Over the years that the Kingdom Hearts franchise has been around, there have been some notable fan favorites. Whether you prefer Sora to Roxas or Repliku to Riku, you know who holds closest to your heart. Here’s our run down of the top 10 best characters in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. (This list excludes Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters that make appearances within the series.)
Naminé is a crucial character when it comes to understanding pretty much all of Kingdom Hearts 2. She’s the Nobody of Kairi, but born from Sora’s body. Make sense? Yeah, we don’t quite grasp it either. She’s kept in Castle Oblivion to manipulate Sora’s memories, making him believe that she was Kairi. She also manipulates the Replica Riku into thinking that Sora’s promise to Kairi was actually his promise to her. However, she redeems herself and goes out of her way to protect Sora. (Which, of course, is enough for him to forgive all of her wrongdoing.) We’re interested to see where she falls in line with the rest of the crew, and what her friendship with Riku will spark into.
9. Repliku (Riku Replica)
Originally created to test Riku, his replica later went on to be used as a pawn to manipulate Sora. He embraces the darkness within his heart, while Riku fears it. He’s one of the better antagonists in the series, alongside Vanitas (who is a replica of Sora, but formed from the darkness within Ventus‘ heart.) Another case of bad guy turned good, nearing the end of his life in the third installment, Repliku mellows down to be more like Riku. The two even share a few cutscenes in the game, one particularly where they sit by the ocean on Destiny Islands. He, unlike Vanitas, seems to possess real emotions; one of the better examples of this is when he sacrifices coming back after his defeat in order to bring Naminé back to the real Riku. (Or when he says to Riku, “I’d rather face my end with you than in darkness.”)
Aqua has one of the best storylines out of all the characters in the series, let alone the female characters. She’s one of the most developed of the bunch, which gives her that sense of realness. Her story is more interesting, but overall extremely sad. — What would Kingdom Hearts be if they didn’t torture us, right? Aqua falls into the Realm of Darkness after sacrificing quite literally everything to save Terra and Ventus. As time goes on, she’s tortured by the Realm of Darkness as it manipulates her memories and uses them against her. Thankfully, all is right in the world as she’s reunited with her friends by the end of the third numerical installment.
Terra has always given us that sense of an older brother. He goes above and beyond to protect his friends, the people that matter the most to him. Though it’s a recurring theme in the game, there’s something about Terra’s willingness to sacrifice everything to protect Aqua and Ventus that makes us all warm and fuzzy inside. He’s another character that’s struggled between light and darkness, but overcame many obstacles that stood in his way. We were just happy to see him return home in Kingdom Hearts 3.
Vanitas lands a spot on this list, alongside Repliku, as one of our evil favorites. Also known as The Masked Boy, he is one of the main antagonists in Kingdom Hearts 3 and Birth by Sleep. An apprentice of evil Master Xehanort, he was created from the darkness within Ventus‘ heart. He’s definitely one of the harder characters to understand, or even begin to feel anything for. But that’s also what landed him a place on our top 10; he’s ruthless, arrogant, and flat out evil. He’s a tragic villain, but everyone loves a good – or bad? – villain.
Once you get past the whole ‘this is Ventus who is friends with Lea who is actually Axel who is friends with Roxas that looks just like Ventus who has an evil twin named Vanitas who looks like Sora — did we mention that Ventus lived inside of Sora’s heart until Sora realized he had the power of waking’ storyline, you get to see Ventus for who he really is. He is one of the most compelling characters throughout the series, and most of the time you can’t help but want to give him a hug.
We know what you’re thinking — how can the main character of the series be so far down on the list? Well, as much as we love Sora, we’ve gotta show some love to his friends who have slightly more interesting story arcs. Sora is the character that we’re always silently rooting for, he is always almost there. But still not quite. Sora is the underdog, the character that we can see ourselves in, that’s why we want so desperately for him to win and get his happy ending. Which is why Kingdom Hearts 3 was so heartbreaking to watch, when everything crumbled before him; for the first time in the franchise we got to see Sora become unsure of himself and look to Riku for guidance. Sora is the main protagonist and we’ll always have room in our hearts for him.
It’s easy to forget that Axel was once the bad guy of the Kingdom Hearts series. Similar to most of the Organization members, he wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. Axel was known for his witty remarks, flare for dramatics — or should we say flame? — and his catchphrase: got it memorized? But as the series went on and Axel sacrificed himself to save Sora and his friends later on in the franchise, Square Enix decided they simply liked Axel far too much to boot him off like the rest of the forgotten members. So, they brought him back; and this time much more redeeming. Long gone are his days fighting beside Organization XIII, now he wields keyblades when he’s not off training with Kairi. He’s easily one of the best characters of the franchise, and definitely a fan favorite.
(Also, are we allowed to sob over how protective Axel is over Roxas? Or how when he sacrificed himself against the nobodies to help Sora, he told Sora that all he really wanted was to see Roxas again? And that Roxas was “the only one [he] liked,” or that “he made [him] feel like [he] had a heart.” No? Okay. — We could go on forever about Axel, we’re Axel stans.)
Riku is one of the characters in the Kingdom Hearts series that has gone through the most character development. We are able to see him grow with each game in the series, from an unsure teenager to a prideful, courageous man. Riku has sacrificed himself countless times in order to save his friends, but the one time that sticks out most to us is when he gave himself over to darkness in order to save Sora and defeat Roxas. Riku has proven time and time again that he will protect what matters to him, which is why Terra granted him with the ability to wield a keyblade — so he could have the strength to protect what matters.
It doesn’t get any more powerful than a keyblade wielder who can wield two keyblades. With Oathkeeper and Oblivion at his sides, Roxas is borderline unstoppable. His will to never give up and his selflessness he shows when returning to Sora, Roxas‘ character arc will tug at your heartstrings. The boy who had nothing, but so desperately wanted to become someone; Roxas is our fan favorite. 358/2 Days leading into Kingdom Hearts 2 was enough to win us over, and all we can say is that we are beyond glad Square Enix decided to bring him back for Kingdom Hearts 3. Being able to see Roxas alongside his Twilight Town friends and Axel, Saïx, and Xion was heartwarming and probably the purest moment in the KH series.
Saïx/Isa, Master Xehanort, Larxene, Demyx, Ephemer, Hayner, and Goofy. Even though we said this lineup wouldn’t include any Disney characters, just cause he makes us laugh. (And since we’re breaking all of the rules, why not throw in a Final Fantasy character as well? Cloud is definitely an honorable mention.)
Those were our picks for the top 10 characters within the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Let us know what YOU think!
Words: Shae Arabella | Featured Photo: Square Enix