The Villains Edition Part IV: Unrelenting Evil

Within the Kingdom Hearts realm lurks evil of all sorts. Deception, malice and anger fuel their cause, and sometimes jealousy is added to the potent mix. Last week, I explained how Riku has the honour of carrying the badge of absolute evil. From the Disney ring, I added Hades, for his unrelenting strikes against our protagonist and his tendency for manipulation. This week, I introduce two more worthy foes who have stayed in the franchise for a very long time. Where there’s light, there is darkness. And where they coexist, they also cast shadows into the heart of men.

Truly Heartless

In Part III of the Villains Edition, I discussed Riku’s animosity towards Sora and pointed out that the greatest challenge to the forces of good are those people who have defected to the dark side (Star Wars being another prime example). Yet there is one other who trumps KHI Riku in such a defection, and that person is none other than Master Xehanort.

Master Xehanort is the scourge of the universe as he is the one who began the whole Ansem-Xehanort cycle, which has fueled events of every single release of Kingdom Hearts so far. You can’t mistake those piercing yellow eyes for anything but evil, yet the key characters of Birth by Sleep honoured his presence and marveled at his wisdom early in the game; rightly so, because it was only natural to show deference to a Master. Perhaps only Master Eraqus and, to some small extent, Aqua, had doubts regarding the intentions of Master Xehanort. Even the level-headed Terra was deceived by Xehanort’s mask of innocence–showcasing a masterful manipulation of people and feelings. In fact, let’s examine Terra’s case more closely.

Xehanort treated Terra differently than the other Keyblade wielders. He saw in Terra a mark of darkness which he could take advantage of and then sought to gain his allegiance as a willing pawn. Xehanort set himself up as a victim to be sympathized with, as someone who is in need of a person such as Terra to help set things right. He rightly deceived Terra with a planned scenario involving Braig (later known as Xigbar) and confided his history to Terra in order to gain the boy’s trust. Xehanort, with his intelligence and craftiness, gauged Terra’s whole profile very quickly, and knew exactly how to tug at Terra’s guilt and strong will to get the young Keyblade wielder to do his bidding.

As this case proves, Master Xehanort can side with both the forces of good, evil and the minor villains to accomplish his own ends. There is nothing more dangerous than a double agent. Master Xehanort is a treacherous traitor through and through. He is so steeped in and enraptured by the powers of darkness that he could definitely be considered a master of darkness. Many tragedies follow this corruption of Xehanort, including the fates of all the protagonists in Birth by Sleep, Xion, Roxas, Axel, Namine, Riku, the demise of Radiant Garden and the worlds, and the destruction of Organization XIII. The war is not over—I predict that Master Xehanort will return in yet another form. What evil will he bring next time?

Leader of the opposition party

Kingdom Hearts I was a little bit misleading in terms of presenting the villains. It took a while before we perceived the danger of Ansem. In the mean time, Maleficent kept us plenty preoccupied. When Sora traversed the worlds, he encountered the specific villains of those worlds (Captain Hook, Oogie Boogie, Ursula and Jafar), but you knew that, behind the scenes, Maleficent was the one pulling the reins. She was the head of the troupe and without her push for organized terror, it is likely that the others would not have tampered with the darkness–on a large scale, at least. Maleficent is not the master of manipulation that is Xehanort, but she has her moments. One of her most significant tests of power was the addition of Riku (KHI) to her side. Unfortunately, since then, her choice in lieutenants has greatly diminished.

You meet Maleficent on occasion throughout your journey, but she mostly tasks herself with observing you without your knowing. The tension is then built up to the eventual confrontation with her. In a way, I saw it coming but it also didn’t quite sink in until I saw it happen. I’m talking about Maleficent’s transformation into her second form: the hulking, smoking dragon. I felt a little claustrophobic because there was nowhere to run and no good place to hide. Her massive body spanned the whole battlefield. What a terrific battle that turned out to be! The sign of a great villain is found when they force you to fight desperately, pulling out all your stops to survive. And one of the best formulas for a villain is to have them rise again in a more powerful form just when you think you’ve won.

Maleficent is an uncanny terror in other ways. Maybe it’s due to her age, maybe she’s well-travelled, or maybe she has acquaintances in high places–whatever the case is, it does not escape my mind that Maleficent knows rather a lot about the Keyblade. Before even Sora knew about worlds and Keyholes, Maleficent understood that the Keyblade was capable of both locking the hearts of worlds and unlocking the hearts of people. She knew enough about its power to search the ends of the universe in order to capture the 7 princesses’ hearts that hold the power to unlocking Kingdom Hearts. It’s also unsettling that she seems to know you (or at least, can size you up) at first meeting, as seen when you meet her in Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts I, for example. Her depth of knowledge is generally unknown, but her shrewdness points to the likelihood that her understanding of the Keyblade surpasses mere superficial knowledge.

Maleficent’s strength and sheer size in battle, her deceptive lure, and leadership capability makes her a perfectly threatening villain. Her big dream is to control the darkness in all worlds, which allowed her to see beyond the scope of her own world and spread darkness like a plague.

Sakuchan -That’s the end of the Villains Edition, folks! Why not check out Part I and Part II: the Not-so-Villainous Villains?