First Appearance: KINGDOM HEARTS (2002)
After coming through the portal in the computer room at the Old Mansion in Twilight Town, Sora, his companions and the King enter a strange, dark world whose walls and streets are pure white under the gaze of the revered heart-shaped moon, the one and only Kingdom Hearts. Without hesitation, they decide that they are going to find a way to get to the castle that looms over head - The Castle That Never Was - to rescue the kidnapped Kairi who is in the dungeon, according to the deceased Axel.
They traverse through the Alley to Between and Fragment Crossing, plowing through the small fry that obstructs their path, before they come to a massive clearing dominated by a huge skyscraper mounted by a blank television screen - this is the infamous Memory's Skyscraper. After a good look at the looming Kingdom Hearts, Sora sets off again with his pals in tow, but not before Donald and Goofy are accosted by two Samurai Nobodies, who are seemingly under the control of a certain someone - a certain hooded someone who appears from a dark portal. This is a powerful entity, one who wields the Oblivion and Oathkeeper Keyblades and clashes with Sora in a Station-of-Awakening-like place, to where he has transported them both. It is none other than the Nobody locked inside Sora's heart, Roxas, reawakened by Axel's tragic death.
However, Sora does not know this information yet, and desperately hopes that the figure is Riku, the sole reason he has embarked upon this second journey - but callously, Roxas remarks he has defeated Riku once, a statement that brings torment to Sora. But his sadness is nothing compared to Roxas, whose fury has reawakened him only to question Sora's status as a Keyblade wielder - but the only thing Sora can do is protect himself from the angry onslaught of attacks from Roxas before he finally cuts him down, showing Roxas why he was chosen. This in turn allows Roxas to find peace who then departs, telling Sora "You make a good other."
Once again Sora is back at Memory's Skyscraper with his pals, who say that they have no idea about what has just transpired other than the fact that Sora disappeared right before their eyes after which they were left to fight some Nobodies. But what really concerns Sora is the fact that Roxas maintained that he defeated Riku, deeply worrying him - but Donald thinks nobody could defeat Riku and Goofy says that if the figure wore an Organization XIII cloak, he must have been part of the elite group of Nobodies and therefore trying to trick Sora, the reason - Donald and Goofy insist - why neither of the other two saw him. But even so, this isn't the real issue at hand; they need to rescue Kairi.
After more paltry Heartless battles, they find themselves at the lip of the city - The Brink of Despair - that exists under the great, looming, floating castle that is the headquarters of Organization XIII. While they ponder how to cross the threshold, Kairi and Pluto are visited by an unexpected heroine - Naminé - who helps them escape via dark portal. At the touch of their hands - a symbol of trust and friendship - the Keyblade appears before Sora and shows him how to enter the castle: by allowing it to unlock a magical path. After this is done, everyone and the King enter the castle.
As soon as they enter enemy territory they are greeted by a feisty group of Nobodies. While they take care of these fellows, Naminé, Kairi and Pluto are well on their way to escaping the gigantic castle but are waylaid by Saïx and some of his loyal Berserker Nobodies - and fortunately, they are rescued by yet another cloaked figure, this one holding a Keyblade that is the Way to Dawn. Of course it is Riku, as declared by Naminé, a fact that shocks Kairi to say the least. But Riku has bigger problems, one that is named Saïx and another one named killing him. He is about to go after Saïx after Saïx teleports away, but he is stopped by Kairi who is desperate to see him after so long of being without him. But when she removes his hood, she sees what he doesn't want her to see: Ansem, the form that he took on long ago during his battle with Roxas to detain him.
Meanwhile, Sora and co. take care of some powerful Nobodies in Nothing's Call, the entry section of the castle and do the same during the elevator ride of Crooked Ascension, before they reach Twilight's View for a pit stop. It turns out that this is greatly needed as they proceed to the Hall of Empty Melodies where they are stopped by Saïx who does what he does best - exacerbates the situation by telling Sora that Kairi no longer has need of Sora now she has 'her friend from the darkness' (this being Riku), and then adds that since Sora has done such a swell job of defeating Heartless and sending their remains to Kingdom Hearts, the Organization only needs one last bit of help, and just like that, Saïx orders a literal army of Heartless to attack Sora and pals with the idea that Sora will destroy them. Of course, the gang is completely outnumbered but Riku and Kairi - now with a Keyblade from Riku - rush to help them with the destruction of the Heartless on the top floor of the Hall, but the thing that signals Saïx's exit is an unforeseen appearance from Maleficent and her goofy sidekick, Pete.
Meanwhile, the King forges ahead and after doing away with a few Nobodies and Heartless along Naught's Skyway he comes across a fallen DiZ and a strange machine, both of whom are under attack. After rescuing him, DiZ removes his bandages and reveals his true identity - Ansem the Wise, old king of Radiant Garden. Mickey, rather than being angry, is more annoyed, wishing Ansem had consulted him earlier before getting into such a mess with the Organization, but since Xehanort - the human form of Xemnas - was his apprentice, it is his burden to bear. But that isn't the complete reason behind his activities with Riku and Roxas and Sora; he was consumed by ideas of revenge, to get back at his apprentices who stole everything that mattered to him - namely, his research and more importantly, his pride. He goes on to talk about Riku and how he helped Ansem the Wise after Riku left the King to deal with the remnants of Xehanort's Heartless that were lingering in his heart and that he is to blame for Riku's current appearance, how he encouraged him to take on the powers of darkness to detain Roxas to reawaken Sora. Now that Ansem the Wise realizes the damage he has caused to Riku and to Roxas for his own personal gain, he promises that he will make amends, and then with Mickey in tow, he carries the machine - one that Ansem the Wise hopes to use to encode Kingdom Hearts into data - to a spot on Naught's Approach to put these amends into effect.
While this conversation is going on, Sora, his two companions and Riku and Kairi have been surrounded by Heartless and the outcome looks bleak; but then a shower of pink bullets destroys the fiends and though they have been saved from being gobbled up, the savior is by no means good news; it is none other than the Organization's Number II, the verbose laid-back Freeshooter who has no qualms about teasing his prey with riddles and smirks, the infamous Xigbar. And tease he does; he calls Sora 'Roxas', a name that is unfamiliar to the Keyblader, consequently confusing him. But does Xigbar care? Not really, as he calls Sora "not half the hero the others were" - a reference to Terra, Aqua and Ven - despite having "put Organization XIII in a pickle", and with that proceeds to shoot the living light out of them in a feisty battle that really tests Sora's strengths and limits.
However, Sora and friends prevail as heroes once again and Xigbar perishes, but not before he laughs off Sora's question about Roxas' identity. Now with him gone, the attention moves back to Kairi who is on the upper level of the Hall, fighting Heartless with Riku, though this last person's identity is unknown to Sora at that moment. To get to her, they go through Naught's Skyway, at which point Kingdom Hearts is soaking up like a sponge the Heartless being destroyed, empowering it and turning it into the perfect weapon of power for Xemnas who is atop the Altar of Naught waxing poetic about it as usual.
In the meantime, Sora and co. are on the upper floor of the Hall of Empty Melodies where Sora is finally reunited with Kairi, an emotional exchange that prompts Riku - still in Xehanort's Heartless' form - to leave, but not before Kairi stops him, getting Sora to hold his hand to see that it really is Riku. This in turn sets Sora off on a bout of tears, finally happy that he has found his long lost friend, and then everyone - Sora, Riku, Kairi, Donald and Goofy - declare that they will go and meet the King to finally end Xemnas' rule of terror. As they pass into Proof of Existence, a place where portals to the personal realms of the Nobodies of Organization XIII exist, Ansem the Wise activates his machine and fires a beam at Kingdom Hearts, putting his encryption plan into effect.
In Proof of Existence there are two portals which are still active, namely those of Saïx and Luxord. The first portal they enter is that of Luxord, which takes them to Havoc's Divide from where they can see the machine's beam aimed at Kingdom Hearts, whose properties Riku explains. When they are about to turn back, yet another member of Organization XIII steps out of a portal, and it is none other than the wily handsome devil, Luxord. He sweeps everyone but Sora away, forcing Sora into a timed battle with the king of cards, which Sora wins, despite Luxord being a master gambler. After Luxord eludes and angers Sora by calling him 'Roxas', Sora wins back his friends before they return to Proof of Existence.
Next they enter Saïx's lair, Addled Impasse, where they find the Berserker mulling over current affairs under the moon. He calls Sora 'Roxas', now a tiresome thing, before he clashes into battle with the original trio. As strong as he is - especially during his lunar-fuelled Berserk state - he meets his end at their hands. After that battle is done, Sora finally gets to ask the question Xigbar didn't answer: why everyone calls him Roxas. Riku explains simply that it is because Roxas is his Nobody who now resides in Sora's heart, one who was utilized by Xemnas for his Keyblade-wielding skills. With this revelation passed, they leave.
Past Proof of Existence is Naught's Approach where they finally find Ansem the Wise and the King and the machine which is encoding Kingdom Hearts. But it seems Ansem the Wise finds the irony of the whole thing funny as he says that hearts are incalculable since it surpasses any system; his newfound theory is proved by his malfunctioning machine which is about to self-destruct, from which the King must run to save himself. And as if matters couldn't get any worse, Xemnas shows his face. He laughs at Ansem the Wise but Ansem the Wise merely shakes it off in agreement; he was a fool to tutor Xehanort, an action which set everything in motion, since the only thing Xemnas wants is his own world over which he has sovereign. But as Ansem the Wise famously says, a world of Xemnas' would only be an empire of ignorance, and with that, the machine explodes, killing Ansem the Wise. In the aftermath of its blinding light, it almost destroys Kingdom Hearts, creating a downpour of captured hearts and releasing them back into the world, birthing a titanic new wave of Heartless. It also restores Riku back to himself.
Now the only thing left to do is destroy Xemnas, so they move onto Ruin and Creation's Passage while dealing with stray Nobodies; but when they go to exit, they see thousands upon thousands of Heartless swarming in through the windows. This really looks like the end for them, but lo and behold, Maleficent drops in with Pete, creating a diversion for the group of do-gooders - not that she'll ever live it down, mind. The gang runs off to the Altar of Naught for a confrontation with Xemnas, who is deeply 'upset' at his destroyed Kingdom Hearts. After a spiel about the nature of light, darkness and nothingness, Xemnas finally does battle with Sora at Memory's Contortion, a contorted version of Memory's Skyscraper.
Xemnas is powerful with his light sabers but Sora proves too much for him. Finally, when the end of Xemnas might just have passed, they see him in floating before Kingdom Hearts back at the Altar, requesting its power. Unfortunately, it grants him his request and now they have to kill this empowered version of him which is now inside Kingdom Hearts. They enter it through a door to Kingdom Hearts, provided by the desire to stop Xemnas by the other worlds, and set off for round number two with the crazed Superior.
Once inside they see what is ultimately Xemnas' ideal world, a dark version of the Dark City of The World That Never Was, complete with its own Memory's Skyscraper and mechanical flying dragon - atop which is Xemnas himself, spouting off again about hearts being weak. Like any madman wanting to best his enemy, Xemnas throws a building at the gang and in the plea to escape Sora, Riku, Donald and Goofy are trapped inside. But these are strong warriors and even skyscrapers prove no match for their strength, which they overcome to reach the mechanical dragon's cylinders, two monstrous efforts whose blasts could obliterate them. However, they destroy the cylinders by throwing stray Nobodies into them, and then proceed further.
Their next task is to stop the energy core, which isn't hard even after a few Nobody interventions. Once this is defeated, they move onto another section, this time Xemnas himself in a kingly knight form that simply radiates power, sitting on his throne with a crown atop his head. He has the powers of all his once-were Nobody underlings at his disposal, a colossal strength that Sora must overcome. When he does, Xemnas is dethroned and is no more than peasant before the now reunited group atop the Altar, and as usual he wants more power, but Sora seemingly strikes a note within him - as much as that is possible for a Nobody - and Xemnas admits somewhat sadly that he cannot remember what it is like to feel, before he fades away into nothing.
The castle starts to tremble, a sign that they must get out, but when Riku tries to summon a dark portal for them, it doesn't work; he isn't a part of the dark realm anymore. But thankfully, a ghostly Naminé appears and opens a portal, through which Pluto, the King, Donald and Goofy escape, before Naminé turns to Sora and from Sora emerges a ghostly Roxas. Finally, they are together again just as they promised and will be every day as long as Sora and Kairi are together. After they return to their others' bodies, Kairi steps through the portal; Sora and Riku are about to follow suit when the portal disappears. Completely unaware of what is going on, Sora and Riku are taken aback when the mechanical dragon from before breaks free of a prison some miles away and starts heading toward them before it collides with the Altar, knocking them off, but fortunately Riku spots a flying machine which he and Sora jump onto. As the dragon flies away to cause havoc, Riku drives the machine after it with Sora at his side, ready to strike the beast down.
After grinding the dragon's gears to a halt, they have to deal yet again with Xemnas, who is back in his king form inside the dragon, only this time he uses buildings and lasers as well as the affinities of his underlings, making him quite a bit more difficult to beat, but yet again they take him down. However, it would be foolish to think Xemnas would go down so easily; after the dust of this penultimate calamity clears, Sora and Riku finds themselves in a realm of Nothingness with Xemnas. After a speech about Nothingness being eternal, Xemnas sets out on his last fight, one that will test Sora and Riku everything they have learned so far and will maybe push them too far.
But alas, they do away with him, and this time he really does die, shown by a genuine disappearance into nothing. But don't think it ends there; thousands of lesser Nobodies surround the two boys and in a bid to save them, Riku exerts the last of his power, destroying every last one of them. Obviously this leaves him weakened, but they both look for an exit together - which comes in the form of a bright light enveloping them and dropping them off at the Dark Meridian deep inside the Dark Realm, where they sit by the water's edge and ponder their positions in life. Not long after this, Riku feels something hit his leg and finds a glass bottle with a message inside it and hands it to Sora. It is the note Kairi wrote.
After the note delivers a revelation about one sky being one destiny, the Dark Meridian floods with light from an opening to the Realm of Light; it is the escape route out of there, to take Sora and Riku back to Destiny Islands with their friends and to finally deliver them home. They pass through and fall through the sky into the ocean, and once they reach shore, they find all their friends waiting for them: Kairi, the King, Donald and Goofy. Here is the much-awaited heartwarming reunion and Sora reveals Kairi's good luck charm, before Roxas and Naminé appear together once more for the last time. Then finally, after all the trouble Sora has been through, he is truly, finally back home.
©2012 KHInsider. KINGDOM HEARTS official artwork, trailers, characters, merchandise, and music is copyrighted to Square Enix and Disney.
Original material is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.