are still desperate. They are only smiling for the ones they care about.
And I think for Xion, this shows wonderfully in this song. This song is the smile she had on her face when she died, put into music. A smile only to soothe Roxas. But behind it, nothing but doubts and fears of what will become of her.
Nomura said they created Xion while thinking about why Roxas could have left the organization. Well, we have the reason right here: It drove Xion into death by feeding her all the fears and doubts expressed in this song. This song expresses not only how Xion died and in what state of mind, but also indirectly why. It explains without making us realize that it explains.
Sanctuary (and Passion) was used as opening for two games: 358/2 Days and KH2. The two games that cover Roxas’ life. The two games to which Xion has a relevance through her influence on Roxas’ actions. And KH2 was kicked off by…
…The disorted comfort of one of the many important memories Roxas has forgotten, as he now waits for his untimely demise.
Note, this is all just my text analysis. I am not saying that this is really what Utada or even the staff of the game had in mind when these lyrics were written. I am just showing a possibility I believe to be fairly plausible. Wether or not you find it plausible is up to you alone.
(Contributed by Nenilein)
Just gonna reblog all of this.