Villain by Necessity
People said that after KH1. And after KH2. And after every other game this character has so much as been mentioned in. Yes, theoretically, on paper, she "has potential." She is a PoH (which has barely any real relevance anymore), she lived on Radiant Garden (a world Nomura couldn't even include in a game it was relevant in), she was used as a pawn by Xehanort (a character who is supposed to have been done-zo), etc. etc. I've heard this all a million times over. And yet none of that has ever once translated onscreen, whether we're talking about KH1 or any other game in this series. Even if she does suddenly get a huge amount of attention now, it's not going to really be Kairi because Kairi never had a character to begin with, which is why I thought the word "facelift" was an appropriate one here. We might as well consider whoever she'll be to be a new character entirely.The potential and personality was there.
I get where you're coming from also. Let's get down to brass tacks, your post comes from a place of ship wars over Riku v. Kairi, which is why I don't attach much sentiment to it other than a desire to disagree for the sake of it. Kairi would still be uninteresting even if Riku didn't exist. For me, nothing you could say changes the reality which is that there is no there there with Kairi and never has been. Nomura clearly also felt that way? I'd rather play as a character who can actually make the most of more screentime. Unfortunately, not all things the fanbase clamors for are for the better. Sort of like how all the complaining about KH1 Atlantica lead to no water / swimming environments for the next two decades of the franchise, the obsession over Kairi just means we're going to be foisted with a hollow character in a role she doesn't have the capacity to fill adequately.