Sora wakes from the dream exactly where he appeared to wake in the opening cinematic: on a beach on a picturesque island, and once again by his redheaded friend. For real this time. Thankfully, these two exchange names at once. This is great, because we’ve been in control of Sora for fifteen minutes now and still haven’t learned his name. The friend is Kairi, played by Hayden Penetierre, still four years before her breakthrough role in ABC’s Heroes. For the Disney connection, she’s also the voice of Dot in A Bug’s Life, though that wasn’t strictly a Disney production in 2002.
While I feel Penetierre’s performance in KH1 worked for me the first time around, it hasn’t weathered my replays very well. Where Osmet is playing something of an everyboy without much effort, Penetierre seems to be over-playing childishness, despite being younger than Osmet in real life. A lot of KH1’s voice actors make similar and weirder enunciation choices, so this strikes me as an issue with voice direction. All things considered, Sora and Kairi were fine for me as cast members in a 2002 game when voice acting standards were lower, but KH1 Kairi seems off to me in the present day, and Sora sometimes skirts closer to bad from his typical average. KH1 can be a hard game to come back to in more than a few ways, but to me, non-Disney voice acting is the problem that comes instantly to mind.