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So go to KH3 no hint of Sokai?



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Nukara

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I am not an ardent shipper of this couple, but they say that the scene with paopu was not romantic, does this mean that other scenes in KH3, including the moment where Sora and Kairi held hands? (((
It was just that even to me, not a Sokai fan, it was obvious that this scene was quite romatic, including the parallel that was with Eugene and Rapunzel. Well, the end where Sora sacrificed his life to save Kairi seemed romantic to me too. Is shipping really dead like a canon? It’s just that some Sokai fans really started to bury this shipping after Nomura’s words. What upsets me personally. ((
 
 

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they say that the scene with paopu was not romantic, does this mean that other scenes in KH3, including the moment where Sora and Kairi held hands?
Who is the 'they' in that sentence?
 

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I mean, if you want them to be hints, nobody is stopping you. SoRiku fans use plenty of what is in the series to support that ship, so the same can go for SoKai too if you want it to.

Like, don't let anything stop you from shipping your ship. Shipping is about fun. Everybody's gonna talk shit about a pairing no matter what, anyways.

At the end of the day SoKai is not officially a canon pairing in the games nor are any other pairings.

Who is the 'they' in that sentence?
I'm assuming she means fans, and fans are referring to the VA interview with Miyano, Irino, and Uchida where Irino says that the paopu scene is platonic and kind of talks shit about SoKai for a bit lol.

But more on that when Goldpanner finishes that~
 
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Yeah like everyone said, I guess officially it wasn't meant to be explicitly romantic but you do you.

I know I certainly do when it comes to SoRiku lol
 

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I mean, if you want them to be hints, nobody is stopping you. SoRiku fans use plenty of what is in the series to support that ship, so the same can go for SoKai too if you want it to.

Like, don't let anything stop you from shipping your ship. Shipping is about fun. Everybody's gonna talk shit about a pairing no matter what, anyways.

At the end of the day SoKai is not officially a canon pairing in the games nor are any other pairings.



I'm assuming she means fans, and fans are referring to the VA interview with Miyano, Irino, and Uchida where Irino says that the paopu scene is platonic and kind of talks shit about SoKai for a bit lol.

But more on that when Goldpanner finishes that~
Official representatives for KH stated that the Sora/Kairi scenes were meant to be platonic? Is there an interview for this that can be read?
 

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Official representatives for KH stated that the Sora/Kairi scenes were meant to be platonic? Is there an interview for this that can be read?
They aren't really official representatives? It was voice actors talking amongst each other in a casual setting. Sora's VA basically doesn't think the sharing of the paopu fruit is necessarily indicative of romance/of them having become an official couple, and Riku's VA disagreed with him.
 

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The SoKai scenes can be taken as romantic if that’s what you prefer. I didn’t really interpret the paopu scene as romantic, more so platonic since Kairi was solidifying her desire to protect Sora with physical proof.

I don’t think they are ever going to make anything ‘official’ when it comes to romance in this series, it looks like they like to play coy with the hints though :p
 

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They aren't really official representatives? It was voice actors talking amongst each other in a casual setting. Sora's VA basically doesn't think the sharing of the paopu fruit is necessarily indicative of romance/of them having become an official couple, and Riku's VA disagreed with him.
Well I guess that it's just an opinion. I mean the papou is supposed to tie the people that share it for eternity, so if that's not romantic, I'm not sure what is?

The SoKai scenes can be taken as romantic if that’s what you prefer. I didn’t really interpret the paopu scene as romantic, more so platonic since Kairi was solidifying her desire to protect Sora with physical proof.

I don’t think they are ever going to make anything ‘official’ when it comes to romance in this series, it looks like they like to play coy with the hints though :p
I have a strange feeling that they might actually make things "official" in future games. They literally had Sora witness "true love" on several occasions in KH3, even mention that he has "a lot to learn about love", and even flash back to the moments of true love before saving Kairi. Plus the ending... THE HAND HOLDING... THE TEARS.
 

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Well I guess that it's just an opinion. I mean the papou is supposed to tie the people that share it for eternity, so if that's not romantic, I'm not sure what is?
They made the paopu platonic in BBS, so it isn't like they didn't make it possible to read the paopu both ways. With how awkward and anti-climatic the paopu scene is in KH3, I think that platonic is the best interpretation for that scene unless y'all like your romances anti-climatic and borderline uncomfortable?

I have a strange feeling that they might actually make things "official" in future games.
If Nomura didn't bother to go for it in KH3, the most hyped game of the entire franchise with millions of people anticipating it on top of the "build-up" done in earlier games, there is no way he's gonna do it in a game later on.

They literally had Sora witness "true love" on several occasions in KH3
Many of which where he thinks about Riku or following that world ends up in a cutscene where he mentions Riku or is with Riku?



even mention that he has "a lot to learn about love"
Yeah, because he does. Sora, despite being one of the most loving characters of the series, has never really associated love with himself in regards to others. Also, he has a major lack of self-love. That wasn't just a line about him learning about romantic love, but understanding the power of love in all of its forms. The Final World makes that point pretty clear by the various stars, not his interactions with Kairi.

and even flash back to the moments of true love before saving Kairi.
Never does it show that "true love" is romantic love (unless y'all wanna imply Elsa and Anna are romantic love then uh no bye) All it is showing is that love is a powerful, saving force.

Sora never saved Kairi, though? Kairi saved Sora.

Plus the ending...
I don't have anything to use a rebuttal against that, but that whole scene is misleading and has a lot of stuff going on between the fact Sora doesn't actually tighten or readjust his hand around Kairi's and that is was mostly a goodbye so it can still be platonic if one wanted to read it as such.

THE HAND HOLDING...


THE TEARS.
 

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The romantic implications between Sora and Kairi throughout the series is an odd one. KH1 and KH2 do both put them in a romantic light (Sora isn't imagining himself dancing with Kairi for nothin' honey.) CoM and Days also do this albeit with telling and not showing. But then we have Coded which doesn't have a Data Kairi at all despite her appearing in official art for the game, DDD in which she's never mentioned until the secret ending, and now with KH3 where once again Sora never once thinks about her unless she's standing right there (out of sight out of mind I guess...)

Boy's never "I wonder how Kairi is doing." It's always "Riku" this and "Riku" that and "I gotta tell Riku what a blast this place is."

Gee Sora, maybe Kairi would like to visit San Fransokyo to, ya dumb.
 

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They made the paopu platonic in BBS, so it isn't like they didn't make it possible to read the paopu both ways. With how awkward and anti-climatic the paopu scene is in KH3, I think that platonic is the best interpretation for that scene unless y'all like your romances anti-climatic and borderline uncomfortable?



If Nomura didn't bother to go for it in KH3, the most hyped game of the entire franchise with millions of people anticipating it on top of the "build-up" done in earlier games, there is no way he's gonna do it in a game later on.



Many of which where he thinks about Riku or following that world ends up in a cutscene where he mentions Riku or is with Riku?





Yeah, because he does. Sora, despite being one of the most loving characters of the series, has never really associated love with himself in regards to others. Also, he has a major lack of self-love. That wasn't just a line about him learning about romantic love, but understanding the power of love in all of its forms. The Final World makes that point pretty clear by the various stars, not his interactions with Kairi.



Never does it show that "true love" is romantic love (unless y'all wanna imply Elsa and Anna are romantic love then uh no bye) All it is showing is that love is a powerful, saving force.

Sora never saved Kairi, though? Kairi saved Sora.



I don't have anything to use a rebuttal against that, but that whole scene is misleading and has a lot of stuff going on between the fact Sora doesn't actually tighten or readjust his hand around Kairi's and that is was mostly a goodbye so it can still be platonic if one wanted to read it as such.







Why do you have to ruin my post with Sora/Riku shipping :'(

I don't see why Nomura had to pull the trigger in KH3 on Sora/Kairi just because it was the most anticipated KH game with millions watching. Clearly Nomura rather tell a story than worry about fan service just because the eye balls are watching. If Nomura cared about doing stuff just as the fans expected/wanted it just because KH3 was highly anticipated, I'm pretty sure that what we got would NOT be the game he would have released.

I feel like all the moments of "love" and talk of love in this game - a first for any KH game (at least on this level where it follows Sora beyond a Disney world) - felt like development for Sora to me. I think Nomura is telling the story of Kairi loving Sora and Sora being too dumb to realize it until things go catastrophically wrong. I feel like Sora actually started loving Kairi in KH3 (near the end of the game) and was just an oblivious boy having fun up until now. That's why he was always more focused with Riku until the end when he goes after Kairi.

On top of all of that, Kairi writing to Sora while in the Secret Forest makes me believe that she loves him and is just waiting for him to reciprocate. In KH2 she was writing to Sora and in KH3 she was as well. Kairi's love letter opened the door to light in KH2 and Kairi's love for Sora literally saved him from dying in KH3.

The romantic implications between Sora and Kairi throughout the series is an odd one. KH1 and KH2 do both put them in a romantic light (Sora isn't imagining himself dancing with Kairi for nothin' honey.) CoM and Days also do this albeit with telling and not showing. But then we have Coded which doesn't have a Data Kairi at all despite her appearing in official art for the game, DDD in which she's never mentioned until the secret ending, and now with KH3 where once again Sora never once thinks about her unless she's standing right there (out of sight out of mind I guess...)

Boy's never "I wonder how Kairi is doing." It's always "Riku" this and "Riku" that and "I gotta tell Riku what a blast this place is."

Gee Sora, maybe Kairi would like to visit San Fransokyo to, ya dumb.
Sora wanted to bring Kairi back to NeverLand. In Halloween Town he thought about dancing with Kairi. In Pride Lands, Sora talks about Kairi seeing him like a lion cub. The Gummiphone doesn't work in The Secret Forest, so that's why Sora never bothered facetiming/texting her.
 

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The romantic implications between Sora and Kairi throughout the series is an odd one. KH1 and KH2 do both put them in a romantic light (Sora isn't imagining himself dancing with Kairi for nothin' honey.) CoM and Days also do this albeit with telling and not showing.
This is honestly where the games lost me on trying to convince me to like SoKai. The series likes telling us that Kairi is important to Sora, post-KH2 but it never does it in a way that moved their relationship forward or showed us anything new from their past. It's always about the interactions between other characters or in relation to plot developments. That isn't how you sell a romance, let alone any meaningful relationship.

Even in KH2 Sora spends so much time thinking about Kairi as she was, and is really awkward in a confused way when faced with Kairi as she is in the present. It's not even in a way that one would see when facing a crush of theirs, but rather in a genuinely confused manner because she isn't want he thought she'd be.

But then we have Coded which doesn't have a Data Kairi at all despite her appearing in official art for the game, DDD in which she's never mentioned until the secret ending
Which is what is baffling to me. Coded could have been the perfect place to reintroduce the concept of Kairi as a love interest if that was what they wanted. KH3D could have done it as well.

Instead both games go to extreme lengths to really solidify Sora and Riku's friendship and the lengths both would go for each other. I will always be grateful for that kind of development for those two, but I really never liked that it came at the expensive of shoving Kairi out of their trio.

Even BBS could have been a great way to establish Sora and Kairi's first meeting if they had bothered to care about that relationship. Imagine if they had shown Kairi arriving to DI during the meteor shower and show Sora and Riku finding her on the shore?

and now with KH3 where once again Sora never once thinks about her unless she's standing right there (out of sight out of mind I guess...)
Even in sight he kinda just ignores her up until Kairi shoves a paopu into his face. Also when Kairi gets kidnapped he's super upset, but then goes right back to cheerful?

Boy's never "I wonder how Kairi is doing." It's always "Riku" this and "Riku" that and "I gotta tell Riku what a blast this place is."

Gee Sora, maybe Kairi would like to visit San Fransokyo to, ya dumb.
There were a ton of these moments where I was waiting for Sora to mention Kairi and it just didn't happen. Not even a damn phone call?
 

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If there is one thing Sora definitely needs a lot more of is self-love. That boy really needs to stop sacrificing himself at every chance he gets. Kairi and Riku need to hang more too. Those two have a severe lack of chemistry!
 

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Why do you have to ruin my post with Sora/Riku shipping :'(

I don't see why Nomura had to pull the trigger in KH3 on Sora/Kairi just because it was the most anticipated KH game with millions watching. Clearly Nomura rather tell a story than worry about fan service just because the eye balls are watching. If Nomura cared about doing stuff just as the fans expected/wanted it just because KH3 was highly anticipated, I'm pretty sure that what we got would NOT be the game he would have released.

I feel like all the moments of "love" and talk of love in this game - a first for any KH game (at least on this level where it follows Sora beyond a Disney world) - felt like development for Sora to me. I think Nomura is telling the story of Kairi loving Sora and Sora being too dumb to realize it until things go catastrophically wrong. I feel like Sora actually started loving Kairi in KH3 (near the end of the game) and was just an oblivious boy having fun up until now. That's why he was always more focused with Riku until the end when he goes after Kairi.

On top of all of that, Kairi writing to Sora while in the Secret Forest makes me believe that she loves him and is just waiting for him to reciprocate. In KH2 she was writing to Sora and in KH3 she was as well. Kairi's love letter opened the door to light in KH2 and Kairi's love for Sora literally saved him from dying in KH3.


Sora wanted to bring Kairi back to NeverLand. In Halloween Town he thought about dancing with Kairi. In Pride Lands, Sora talks about Kairi seeing him like a lion cub. The Gummiphone doesn't work in The Secret Forest, so that's why Sora never bothered facetiming/texting her.
I'm pretty much on that same boat. Like, I understand why people think this way and it's not a bad thing but all the Sora and Kairi scenes are very clearly romantically implied. I don"t see how it isn't, even if the paopu fruit can be seen as just friendship. It never feels that with Sora and Kairi, regardless of if the relationship is done well narratively. It's still very much there. I could never see the scenes that Sora has with Kairi replaced with Riku. Sora and Riku have a very different dynamic then Sora and Kairi, at least from my point of view. Like, the scenes with Sora and Riku are great but I never saw them as romantically implied (Yeah, I know, the unreleased novels exist. I know. Dont @ me lol) I mean, Sora has known Riku for much, much longer then Kairi before she ended on the Islands, so I would've already figured they'd have a different kind of dynamic then Sora and Kairi.

Besides, I always got the impression that Sora was never the brightest bulb when it came to love. Like, beyond friendship love. Keep in mind, they are still teenagers. Some teenagers are more foward then others; some are just trying to figure it out, so they still with their friends for the most part. Looking at it in that light, the Kairi/Sora dynamic seems a lot more compelling; a love story about two childhood friends who slowly fall for each other but only one of them isnt ready to move to the next level especially by the end of KH3 when Sora is being saved by Kairi in the darkness and he flashes back to those moments of sacrifice on the Disney worlds. At that moment he understood, which is why he didnt hesistate to go off and find her at the end of the game.

I mean, Sora literally said "I thought we'd finally be together" What else would that be implying at all? They were already back on Desinty islands by KH2, so what else could mean other then "I finally figured I want to be with this person but my archenemies slice her into ice and exploded"

Again, the relationship obviously need some fine tuning but their is potential there. I guess I was never that critical of it considering that they are young teenagers and Sora, being very different from most people in general, would have a hard time understanding a deeper connection that isnt just friendship or brotherhood. I know the forum doesnt like discussing or hate that most shows focus on romantic elements rather then friendships but romantic relationships do tend to have deeper connections for the most part. It varies but romantic relationships are not just something people stumbled into... I mean, they do but it never works out because it always requires something deeper. Sharing a life with someone is much deeper then just a friendship and requires more commitment and dedication. That's not something most teenagers understand or they take that connection for granted in some aspects.

Although I know lost fans dont like it when the series focuses on other themes that aren't friendships but I would like for the series to explore other relationships dynamics in the next arc. Which I guess it sort of has but the emphasis has always been friendship and never just "the different kinds of love and relationships you can have with others people" which is something always bothered me by the series' themes as a whole.
 
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Why do you have to ruin my post with Sora/Riku shipping :'(
To make a point. You pointed to handholding and tears as proof rather than pointing at the emotions expressed or how these scenes were framed in these moments which speak more to their "romance" rather than the suggested acts themselves.

I don't see why Nomura had to pull the trigger in KH3 on Sora/Kairi just because it was the most anticipated KH game with millions watching. Clearly Nomura rather tell a story than worry about fan service just because the eye balls are watching. If Nomura cared about doing stuff just as the fans expected/wanted it just because KH3 was highly anticipated, I'm pretty sure that what we got would NOT be the game he would have released.
Arendelle is pretty much a fan service world and offered nothing of value to the series. Same with Winnie the Pooh as it is massively popular in Japan. All of the reunions were barebones and only served the audiences who have been waiting to see these characters reunite after so many years of being apart.

Nomura may not have been delivering everything the fans had been begging for, but he was definitely trying to reach certain expectations set by the fans in KH3.

I don't see why SoKai would have been an exception. Why go for the paopu sharing moment in the least exciting or built-up scene in the entire game when it has been the very foundation of their romance? Why not spend a lot of KH3 trying to build up their relationship rather than waiting for the last 2 hours of the game to add it in? Why even have them share it if the scene is platonic?

Sora could have been oblivious about his feelings and still thought about Kairi in those moments he saw just like he did in past games.

I feel like all the moments of "love" and talk of love in this game - a first for any KH game (at least on this level where it follows Sora beyond a Disney world) - felt like development for Sora to me. I think Nomura is telling the story of Kairi loving Sora and Sora being too dumb to realize it until things go catastrophically wrong. I feel like Sora actually started loving Kairi in KH3 (near the end of the game) and was just an oblivious boy having fun up until now. That's why he was always more focused with Riku until the end when he goes after Kairi.
That really never stopped Sora from thinking about Sora before in KH1 or KH2, though? He would think of her plenty in those games, especially in romantic moments. That is 100% missing from KH3 up until the last 2 hours of the game, and one of those moments he think about in relation to love is a platonic relationship.

So you are saying that Sora only starts thinking about Kairi now because he was too oblivious to his feelings when he easily recognized those feelings before in the past? I'm not buying it.

If the story is about those two falling in love for each other, again, this is really a shitty way to do it.

On top of all of that, Kairi writing to Sora while in the Secret Forest makes me believe that she loves him and is just waiting for him to reciprocate. In KH2 she was writing to Sora and in KH3 she was as well. Kairi's love letter opened the door to light in KH2 and Kairi's love for Sora literally saved him from dying in KH3.
Kairi's power and Riku's words both kept Sora from fading, though.

The letter is not proof of romantic intent, though. It's just her writing down her thoughts about her training and her hope that Sora can keep being a beacon of hope for others. Nothing about that is inherently romantic.
 

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The sad truth is that the only reason these scenes carry any romantic subtext at all is because Nomura is either uninterested in or incapable of conceptualizing another way to integrate Kairi into the story, so her role acts as a holdover from an outdated narrative direction and it shows. Whereas Sora and Riku have matured and developed a new dynamic, Kairi is "Sora's light" and that's it for her. Which is why it's to be expected that in DDD2 Kairi will be told by Riku or Mickey or Force Ghost Xehanort that she needs to wait on DI to be the beacon guiding Sora's way back, while Riku goes off to find him. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that Nomura considers KH3 an end to Kairi's arc in the series-- it closes the symbolic reference to the paopu as iconography and, beyond that, there's no intrinsic purpose left to Kairi as a character.
 

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I don't see why Nomura had to pull the trigger in KH3 on Sora/Kairi just because it was the most anticipated KH game with millions watching. Clearly Nomura rather tell a story than worry about fan service just because the eye balls are watching. If Nomura cared about doing stuff just as the fans expected/wanted it just because KH3 was highly anticipated, I'm pretty sure that what we got would NOT be the game he would have released.
I think the point here is that KH3 would've been the expected place to confirm SoKai outright if they were ever going to, because it's the culmination of everything that's happened this saga. With KH1 ending with Kairi seeing the cave drawing, KH2 ending with Sora finding Kairi's drawing, even a SoKai hater like me expected that KH3 would end with Sora and Kairi confirming their feelings and possibly swapping spit. As it is, you can see the events of KH3 as romantic for Sora and Kairi if you choose to, but Nomura didn't make it blatant the way a canon romance would--should--be. And if he didn't do it in this game, where it would've made sense to do so, I feel more confident in saying that it's never going to happen now than I would have pre-KH3.

Kairi's love for Sora literally saved him from dying in KH3.
I still can't help wondering if the paopu had something to do with this. The way it's explained in-game is simply that Kairi believed he couldn't be gone and so he wasn't gone. I can only guess she believed this because they shared a paopu just prior, to (in her words) make sure they wouldn't be separated again. Superstitions saved Sora's life?
 

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I am not an ardent shipper of this couple, but they say that the scene with paopu was not romantic, does this mean that other scenes in KH3, including the moment where Sora and Kairi held hands? (((
It was just that even to me, not a Sokai fan, it was obvious that this scene was quite romatic, including the parallel that was with Eugene and Rapunzel. Well, the end where Sora sacrificed his life to save Kairi seemed romantic to me too. Is shipping really dead like a canon? It’s just that some Sokai fans really started to bury this shipping after Nomura’s words. What upsets me personally. ((
The question is: Since when is hand holding purely romantic? How many characters in this game have already held hands in some way? Even at the ending when Sora was holding her hand it could simply mean that he wanted to make her happy or comfort her before he goes away. I mean if hand holding is romantic then does that mean that SoRi is confirmed? Since Sora was holding his hand and crying tears and saying how much he was looking for him.

The thing about Sora: He is a selfless guy. If this was Donald, Goofy, Riku or anyone else missing he would have done the exact same. Heck I would even say that he would have broken down and cried too if it had been one of his other good friends. Thats just his character.

Anything else in the game, be it the fruit scene or the hand holding while flying towards the Light was also something that Kairi started. Its never shown to be done by Sora which makes this feel more and more one-sided. Kairi deeply cares/likes him which means that she is often talking about him even with other characters and passively uses her power to also only save him..but Sora is shown to care about all his friends. I mean its his friends that are his power not romantic love. ;)

The paopu scene could have been a way to make them canon but Nomura did not do that. He even seemingly said to the VA that this was not meant to be romantic and even wondered if he should do it without the fruit because he feared that people might see it as romantic. Even without that I never liked the scene because it felt like Soras heart was not in it and even Kairis words did not feel like a "I love you" or anything similiar to that. Yet you also have some people that see this as being similiar to a wedding even though the game never had stated that sharing a paopu fruit was romantic only..(and if it would be...what does the paopu keychain on Sora and Rikus combined keyblade say about that?)

In the end it could of course become canon somewhere in the future but right now they are not. And right now you can still see all the scenes that they are together and see them as purely friendship. Especially since they even used Frozen in the Light scene, a world that was about true love between sisters and not lovers.

They aren't really official representatives? It was voice actors talking amongst each other in a casual setting. Sora's VA basically doesn't think the sharing of the paopu fruit is necessarily indicative of romance/of them having become an official couple, and Riku's VA disagreed with him.
I have just read on twitter that seemingly the VA said that Nomura told them that he does not want it to be seen as romantic and that they even had two different scenes for that, one with the fruit and one without. Which is kinda telling if that should have been THE SoKai shipping moment.
 

Face My Fears

She's not an "it"!
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To make a point. You pointed to handholding and tears as proof rather than pointing at the emotions expressed or how these scenes were framed in these moments which speak more to their "romance" rather than the suggested acts themselves.



Arendelle is pretty much a fan service world and offered nothing of value to the series. Same with Winnie the Pooh as it is massively popular in Japan. All of the reunions were barebones and only served the audiences who have been waiting to see these characters reunite after so many years of being apart.

Nomura may not have been delivering everything the fans had been begging for, but he was definitely trying to reach certain expectations set by the fans in KH3.

I don't see why SoKai would have been an exception. Why go for the paopu sharing moment in the least exciting or built-up scene in the entire game when it has been the very foundation of their romance? Why not spend a lot of KH3 trying to build up their relationship rather than waiting for the last 2 hours of the game to add it in? Why even have them share it if the scene is platonic?

Sora could have been oblivious about his feelings and still thought about Kairi in those moments he saw just like he did in past games.



That really never stopped Sora from thinking about Sora before in KH1 or KH2, though? He would think of her plenty in those games, especially in romantic moments. That is 100% missing from KH3 up until the last 2 hours of the game, and one of those moments he think about in relation to love is a platonic relationship.

So you are saying that Sora only starts thinking about Kairi now because he was too oblivious to his feelings when he easily recognized those feelings before in the past? I'm not buying it.

If the story is about those two falling in love for each other, again, this is really a shitty way to do it.



Kairi's power and Riku's words both kept Sora from fading, though.

The letter is not proof of romantic intent, though. It's just her writing down her thoughts about her training and her hope that Sora can keep being a beacon of hope for others. Nothing about that is inherently romantic.
I know a lot of people doubt Nomura, but I feel like his plans post-KH3 will heavily revolve around Sora/Kairi's relationship. Sora's statement about how his journey began the day Kairi left did not seem random at all. Especially because that statement comes at the end of the game, I feel like Nomura wanted to hold off on anything Kairi related until he decides what to do with her (whether she is Ava or somehow connected to the foretellers).

I just assumed that Sora hand holding and crying for Riku was just because he was his best friend, but Kairi is a girl. So I thought the context immediately changed for her. Whenever he is teased about Kairi in a romantic context, he blushes or gets flustered. He may not have actively admitted these feelings to himself UNTIL he sees Kairi die in front of him. Maybe he was avoiding Kairi for this journey because he was trying to focus on ending the chaos?

They're not falling in love with each other - Kairi already loves Sora and Sora realizes his feelings when Kairi dies. The romance story can officially start after KH3. I don't see why it's so hard to buy that.
 
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