Song of the Week #13 — "Sanctuary"

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I’m a sucker for a game with an emotionally-charged story.  In the twelve weeks I’ve been writing this column, I’ve picked a handful of stories that have made me misty-eyed.  I’m surprised there haven't been more, to be quite honest.  Well, my adoring fans, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that this week I’ll be bringing you such a song.  One which sends The Chills down my spine whenever it touches my ears.

What better place to scour for emotionally-charged games than the JRPG genre? Specifically Square Enix.  No, no, no!  Not the modern-day Square Enix which screws hometown fans over or pushes out constant unwanted mobile games.  The Square Enix I’m referring to is the one we all love from their glorious PS1 and PS2 days.

This week I bring you "Sanctuary," as performed by the incredibly talented Hikaru Utada in Kingdom Hearts II.

"Sanctuary" perfectly walks the line between cheesy love song and harrowing ode to your success, but with a deeper meaning than "Simple and Clean."  While "Simple and Clean" represents the bright and cheery youth of Sora, Riku, and Kairi in Kingdom Hearts, "Sanctuary" follows the trio into their teens, and into a darker world.

I would be remiss not to mention Hikaru Utada’s soothing voice, for whether she sings in Japanese or English, she's breathtakingly talented.  Her ravishing voice knows no linguistic barriers, a feat which leaves me stupefied.  

If you haven’t beaten Kingdom Hearts II, I would strongly advise you skip the next spoiler-ridden paragraph.

After 60+ hours — including the original Kingdom Hearts — of journeying across all the planets and fighting the forces of darkness, the climax of Kingdom Hearts II brings the long-parted trio of Sora, Kairi, and Riku back together.  Destiny Islands awaited, and all that stood between them was the remainder of Organization XIII.  Upon the defeat of Xemas, all hoped seemed lost.  Riku and Sora were left in darkness with no way of ever returning home.  Suddenly, a ray of light appears, and — wouldn’t you know — it leads back to their tropical little paradise where Kari, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy were all waiting.  This moment will forever be engraved into my memory as my favorite from the Kingdom Hearts series.

Ok, you're safe from spoilers now.

Say what you will about how convoluted the story gets after the first game; Square Enix sure knows how to tug on my emotions.  Hikaru Utada is an astonishing talent who captures the final moments of Kingdom Hearts II with grace, no matter the language.

As always, dear readers:  sit back, relax, and enjoy.