The Relationships of Kingdom Hearts

The Relationships of the Kingdom Hearts Series

Learning the Ropes of Relationships in KH

If there has been one thing I’ve learned from Disney, it’s the Goofy Principle: when someone does something wrong, you do the exact opposite and everything should work out. ‘Course, when I had that idea pounded into my head when I was a kid, I never imagined I’d be adopting the Goofy Principle in regards to my dating life. As much as I have from the people around me and from my own experiences, I’ve learned what not to do in a relationship in reference to Kingdom Hearts fanon (fan-created) and canon (part of the story) couples. Some of these couples (and potential couples) have issues to work out before they can be in healthy relationships while other examples have tough starts from the get-go. So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day and in honor of the great legacy of Goofy, let’s have a look at some of the relationships of Kingdom Hearts that we can learn lessons from.

Sad Joe X Heartless

Maybe one day those Heartless will learn that relationships are about the give and take--not stealing. Oh desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

Do you remember Sad Joe? No? He’s that poor fellow (who I’ve now named) who runs, falls down and has his heart turned into a Soldier Heartless the first time you go into the Second District in Traverse Town in Kingdom Hearts 1. The story you never found out about is a story of tragedy. See, Heartless are, well, cute. We love their little antenna and big, inquisitive yellow eyes. Our culture has taught us that cuteness is a huge factor in looking for date-able people. Should looks matter? It could, yes, but when you consider what happens with Joe, well…. The man “gave” his heart to the Heartless, they took it, fouled it up with darkness, made it another one of them, then they proceeded to chase down Sora bearing said stolen heart.
Unfortunately, Sad Joe experienced how a relationship cannot work if it’s one-sided. It’s nice to take, but it’s even more important to give. I hope that Sad Joe gets a second chance once Sora has freed his heart from the Heartless.

Marluxia X Vexen

Believe it or not, there was a lot of confusion from early promos of Chain of Memories over whether Vexen was an older woman named “Vixen.” He and Marluxia have been inseparable ever since.

Regardless of your perception, this couple pops up fairly regularly in forums and in fan art (often in scandalizing poses). I suppose that due to the “Dude looks like a lady” thing going on, they’ve become quite a picturesque couple of Kingdom Hearts fandom.

But let’s be honest about this pairing: It’s doomed from the start for a number of reasons. I doubt that either of them have known each other very long, based on what the games indicate, and they both are going different ways in life—one is loyal to the Organization promising him a heart, and the other wants to have a coup d’état to become top dog (read as treachery, or traitorism, if you’re a sergeant in red). They’re also both incredibly selfish, often moving and acting in order to benefit only themselves, where any good relationship calls for compromise and selfless sacrifice. I also think that the Graceful Assassin has shown, at the least, confusion into his preference of company. He’s clearly very tight with Larxene, and has shown subtle interest in Namine (very scary). I could go on and on, but I think it also comes down to one big issue: Marluxia keeps putting out assassination hits on Vexen. Fire only helps relationships so long as you don’t apply it to your partner, and hiring a pyromaniac to do just that is a double no.
They’re hopeless as a couple, but villains such as they may still be able to maintain some semblance of teamwork and cooperation; they could start by contributing more emotional investment in one another and—at all costs—cut out the murder and betrayal.

Hades X Maleficent

Disney villains are people too, right? They wanna cozy up with a special someone, settle down and proceed to take over the world while making googly eyes at one another in the morning. Well, apparently Mickey Mouse thought so, and it turns out the king has some kind of nightclub as a second job (who would have guessed?). All this leads to one of the most awkward displays of dating I’ve ever seen between two people, in this case being Hades and Maleficent. I think I speak for all of us when I say we never want to see Hades shirtless again. But when they talk in Kingdom Hearts, it seems that there’s an undercurrent to their conversation after the incident with Cerberus that says, “We are and forever will be accomplices.” What happened? What went wrong?

A match made in Hell? Both Maleficent and Hades have attempted to kill small infants out of spite. No, forgiveness isn’t exactly their strong suit.

…Well, if we really must answer that question, the biggest point is that these people both make mountains out of molehills and hold grudges for obscenely long times. Hades unleashed forces of apocalypse because he was given the Underworld job and expected to stay away from Olympus, and Maleficent cursed a child to die at the age of sixteen simply because she wasn’t invited to the birthday party. Relationships often ask for forgiveness (not necessarily forgetfulness though), and these two just don’t get that concept. Then you go into diverging goals in life. Hades wants to take over the universe and get what thinks is his, while Maleficent actually seems content with her slice of life and gets her kicks out of simple acts of spite, both random and planned. I can see the Mistress of Evil actually getting tired of Hades’ obsession with revenge and rule, if for no other reason than she’d find it petty. Finally, they would suffer from the bad boy meets bad girl complex—it’s exciting and alluring to try out those sort of people for a while, but those relationships quickly deteriorate and each person becomes a general force of evil in the others’ life.

Perhaps they should start slowly, for example, teaming up as one unit to conquer their worldly enemies. The problems would feel as though they were halved, while the shared victories would feel doubly diabolical.

Sora X Kairi: HEAR ME OUT!

Not really an example of a bad relationship, Sora and Kairi are one of the cutest couples I’ve seen out there. That doesn’t mean they do everything right though—far from it. They actually have some problems that keep them from being a proper couple. And just what is that issue? Simply put, communication.

Sora has trouble admitting his feelings, though we can all see he’s in love. Just kiss the girl already!

You thought I was going to say “She keeps getting kidnapped” didn’t you? Well, that’s true, it is a problem, but the true improvement to be made is in communication. I mean, these two have been friends for years, so they have a good foundation for a relationship–they actually know and understand one another. The problem is this: neither one of them has actually admitted that they are in love with the other. Instead, we have this sort of awkward, non-progressing relationship. And we know they both want to say it to each other. That’s the part that drives me crazy about the two! Sora pines a lot for Kairi, and even when Kairi forgets Sora, it still manages to weigh in on her mind. But when they meet, we have tokens exchanging and little promises to return and words that say “I Love You” in the subtext but never openly state it, etc. As Sora’s crabby friend would say, “Kiss de girl” already!
If I had to draw one other major issue with these two, it’s that the romantic aspect of their relationship seems partly fueled by a lack of variety. Allow me to say that when you spend all your time with one girl, it’s easy to think she’s the only one for you, and vice versa. Variety in dating is a lost art, but it helps you keep perspective and get a true grasp of your feelings for an individual. So am I saying Sora should be dating people like Ariel or Namine (for however brief a stint that would have been) and some other young folks, or that maybe Kairi should pay more attention to Riku for a while? Yes, and believe it or not, I say that because it will make Sora and Kairi’s relationship that much more meaningful and certain. I mean, we all know that the great smiling Nomura has ensured their eternal bliss together, so I’m pretty sure they’ll come back to each other in the end, but from my experience, seeing what else is out there just strengthens the relationship. It can be okay to date different people when you’re young—it helps you really be sure of who you want to steadily date (and beyond!).

Knowing that Sora has eyes for Kairi only, I’d like Sora to go for it, save the world, and get the girl!

Roxas X Axel

Wow, Roxas and Axel. I have no stats to back me up on this one, but I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that this ‘couple’ is probably the largest one looked at and even the one with the largest fanbase within the community. People cosplay it, write fanfics about it, and raise their voices to insist that this somehow should come to pass. The discussion is huge…so it is a shame that it doesn’t actually work.

So what if Roxas has picked up two girls and Axel hides everything--tragedy makes perfect! The ice cream starts to take on a whole new meaning.

I mean, maybe I’m the only one who noticed this, but my count on Roxas’s chick pickup list is at least two, even if Xion is a memory replica and Namine is a Nobody. I also find it hard to believe that Axel doesn’t go pick up girls every weekend with that alluring voice of his. Barring that there are evidently better matches for Roxas, and that Axel is much of a girl-magnet, would a relationship work between these two?

They’re certainly close: these two are fine combat buddies, and share a brotherhood as tight as family. So it seems strange that when Roxas finally decides to fight the Organization, Axel only jumped on the bandwagon after Roxas rejoined with Sora. That says a lot about the differing priorities of these two. Axel has also kept some huge secrets from Roxas—something that can hurt a relationship whether it’s short or long term. The biggest problem though is that Roxas’s heart belongs to someone else (okay, two other people, both Sora and Ventus). Axel may not have obligations since his heart belongs to a Heartless out there in the world, but Roxas, on the other hand, does have to sacrifice himself for the good of these two people.

Clearly, Roxas and Axel can only be good friends and they show the passion of true friendship. Even though it sadly could not persist longer, as a famous movie and Canadian female singer put it, their hearts will go on.

Mickey X Minnie

Put the pitchforks down already, and hold off on your viruses. Mickey and Minnie have been dating for as long as the two debuted and despite many of their issues, they’ve managed to work through them and generally form a great relationship. They can only be even better-off since they’re married in Kingdom Hearts, right? I want to say yes, but sometimes the strength of a relationship is judged by what happens in an emergency, and in Kingdom Hearts, Mickey…makes some tough choices that leaves his partner wanting.

It seems like Minnie and Mickey are never in the same room together. Maybe if Minnie had a Daisy-like tantrum that would help fix things?

In the first Kingdom Hearts (maybe as far back as Birth by Sleep), Mickey has suddenly disappeared without telling Minnie anything (save by letter) and was gone for over a year. At worse, he could have died, he could have been made a Heartless, he could have been served for lunch in the Land of Dragons, he could have had any number of things happen to him and she would never have known. Granted, when he was in the dark realm, there’s only so much he could do to keep in touch with her, but he doesn’t stay there the entire time, so he could very easily have stopped by and let her know what was going on. Probably could have done this multiple times, in fact. But we never get a good indication that he ever fills her in, which means Minnie’s left to wonder and worry. Fortunately, Minnie seems to be the forgiving sort.
Mickey’s actions in Re:Coded is a cause of worry for Minnie. I mean, bringing work home is fine since this is for a good cause. But when your work involves you going into a digital dataspace and fighting against living data that decides it wants to bust out and wreak havoc in reality, I think our girl’s foot should have come down. That’s just not good in any sense of the word—it’s a threat to them, their home and their world. Minnie may be perfectly forgiving and kind, but I think Mickey should give her less cause for worry and provide better guard for all of these unplanned disasters.

Mickey and Minnie are a really great couple—they’re fun, cute and most importantly, they love each other very much. In the future, I hope that Mickey and Minnie will learn from these mistakes and talk to each other, and that Mickey will make more effort to be there for Minnie.
So, is there anyone I think is doing it right and maintaining a good relationship? Well, there is one that’s half fanon, half canon that I think we can learn a lot from.

Aqua X Terra

Aqua and Terra probably have one of the most stable relationships in the series. They could definitely work well together, if they ever saw each other as more than friends.

Despite the fact that some people will think I’m a moron for this, I really do think that Aqua and Terra could have been the ideal couple if things had worked out at the end of Birth by Sleep, and for a plethora of reasons. I think the fact that they were friends first is a big plus—many relationships are stronger when you start off just getting to know a person and spending time with them without romantic interest. They both are very close to each other, and they’re both dedicated to something bigger than themselves (protecting the worlds from darkness), which I believe is critical for a relationship. When they quarrel with each other in regards to Terra’s descent into darkness, they have the wisdom to not immediately chase after each other and instead take time to cool off and come to remember why they are important to each other regardless of their flaws. When they get back together, they are willing to listen to each others’ sides (even with death lingering over that conversation) and deal with it rationally. And when things get tough, they look out for each other, making sacrifices for one another to make the best of a bad situation.

That’s loads more mature than, say, Maleficent and Hades, who never forgive, never make any effort, and probably just set one another on fire.

The Lesson of Love in Kingdom Hearts

While no couple in Kingdom Hearts fanon or canon is wholly perfect, I think the lessons in relationships they communicate can help us make the best of what we’ve got. Kingdom Hearts has always emphasized the bond between people’s hearts, the importance of forging strong memories to bind you together throughout the bad times, to make sacrifices for one another selflessly, and to be united not only through love (familial or romantic) but through purpose. Kingdom Hearts‘ many themes and stories, underneath many of the tropes of Disney and romance in general, tell us a lot of what we can do to make our relationships strong and lasting.
Or maybe, if you’re feeling sappy, it’s telling you your special one’s out there waiting for you. Either way, Happy Valentine’s Day, and best of luck to y’all.

What Do You Think?

Arcane – So, what is your favorite Kingdom Hearts couple, fanon or canon? Your least favorite? Why? What makes for a good relationship, and what do you look for? Finally, how do you think fire could improve your relationships?