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Kingdom Hearts FAQ #12: Titles

A door to knowledge?Q. Why did they number the Kingdom Hearts games so dumb and weird?

A. Here are the ridiculous title explanations you were waiting for.

Kingdom Hearts, aka Kingdom Heats 1, is the most straightforward of the bunch. As a reminder, yes, Kingdom Hearts is revealed to be an actual object in the game/series, and is not just some random nonsense title. Gilgamesh is not searching the multiverse for the Final Fantasy, and Benjamin does not live in Final Fantasy, USA.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is the Gameboy Advance game that was kind of a retelling of Kingdom Hearts 1, kind of its own original story. So, the “Chain of Memories” is a gentle reminder that you’ve seen everything in this game once already, and a descriptor for how the plot of the game involves Naminé, the slave witch, altering Sora’s memories by inserting herself into key moments. She is breaking Sora’s chain of memories, while you are trying to get a chain combo going through your own memories of a game you already played. Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories was the PS2 remake of the game that has a title based on an email subject misunderstanding.

Quirky?Kingdom Hearts 2 is the sequel to Kingdom Hearts, and the last time we saw a straightforward title in this series (it’s been almost a decade!). The “2” here could also be a clever reference to the fact that Sora and Kairi are both accidentally duplicated for the entirety of the game (Roxas and Naminé, respectively), or how Sora wields a pair of keyblades during special occasions. Also, every world winds up getting visited twice, so Kingdom Hearts 2 is twice as padded as Kingdom Hearts 1.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the DS is where we start sliding off the rails forever. This impossible to abbreviate title features Roxas (Sora clone) and new character Xion (… also a Sora clone) palling around with Organization XIII for the period of time between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. We’re talking about 358 Days, and since the relationship between Roxas and Xion is central to the plot, it is 358 days divided by two people. Also, a DS screen can be used by better games (thinking of Contra 4 here) as a sort of giant screen divided into two. It all adds up to KH358/2D being titled unusually so as to discourage people from playing that turd.

LIAR!Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is the prequel of the series, thus the whole “Birth” thing. Aggravatingly, this is not the origin story of the main villain of the series, Xehanort, so we’re probably going to see another, earlier prequel somewhere down the line to cover the Birth of Darkness. Interestingly, while this game is mostly in media res because someone lost the ability to tell stories with concrete beginnings, the game does open with the literal birth of Sora, which causes Ven, an identical cousin of Sora, to awaken from a deep sleep. The game is then bookended with Ven knocking back into a coma while his heart flutters off to hang out with child Sora, so “Birth by Sleep” actually makes a sort of sideways sense. If you squint. Note that, thanks to its plot placement before Kingdom Hearts 1, BBS is sometimes referred to as Kingdom Hearts 0, which will be important in a moment.

Kingdom Hearts Coded was a damn episodic cell phone game that got rereleased as a complete DS game named Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. This is the story of Mickey Mouse trying to get with the times and digitizing Jiminy Cricket’s dusty old journal which, naturally, leads to the world nearly being destroyed, because technology is scary and somehow scanning a book creates sentient life, most of it malevolent. “Coded” is referring to the scanning (coding) process here, and “code” is also a synonym for “puzzle” according to Word’s thesaurus, which alludes to the fact that this is a puzzle game. “Re:coded” is just what those whacky programmers were complaining about when they were informed the game would be reheated for the DS.

When your hero doesn't understand...Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is just… ugh… still mad at this one. First of all, yes, if you abbreviate the title, it just appears as Kingdom Hearts 3, which we… *cough*… I mean fans have been clamoring for since Kingdom Hearts 2 six years prior. Now, to be annoyed by the very next letter, it’s “3D” not just because it’s in 3-D, but because the subtitle is three sequential D’s: Dream Drop Distance, which is a previously unmentioned keyblade ability that allows the user to drop into the dreams of the heart… which are… just regular dreams. Anyway, to the game’s credit, it does continue the “story” of Kingdom Hearts, so it did work out like a pseudo-Kingdom Hearts 3. Of course, now we’re all excited about the real Kingdom Hearts 3, and nobody cares about the 3DS anymore, so let’s resubtitle the game as 2.8, since we already used 2.5 for the Kingdom Hearts 2 HD release, and we can’t exceed three. There are an infinite amount of numbers between two and three, and I’m betting 2.9 is reserved for some kind of prologue cell phone game released three months before KH3. Or a paid demo! The possibilities are endless!

Speaking of lousy promotional games, Kingdom Hearts χ was a browser based game set ages before the events of any given Kingdom Hearts, pre-Keyblade War, which was fought over the χ-blade. For those of you without a doctorate in Kingdom Hearts History, this would be akin to setting a Star Wars game a thousand years before the birth of Chewbacca. Kingdom Hearts χ is a nothing of a game, basically meant for playing around the Kingdom Hearts universe while your boss is off hitting on Debra in accounting (think about it, Kingdom Hearts was released in 2002, the teens that played that game and bought Nobody hoodies and custom zippers are well into their cubicles today). There were a few inklings of the plot in there, though, so those scenes are being repackaged as the movie Kingdom Hearts χ in the new set, like 358/2 Days in KH1.5HD and Re:Coded in KH2.5HD. Wow, Team Kingdom Hearts really has this down to a science.

And χ is pronounced “key”, of course.

Moving right alongFinally, we have Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (KH0) ends with Aqua sucked into the Realm of Darkness, which is also where a whale of a lot of worlds also wound up during the time period between BBS and Kingdom Hearts 1. This means that we can just reuse Aqua’s BBS HD Remake model and animations to explore a whole host of “lost” worlds that are just reused assets from previous KH games modified to a darker palette for inclusion in the Realm of Darkness. It’ll be Birth by Sleep 0.2 alright, as the whole game will likely involve two new worlds, one new Square guest star (let’s say… Laguna?), and the other 80% will be stuff we’ve already seen.

I’ll buy it day one.

Q. Any handy visual aids available for the series?

A. Here’s the boxart for Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD

The Whole Gang

Highlighted below are all the characters that are, or have ever been, Sora.

The Soras

Now here are all the characters that are, or have ever been, Xehanort.

The Xehanorts

And, finally, here are all the characters that are… female.

Kinda Lonely

That help?

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #09: Organization XIII

Just a bunch of nobodiesQ. Who or what is Organization XIII?

The answer is all about nothing.

The overall feeling, whether deliberate or not, of Kingdom Hearts 1 is that Sora and his companions are Square teenagers living in a decidedly Disney universe. Destiny Islands, Sora’s home, is peaceful, isolated, and idyllic until the very moment it is invaded by outside forces and obliterated. From that point on, Sora ventures to Traverse Town, which is the KH1 home of the Final Fantasy crew, but also Gepetto & Pinocchio, 101 Dalmations, and The Sword in the Stone’s Merlin living in sin with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Traverse Town is also home to a lot of “landmarks” that either evoke a Disney theme, or are more blunt, like an inexplicable Lady & the Tramp fountain. Sora then ventures onward to planet after planet, every single one themed after a different Disney movie. While the heartless are wonderful minions, the bosses of each area are Disney villains. Finally, Sora reaches Hollow Bastion, which is the real home of Team Final Fantasy, but it is conquered by Disney malcontent Malificent, who has certainly spruced the place up with a number of thorns and other decidedly Disney architectural features. The absolute finale of Kingdom Hearts is a very Square “journey to the center of the Universe” dungeon, but even in Kingdom Heart’s Northern Cave there are repeated references to Disney movies (like a lingering Snow White motif), and even Ansem’s final line of defense appears to be Chernobog of Fantasia.

Then Square took back the universe with a vengeance.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is a very weird game. Remember the old days of portable gaming, where a Gameboy game was simply its console counterpart, just scaled back dramatically to fit the confines of portability? At first blush, this is Kingdom Hearts COM: it’s Kingdom Hearts I with its entire battle system scaled down and rejiggered to transition from the Playstation 2 to the more modest Gameboy Advance. Sora and friends follow the same “path” as Kingdom Hearts 1, jumping world to world, basically in the same order, and fighting, basically, the same enemies. “Traverse Town” is level one, Sora meets Leon, Aerith, and Yuffie, fights some minor heartless, and then defeats the boss, Guard Armor. On a basic level, COM could have been a straight “portable” remake of Kingdom Hearts 1.

But it’s not. Someone, somewhere in production could not leave well enough alone, and decided that, while the basic gameplay progression of COM would be exactly like its predecessor, the plot should be something that advances the overall franchise narrative. But it can’t progress too much, because this is just a portable “side” game, and Kingdom Hearts 2 will be the sweetest plum, so this entire game, and everything in it, should be simply… tantalizing? Everything has to be a mystery. All setup, no punchline.

Organization XIII was born of this desire, and we are all poorer for it.

Pictured: who caresWithout exaggeration, everything about Organization XIII is built to facilitate some vague feeling of mystery. They all dress alike, wearing full body cloaks with hoods, so they can all line up next to each other and be indistinguishable. Their motivations are ambiguous, even to themselves. They don’t trust each other, so they can betray and shift allegiances at the drop of a hat. They’re built to be outlines that can be filled in with whatever details the plot demands.

They’re a group of empty nobodies.


What are Organization XIII? They’re a bunch of nobodies, aka a body without a heart, but retain memories of their previous lives. The initial six members of Organization XIII were all created at about the same time, when Xehanort went batty and ripped out his own heart, shouted, “You guys gotta try this!” and then proceeded to perform the procedure another five times. All six of these guys were considered the apprentices of Ansem of the Wise, even though three of these “apprentices” were just for-rent security guards. Also: good job guarding there, hotshots. The other members of Organization XIII were all nobodies who were inducted at some nebulous “later” period.

What's in a name?What’s with the names? All Organization members receive a new name upon joining. The new name is the letters of their old name rearranged with an “X” added. As of Birth by Sleep, the explanation for this X fascination is Xehanort’s obsession with the χ-blade. Prior to BBS, the explanation for the X is that Xehanort is secretly an Adam X fan.

What’s with the numbers? “I’ve never felt so accepted in all my life. These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined.” – Hexmor

What do they want? In one of the most confused messages in all of storytelling, Organization XIII’s goal is to reclaim their hearts, or any hearts, because without their hearts, they cannot experience emotions. Putting aside the conundrum of whether or not “desire” or “ambition” are emotions, Organization XIII members frequently, from the first moment they’re introduced, display emotions. And not even in a half-As you doassed Spock way, either, they’re frequently emotional powder kegs. The (lazy) explanation in KH2 is that all nobodies are faking emotions that they “remember” from when they were complete humans. As of Dream Drop Distance, the explanation has become that they were growing new nobody hearts, but Xemnas did not want his minions to get all emotional about it. I’d make a joke about how ridiculous this is, but just rereading what I just wrote makes me angry… or maybe I’m just remembering what it’s like to be angry.

Who are Organization XIII? Let’s take a look at these nutbars on a case-by-case basis, in descending order just for funsies.

Not Members of Organization XIII: Mickey, Riku, and DiZ (Dreaming Icky Zek) all have Organization XIII paraphernalia, but are not members, and have never been members. All three are basically the anti-org, and actually seem to accomplish more to foil Org 13 than Sora, who, as Square heroes are want to do, is just playing into Organization XIII’s hands, bwa ha ha, and whatnot.

Not pictured: funAlso Not a Member, but a Nobody: Naminé, Kairi’s Nobody, is also not a member of Organization XIII, but is frequently their pawn. Naminé has the maddeningly specific ability to play with Sora’s memories, and, at Org’s behest, turns Sora’s poor noggin into swiss cheese during Chain of Memories. She loses interest by the end, probably because of friendship or something, and then spends a year putting Humpty Dumpty back together again while Diz calls her worthless. She follows that with spending a lot of time coloring before finally deciding to get off her ass and do something, and uses random world traversing abilities to rescue Kairi from Organization XIII, which… is it altruistic when you save a person, but that person is actually a former and future version of yourself? While an exaltation of philosophy majors were scratching their heads over that one, Naminé gets reabsorbed into Kairi at the finale of Kingdom Hearts 2. Despite no longer existing from that point on, Naminé seems to pop up randomly through future installments of the franchise, usually to say something wildly cryptic. I’m assuming her voice actress is cheaper than Kairi’s…

Another sad storyActual Member #14 Xion

  • Looks like: Kairi (or Naminé) with black hair
  • Weapon: (Sora’s) Keyblade
  • Official Title: None (Ouch)
  • Element: Light (I guess)
  • Original Name: No. i (as in the imaginary number)

Okay, remember when I said everyone in Organization XIII was designed to be mysterious? Well, the problem with that particular plot train is that it’s hard to know when to throw the brakes, and, whoops, everyone spent Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2 being so mysterious, they forgot to have super tragic pasts and interesting backstories and motivations, and, drat, by the end of Kingdom Hearts 2, everybody is dead. So Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was created as a prequel set during the time that Sora is in a Naminé-coma so Organization XIII can be more fleshed out. But, writing problem again, we already know all these guys are gonna shuffle off this mortal coil in the game everyone already played, so how does one make the prequel interesting and sufficiently mysterious?

Xion is the answer to the question no one should have ever asked.

Xion is the central character of 358/2 Days. To save everyone the trouble of having to actually play said game, Xion is an unstable clone of Sora created from those memories Naminé heisted in the previous entry. When I say she’s unstable, I mean it, as she doesn’t even have a face until Roxas wills her to be an off-brand Kairi, ostensibly because he’s lonely. She spends the majority of her life in the thrall of Organization XIII, breaks out, does her own thing, and then ceases to do her own thing when she is completely obliterated from existence. Due to her general instability, when she breaks down, she not only ceases to be, but all memories and evidence of her, everywhere, are erased forever. Sucks for her, though does conveniently explain why she is never mentioned in Kingdom Hearts 2. As noted in a previous post, Roxas absorbs whatever is left of Xion, so she sorta lives on.

Also, for those of you paying attention: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 heavily features the story of a woman. Yay. She is literally born of a man’s machinations, her personality and body are determined by another man, she lives most of her life as a slave to a group of almost all men, and then dies, but in a manner that grants a power-up to a man. #notyourclone

Happy, sunny dayMember #13 Roxas

  • Looks like: Sora with blonde hair
  • Weapon: Keyblade
  • Official Title: The Key of Destiny
  • Element: Light
  • Original Name: Sora (duh)

Roxas is Sora’s nobody, but has absolutely no memories of his time as Sora. He is better for it. Roxas really is a bizarro Sora: while Sora charges headlong into danger and doesn’t seem to ever think about the fact that he’s gone from a happy kid playing with his friends to a child soldier in the war against a primal Jungian archetype, Roxas questions everything. Why am I here? Why was I created? Life… dreams… hope… Where’d they come from? And where are they headed? Frankly, he’s exhausting. Roxas spends 358/2 Days (wow, that’s the game’s title and the time involved) with his head up his ass. He finally pulls it out of there when he gets an answer (Roxas, you are here to hit the B button until everything on the screen is dead), and then gets his memory reformatted back to square one. Roxas ver. 2.0 is much less insufferable, but, because the world is a cruel place, this version only lasts about a week before he is reabsorbed into Sora. You might expect an entire fully formed personality being absorbed into Sora to affect his own personality, but, nope, that would require some introspective thinking, and Sora is too busy hitting things to get into that.

SharpMember #12 Larxene

  • Looks like: The Girl. She has that weird antenna hair thing you see in anime sometimes and makes cosplay an absolute pain in the ass
  • Weapon: She’ll show you what a knife is
  • Official Title: The Savage Nymph
  • Official Title (Translation): Angry Girl
  • Element: Lightning
  • Original Name: Unknown… let’s go with… NeEarl

Larxene is the only female member of Organization XIII… or at least the only female member that isn’t a failed science experiment. For plot purposes, she’s basically Marluxia’s sidekick, so I guess skip ahead to his entry if you want more info on that. As far as traits that are exclusive to Larxene, she’s a sadist, and… that’s about it. Okay, her characterization may be dagger-thin, but I think she’s the only original female character in the Kingdom Hearts franchise that doesn’t spend a significant amount of her life worrying about what the boys are doing. For this sin, she does not survive beyond her debut game, and is Sora’s first Organization kill.

SakuraMember #11 Marluxia

  • Looks like: He’s the dude with the feathered, pink hair
  • Weapon: Badass Scythe, likely to overcompensate for the previously mentioned feathered, pink hair
  • Official Title: The Graceful Assassin
  • Ever actually assassinates anyone? Nope
  • Element: Flowers
  • Were all the good elements taken? Yep
  • Original Name: Unknown, again. Laura-Mi?

Organization XIII is very poorly named: As you may have noticed, there are rarely thirteen members, and they’re about as “organized” as a tub of live bait. Six members of Organization XIII, three of the “original six” and three newbies are sent to Castle Oblivion at the tail end of Kingdom Hearts 1 to accomplish… something. They’re there to investigate the place, and, given the castle has a sort of “curse” that dooms everyone in the universe except one woman to fail miserably at doing anything in the place, their expedition goes about as well as you’d expect. Actually, now I’m trying to think of a situation where Organization XIII accomplishes something, anything, successfully. Drawing a blank.

Anyway, Marluxia is tired of being #11, and wants to be #1, so he strategizes the events of Chain of Memories to advance his own plan to murder everyone else in the organization. Here’s the plan:

  1. Make Naminé his exclusive pawn
  2. Use Naminé to wipe out Sora’s memories until Sora is Naminé’s pawn
  3. Control Sora and his keyblade
  4. ???
  5. Profit

He never makes it past step three, though, as Naminé flakes out. Also, while Larxene is completely loyal to the cause, Marluxia makes the critical error of trusting Axel. Axel is bad at staying on any one team for longer than about ten minutes, so he betrays Marluxia, and wanders off with Naminé. In the end, Marluxia’s plan eliminates one “original six” (by Axel’s hands), and one newbie (Larxene, at Sora’s keyblade), which balances to a big fat zero on the scoreboard. Marluxia is then walloped into the next life by Sora. Fun fact: Thanks to the whole memory-wipe thing going on during CoM, Sora doesn’t even remember meeting or killing Pinky. A life well lived.

Scumbag GambitMember #10 Luxord

  • Looks like: Whitish hair, goatee, square mustache
  • Weapon: Playing Cards
  • Official Title: The Gambler of Fate
  • Element: Time
  • Wow, that sounds really powerful, does he use it for anything interesting? No
  • Original Name: Unknown, but obviously Dolur

Luxord likes gambling. That’s about all we know. For some reason, Luxord winds up being one of the nobodies with the longest lifespan, falling to Sora in the final 5% of Kingdom Hearts 2, which you would think would indicate he’s important, or high ranking, or has some special quality, but nope, just a dude that likes gambling. He does find a way to weaponize the cursed gold of Pirates of the Caribbean, so good on him for at least being one of the more creative Kingdom Hearts villains.

GilbertMember #9 Demyx

  • Looks like: Mullet!
  • Weapon: Sitar
  • Class: Bard
  • Official Title: The Melodious Nocturne
  • Element: Water
  • Original Name: Unknown, but there’s only so many combinations here… Myde.

Demyx, like Luxord before him, doesn’t get much development. Demyx is defined by his own slothfulness, as his every appearance is punctuated by his statements about how he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to do anything, and would just would rather sit back and let his stupid water monsters do the fighting for him. This gets old real fast, so he’s the first to die in Kingdom Hearts 2. Sora just does not have time for his spoony nonsense.

Member #8 Axel

  • Looks like: You know what he looks like
  • Weapon: Chakrams
  • Official Title: The Flurry of Dancing Flames
  • Element: Fire
  • Original Name: Lea (not pronounced like you think)
  • Got it memorized: Yes.

Ugh. Crap. It’s Axel. I’m gonna need a minute here.

To break narrative for some trivia, Axel is supposed to be some weird alternate version of Reno of Final Fantasy 7 fame. You know how Disney characters utilized this sort of “toon as an actor” thing, wherein, say Mickey Mouse could star as “himself” or as Bob Cratchit or a keyblade wielding maniac? Well, for one special character, Nomura decided that the Kingdom Hearts universe would take break-out celebrity Reno of the Turks and make him the template for a “new” character. Could have gone with Don Corneo, but, okay, guess Reno is alright, too.

I can’t tell you exactly where Axel went wrong. It would be too reductive to simply say “mary sue” or “obvious creator bias” or “worst thing to ever happen”. Axel is… beloved by a significant, or at least very vocal, contingent of the Kingdom Hearts fan community. Right now, as you read this post, he is being cosplayed by someone, somewhere. Whether due to creator-love or fan-love or just lame plotting, Axel, in the fullness of the franchise, always seems to come out on top, smelling like a rose and beloved by his comrades and the universe at large, all despite the fact that, karmaticly, he’s about as deserving of praise as Walter White.

Axel debuted in Chain of Memories, involved in that earlier mentioned Marluxia coup. He fought Sora a few times, killed #IV Vexen on #XI Marluxia’s orders, and then betrayed Marluxia. Right off the bat, he’s directly responsible for one Organization member’s death, and tangentially responsible for another. Then he swings by the Castle Oblivion basement, and bumps off #VI Zexion. So he’s got a kill count of three: two loyal organization members, and one traitor.

Then it’s time to play Kingdom Hearts 2. The central conflict at the start of the game is that Axel has been ordered to either retrieve or eliminate former member Roxas, but big ol’ softy Axel just can’t bring himself to do it. That’s our Axel, always so emotionally conflicted about carrying out deadly orders.

Wait, what?

So, rewind. 358/2 Days, which, again, takes place after Chain of Memories but before KH2, reveals that Axel was super best buddies with Roxas and Xion during their time in the organization. They hung out and ate ice cream together. Aw. Roxas really gets his back up about the whole Xion situation, and nearly betrays the Organization for her sake, but loses his train of thought when Xion stops ever being a thing. Roxas continues to exist, though, thus creating the deep bro-love that drives him through Kingdom Hearts 2.

Would have been nice to know that when actually playing Kingdom Hearts 2.

Back to KH2, Axel finally pulls the trigger on betraying the Organization by throwing his fight against Roxas and allowing his former buddy to escape to be absorbed by Sora moments later. If you want to show someone clearly how Kingdom Hearts treats storytelling, show them the first few hours of Kingdom Hearts 2, which plainly states two things:

  1. Nobodies are irredeemable creatures without emotion.
  2. Axel, the nobody, really deeply cares about Roxas, another nobody.

Anyway, Organization XIII is kind of hard up for members after Axel killed so many of ‘em, so he stays on the payroll after his failure. He kidnaps Kairi (rather ineffectively, too. He is initially thwarted by Pluto the dog, whose only skill is “is a dog”) for the Org, but seems to spend his spare time hanging out with the secret good guys like Riku. Finally, Axel sacrifices himself aiding Sora in his rescue of Kairi (reminder, Axel kidnapped her in the first place), by which I mean he betrayed his employer so hard, he exploded.

But were that only his end!

Portrait of an idiot as a young manKingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep showcases Axel as a child, then named Lea, when he was just a dork hanging out fighting random kids with a pair of flying discs. He duel-plays briefly with Ventus, keyblade warrior, and speaks exclusively in foreshadowing. The whole thing just looks like a silly cameo until Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, where Axel is revived as adult-Lea, and, whatthecrap, Axel is now a keyblade wielder. Everyone is really happy to see Axel and have him on team good guy, despite the fact that he has betrayed basically everybody he has ever known, knowingly and repeatedly.

Here’s a tip, Sora, if Kingdom Hearts 3 involves a dungeon called “The Sealed Cave,” leave Axel the hell at home.

Pointy... earsMember #7 Saix

  • Looks like: Blue hair, big scar on his face, elf ears
  • Weapon: Supposed to be a claymore, but you go ahead and find me a claymore with a pointy circle at its tip
  • Official Title: The Luna Diviner
  • Element: Moon
  • Favorite Zelda Game: Majora’s Mask
  • Original Name: Isa

Saix, despite his designated number, is the second in command of Organization XIII, and is the guy barking orders at everybody while Xemnas is off concocting grand failures. Saix is also a lifelong friend of Axel, which should tell you everything you need to know about Saix’s judgment. Saix has been casually alluding to his own hidden agenda for like three games now, but barely a hint of what he’s actually planning has come to the surface, so let’s just assume he’s one of those guys that is always telling you about how he could kill you with his mind, but he’s not going to, because he’s too disciplined to do something like that. But he totally could if he wanted to!

Saix is also a confirmed member of the New, post-Kingdom Hearts 2 Organization XIII, so, again, really has a knack for picking the losing side.

NerdMember #6 Zexion

  • Looks like: Emo white/silver hair, kinda short
  • Weapon: A Dictionary. He’s a weaponized English Major.
  • Official Title: The Cloaked Schemer
  • Isn’t the entire Organization schemers who wear cloaks? Yes
  • Element: Tricks Illusions, Michael.
  • Original Name: Ienzo

Golly, I’ve barely mentioned the other half of Chain of Memories. See, while Sora is upstairs playing with Marluxia, Riku is downstairs being taunted by Zexion and his heterosexual life partner, Lexaeus. Zexion is the brains of the operation, and expends a great deal of effort trying to tempt Riku to give in to the darkness because that’s what bad guys do. Zexion, naturally, fails. After Riku kicks his ass, Axel appears before Zexion, and sicks Riku’s clone on Zexion, killing him. Kind of a surreal death.

Zexion and a number of other organization members reawaken after Kingdom Hearts 2, re-alive and refreshed. Zexion, technically Ienzo now, happily explains the whys of their collective resurrection to Axel/Lea. I bring this up because I’d like to think that if I were ever assassinated by someone, and then came back to life, my first impulse would be to turn into a sociable exposition machine for my murderer.

SMASH!Member #5 Lexaeus

  • Looks like: Big guy, stern expression
  • Weapon: Tomahawk-Axe-Sword thing
  • Official Title: Silent Hero
  • Favorite Anime: Dragonball Z
  • Element: Earth
  • Original Name: Aeleus

Lexaeus is the Larxene to Zexion’s Marluxia. If that sentence made any sense to you, congratulations and welcome to crazytown. They were running out of personalities by the end of Chain of Memories, so Lexaeus is just the strong, silent type, and that’s about all we get out of him. He is very dedicated to Zexion, though, so there’s yet another example of an emotionless nobody having extreme emotions related to another nobody. Lexaeus is Riku’s one direct org-kill.

This is most vexingMember #4 Vexen

  • Looks like: Seems to have a lesser version of Sephiroth’s hairdo. Surprisingly doesn’t wear glasses
  • Weapon: Shield. Hey, it works for Goofy…
  • Official Title: The Chilly Academic
  • Element: Ice
  • Original Name: (I Don’t) Even.

Vexen is supposed to be the smartest member of Organization XIII. Proving that he’s actually smart:

  1. He’s some kind of clone-genius. He creates some lesser clones of Sora, a really great clone of Riku, and mostly singlehandedly created Xion.
  2. One of the only combatants in all of Kingdom Hearts that considers defense in any way.
  3. … Did I already mention the clone thing?

In the “might be an idiot” column, however…

  1. He doesn’t seem to realize that nearly every Organization member can’t stand him. The old guard treats him like garbage, and the new recruits openly dismiss him frequently.
  2. Created Xion, who lasted only a year before dropping off the planet, and ultimately served only to empower Organization XIII’s enemies.
  3. Has a shield… made of ice. Not the most reliable material in our universe, doubly ineffective in a universe where children can master fire spells.
  4. Is the absolute first Organization member to die, and at the hands of Axel, no less.

Vexen, you might be the smartest guy in Organization XIII, but that is just such a low bar…

Dr. Octopus for KHMember #3 Xaldin

  • Looks like: Black hair, sideburns, and weird braids everywhere
  • Weapon: Lances. All the lances
  • Official Title: The Whirlwind Lancer
  • Dragoon much? Affirmative
  • Element: Wind
  • Original Name: Dilan

Xaldin is another enforcer-type in the Organization. He’s combat focused, and spends two games unsuccessfully trying to taunt Beast (as in Beauty and the) into darkness. Let’s consider the fact that if Xaldin was left on the cutting room floor, we’d probably have a boss fight against Gaston in his place. Xaldin died as he lived, being deeply ineffective at Beast’s castle.

Love the nameMember #2 Xigbar

  • Looks like: Ponytail, eyepatch, can’t miss ‘em
  • Weapon: Guns… wait… Arrowguns? Is that a thing?
  • Official Title: The Freeshooter
  • Element: SPAAAAACE
  • Original Name: Braig

Xigbar is kind of neat. While Kingdom Hearts 2 portrays him as yet another nobody that seems to know a bit too much but nothing ever comes of it, Birth by Sleep reveals that Xigbar/Braig, unlike the rest of Organization XIII, has been bad to the bone since before Sora was out of kindergarten. Braig joined up with Xehanort early, and apparently was gifted with a bit of Xehanort’s heart before BBS even hit its finale. This means that everybody’s favorite cyclops has known an awful lot over the last decade of Kingdom Hearts history, and has simply decided not to do a thing with this information, despite the fact that it’s very likely it will all lead to the end of the universe. Gotta respect that level of not giving a damn.

Love the coatMember #1 Xemnas

  • Looks like: Ansem. Not that Ansem, the other one.
  • Weapon: Lightsabers
  • Official Title: Superior of the Inbetween
  • Element: Nothing. No, I mean, he has an element, and that element is nothing. I don’t give a darn.
  • Original Name: Xehanort (Ansem if you’re nasty)

Oh, look, it’s Xehanort again. I’ve already covered this dork ad nauseam, but, yeah, he’s the big bad behind everything, and he’s had at least, what, five years of evil plotting to get this Organization doing something important, and the best he could come up with is, “Let’s make a new moon.” Given he is powered by the raw failure-drive of not only Xehanort, but the whole Organization, he accomplishes nothing. Not the kind of nothing that he likes, to be clear.

This whole Organization XIII thing ends in a bust, but that was the plan all along! Turns out Organization XIII was secretly founded by Xehanort/Xemnas so he could insert his heart into all the “empty” nobodies, and make himself 13 Xehanorts. But it turned out that all these nobodies were a bunch of stupid wieners, so he gave up and decided to clean house via Soracide. As of Dream Drop Distance, Xehanort has started up his all-new, all-better organization, featuring amazing new members like…

  1. Xehanort
  2. Xehanort, but younger
  3. Xehanort, but a heartless
  4. Xehanort, but a nobody
  5. Xigbar
  6. Saix

… And six other guys who have yet to be revealed. They wanted Sora, noted org murderer, to be the new #13, but he politely declined.

It worked so well the first time, let’s do it all again! It’s the Kingdom Hearts way.

Such a nice view

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #04: Sora

Hearts just know, ya know?Q. Why does Sora get to wield two keyblades?

A. Sora is some kind of bizarre heart hotel, and literally has been since birth.

Remember how I mentioned that in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Ventus gets tortured by Xehanort until he splits into Ventus and Vanitas? Well turns out that splitting one heart into two kind of messes a boy up, and Ventus was nearly a comatose vegetable that Xehanort was going to just dump on a random palm tree. BUT! Sora was just born, and apparently hearts are all-knowing at birth, so Sora’s heart was all like, “Hey, Ventus, looks like you’re going through a tough time, here, borrow some of my heart while you recover.” And Ventus got better! Vanitas had his own problems, and he supplemented them with the Unversed, but that’s an entirely different can of brain-damaged worms.

A few years later, Ventus, in an effort to foil Xehanort’s nefarious plan to make a keyblade that is, like, a double keyblade, kind of tore his own heart to shreds. This left Vanitas pretty much dead, and Ventus, once again, comatose. BUT! What was left of Ventus’s heart (which is akin to saying “what’s left of the Titanic”) decided to squirrel away in Sora’s heart. This will be important later, but this means Sora, at five years old, has 1.3 hearts.

This jerkOh, and Ventus’s body got ditched in some crazy castle by his best friend. Err… his best friend that didn’t become an unspeakable evil.

About a decade or so later, in Kingdom Hearts I, Sora is super best friends with Riku and Kairi. Kairi is secretly (even to her) a “Princess of Heart” from Radiant Garden (aka Hollow Bastion) (aka Square World), and Riku was once chosen by Terra to be a keyblade wielder, though everyone involved in that event seems to have forgotten. At this point, Ventus’s heart has probably recovered a little, so Sora has 1.5 hearts.

Everything is idyllic and grand on the Destiny Islands, until it isn’t, and THE DARKNESS invades. A lot of things happen at once here: First, Riku awakens to his keyblade. The physicality of this is kind of confusing, but just imagine if one day a sword was sticking out of your heart, and it wasn’t because you pissed off the wrong Spaniard. But Riku is kind of a jackass, so he momentarily looks away from the light and toward the darkness, and Sora is all, “yoink!” And, thus, Sora gets a keyblade, even though it was really the possession of his best friend. Kairi, meanwhile, as a Princess of Heart, has a heart that is completely incompatible with being consumed by darkness. As a result, Kairi’s heart takes a page from The Book of Ventus and jumps ship over to Sora’s heart. As a result, for the majority of Kingdom Hearts I, Sora has 2.5 hearts.

Sora The Cardio King stomps around various Disney Worlds until arriving at Hollow Bastion. There, he encounters a Riku that has mostly been possessed by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (the dark half of a guy who already has a name that is one letter away from spelling “No Heart”), and Kairi, who is just a limp body. Riku plays the bad guy card way too hard until Sora just has enough of it and turns the keyblade on himself.

Creepy lil' fellowHere’s where the magic happens.

  1. Sora’s consciousness becomes a heartless. Given Sora is just about as evil as Mother Theresa, he transforms into the weakest heartless available.
  2. Sora’s… main heart? Prime heart? The part of Sora that was always Sora goes and hangs out with Kairi. Also: Kairi’s heart. So, for a few shining moments, Kairi has her own heart AND the heart of Sora. D’aww.
  3. Sora’s discarded body zaps over to Twilight Town, along with the Ventus heart. This whole jumble becomes the nobody named Roxas, who inherits the general body of Sora, and the hair color and voice actor of Ventus.

Shortly thereafter, Heartless Sora gets a magic hug from Kairi, Sora’s heart is like, “Oh, this is my stop, smell ya later.” And Sora is back to being one human boy with one heart.

Somewhere in this process is where Kairi’s nobody, Naminé is created. Given Kairi never actually loses her body (she appears to just be comatose for most of Kingdom Hearts I), Naminé raises a number of questions. Canonically, DiZ (Diligently Imbibing Zombie), who is supposed to know everything about everybody, basically just throws up his hands at her existence in KH2. Presumably, the universe just wanted a blonde, magical version of Kairi, and called it a day.

Man, poor kidI should follow the chronological through-line on Sora’s many hearts, so… Roxas.

Roxas has the worst life. At birth, Roxas is discovered by head evil nobody Xemnas, who gives him a stupid name and an even stupider hoodie, and then sends him off on increasingly stupid missions. Roxas is basically 358/2 days a slave. Then, Roxas makes a friend! Xion is a keyblade wielder/Xemnas slave, and looks suspiciously like a brunette version of Kairi. Roxas makes another friend in the form of Axel, who God, just Axel, ya know? Anyway Xion turns out to be a magical clone of Sora, because of course she is, and she’s having a bad time because her magic DNA is degrading or something. Xion breaks down so completely she is erased from existence, but not before Roxas absorbs her. Also, Roxas has been such a good little nobody, he’s started to grow his own heart. So Roxas has his own kinda-heart, Xion’s kinda-heart, and Ventus’s recovering heart. That’s probably like… 1.7 hearts there.

Ugh, now Axel is on my websiteRoxas is then kidnapped by DiZ (Deliberately Irritating Zebra), who erases his memories and sticks the poor kid into the Matrix. Roxas has a whole six days of being a happy teenager playing with his (completely manufactured) friends, and is then informed it’s time for Kingdom Hearts 2 to actually get going, so he has to be reabsorbed by Sora. And thus ends the sad existence of Roxas. This means that Sora has his own heart, Roxas’s heart (which let’s go ahead and call that one full heart now, having had such a happy time in the Matrix), Xion’s kinda-heart which Roxas absorbed, and still Ventus’s recovering heart. As of Kingdom Hearts 2 and onward, Sora has, by my calculations, 3.4 hearts. As a result, Sora is entitled to two (2) keyblades at one time. Whoopdeedoo.

Q. Sora has saved the universe on multiple occasions, why isn’t he a “keyblade master”?

A. Imagine you designed a laptop that was indestructible, had unlimited battery life, and could pull an internet connection anywhere on Earth. Then, you discovered a group of people cut off from society, and stuck in a time period approximately equivalent to the European Dark Ages. You observed these “backwards” people, and detected a king that you believed governed justly and, in this place of war and death, could rule the whole area and bring prosperity to his people. You decide to give your amazing, invincible laptop to this king, explain the basics of how it works, and then decide that you will return in a year to see how everything is going.

Lord ClobbersalotIn your absence, you imagine what this king may be doing with this laptop: discovering cures for diseases, researching efficient ways to end wars quickly, or even initiating governmental reform based on the millennia of experience now available at his fingertips. As the year grows to a close, you envision returning to a reformed utopia ruled by a philosopher emperor.

You return to find that, while the king you chose has apparently conquered the land, there is no change in quality of life for his subjects: they are all still wallowing, diseased in a feudal, filthy society. You approach the king, and inquire as to what he has actually done with the laptop.

He stuck the laptop on a stick, and, exploiting its “invincible” properties, used to it to clobber all of his rivals.

Would you call that king a computer genius?

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #02: Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is light!Q. What is Kingdom Hearts?
A. You wanna go down this rabbit hole? Fine.

Kingdom Hearts is the absolute most poorly defined eponymous “thing” that has ever existed in fiction. Imagine if Samus Aran spent 15 years fighting “metroids”, and then every time a new game popped up, every time, some random dude in a cloak was like, “No, those weren’t metroids, these are metroids.” And then Samus would do the exact same thing as last time, and whoops, there goes the metroids, same as ever.

Once again, in chronological Kingdom Hearts history order…

THE KINGDOM HEARTS ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE: In the beginning there was light, and it was good. All the worlds of Kingdom Hearts were smooshed together, which basically means all the Disney franchises were immediate neighbors. Presumably, this led to a wonderful universe where The House of Mouse was playing 24/7, and Aladdin played fetch with Lady and the Tramp while Dumbo hung out in the parking lot with the cast of Cars. Nobody made eye contact with the guys from Song of the South. Also, everyone and anyone had a keyblade for some reason. There’s probably a very good reason for everyone stomping around with a giant key-sword in a perfectly shiny happy world; let’s just assume everyone had magic cars, and only keyblades fit their ignitions. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Not a keybladeSo anyway, all these keyblades were built as cheap knock offs of the χ-blade, pronounced “key blade”. Not kidding, some horrible human being forced the late, great Leonard Nimoy to explain this in-game: there is the “Excalibur” of keyblades, called the χ-blade (pronounced exactly the same as any other keyblade, because language works like that), and it’s supposed to be the physical counterpart to Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts is the gatekeeper, the χ-blade is the keymaster. Got it memorized? Kingdom Hearts is the source of all light and good and gumdrops in the universe, and the χ-blade is the ticket to that, so everybody got their keyblades together and just killed the living hell out of each other. There is an entire world that is just pre-owned keyblades, and presumably every keyblade equates to a key-murdered former owner, and, really, can’t stress this enough: entire world of them. There was a literal global genocide in the back story of a game where you can summon Chicken Little as an ally.


So nobody actually won this whole Keyblade War, and I guess too much blood soaked into Disney Eden, so there was a Disney Big Bang (probably sounded like this), and all of the Disney Worlds were separated into different, well, worlds.

Millennia passed, and while that’s the kind of thing that usually happens in these RPGs, it’s kind of weird to think about with the Disney planets involved. Like, were there just thousands of years where Snow White World built itself up to a society that looks to be about a million years behind Tron World? Or were the various Disney Worlds just playing out a constant loop of the same story over and over again, as if a plaything for an ADD riddled four year old god? Is the artful, debonair Aladdin simply a few decades from becoming the next lonely, oafish Sultan in an inescapable loop of fate?

Blue Kingdom Hearts is light!Errr, anyway, as I said, millennia passed, and, in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, that wily Xehanort, who (this is canon) writes endless essays about how much he loves the darkness and probably hates all the music you listen to because it’s too mainstream, decided he wanted that whole big ball of light that is Kingdom Hearts for himself. Xehanort studied his lore, and discovered that the original χ-blade was split into 13 pieces of darkness and seven pieces of light. Knowing full well he was living in a JRPG based universe, Xehanort realized that reforming the χ-blade would take a really annoying fetch quest, so he decided to make his own damn χ-blade by doing what Xehanorts do best: abuse children. Xehanort split his boy apprentice Ventus into a light half (still just Ventus) and a dark half (Vanitas). Xehanort believed that when the ancient rite of “stop hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself” was applied to Ventus and Vanitas, a χ-blade would be formed. Xehanort was, against all reason, completely right. A “false” χ-blade was created, which created a “false”, blue Kingdom Hearts as a giant heart-shaped moon over The Keyblade Graveyard. However, the whole thing was short-lived, as friendship or some other stupid thing forced Ventus to completely abort his own heart, and the χ-blade and Kingdom Hearts blinked out of existence. Ventus went on to export what was left of his heart to the then-child Sora, and Xehanort possessed a new body (Terra, see previous post), and was then beaten so badly he forgot his own evil plans.

Or did he!?!

Seriously, I’m asking, it is really unclear.

As mentioned previously, Amnesia Labcoat Xehanort goes on to actively pursue “darkness” in all its forms until he “accidentally” breaks himself into two.

So elegantOne half, Heartless Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (actual title, he had business cards printed up and everything) gets the bright idea to actively plunge all of the worlds into darkness. Here’s the plan: remember how I said the χ-blade got split into seven points of light? (And 13 darknesses? Forget that part. For now.) Well those seven pieces of light are all Disney Princesses! Well, six Disney Princesses and one Square Princess (not Sarah). And one “Disney Princess” isn’t so much a princess as a “generally well meaning, and probably crazy blonde”. Low bar for princesshood is what I’m saying here. So Darkest Ansem uses Maleficent (he liked her name right off the bat) to gather up the Princesses of Heart to make an eeeeeevil keyblade (not χ-blade… I mean, that would make sense, right? But, no, not χ-blade, and don’t you dare suggest that that’s simply because this entire plot is so made-up-as-we-go-along it’s not even funny), and then use that keyblade to unlock an entrance to the Realm of Darkness, from which all the Heartless and eeeeeevil flows. Simultaneously, Ansem Darknessaholic is just plain obliterating worlds, plunging them into darkness, because every “world” has its own heart, and when all the worlds are dead, those hearts will go back to the darkness, congeal, and form… Kingdom Hearts. Sora, is the heroic counter to this plan, and he fails spectacularly: he saves like seven or so worlds while Ansem pretty cataclysmically demolishes the rest of the universe. Luckily for the franchise, Ansem is a complete idiot: he manages to create a really amazing wad of world hearts, let’s call that big, heart shaped thing Kingdom Hearts, but, as the quote goes, “Kingdom Hearts is light,” so Ultimate Pure Darkness Ansem is vaporized by the holiness pearlness of his own creation. It’s high art, exactly like Frankenstein.

With Ansem dead (or something), the worlds’ hearts all return to where they ought be, and the worlds regrow (or something), and even their inhabitants (see Simba of Kingdom Hearts 2) don’t seem to remember anything bad happening. Yay for everything! Naturally, this means that Kingdom Hearts stops existing.

Kingdom Hearts is light and shiny!The other half of Xehanort, Xemnas, decides he’s gonna go get himself his own Kingdom Hearts. This plan is pretty simple: get all the heartless everywhere to eat all of the hearts of all humans (and some lions) (and mermaids) (and claymation Halloween creatures) (and Danny DeVito), get the nearest available keyblade wielder (Sora, Roxas, no real difference) to shred those heartless, then take those hearts, and wad them all up into a Kingdom Hearts. It’s a pretty solid plan, so solid, infact that halfway through the plan, Xemnas’s second in command, Saix, outright tells Sora the plan, and Sora is like “Well, if I don’t destroy the heartless, the gameplay is going to have to become some kind of stealth game, or racing game, or maybe a rhythm game, and, oh man, this franchise is terrible at all of those things, so better just kill the heartless like usual.” And he does. So Xemnas builds his moon-shaped Kingdom Hearts with aplomb, until DiZ (Dilbert in Zeppelin) shoots pure SCIENCE at Kingdom Hearts, and the whole stupid thing collapses in on itself. What “thing” I’m referring to there is an exercise for the reader. Xemnas is understandably frustrated by this, so he welds the failing Kingdom Hearts to himself, and uses it to turn into a bitchin’ giant metal space dragon. While he is inevitably defeated, he is painted on the sides of vans everywhere in remembrance.

As mentioned in the previous post, all this Xehanort killing leads to Xehanort Prime returning, and in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Xehanotverygoodatthis reveals he’s got a great idea: he’s going to recreate the χ-blade to access Kingdom Hearts! Wait, come back! This plan is slightly different! He’s going to pull those thirteen pieces of darkness together by using thirteen versions of his super dark self, and grab those seven pieces of light out of the ever-increasing Sora pool, and then he’ll have his very own χ-blade! And Kingdom Hearts! So tune in to Kingdom Hearts 3, kiddies, or else you won’t get to see the real Kingdom Hearts, which is inevitably going to be another damn heart-shaped moon. But different this time! Well, “different”.

So, in summary, have you ever looked at the Kingdom Hearts 1 cover? There’s Kingdom Hearts. Right there. You’re looking right at it. Can’t miss it. There, just saved you like two hundred hours.