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Here’s what Xion and kairi need in my opinion!



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OneDandelion

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So, you're simultaneously strawmanning a direct comparison I never made, and then the entirety of your argument essentially boils down to one long concession that Kairi isn't a strongly written character-- with the inference that people should be comfortable with that because she's been prescribed a particular, functional role that need not extend beyond its own self-imposing limitations. To be clear, that role is one in which she is consistently portrayed with no agency, her major acts of contribution to the story are passive, rooted in powers which she neither controls nor understands, and which have nothing at all to do with her character motives or personal drive towards growth. The last image we have of her in the Xehanort saga is one in which she's left crying because the one person she has a meaningful relationship with in the series is dead, and it's because she was (depicted as) too weak and frail to defend herself. ReMind will likely make this more confounding by trying to course correct and give an idea of how strong Kairi "really" is, which reveals the whole scenario as a thinly plotted gimmick and reinforces her role as little more than a plot device with lines.

If I am "strawmanning" you it's only because what you want isn't clear to me in the first place. I even directly asked you how you would fix her character and your response is essentially to make her a major character in the story by giving her "agency" and "a voice in the narrative". These things don't make a character well written or even likeable. For example, what if she was a kind idiot that was extremely nice to everyone but screwed everything up all the time pursuing her "goals" and only made it more difficult for Sora and Riku to achieve theirs? Such a thing would give her plenty of agency and voice, but something tells me that no one would be satisfied with this as her character would come off as incompetent.

A reoccurring theme in Japanese storytelling is the necessity of a person to understand their limits. To know what you are capable of by consistently trying to do better than you were previously. A parallel theme to this is accepting your fate despite trying your best and not accomplishing your goals - if you have ever seen "The Last Samurai" they put it quite nicely: when asked if Algren believes he can change his own destiny he replies "I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed to him".

In the west these themes tend to be lost and underappreciated. Kairi is not a supporting character because she isn't allowed to put in any effort, she is a supporting character because despite her efforts that is the role fate has allotted her - this does not mean her efforts and contributions are somehow less noble than Sora's simply by virtue of the results of her actions not having a direct measurable impact on the events of the story.

The trouble with your argument is that it asserts that exactly all of the qualities of intentionality and personal development which are necessary to form a solid character arc need not apply to Kairi because the brackets placed around her role as a "supporting" player and the accompanying minimization of her humanity within the narrative are self-justifying. Which is not only totally circular logic; it's rooted in a fundamentally flawed perception of how her character writing has been established over time.

Supporting characters often inherently don't require character arcs. Not every character needs to go through their own "hero's journey" and have a transformative experience. That being said, if she has one that's great but it has not been necessary for her to have one so far and just because she hasn't doesn't make her character "bland". Like I said the recent events that have taken place are a great set up for her to have such an experience in future games.

And honestly, the fact you think that a character's humanity is in any way minimized by virtue of playing a supporting role is honestly quite insulting. The vast majority of us play such a role, it is very unfortunate that in the west the significance of this role is so underappreciated, and to an extent viewed even as demeaning to ones humanity.
 

Elysium

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Tbh I would say the same for Aqua her character was like kairi she was bland but then 2.0 came and gave her a new character development and made me like her character, but other then that in bbs she was just strong girl who can defend herself, so really both didn’t get the treatment in terms of a character development, the only girls in my opinion had an interesting character and personality’s are larxene, Skuld, strlitzia and probably Xion, they don’t get much screen time but their character has Good development.
Are Terra, Roxas, Ventus, Sora, etc. just "strong guys who can defend themselves," too? Aqua had to wield real responsibility in BbS to save her friends even though they resented her for having achieved something they couldn't and had to learn that the way she was taught to treat Darkness as evil-only was wrong. Not saying you have to like Aqua, everyone has different tastes, but there's no denying she actually has character as opposed to a cipher like Kairi. This reads sort of like "everyone's picking on the weak, passive female character, so I'm going to dump on the active, strong female character in retaliation." But this isn't about pitting active v. passive female characters against each other; there are plenty of other equally passive female characters in this series that are also better than Kairi?
 

Keyblade07

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Are Terra, Roxas, Ventus, Sora, etc. just "strong guys who can defend themselves," too? Aqua had to wield real responsibility in BbS to save her friends even though they resented her for having achieved something they couldn't and had to learn that the way she was taught to treat Darkness as evil-only was wrong. Not saying you have to like Aqua, everyone has different tastes, but there's no denying she actually has character as opposed to a cipher like Kairi. This reads sort of like "everyone's picking on the weak, passive female character, so I'm going to dump on the active, strong female character in retaliation." But this isn't about pitting active v. passive female characters against each other; there are plenty of other equally passive female characters in this series that are also better than Kairi?
All these characters you listed had a personality and character development, Sora riku Roxas axel terra (Ventus I like this character but he felt like mix of Sora and Roxas so don’t know what to say about him) Aqua on the other hand she was this flawless perfect person with bland personality, she , to me Aqua didn’t become interesting until kh2.0 at least that’s my OPINION, she was the least interesting in birth by sleep if she was a guy I don’t think aqua will be talked about much, her being a girl what made her soo popular cause in my opinion her character was the most boring in birth by sleep, she had a great desgin but her personality just wasn’t appealing to me.
 

Keyblade07

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Are Terra, Roxas, Ventus, Sora, etc. just "strong guys who can defend themselves," too? Aqua had to wield real responsibility in BbS to save her friends even though they resented her for having achieved something they couldn't and had to learn that the way she was taught to treat Darkness as evil-only was wrong. Not saying you have to like Aqua, everyone has different tastes, but there's no denying she actually has character as opposed to a cipher like Kairi. This reads sort of like "everyone's picking on the weak, passive female character, so I'm going to dump on the active, strong female character in retaliation." But this isn't about pitting active v. passive female characters against each other; there are plenty of other equally passive female characters in this series that are also better than Kairi?
think I need to recheck my point, Aqua is A Good character however Her being a girl is in my opinion is what put her way too high on the top and become top 3 fan favorites, if she was a guy she would likely rank next to Riku Terra and Ventus and namine in term of popularity, cause her being a girl boosted her way to the top, when people should like her for her own character but all I saw was fan overhype her when she is just a decent Good character up there in top 10 but not top 5, over all that’s my point of view not saying it’s a fact or anything, Aqua is up there next to riku for me so yes I like her as a character not cause she is a girl.
 
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I didn't like Xion much in Days but I'm open to giving her a second chance. I'm in the same camp as @Veevee and Xion could use some divergent character evolution to separate her from Kairi/Namine. She and Namine both need something new to do in terms of goals.

Kairi never appealed to me so I wouldn't know how to fix her. She's always been pretty bland but there was always a bit more you could've done with her. I wished she got to spend the year between 1 and 2 on Hollow Bastion instead of Destiny islands. I'd say she doesn't need to be the lead but making her one of the main characters would be ideal.
 

Twilight Lumiair

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All these characters you listed had a personality and character development, Sora, Riku, Roxas, axel, Terra (Ventus I like this character but he felt like mix of Sora and Roxas so don’t know what to say about him) Aqua on the other hand she was this flawless perfect person with a bland personality, she, to me, didn’t become interesting until kh2.0 at least that’s my OPINION, she was the least interesting in birth by sleep if she was a guy I don’t think aqua will be talked about much, her being a girl what made her soo popular cause in my opinion her character was the most boring in birth by sleep, she had a great desgin but her personality just wasn’t appealing to me.

..... So if I understand this right, YOU'RE saying that Aqua didn't have a personality or character development prior to 0.2? That's.... Absurd.

Right, so first of all, she was never depicted as some sort of "flawless, perfect person," I honestly don't know where in hell you got that idea.

Aqua may have had the best head on her shoulders in BBS, but she was preemptively losing faith in Terra after venturing through a few Disney Worlds (consequently pushing him and Ventus away in the process), was narrow-minded in her view of the dichotomy between light and darkness due to Eraqus' heavy-handed teaching, and often feels like she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders (which is thematically represented by Eraqus entrusting her to look after Terra, bring Ven back home, and seal the LoD if the situation deteriorates, all on top of her having to play the responsible one/"Master" of the group).

She HAS flaws. She HAS weaknesses, and trying to say otherwise is objectively false no matter how you spin it.

And her personality? She's staunch, selfless, insecure, courageous, sensitive, loyal, level headed (pre-KH3), motherly, sincere, authentically kind-hearted, thoughtful, and somewhat laid-back. None of these traits are hard to identify, and they weave together to create a rather compelling character that people generally enjoy watching and following in her journey. Which is the real reason I'd say she's so popular, but ya know, I guess it could still just be people rallying behind the "strong female character", right? *sigh*

I think I need to recheck my point, Aqua is a good character, however, her being a girl is, in my opinion, what put her way too high on the top and become top 3 fan favorites, if she was a guy she would likely rank next to Riku Terra and Ventus and namine in term of popularity, cause her being a girl boosted her way to the top, when people should like her for her own character but all I saw was fan overhype her when she is just a decent Good character up there in top 10 but not top 5, over all that’s my point of view not saying it’s a fact or anything.
Or it could just, ya know, be that she was actually a well written character that was properly, and increasingly fleshed out over the course of her appearances across the series (prior to KH3), and by the time KH3 came around people rightfully had big expectations for her. Why is it so hard to accept that people might like something so much because they actually feel like it's worth the praise? I mean, for godsake, I liked Aqua way before I ever thought about her gender of all things..

I dunno. I just don't understand that line of thinking, but I do agree that you're absolutely entitled to your opinion. 😉
 

darknessofheart

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Xion I think has more than enough intricate backstory and deep motives to make her a likable character. We see her struggles and understand what she wants; to be her own person and not a pawn to Xemnas and his megalomanic plans. It's ironic that Xion is a copy of Kairi (through Sora's memories), yet has more personality and a right to be than the original.

Kairi, on the other hand, has been little more than a motive for other characters to fight over and thrive to save. Yes, she saved Sora a few times, but it seemed more like a forced plot point to say "See, she's useful" rather than an organic step in the story. She doesn't have much of a personality beyond being nice and innocent. Many, myself included, enjoy flawed characters because it makes them much more easy to relate to. This is probably a large reason why people enjoy Riku's character so much and why Nomura relates more to Xehanort than Sora. Characters "filled with light" aren't exactly relatable, but Kairi's character makes this worse by having no true arc or development.

Imagine if the games actually dwelled into her feeling isolated; she grew up on islands where everyone else had parents and she herself was adopted. Eventually, she would finally realize that her home and family were taken by Xehanort and his inhumane experiments and grew into a warrior to fight against the threat that took her family. Yes, cliche, but so is Kingdom Hearts' overall story.

---Tangent---
Then again, the main characters never seemed to mind when their homes and families are taken by darkness, just their friends. Sora's mom and her dinner are afterthoughts. Did they even visit their families when relaxing on the beach before the final showdown with the real organization? "Hi, mom and dad, going to save all of existence from an evil old man and his cohorts again... er, I mean build a raft to go sailing. By the way, we've been alive for the last two years."
---End Tangent---

Anyway, Kairi's interactions have been largely through Sora and, oddly enough, Axel. We learn nothing new about her through them though. When Xehanort "killed" Kairi in KH3, I had no reaction, because she meant nothing as a character to me. She was abducted three times and had no proper development as a character. Sora suffers from character development as well but at least we control him and he gets stuff done.

Xion, while not a personal favorite of mine, has earned her right as a proper character while Kairi is more of a plot device than anything. ReMind looks like it will try to correct this, but I don't know if it will actually do anything in this regard.
 
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Sign

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Xion I think has more than enough intricate backstory and deep motives to make her a likable character. We see her struggles and understand what she wants; to be her own person and not a pawn to Xemnas and his megalomanic plans. It's ironic that Xion is a copy of Kairi (through Sora's memories), yet has more personality and a right to be than the original.

It certainly helped that Xion got an entire game dedicated to exploring her character and relationships with other leads. Kairi, despite having been introduced in the first title, has never had that luxury.
 

alexis.anagram

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If I am "strawmanning" you it's only because what you want isn't clear to me in the first place. I even directly asked you how you would fix her character and your response is essentially to make her a major character in the story by giving her "agency" and "a voice in the narrative". These things don't make a character well written or even likeable. For example, what if she was a kind idiot that was extremely nice to everyone but screwed everything up all the time pursuing her "goals" and only made it more difficult for Sora and Riku to achieve theirs? Such a thing would give her plenty of agency and voice, but something tells me that no one would be satisfied with this as her character would come off as incompetent.
Let's keep this in perspective and avoid moving the goal posts towards theoretical constructs; anyone can imagine a less than ideal outcome by inventing the right set of circumstances to match their bias, but we're fortunate enough to have the actual example to go by. My burden of rebuttal is not to make the argument you want me to make, it's to make the one that effectively counters your position; what I would want for Kairi is not altogether relevant to this conversation, it's sufficient for me to discredit your original assertion that Kairi's lack of character development is not a "legitimate reason" to critique her characterization, which you've supplemented by asserting that her role as a "supportive archetype" is self-justified. You've done a poor job of answering the refutations I provided (that her passivity and lack of a propulsive part in the story's action form the primary basis of many of the critiques directed towards her characterization) which is easy to see because you started by inventing an argument I hadn't made and ended by designing a hypothetical scenario for which nobody has advocated. Your core argument remains flawed because it is circular and, ultimately, self-contradicting: on the one hand you've already conceded that Kairi has limited characterization because "that is the role she is fated to play" and on the other hand you're trying to make the case that she has an active and important position in the scheme of things; so is she a supporting character who is specifically designed to lack growth and impact or is she a central player to whom the narrative is committed to providing character emphasis? The most probable answer in my estimation is that you don't know, and the reason I suspect that to be the case is because I would argue that Nomura doesn't either. That's exactly why Kairi's characterization has been so thoroughly bungled throughout the series: despite your sincere efforts to draw exactly the wrong conclusion about her role in the story, the reality is that Kairi is a lead character in form who has been treated like a secondary character in function. And that's what's frustrating for those of us who enjoy her character in theory and are led directly through her framing in the narrative (see: all of KH2, DDD's ending) to design expectations surrounding her potential, only to see how she's eventually utilized and be forced to reconcile, again and again, with the obvious narrative dissonance that results.

When people talk about how "bland" she is, they are directly referencing the disparity between where she could be and by all rights ought to be as a character at this juncture in the story, and where she's been stranded, in the eternal no-man's loop centering every aspect of her personal condition around Sora's conflicts and agency. If your best response to that is to reaffirm how that's all the story demands of her then you're really missing the point.

A reoccurring theme in Japanese storytelling is the necessity of a person to understand their limits. To know what you are capable of by consistently trying to do better than you were previously. A parallel theme to this is accepting your fate despite trying your best and not accomplishing your goals - if you have ever seen "The Last Samurai" they put it quite nicely: when asked if Algren believes he can change his own destiny he replies "I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed to him".
You're going to have to clarify for me why a movie directed by and starring a white man should be regarded as an authoritative citation on the distinctions between Japanese and "Western" storytelling logic as it pertains to this discussion? Perhaps because it will further educate me on the lengths Hollywood will go to in order to consign Japanese and Asian-American actors to supporting roles for white leads, even in films about their own cultures and societies?

In the west these themes tend to be lost and underappreciated. Kairi is not a supporting character because she isn't allowed to put in any effort, she is a supporting character because despite her efforts that is the role fate has allotted her - this does not mean her efforts and contributions are somehow less noble than Sora's simply by virtue of the results of her actions not having a direct measurable impact on the events of the story.
Or, alternatively, Nomura as the actual determining factor in this dynamic has a poor concept of her character, and slots her in wherever he can contrive a reason for her to show up, and dismisses her on occasions where he cannot; hence her lack of real development is reflective of a lack of focus and planning with regards to her character arc.

Supporting characters often inherently don't require character arcs. Not every character needs to go through their own "hero's journey" and have a transformative experience. That being said, if she has one that's great but it has not been necessary for her to have one so far and just because she hasn't doesn't make her character "bland". Like I said the recent events that have taken place are a great set up for her to have such an experience in future games.

And honestly, the fact you think that a character's humanity is in any way minimized by virtue of playing a supporting role is honestly quite insulting. The vast majority of us play such a role, it is very unfortunate that in the west the significance of this role is so underappreciated, and to an extent viewed even as demeaning to ones humanity.
This is trending dangerously close to, "Women should be happy taking on the dignified role of housekeeper and kitchen maid." We haven't really touched on the gendered elements of the reading you're putting forth, but there it is: I'm starting to think the fundamental trajectory of your argument could easily be boiled down to, "But she's a female character in a shonen anime!"
 

darknessofheart

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It certainly helped that Xion got an entire game dedicated to exploring her character and relationships with other leads. Kairi, despite having been introduced in the first title, has never had that luxury.

Yes, that is part of the reason, but I hardly see that as a proper excuse. Just because she has not been the focus of an entire game doesn't excuse the fact that she hasn't been given a proper role in the few games she's been in. It obviously will always go back to the writing. Kairi is a bad character because of bad writing and a lack of proper attention and development in my opinion. She's been in several games and barely has had a role. Even 358/2 days was a missed opportunity. Xion being made up of Sora's memories of her could've revealed some interesting aspects of her character.
 

Sign

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Yes, that is part of the reason, but I hardly see that as a proper excuse. Just because she has not been the focus of an entire game doesn't excuse the fact that she hasn't been given a proper role in the few games she's been in. It obviously will always go back to the writing. Kairi is a bad character because of bad writing and a lack of proper attention and development in my opinion. She's been in several games and barely has had a role. Even 358/2 days was a missed opportunity. Xion being made up of Sora's memories of her could've revealed some interesting aspects of her character.

I'm not saying it excuses Kairi's predicament, just that it makes sense why Xion would be vastly better developed as a character by comparison.
 

darknessofheart

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I'm not saying it excuses Kairi's predicament, just that it makes sense why Xion would be vastly better developed as a character by comparison.

And I agree; I think it just goes back to proper attention and development whether it's in a full-fledged game or a handful of scenes. One scene can do wonders for a character. Kairi being a staple throughout the entire series could've, and quite frankly should've, been on par with Xion's development, had she been given a few more scenes and more character development and deeper motives.
 
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OneDandelion

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I really want to believe your post and thoughts about this character are written with sincerity and good faith, but its extremely difficult when you are directly insulting my point of view and responding as if I'm antagonizing you.

You wrote a lot here and I'll try to reply to all of your significant points.

My burden of rebuttal is not to make the argument you want me to make, it's to make the one that effectively counters your position; what I would want for Kairi is not altogether relevant to this conversation, it's sufficient for me to discredit your original assertion that Kairi's lack of character development is not a "legitimate reason" to critique her characterization, which you've supplemented by asserting that her role as a "supportive archetype" is self-justified. You've done a poor job of answering the refutations I provided (that her passivity and lack of a propulsive part in the story's action form the primary basis of many of the critiques directed towards her characterization) which is easy to see because you started by inventing an argument I hadn't made and ended by designing a hypothetical scenario for which nobody has advocated.

1) I want you to explain what you actually want from her character. You said you want her to have agency and voice, the theoretical I provided was only to show you that those two things are not specific enough. Whatever it is you want out of Kairi, you need to be more specific and explain it to me or there is no point in having this conversation.

2)You can critique her "passivity" and "lack of a propulsive part in the story's action" all you want. If that is what you really want out of Kairi you should have said that rather critique her "voice" and "lack of agency". And to this I say: Congratulations! Because like I've already said twice to you already, Kairi is in the perfect position after the events of KH3 to directly get involved more in the action of the story.

I'm really happy for you, but Kairi's "passivity" thus far was merely an aspect of her characterization. To insult her for that, as if passivity inherently makes a character bad, is absurd.

Your core argument remains flawed because it is circular and, ultimately, self-contradicting: on the one hand you've already conceded that Kairi has limited characterization because "that is the role she is fated to play" and on the other hand you're trying to make the case that she has an active and important position in the scheme of things; so is she a supporting character who is specifically designed to lack growth and impact or is she a central player to whom the narrative is committed to providing character emphasis? The most probable answer in my estimation is that you don't know, and the reason I suspect that to be the case is because I would argue that Nomura doesn't either. That's exactly why Kairi's characterization has been so thoroughly bungled throughout the series: despite your sincere efforts to draw exactly the wrong conclusion about her role in the story, the reality is that Kairi is a lead character in form who has been treated like a secondary character in function. And that's what's frustrating for those of us who enjoy her character in theory and are led directly through her framing in the narrative (see: all of KH2, DDD's ending) to design expectations surrounding her potential, only to see how she's eventually utilized and be forced to reconcile, again and again, with the obvious narrative dissonance that results.

I don't know what you think circular logic is but you're wrong. Me saying Kairi's limited role in the story is a by product of her "fate" is not circular logic, it is reality. That is the way her character has been written so far. I didn't say her character needed to be written that because she is a supporting character, and I didn't say supporting characters can not have hugely defining experiences, what I said was that supporting characters do not need the same kind of major transformative experiences as the main character in the typical "hero's journey" . There is a significant distinction you missed there.

Me saying "Kairi was fated to play this role" does not mean her role can not change in the future or that her character is incapable of growth, it means that the events and the efforts she had put into her life culminated in that being her role for that moment of time. And at the same time, YES Kairi has played a significant part in the story despite her being a supporting character (are you suggesting supporting characters can not play huge roles..?) There is no contradiction here. One day she is playing a minor supporting role, the next a major one, the next day perhaps she'll be the main character - who's to say?

When people talk about how "bland" she is, they are directly referencing the disparity between where she could be and by all rights ought to be as a character at this juncture in the story, and where she's been stranded, in the eternal no-man's loop centering every aspect of her personal condition around Sora's conflicts and agency. If your best response to that is to reaffirm how that's all the story demands of her then you're really missing the point.

Yes, I understand this perfectly based on your highly emotional and inflammatory posts towards me. The problem is your highly opinionated ideas of "where she ought to be" are not necessarily what is best for her character or best for the story. They are merely your opinions and (compared to Nomura's) objectively lacking in scope. Imo, at this point the best argument in the defense of her character is how passionate some of the fans are in where they want her character to go. If she was really as bland as you say I'd think you wouldn't put forth so much effort in trying to "fix" her.

You're going to have to clarify for me why a movie directed by and starring a white man should be regarded as an authoritative citation on the distinctions between Japanese and "Western" storytelling logic as it pertains to this discussion? Perhaps because it will further educate me on the lengths Hollywood will go to in order to consign Japanese and Asian-American actors to supporting roles for white leads, even in films about their own cultures and societies?

It's not, it's just a quote I liked and personally felt reflects the culture quite well based on other sources I've read. And you've obviously never seen the movie I guess because the role Tom Cruise plays is a white man within the context of a historically accurate setting. I would highly suggest you (or anyone else reading this) read up on Japan's encounter with the West in the 1850's - present day and how the Samurai and Bushido have influenced modern Japanese culture. It has been a very enlightening subject for me.

Seriously though, way to completely subvert the context I was providing.

Or, alternatively, Nomura as the actual determining factor in this dynamic has a poor concept of her character, and slots her in wherever he can contrive a reason for her to show up, and dismisses her on occasions where he cannot; hence her lack of real development is reflective of a lack of focus and planning with regards to her character arc.

If you really feel that way then whats the point in even discussing her?

This is trending dangerously close to, "Women should be happy taking on the dignified role of housekeeper and kitchen maid." We haven't really touched on the gendered elements of the reading you're putting forth, but there it is: I'm starting to think the fundamental trajectory of your argument could easily be boiled down to, "But she's a female character in a shonen anime!"
They should, those are perfectly dignified roles. They should also aspire and work hard to whatever they want to achieve in their lives.

This is the crux of the difference between Japanese and Western thought and why I'm actively trying to move there. Everyone in the west feels they are kings and queens who are so far above real work that they can't manage to take pride in their own jobs. Believing that everything below your ideal is beneath you is a tortured existence, there is plenty of honor and dignity to be found in living a quiet "passive" life.

I guess I should thank you for not touching on the "gendered elements" of what I'm saying (as if I've said anything to favor one gender over another), it would make me vomit.
 

alexis.anagram

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I really want to believe your post and thoughts about this character are written with sincerity and good faith, but its extremely difficult when you are directly insulting my point of view and responding as if I'm antagonizing you.
Again, my aim is not to insult your point of view, it's to discredit it. Because I think it's wrong. But just to be clear, you initiated this dialogue by making the claim that the feelings that many fans have with regards to Kairi's development and characterization are misplaced, and by implication that the criticism surrounding her role in the games is less than legitimate. Your language, not mine.

And, to be clear, I take no issue with that, nor do I feel antagonized by it. You're totally entitled to put forth that claim if it aligns with your perspective on the series, but nobody else is obligated to hold space for it, or to behave deferentially when daring to detract from it. It's up to you to back it up.


1) I want you to explain what you actually want from her character. You said you want her to have agency and voice, the theoretical I provided was only to show you that those two things are not specific enough. Whatever it is you want out of Kairi, you need to be more specific and explain it to me or there is no point in having this conversation.
I didn't say I want her to have agency and voice, I asserted that those are the building blocks of strong character writing as opposed to your proposition that it is sufficient for Kairi to play the supportive archetype insofar as that still leaves room for strong characterization. It doesn't. It hasn't for the entirety of the series, and I've been highly specific in providing concrete reasoning detailing why there is such a strong collective recognition of that fact. To reiterate: what I personally want for Kairi as a character is not relevant to proving the case that the criticisms of her writing are valid, and that is as far as my burden extends.

To make it as clear as I can: the question is not one of how Kairi should be written, it's one of how she is written.

2)You can critique her "passivity" and "lack of a propulsive part in the story's action" all you want. If that is what you really want out of Kairi you should have said that rather critique her "voice" and "lack of agency".
These are exactly the same thing, so thanks for proving my point.

And to this I say: Congratulations! Because like I've already said twice to you already, Kairi is in the perfect position after the events of KH3 to directly get involved more in the action of the story.
Apologists for her writing (of which I used to be one, of a sort...I guess to some extent I still am) have been saying this for a decade or more now. With each and every installment post-KH2 finding new ways to depreciate her centrality to the unfolding narrative, there has always come a fresh wave of assurances that Nomura must have something big planned for her, that she is optimally positioned to realize her dramatic moment, and all that communal consolation culminated in a game in which she is subjected to her worst treatment thus far. In the first place, it's no longer a reasonable belief to hold that Nomura will suddenly figure out how to retrofit Kairi's arc with any degree of meaning or import, but even if we were to permit him the benefit of the doubt (yet again), it's untenable as a solution to the criticism surrounding her portrayal. It's not possible to undo the damage that KH3 has done to her development, not because there aren't plenty of people who would rush to forgive the error at the first glimpse of even the slightest nod to her narrative value, but because the error itself is an unerasable and permanent fixture of her characterization through the most dramatically dense stretch of storytelling KH as a franchise will likely ever be party to. The series peaked, and Kairi didn't peak with it. Though I guess you could just as well make the argument that they cratered together.

I'm really happy for you, but Kairi's "passivity" thus far was merely an aspect of her characterization. To insult her for that, as if passivity inherently makes a character bad, is absurd.
Her passivity is not a quality of her character, it's a product of her forced positioning within the plot relative to other characters. It's the same lazy writing that afflicts Aqua throughout KH3, but for Kairi it's writ large throughout the series.

I don't know what you think circular logic is but you're wrong. Me saying Kairi's limited role in the story is a by product of her "fate" is not circular logic, it is reality. That is the way her character has been written so far.
And, full stop, that is the legitimizing factor in the critiques surrounding her.

I didn't say her character needed to be written that because she is a supporting character, and I didn't say supporting characters can not have hugely defining experiences, what I said was that supporting characters do not need the same kind of major transformative experiences as the main character in the typical "hero's journey" . There is a significant distinction you missed there.
No, there isn't, your own clarification here issues a distinction without a difference. If you can't decisively argue that Kairi's role needs to be limited by definition, then you can't effectively support your claim that the critiques directed towards her are illegitimate.

Me saying "Kairi was fated to play this role" does not mean her role can not change in the future or that her character is incapable of growth, it means that the events and the efforts she had put into her life culminated in that being her role for that moment of time. And at the same time, YES Kairi has played a significant part in the story despite her being a supporting character (are you suggesting supporting characters can not play huge roles..?) There is no contradiction here. One day she is playing a minor supporting role, the next a major one, the next day perhaps she'll be the main character - who's to say?
By definition, supporting characters do not play huge roles. They play supporting roles. As you accurately suggest, if the role they play increases in scope, their category of characterization likewise changes. The mental gymnastics you're asserting here to avoid admitting that Kairi's apparent role is not consistent with her intended one nevertheless exemplifies and underscores that point. Kairi is whatever Nomura contrives her to be according to the demands of the plot: she is the third wheel on the lead trio, but her participation is routinely driven by plot action, and she is virtually never positioned to drive the action. This is despite the fact that, as a character with the level of inherent significance she contains, she has every natural reason to be driving action; her potential is left unmined for no good reason.

Yes, I understand this perfectly based on your highly emotional and inflammatory posts towards me. The problem is your highly opinionated ideas of "where she ought to be" are not necessarily what is best for her character or best for the story.
And yet it was your contention just a few paragraphs ago that I must tell you exactly what I want for Kairi, or this conversation is pointless.

And, again, I find myself content to allow you to contradict yourself as surely as it suits you to tie yourself in knots directing hyperbolic accusations at me instead of addressing the substance of the discourse at hand.

They are merely your opinions and (compared to Nomura's) objectively lacking in scope. Imo, at this point the best argument in the defense of her character is how passionate some of the fans are in where they want her character to go. If she was really as bland as you say I'd think you wouldn't put forth so much effort in trying to "fix" her.
I can see how, given the pattern of logic you've applied up to this point, you could eventually arrive at this conclusion.

It's not, it's just a quote I liked and personally felt reflects the culture quite well based on other sources I've read.
Since you've permitted me to hazard a guess: you also feel very strongly about the tradition of Japanese narration reflected by such culturally astute entries in the common lexicon as Shōgun and Memoirs of a Geisha.

And you've obviously never seen the movie I guess because the role Tom Cruise plays is a white man within the context of a historically accurate setting.
It was filmed in New Zealand and Burbank, but, sure.

Wikipedia said:
The historical roles of the British Empire, the Netherlands and France in Japanese westernization are largely attributed to the United States in the film, for American audiences.

They were really straining for historical accuracy.

I would highly suggest you (or anyone else reading this) read up on Japan's encounter with the West in the 1850's - present day and how the Samurai and Bushido have influenced modern Japanese culture. It has been a very enlightening subject for me.
Not to disavow the notion that these traditions have had a credible impact on modern Japanese society (but then I don't fashion myself an expert in this arena), but I do think it's telling that your first point of reference in supplementation of the passive literary archetype you ascribe monolithically to eastern ("not western"?) worldviews is a reinterpretation of these historical modes of thinking by western writers, producers, and performers. Add to that the choice of buttressing your argument on a specific period of philosophy in which the social dynamics between men and women in Japan were pretty clear-cut and it's not hard to discern the style of "supportive archetype" on which you're seeking to rest your case.

They should, those are perfectly dignified roles.
Whoops, there it goes.

They should also aspire and work hard to whatever they want to achieve in their lives.
Yes. Secondarily.

This is the crux of the difference between Japanese and Western thought and why I'm actively trying to move there. Everyone in the west feels they are kings and queens who are so far above real work that they can't manage to take pride in their own jobs. Believing that everything below your ideal is beneath you is a tortured existence, there is plenty of honor and dignity to be found in living a quiet "passive" life.
I don't even disagree with you here, but I'm not convinced that your reading on Kairi relative to any of this is especially well-informed.
 

SuperSaiyanSora

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I generally feel that the series should try less to force-connect them all and should focus more on developing the characters as their own people. Honestly, Sora, Kairi, Naminé, Xion, Roxas and Ventus all feel very similar to me - Kairi feels like a submissive female Sora (sweet, caring, but bland), Ventus feels like a mix of Roxas' anger and Sora's childlike attitude , Xion also feels quite similar to Sora / Kairi and Naminés character is basically completely revolved around feelings of guilt and regret. It's not necessarily about battle stances or voices, it's about development outside of relationships to other characters - who is Xion in absence of Roxas / Axel? What does she like? What does she wish for - except for sitting on a clocktower and eating ice cream?

Kairi isn't really a submissive Sora, because there's many degrees to being an upbeat individual while being unique. Plus, it's pretty clear that Sora isn't as upbeat as he might want people to think he is. Especially in KH3, you kinda see more of what's going on behind the mask, like in Olympus Coliseum.

Ven doesn't have Roxas's anger I'd say, because there's been plenty of times where we've seen Roxas angry (justifiable anger, by the way) and Ven doesn't really get there that often. It's the same reason why Sora and Roxas aren't the same, despite Roxas literally being (prior to KH3) Sora's body taken sentience of its own and using Ven's heart for the body's appearance.

Before Roxas had his memories restored, he was a generally happy kid. He was relatively cocky, a smart-mouth, and maybe a little cynical, but he was overall happy with his friends and is a good person. He acts like how a normal teenager would act, basically. Ven (from what we know of him) is more playful, friendly and optimistic, but is slightly immature and naive. That said, Ven (to me) also seems calmer than Roxas generally is. He was willing to shatter his own heart to destroy Vanitas and in KH3, while he questioned Vanitas's allegiance to the darkness, he accepts it (even though Sora doesn't).

Xion is supposed to be similar to Sora and Kairi for obvious reasons, but she has her own personality distinct from Sora and Kairi as well. Namine you could sort of say that's the case, but I'd say even then that's not true. Kairi always wanted to help and hated being in the back seat while Sora and Riku went off on their adventures. Namine moreso seems to be okay with not being on the front lines. Kairi also has been pretty confident even back as far as KH1, but while it's similar to how Sora has confidence, there's differences as well. Like someone else said, Kairi seems more level-headed than Sora, and her's is more "I want to show everyone what I'm made of!" compared to Sora's "Don't worry guys, I've got this." It's subtle, but it's there.

I think with everything going on, there just wasn't enough time to flesh everyone out. It'd be nice to have a Slice of Life Kingdom Hearts anime that's canon, where it can flesh out a lot of these characters and what their personalities are like on a much deeper level, but I suppose that's what the manga is for (even though it's not-canon? Or sorta-canon?). It'd be nice to see how everyone acts when they don't have to worry about things too much and can just... live.
 

SweetYetSalty

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I think with everything going on, there just wasn't enough time to flesh everyone out. It'd be nice to have a Slice of Life Kingdom Hearts anime that's canon, where it can flesh out a lot of these characters and what their personalities are like on a much deeper level, but I suppose that's what the manga is for (even though it's not-canon? Or sorta-canon?). It'd be nice to see how everyone acts when they don't have to worry about things too much and can just... live.
I'd appreciate that for sure. The manga and novels flesh out the characters better then the games do. Several characters I was neutral on from the games won me over by either their manga or novel counterparts, now I love them to bits. If only manga Kairi was canon Kairi XD
 

OneDandelion

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Again, my aim is not to insult your point of view, it's to discredit it. Because I think it's wrong.

Opinions can't be "discredited" or "wrong". Kingdom Hearts is a work of art, and these things are up for interpretation, you can debate the significance of a work without being aggressive and insulting, which you've done here as well.

And, to be clear, I take no issue with that, nor do I feel antagonized by it. You're totally entitled to put forth that claim if it aligns with your perspective on the series, but nobody else is obligated to hold space for it, or to behave deferentially when daring to detract from it. It's up to you to back it up.

Clearly you do. You can say you take no issue, but we are debating a character in a video game. I assume we are both fans of this series, to say that my opinion is not deserving of respect is bewildering to me.

These are exactly the same thing, so thanks for proving my point.
They're not, unless you're just making up definitions for the words you're using.


Apologists for her writing (of which I used to be one, of a sort...I guess to some extent I still am) have been saying this for a decade or more now.

Well thats news to me, I havent felt that way until now. I've always thought she was a great character. Sorry you feel as if you have no hope left, I guess if I felt there was no hope for a character I really really really really really thought was GREAT I would be really upset as well.


Her passivity is not a quality of her character, it's a product of her forced positioning within the plot relative to other characters. It's the same lazy writing that afflicts Aqua throughout KH3, but for Kairi it's writ large throughout the series.

Is this because "passive" people are inherently bad or just boring in your opinion?
pas·siv·i·ty
/paˈsivədē,pəˈsivədē/
noun
noun: passivity
  1. 1.
    acceptance of what happens, without active response or resistance.
    "the perceived passivity of the populace is deceptive"
sounds like a character trait to me, but you're using it as a verb - as if Kairi has had no other choice but to go along with the plot for the plots sake. You can definitely say that and look at it that way if you want to, I choose to look at it differently. Even if Kairi hasn't had much control over the plot or her place within it, her acceptance of it and willingness to play a part is a testament to her spiritual strength as a character.


No, there isn't, your own clarification here issues a distinction without a difference. If you can't decisively argue that Kairi's role needs to be limited by definition, then you can't effectively support your claim that the critiques directed towards her are illegitimate.
I never said your critiques are illegitimate. You can have your opinion. You were incorrectly arguing that I was using logical fallacies.


By definition, supporting characters do not play huge roles. They play supporting roles. As you accurately suggest, if the role they play increases in scope, their category of characterization likewise changes. The mental gymnastics you're asserting here to avoid admitting that Kairi's apparent role is not consistent with her intended one nevertheless exemplifies and underscores that point.
Her categorization hardly matters. I would argue that she is not a main character because she is never playing the lead role, but you can argue she is a main character because her character is very significant to the plot. Are you aware these things are not an exact science? I also said supporting character's typically don't go through the hero's journey, but if they did that wouldn't necessarily stop them from being supporting characters.

Your attempts to scientifically map out "good" characters does not work. In real life all different types of people exist - they play roles of varying degree from different perspectives and their lives begin and end at different points of maturity. The fact that some people mature faster than others or play a seemingly larger role does not make their stories necessarily "better" than the person who grew up slower and played what appears to be a lesser role.

Since you've permitted me to hazard a guess: you also feel very strongly about the tradition of Japanese narration reflected by such culturally astute entries in the common lexicon as Shōgun and Memoirs of a Geisha.

It was filmed in New Zealand and Burbank, but, sure.

They were really straining for historical accuracy.

Not to disavow the notion that these traditions have had a credible impact on modern Japanese society (but then I don't fashion myself an expert in this arena), but I do think it's telling that your first point of reference in supplementation of the passive literary archetype you ascribe monolithically to eastern ("not western"?) worldviews is a reinterpretation of these historical modes of thinking by western writers, producers, and performers. Add to that the choice of buttressing your argument on a specific period of philosophy in which the social dynamics between men and women in Japan were pretty clear-cut and it's not hard to discern the style of "supportive archetype" on which you're seeking to rest your case.
Because you refuse to let the subject go and are completely unafraid of embarassing yourself I'm going to do it for you. Do your own research and if you want to debate the role the US played in the 1850's or how Bushido has impacted modern Japanese society I'll be happy to educate you on the subject in a private message, but there is too much I already have to sift through in your post as it is and this is off topic. I was originally only providing context which you decided to debate for no reason despite having no knowledge on the subject.

Yes. Secondarily.
I know putting words in my mouth is not above you, but you are actually attacking the motivation of my argument here which is a legitimate logical fallacy. No normal person would read what I wrote and say "but you think women should achieve their dreams secondarily to the roles they NEED to play as women". Jesus Christ. But in response, imo, whether to put your aspirations above your current circumstances is a decision made by each person as an individual.
 

*TwilightNight*

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Some head canons being mixed in to some of the replies.

Personally, I found Xion a nothing character. I've been very vocal for years about how I feel she was an unnecessary implementation to the series, and how over complicated the biological status of her being a replica is just to make certain she was a "girl". I don't recall Xion ever being "emotionally volatile" or this "angry" person aside from when she lost to Riku that one time, and if anything, she was much more pensive and quiet throughout the entirety of her arc. Her story is pretty much a rehash of elements, ideas, and existential issues that were already explored with both Riku Replica in CoM and Roxas in the prologue of KHII. Just more expanded to give 358/2 Days a semblance of a plot while Roxas, the main character, sits by eating ice cream on the clock tower and crying about being confused instead of actually driving the game he was supposed to the main character of. But then Xion would be even more unnecessary as is, so at his expense, he's an observer until the end of the game. This isn't about him though.

Some might argue that she's a deconstruction of fanfiction tropes, more so the 14th member fanfiction nonsense that ruled back in the day, but she played it straight in my opinion (Naminé does the deconstruction of the self insert, Mary Sue-type much better, because in the end of it all...excuse the language, she really got jack shit). You could tell from the ground up that she was built to be this tragic martyr and everything in the game had to assimilate into that intention to make sure it was tragic. It ended up losing my interest. From Saïx being the quintessential "bully" so someone could be particularly acid to her because she's "less than a Nobody" apparently to her Too Beautiful For This Sinful Earth glittery death scene along with an overly long French title for her theme. Xion's very Kairi-lite as much as Ventus is very Sora-lite (and those are the two characters I ultimately don't care about, yes, even less than Kairi). People forget that Kairi was once a very blunt (she takes jabs at Sora like a sport), spunky girl who eventually in KHII rebelled against her situated position on staying "safely" on the island while her two guy friends took care of things. There was this determination with her character that Xion very obviously emulates. I feel the only aspect Xion got from being Sora/part of Sora is his selflessness and sacrificial tendencies.

Which leads me to Kairi. Kairi lost whatever spark of personality she had back in KHII. As mentioned above, she used to have more energy, she was more excitable, adventurous, had no mouth filter on shading Sora (or Riku for that matter, goodness the hate she got for that "just the two of us" line) in the first two main games. By KHIII, for whatever reason, they situated her as more Naminé in temperament. She was more soft-spoken, more dainty, more meditative. Once she switched out of KHII Kairi's clothes, her disposition changed. In fact, she feels more like a love interest now than she ever was. It's great that she's finally being playable and they're making due with handing her a Keyblade yet it's meaningless if she's going to the sidelines again.

Simply put, Kairi is missed opportunity and lost potential of the highest caliber.

They almost got it in the beginning of III via giving her a goal that isn't Sora as she laments the sadness of Naminé's existence (in my opinion, her best character depth moment to date). I was like, wow, she may go in her own journey in trying to find a way to return her Nobody the same way Sora is doing for Roxas, and for that, she might have to visit her old home in Radient Garden, and we might find out things about her that we didn't know beforehand.

Instead, she got fridged and it was the most degrading act I've ever witnessed for a female character. There wasn't even any impact, in-universe and out, and Xehanort himself basically says and confirms that it was for Sora to get "some motivation". I genuinely laughed in disbelief because it was that bad. Nomura finally went all the way with her, huh.

I'm assuming Nomura was on some good high to think that this was even acceptable, yet in general his mindset when it comes to women is near abysmal. The female characters got paid dust in III. Naminé is only second to Kairi or perhaps in the same tier as her in terms of treatment. Skippable cut scene of her only voiced line, her "triumphant" return was relegated to being Riku Replica's trophy girl for his "sacrifice" through the use of Riku as representative. Riku Replica, who, aside from Naminé mind screwing him to the bone (he doesn't even know the actual girl, at least Sora expresses his desire to attempt to get to know her on legitimate terms) into liking her, had a heart to heart with Sora while he's laying on the floor short circuited, who post-CoM never had anything relating to him past a fleeting drawing in II. Instead of making it about her, it's all about him. You are going to cut off her relationships with Kairi, Roxas, Riku, Diz/Ansem, etc. for a character she did not ever particularly cared for in game? We don't even get her side of this situation, her feelings and thoughts are a non factor. Is it guilt? Is it regret? Is it wanting to amend? We're just going to go with the idea that suddenly they were bosom buddies with some strong connection since 5ever or whatnot. Right. And what is it with Nomura romanticizing mind manipulation? There is not anything sweet about a clone whose only ties to any person relies on false memories and a life he never had because there's nothing else to hold unto. Or it shouldn't be sweet when it comes to the actual manipulator.

Larxene, as a woman, can't have any decipherable motivation to join the Organization except to follow a man. And she's literally the last female character that it could ever be applied to in this series. Frankly, I raged (she's my favorite, clearsthroat).

Xion does what she's always done - cry and add dramatic inflation to her scenes to stimulate the heart strings of players because Tragic™.

Aqua, boy. Did she actually do anything significant for this war?

Welp.
 
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AmaryllisMoth

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I know this doesn't have a lot to do with the discussion, but since someone earlier was bringing up the Last Samurai...

It was filmed in New Zealand and Burbank, but, sure.

Just wanted to pitch in my own, relatively non-important, two cents and just mention that I can't speak for the whole movie but there actually were some scenes filmed here. In fact, the temple that was just down the road from my then-boyfriend's house in Himeji was featured and it suddenly got insanely more popular/busy with huge banners and stuff saying COME SEE THE TEMPLE FEATURED IN THE MOVIE!! WOW! TOM CRUISE WAS HERE! Can't speak for all of Japan, of course, but everyone I know loves that film and think its great to see Japan featured in an American Hollywood blockbuster.

I can't say that it is the best source of comparing/contrasting western vs eastern ideals in terms of characterization, but I just wanted to point out that (most) Japanese people (I know) really like that film generally and don't see it as a gross misrepresentation of their culture (the others don't really give it any thought, honestly) regardless of the fact that Tom Cruise is a white dude.
 

Elysium

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By KHIII, for whatever reason, they situated her as more Naminé in temperament. She was more soft-spoken, more dainty, more meditative. Once she switched out of KHII Kairi's clothes, her disposition changed. In fact, she feels more like a love interest now than she ever was. It's great that she's finally being playable and they're making due with handing her a Keyblade yet it's meaningless if she's going to the sidelines again.
Thinking about it, Kairi seems like a totally different person in every single game she's in. Kairi in KH2 feels nothing like the annoying girl from KH1. And KH3 Kairi is like an automaton, but, on the bright side, she got the best clothes of the three.

Which leads me to Kairi. Kairi lost whatever spark of personality she had back in KHII. As mentioned above, she used to have more energy, she was more excitable, adventurous, had no mouth filter on shading Sora (or Riku for that matter, goodness the hate she got for that "just the two of us" line) in the first two main games.
I still hate the character for that. Worst PoH ever. J/k. Well, sort of.

I really wish Namine had become the PoH in KH3. She would’ve rocked it. :(
 
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