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Kingdom Hearts FAQ #14: Kingdom Hearts 3

You said it, AxelSo, Kingdom Hearts 3 is the first Kingdom Hearts game since 2005, eh? How’s that working out?

Excuse me, but, despite the seemingly simple numbering of the third installment, there have been approximately twelve billion Kingdom Hearts titles in the last (nearly) fifteen years. And that’s something of a problem! All of those titles were very much Kingdom Hearts stories, but all of them (save Dream Drop Distance) primarily featured side characters, like Roxas, Ventus, or Aqua. And, because the Kingdom Hearts franchise has literally no idea how to write an ending, each of those characters wound up with unresolved stories begging for a climax come Kingdom Hearts 3. And does Kingdom Hearts 3 reach that long awaited climax for a cast of at least thirty freeloaders? … Wait, should that be a question?

Does Kingdom Hearts 3 reach that long awaited climax for a cast of at least thirty freeloaders?

Pretty much! It’s actually kind of impressive how many “side stories” have built up over the years, and Kingdom Hearts 3 ties up nearly all of them with a neat little (inevitably heart-shaped) bow during the final world.

Wait… “during the final world”? The game doesn’t gradually solve these problems over the course of the entire 20-30 hour game?

Oh my no. Have you played a Kingdom Hearts game before? All of that messy plot is saved for the final couple of hours, and the rest of the game is having fun around Disney-based worlds while creepy dudes in coats occasionally discuss their favorite Netflix shows (Ansem is apparently really into Ozark).

That sounds… bad.

That’s not a question. It’s a statement. A correct statement.

So is Kingdom Hearts 3 bad?

Poor girlCertainly not. In a lot of ways, Kingdom Hearts 3 is what the Kingdom Hearts titles have been striving for since the initial announcement of Squall Leonheart meets Dumbo. Disney worlds are huge and varied, NPCs actually exist (where appropriate) so Planet Tangled feels populated by actual people (as opposed to the Agrabah Marketplaces of the past that had apparently been struck neutron bombs), and the various worlds often contain mechanics that unmistakably separate the “levels” by something other than your Disney-approved guest characters. There are (relatively) Giant Robots in Toy Store world! A sailing system reminiscent of a mini-Wind Waker in Pirates of the Caribbean world! Big Hero 6 features a Crack Down-esque super-hero city playground! It’s pretty great, and a far cry from the themed hallways of some of the previous titles. In fact, in a weird way, it makes some of the more classically “videogame-y” worlds worse by comparison. Frozen is basically the ice level (complete with ice maze, ice tower, and the return of Square-mandated snowboarding), and Monsters Inc.’s factory stage is another fine showcase for our gaming friend, the conveyer belt. But those worlds aren’t bad! Just kind of ordinary when compared to exploring a gigantic toy store filled with murderous tsum tsums (which is rarely a destination for old-fashioned Chocobros).

So play Kingdom Hearts 3 for the Disney experience?

It’s certainly what is front and center. Four of the worlds are basically “play the movie” experiences wherein Sora gets to tagalong while a film unfolds (and, for some reason, a complete cutscene featuring the entirety of Let it Go), one world serves as a quasi-sequel (and inadvertent condemnation of capitalism), and two worlds seem to be excuses to hang out with a cool cast of characters. And that’s fun! It’s all very entertaining, and the only thing that really separates this whole experience from the much-missed Disney Infinity is that that “real” plot keeps rearing its ugly head (and Anna doesn’t get a grappling hook).

So the Kingdom Hearts plot is the worst part of Kingdom Hearts?

Not exactly. The narrative just…

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 #11: The Women

Q. What is Kingdom Hearts’ Lady Problem?

A. Answering this question initially took a while to write, because, frankly, I didn’t know where to begin. The basic statement here is that Kingdom Hearts is just throbbing with casual misogyny, but that is so endemic to video games as a medium, where to start? I rolled this post through a number of drafts before I was reminded of one important game series.

Hot pizza actionSenran Kagara.

I was fascinated by Senran Kagara when I was first alerted to its existence, because it’s something of a rarity in modern gaming: the game that is about breasts as opposed to that weird thing going on in much of the industry where developers seem almost surprised that titillation crept into the final product. Soul Calibur is a serious fighting game with a serious plot and serious gameplay, and oh my how did Ivy get dressed like that? Yes, please sit through the finale of the ultra serious Xenosaga, featuring guest star Jesus, while the entire female cast is wearing swimsuits (“Even the robot?” “Especially the robot!”). Senran Kagara is just, from top to bottom, a half-naked teenage girl delivery system, with gameplay constructed around that simple concept. The heroes are super-model thin characterization archetypes (the honest blonde tomboy that is proficient at kicks, the blonde’s natural opposite who is collected, proper and “high society”, the physical prodigy who is prideful but fiercely protective of her friends, the pink haired one that is shy and passive and has a disgruntled rabbit pet, and Twilight Sparkle), and the villains are basically a list of fetishes given flesh (the good-girl-turned-bad, the emotionless robot, the goth lolita, the queen sadist, and… something to do with bean sprouts… is that a thing?), and they fight, whether by cooking or ninja skills, with the goal of knocking their opponent into nudity. It’s kind of a clever system, because, with the game featuring exclusively women, if the player wins, hooray, there’s a naked lady on the screen, but if the player loses… hooray, there’s a naked lady on the screen. It’s really the pinnacle of perverted technology. This game might pass the Bechdel test (I think there aren’t even any boys for the ladies to talk about), but its misogyny levels are off the Sarkeesian-Friedan Scale. But one important thing does happen in all of the Senran Kagara material I’ve seen: the women accomplish something. It may be short term, personal goals, like Asuka achieving her dream of making the world’s most phallic sushi, or more important goals, like repelling some kind of ancient evil from hell demon-thing, but the cast of Senran Kagara really does accomplish quite a bit within their narrative. Which brings me to an unfortunate truth:

The women in Kingdom Hearts accomplish nothing.

As is my wont, this thesis will be supported on a character-by-character basis, starting with the grandmommy of Kingdom Hearts women…

Kairi’s Grandmother is the grandmother of Kairi and… wait… I didn’t mean literally. Eh, while we’re here, let’s just note that, I believe, she is the only Kingdom Hearts original character’s parent or grandparent to be seen on camera. Kairi’s Grandmother is the lore depository of Kingdom Hearts, and for her dedicated service to an aural tradition, she doesn’t even receive a name. Let’s call her… “Steve”.

Screaming out for funOkay, for real now, let’s take a look at Kairi. Kairi is the postergirl for Kingdom Hearts, and I mean that literally, as I do actually have a poster for Kingdom Hearts 2 with Kairi on it. She’s also on the cover of Kingdom Hearts 1, so, suffice it to say, she’s supposed to be pretty important. And she is important, in the same way that the keyblade is important. Come to think of it, the keyblade is way more important than Kairi… Kairi probably ranks somewhere around Donald’s hat. He would look weird without it, ya know?

Kairi is the third “friend” in the Destiny Islands trio, the first being the protagonist, Sora, and the second, the anti-hero Riku. Sora and Riku challenge each other constantly, becoming stronger through the struggle between two best friends who will always push harder to greater goals. Kairi watches. Sometimes she talks about fruit. But Destiny Islands is invaded by the forces of evil, and Kairi has her heart torn from her chest! What’s to become of the poor girl?

I’ll tell you what happens to her, she becomes the most literal object in the history of objectifying women. Kairi is split in two, and one half is her body, which is alive and breathing, but is otherwise as animated as a tube sock. This half of Kairi is literally fought over by Sora and Riku, both of whom want to “have” coma-Kairi, and it ain’t because they desire scintillating conversation. The other half of Kairi is her heart, effectively her soul, which squirrels away in Sora’s heart. Sora spends the majority of Kingdom Hearts 1 not even noticing Kairi, his second best friend, is right there with him the entire time. So, basically, Kairi spends the majority of Kingdom Hearts 1 either as a completely silent tag along or an item to be fought over. Check your key items list for Kairi.

Finally, Kairi is reassembled, and her healing hug brings Sora back from the brink of darkness, and then Kairi… stands around and worries. Kairi turns out to be a Princess of Heart, they all open the keyhole to the final boss, and then proceed to stand around making statements like, “Come back safely!” or “Let’s bake some cookies for the boys,” or whatever. Kairi does nothing, despite the fact that she has the same “training” Sora and Riku had at the start of the game, so there’s really no reason she couldn’t grab a more active role and start slinging blizzard spells to guarantee Sora comes home safely.

While we’re on the subject of the Princesses of Heart, a quick rundown of those gals:

  • She's so smartCinderella is kidnapped before the game even starts.
  • Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty? Also pregame kidnapped.
  • Snow White: Ditto
  • Belle? That’s a-kidnappin’. Twice in two games.
  • Alice Pleasance Liddell is kidnapped from Wonderland during the game. Despite the fact that the source material, “original” Alice and the Disney Alice are both inquisitive, intelligent, and kinda sarcastic, this Alice is a lot more deer-in-the-headlights during her brief scenes.
  • Jasmine of Agrabah is kidnapped during the game. While Aladdin gets his stupid monkey, genie, and friggen carpet mime as active sidekicks, Jasmine’s pet tiger is nowhere to be seen, and Jasmine’s “no father, you shut-up” attitude is similarly absent. Note that Jasmine returns in KH2, where she stands in the courtyard all damn day, doing not a damn thing.

So, ya know, no luminaries there.

Under the sea contract negotiationAriel, the Little Mermaid, is the lone woman in the game that actually joins your party, and, while she’s at least not completely useless in combat, she doesn’t provide anything tangible in the plot. While, say, Tarzan joins the group and successfully saves his gorilla pals from colonialism, Ariel joins up, is tricked by Ursula, and hands the sea witch the most powerful artifact in their world. Ursula is defeated with Sora’s help, and the world is saved… from the mistake Ariel made. Kind of zero sum, there. In Kingdom Hearts 2, Ariel does the exact same thing, but with a fine set of legs.

The only woman in Kingdom Hearts I that nearly accomplishes anything is Maleficent, who has a fun time of grooming Riku to darkness (but he comes back to the good guys), capturing the Princesses of Heart (but they get rescued), and stopping Sora’s advancing light (total failure there). In the end, she is defeated not even by the hero, but the inevitable betrayal of a darkness greater than hers (that, incidentally, is male). As mentioned in other posts, while she is revived for Kingdom Hearts 2 and onward, she basically becomes a member of Team Rocket, and is stuck blasting off again for the remainder of her sad existence.

Also, God help me if Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t at least make a pass at a Dragon-Maleficent versus Bahamut fight. See also: Mat, Tia.

Alright, so Kingdom Hearts 1 is a bust for women doing much of anything of use, how about moving forward? Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories introduces Organization XIII, a gang of goons that has twelve male members and one female member. That one female member has no goals of her own beyond her boss’s machinations, and she gets herself killed second out of thirteen inevitable deaths. While some of the prequels have filled in the blanks on the history of other Organization 13 members, nobody seems at all interested in revisiting anything about… what was her name? It had an X in it…

Not helpingOh, but Chain of Memories also introduces Naminé, who is the nobody of Kairi. Naminé has the ultra-specific ability to manipulate Sora’s memories, and this may seem like a really useless ability at first blush, but considering the universe turns on Sora’s every move, this actually could be important. So what does Naminé do? Well, she’s forced into the service of Marluxia, who wants a Sora that is a slave to Naminé, so, by right of double slavery, that would make Sora into Marluxia’s slave. Naminé does wipe out most of Sora’s memory before being rescued by stupid Axel, at which point Naminé volunteers to spend a year of her life gluing Sora’s brainmeats back together. Naminé’s entire contribution to the plot can be done without getting out of her chair, and is another KH lady just fixing the problem she caused in the first place.

Question worth asking: Naminé is apparently the only “bodied” nobody in the universe that was never formally inducted into Organization XIII. No cloak, number, or codename for her. Like Axel or Roxas, she might have eventually betrayed the Organization, but she’s definitely on their payroll at her introduction. So, what, can’t have two girls on the team? Does this have something to do with spooky black cloak laundry day?

Insert licking jokeOrganization XIII actually did have a 14th member during the events of 358/2 Days, Xion. Xion is female. To most people. Xion is a clone of Sora (who is firmly male), but has some sort of weird “I am what you want to see” thing going on. For instance, to Xigbar, Xion appears as the (male) Ventus. Xion appears as a dark haired Kairi to Roxas, because Roxas’s heart longs for Kairi (with a dye job), and Roxas is Xion’s best friend, so she just rolls with it, Dark Haired Kairi is her identity. Now, maybe I’m the only guy whose ideal woman is Mystique, so correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m pretty sure “woman who morphs to look exactly like what her man wants” is pretty much the exact definition of a male fantasy. And this extends to her very identity, so, wow, way to take the time to think out this character, Kingdom Hearts. At least she… eventually goes nuts and dissolves into her component parts and is completely forgotten by everyone she has ever met.


Oh, wow.

Xion, honey, I’m so sorry.

Look, when you get this whole “not existing” thing sorted out, let me know, and I’ll take you out to your favorite restaurant, my treat. You’ve had a hard time of it. No… that was Roxas’s favorite restaurant, you… you have to move past this…

And her keyblade is all frilly, tooKingdom Hearts 2 sees Kairi back in action, 100% awake and alive and oh man she’s getting kidnapped again! Wait, no, she escaped and… nope, kidnapped again. Then she escapes again thanks to Naminé, and then she gets a keyblade! Yahoo! She can fight for herself now! Sora, Riku, and Kairi all have keyblades, and the old gang is back together again! I bet all three of them are going to team up and… oh, just Sora and Riku? Kairi sits on the sidelines, again? Does she at least get to save the boys in some big hero moment with her new… No? Just stands there? Mickey Mouse racks up a higher kill count? Kairi doesn’t even get to pretend to do anything fun until Dream Drop Distance, where Kairi appears in the absolute last moments of the game to remind everyone that, yes, she still has a keyblade, and she’s here, and she’s ready to kick ass, and to be continued… so I’ll believe it when I see it.

Thanks you guys.Kingdom Hearts 2 also allows one female party member: Mulan. Thanks to first seeing the movie when I was a pissy, “wake up, sheeple!” teenager, Mulan will always hold a place in my heart as being one of the first movies I completely tore to shreds from a critical perspective. I actually like the movie as an adult, but I am standing by my teenage assessment that the movie treats “female” as a disability that, through hard work and perseverance, can be overcome. Yes, in the end, Mulan proves that she’s just as much of a soldier as all of the boys, but the other 90% of the movie features her having to compensate for a lack of strength compared to the rest, is washed out despite having a mythical creature aiding her plan, and then the “soldiers in drag” bit at the finale showcases not the benefits of being a woman, but the inherit misogyny in their society. Always thought that film kind of muddies the waters of “women can do anything” to “wow, it sucks to be a woman, but you can probably pull it off with some effort”. Come to think of it, I suppose that is the more realistic moral.

Miraculously, I believe KH2 sidesteps this issue by presenting a Mulan that is indisputably stronger/better as female-Mulan than as male-Ping. There’s no “being a woman is a disability” accidental message here, simply that Mulan is stronger when she is herself, emphasis on “her”. Oh, wait. Mulan is the only female party member, and the only party member that undergoes such a dramatic stat transformation. Despite the fact that nearly every party member has an arc (Beast grows to be more empathetic, Jack Skellington grows to understand his place in the holiday pantheon, Simba grows to overcome meerkat cult programming), only Mulan, the woman, starts out terrible and improves to the point where she’s on the same level as the men. Like my interpretation of Mulan, maybe I’m just seeing an issue because I’m being overly critical, but I ask you, sheeple, what else is the internet for?

KH2 also lets Queen Minnie Mouse out of her cage. While Donald is a mighty mage, Goofy is a superior shieldsman (shut-up, spell check, that is so a thing), and Mickey is a keyblade master, Minnie is stuck with a complete lack of abilities, and has to be escorted (as in escort mission) during her time with the party. Needless to say, when not being actively involved in the plot, Minnie just stands around and worries about her husband.

STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERKingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is the big prequel in the history of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and it features the first (real, with a plot) female playable character, Aqua. Aqua is one of three keyblade disciples, the other two are boys, Ventus and Terra.

First of all, to the game’s credit, during the prelude of the story, Aqua is crowned Keyblade Master above her fellow apprentices by Masters Eraqus and Xehanort, and I’m not even going to sully her accomplishment by pointing out that the only reason she gets a promotion is because noted horrible evil force Xehanort is trying to drive the male protagonist to the darkside. Oh, wait, my bad, just did. Does it count as an accomplishment if it only happens to further the plot for two males?

Aqua, despite believing bicycle shorts and partial, ruffled sleeves are a good idea for a life of combat, is clearly the smartest of the three protagonists in Birth by Sleep. She’s also the weakest, and pretty damn slow. But she’s good at magic, the most easily exhausted skill in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. So… maybe not so smart?

Aqua is also stuck being mom for Birth by Sleep. Terra ventures out into the universe in order to prove that he is a good person worthy of the rank of master, and he eventually (thanks to Xehanort) steers his quest toward an effort to save his buddy Ventus by defeating the mysterious Masked Jerk wandering around. Ventus flies off to explore the universe with an unhealthy dosage of whimsy, and gets caught up in the Masked Dork hunt as well. Aqua doesn’t leave home under her own volition like the boys, she leaves only after being charged with bringing Terra and Ventus home. She not only fails at this objective, but also pretty much calls her companions terrible when they all meet at Radiant Garden, further splintering the group. Aqua’s internal monologue throughout the game is a constant stream of, “Gosh, where are my friends? I hope they’re alright,” and that line of thinking engulfs any other personality traits she might possess. Finally, when everyone regroups during the penultimate chapter of the game, Terra and Ventus battle Xehanort and his Masked Dingus protégé, while Aqua fights… Braig. Confused as to who Braig might be? So was Aqua.

The finale of Birth by Sleep is where Aqua really shines with all the luminescence of a blackhole. By this time, Terra has killed Master Eraqus (“You were the chosen one!”), Master Xehanort has possessed Terra’s body, and Ventus has defeated Masked Poindexter, who turned out to be the other half of Ventus, so Ventus is in a Kairi-level coma. So, first thing first, Final Girl Aqua, has to find a safe place to stick Ventus. Despite the fact that Aqua literally has worlds of allies at this point, including Yen Sid’s mysterious world and King Mickey’s entire kingdom, Aqua decides the best place to leave Ventus is her old, abandoned homeworld, where she transforms the place around Ventus into a metaphorical and literal labyrinth. As a result, she is the only person in the whole of the universe that will ever be able to find Ventus’s body again. This is important. THE WORSTThen, Aqua stomps over to Radiant Garden to deal with this Terra-Nort thing. She beats the combo villain into submission, and believes she has expelled Xehanort from Terra’s body. But, the battle opened up a hole to The Darkness, so Aqua and Terra both are sucked into the void. Aqua and Terra are sinking into oblivion, and she realizes that only one of them can escape, and the other will be sucked into blackest night. Aqua decides to sacrifice herself to save Terra. Reminder: like, ten minutes earlier, Aqua put herself in the position that made her the only person capable of saving Ventus, and now she decides that Terra is more important than her own survival. Aqua damns herself and Ventus for the sake of Terra. I don’t know if they covered this in keyblade school, Aqua, but two is a bigger number than one. Of course, Terra is actually still possessed by Xehanort, and all Aqua actually accomplished in that battle was fracturing Xehanort’s memories, so he doesn’t quite remember his evil plan at the immediate moment, but he’ll come around to it in a couple of years with the help of Braig, whom Aqua made no attempt to apprehend or otherwise stop after their battle.

So, to be clear, Aqua’s final act in Birth by Sleep is to save the villain of the entire franchise, and effectively damn herself and her only other living friend. Don’t worry Aqua, your sins will be rectified by Sora and his amazing ability to have a penis.

Forgot about these nobodiesAnd that’s a ballsgame, folks! There are seven Kingdom Hearts games (Oh, I didn’t get into Re:Coded, where Maleficent fails once again, and Naminé’s memory pops in for a hot minute to be cryptic. That’s it. Not a single other woman to be seen. Kingdom Hearts Re:Sausagefest), and women can only be ineffectual or make things worse. It’s kind of an achievement all by itself in misogyny, as Kingdom Hearts is nowhere near some of the overt, casual misogyny you’d see in other games (“Thanks for choosing strong female character to be in your party. Would you like to equip her with a bunny costume or a maid outfit?”), but the subtle undercurrent of women just failing constantly exists in every game in the series. Keys are the most important things in the universe, keyholes just get in the way.

Steve would not be proud.

Q. What was the very first thing Goggle Bob ever wrote about Kingdom Hearts?

A. Why it was a shorter answer to the previous question! Deep in the bowels of Talking Time, there’s a post regarding Dream Drop Distance, written in August of 2012, that is reproduced here:

Kingdom Hearts 3D, despite the fact that I know more female KH fans than male, is the most mancentric manocracy based game since forever.

Here’s a run-down of the female characters appearing in KH3D (spoilers in case you want to be surprised):

Esmerelda of Hunchback of Notre Dame world needs to be rescued by the protagonists.

Quorra of Tron world needs to be rescued by the protagonists.

Bwa ha ha how much for the castle?Queen Minnie of Disney Castle needs to be rescued by Mickey Mouse.

Queen Minnie of Three Mouseketeers world, which takes place in the past of Disney Castle, needs to be rescued by Mickey Mouse and the protagonists.

Maleficent and Ursula appear extremely briefly in a cutscene and as an illusion, respectively.

The Blue Fairy shows up for three seconds to mock a little wooden boy.

Shiki and Rhyme of Traverse Town seem to, with the rest of The World Ends with You cast, be the audience surrogate, as all they do is run around confused all the time.

That’s it, I’m pretty sure that’s EVERY female in the entire game, and you’ll note not a single one of them has anything to do with the “proper” plot.

If you’re curious about the real plot, it’s about one guy who is already three guys trying to be thirteen guys by manipulating one guy (who is three guys and one girl) through a liberal use of time travel and Inception-esque dreams within layers of dreams. Also, in the Kingdom Hearts universe, if you kill a guy twice, they then come back to life with super powers.

I really enjoy the gameplay in the Kingdom Hearts series (excluding 358/2 Days), but paying attention to the plot is a fool’s errand.

Had I only listened to myself…

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