The treatment of women in this series



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Divine Past

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Today on tumblr, I wrote up a quick "what if" situation that I think is 10 times better than what happened in game.

"If Nomura absolutely NEEDED Kairi to be kidnapped, at least make it interesting??

What if instead of Xehanort just floating Kairi to her death, he has her in a contained area with him (ala Aqua creating a barrier to hold herself and Vanitas) and he forces Kairi to fight, knowing he’d win. Of course Kairi does lose. She wouldn’t be able to win against freakin’ Xehanort. It’s a totally reasonable conclusion and I don’t think anyone would blame her for that.

But you know what? Kairi is a princess of heart. Why not let her deal a substantial blow in exchange for her life, taking Xehanort down a few pegs for the rest of the game???

Why not give her a Sora sacrifice moment? Or a Riku behind the door moment? She’d turn to Sora with a smile like, “I’ve done what I can. You take care of the rest, Sora.” and she disappears into crystal sparkles and Xehanort gets his 13th key for a price.

Sora would still be upset. Everyone would. But you go into the final battle knowing Kairi is the one that gave you an advantage. The crack in Xehanort’s defenses that Sora needed to ultimately win.

Maybe the reason Xehanort was all weird and divided when you first get to Scala ad Caelum is because Kairi jacked him up real good and he got split into pieces? She would’ve basically given you this big opening and Sora + other characters wouldn’t fail to mention it.

Anything is better than what Nomura wrote and I still don’t know why people defend it."

One of the worst parts is we are supposed to care about Sora's death when about 30 minutes earlier I saw Sora and his friends come back from death.
 

kirabook

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I don't mind Sora's death actually. Just hated how it happened. Would've preferred it happen on screen. Like when he was resealing KH or something.
 

Divine Past

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In my mind if Sora had to die for Normura's vision of KH4 I would have rather he made a sacrifice to save all of his friends rather just Kairi since we already saw him do it KH1.

Like something you mention Kira and I thought about too in you could have a scenario where KH was going to do something bad, so Sora decided to keep all of his friends on the other side at Keyblade Graveyard as Sora sealed the pathway on his side with the strong implication he was giving up his life to save all of his friends. At least that will be something we have not seen Sora do yet.
 

AdrianXXII

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Anything is better than what Nomura wrote and I still don’t know why people defend it."


Because it's seemingly flawless and if we have a problem with it, it's us who are at fault, because of our awful bias of wanting to see female characters have more agency.

But in all seriousness I like your idea.

It's a bit of a shame that Nomura never even considered what kind of combat applications the power of a PoH could have.

Like something you mention Kira and I thought about too in you could have a scenario where KH was going to do something bad, so Sora decided to keep all of his friends on the other side at Keyblade Graveyard as Sora sealed the pathway on his side with the strong implication he was giving up his life to save all of his friends. At least that will be something we have not seen Sora do yet.
I like this idea especially combined with Kira's. This way the next game could start with Riku on a quest to resurrect and save both of his friends, giving us more insight to his friendship with Kairi.
 
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You say this like its all a problem... but the story is written from Sora's perspective. We aren't told all of Kairi's motivations because they're not relevant to this story, although we are told more than enough to show how much she cares for Sora. She has a few conversations with Sora throughout the game, but for the most part giving her a more prominent role as a fighter and more dialogue wouldn't do a whole lot for this game although I would also have liked to see it. What is relevant is whether or not Kairi has the strength of will to back Sora up when he needs it and she does. That is all that we really need to see as a viewer to show how strong Kairi is.

Her character rises to every occasion presented to her even when she's at risk or isn't able to do a whole lot. That is both the strength and bravery of her character - I don't see why anyone would undermine these good qualities just because she wasn't a strong fighter in the game. In my opinion that is a disgusting way to think about her.

I'm sorry you think she was written bad, but she didn't need to be a particularly well written character in this story.

And of course her role in this story is proportional to how much Sora needs her. That was actually one of the main themes of this story wasn't it? How much Kairi means to Sora? She was a damsel in distress before she even went to the keyblade graveyard because Sora had already resolved to protecting her - he told her as much. And Kairi said the same to him. The fact that the story worked out the way it did was both because its Sora's story, hes the only one who couldve killed Xehanort, and because the story wanted to show how much Sora was willing to do to rescue Kairi in the end. It was all done to show the resolve of Soras character and his love for Kairi - if you go from that to saying this story is bad because it uses a trope almost as old as time itself to progress its story then you are the one at fault here. Your personal bias is not allowing you to see the value in this story.
The story is not written solely from Sora's perspective. There are many scenes which take place in which Sora is not even present (Riku & Mickey in the RoD, most of the Organization stuff, even scenes featuring Kairi herself in the Hyperbolic Forest with Axel), and many in which the lead within the narrative shifts between him and other characters.

For someone who, in bold type no less, proclaims that another person's bias is coloring their view of the story, you are very obviously leaning into your own bias, which according to your own commentary permits that it is acceptable to write a female character poorly, if it benefits the interests of a male protagonist. You defend this model of engagement using two lines of reasoning: 1) it is not essential to understand Kairi's motivations in order for the plot to work, and 2) this is OK because the "trope is as old as time itself."

Let me deal with point number 2 first: your appeal to tradition. There are many tropes and traditions within storytelling, and its accompanying methods, which are recognized to be intolerable in a modern context, both for reasons of heightened social awareness and because of aesthetic transitions out of certain cultural tastes and into others which causes some cliches to fall out of popular favor. The Minstrel Show was one of the most popular genres of live performance in the 19th and 20th Centuries in the United States, and while its enduring impact on the legacy of Black representation as iconography is still felt throughout the American media sphere, minstrelsy itself has become rightfully connoted with societal themes of racism, marginalization, appropriation, cultural and economic impoverishment, etc. and is no longer a popular form of entertainment. Silent movies, on the other hand, have become primarily novel relics of a time before dialogue and picture could be recorded and mixed in synchronicity and aside from statement features which specifically seek to assess the artistic value of silence as stylization, the cinematic standard is now sound films (in color, no less!). The transition from silence to sound affected the performances of actors (including which actors were considered viable) and the manner in which scenes should be shot, which ultimately affected the presentation of the material which, in turn, had an impact in which tools and tropes and even genres retained a popular function and which fell by the wayside-- we've seen a similar realignment over the recent advancements in computer graphics. We can apply this same strain of logic to Kingdom Hearts 3 itself, which uses *gasp* updated graphics, disc capacity, and advancements in gaming hardware-- and even some awareness of the emerging tastes of its aging core audience-- to frame the story it wants to tell, which means that it does not behoove the game in any way to subscribe to "tropes as old as time itself" merely on the basis of their perceived longevity, anymore than it would definitely benefit the game to run on outdated hardware with lower graphical fidelity as a matter of maintaining tradition. Good authors and good game developers (like good characters) evolve with time, information and experience: bad ones metastasize. The bias inherent to your argument places it firmly in the latter camp, which is to say that kind of thinking is social cancer.

To point 1, since we have established that is not automatically beneficial or even acceptable to take a well-trodden path on the basis of mere precedence, then it should be reasonable to assume that it is not beneficial or acceptable to treat women as props and plot fodder for men in a narrative simply because that has been done in stories spanning back through humankind's historical memory. And here's where "the agenda" enters the dialogue, because the truth is, yes, I absolutely have a bias. I am biased in my belief that, basically, all characters appearing within a story should be written well for the sake of enhancing the positive qualities of the story (which stems from my biased belief that all stories should be well written), and also that within our present cultural context there is an additional incentive to write cultural minorities (women, PoC, queer folks, people with disabilities, etc.) with particular awareness and sensitivity as storytelling is ultimately a political act with social consequences, so it should be measured as a matter of public good and held to the high standards that entails. i.e. If someone writes a story with blatantly or subtly racist coding in overt or covert defense of those value systems which is intended for public consumption, they're engaging in a harmful act towards society and the quality of their work as it pertains to its social utility should then be measured on that basis.

So to your point that it doesn't matter if Kairi is well written because she serves her purpose, I have two replies:

First, if that claim can assume to be held true, then it doesn't matter if anything in KH3 is well written so long as it serves its purpose. The reason to write a thing well is for the self-fulfilling fact of having done so, otherwise there is no incentive to write at all and we might as well just exchange white sheets of construction paper with stick figures scribbled all over them and the words KINGDOM HEARTS 3 smeared with glitter glue along the margins and call it a day. It would be the same story, just told more coherently with less finesse, but it serves its purpose so who cares, right?

And second, it does matter that Kairi is well written because part of KH3's social mandate is to fulfill the interests and expectations of its audience (along with, yes, those of its author). And given that half of the franchise's audience is women and the rest is polysexual men and nonbinary witches, it can't fully succeed as a story without treating its girls like actual heroines and grounding them in a sense of real agency and autonomy-- it simply doesn't meet its mandate. It might be considered a "partial" success or people will lean into the ever applicable defense mechanism, YMMV, but it will never be considered a classic or a truly great story, just a middling, "divisive" piece of pop fanfic that 90% of its fanbase could have done better justice.

But it's OK, you're free to keep pretending I'm the only person in the world who's taken issue with this and that it's solely my failure to comprehend the deep value of this story, since it's clear you need a scapegoat.
 

OneDandelion

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first of all youre wrong to say kh3 has multiple character leads. There are other kh games that have other character leads but kh3 is not one of them. Just because there are cutscenes that dont feature sora doesnt mean the story doesnt revolve around him. There are many major characters but the overarching theme of this story undoubtably revolves around Sora.

Second of all I never said "the damsel in distress trope has existed for a long time so its perfectly fine." I cited the longevity of that trope as evidence of our human nature. Women in distress have been a hugely motivating factor of men to act for thousands of years - tell me, how this is any different in our modern era? And if it is not why isnt it a perfectly valid motivational tool to advance a plot or for character development?

Third, i didnt say we dont need to understand her motivation. I said we already understand her motivation well enough that it didnt really need to be further expanded upon in this story...

How about you spend less time writing full essay length responses to posts and spend a little more time understanding the argument of the person youre responding to. Wither youre intentionally misrepresenting me or youre just reading words you want to see
 

Snortlax

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first of all youre wrong to say kh3 has multiple character leads. There are other kh games that have other character leads but kh3 is not one of them. Just because there are cutscenes that dont feature sora doesnt mean the story doesnt revolve around him. There are many major characters but the overarching theme of this story undoubtably revolves around Sora.

Second of all I never said "the damsel in distress trope has existed for a long time so its perfectly fine." I cited the longevity of that trope as evidence of our human nature. Women in distress have been a hugely motivating factor of men to act for thousands of years - tell me, how this is any different in our modern era? And if it is not why isnt it a perfectly valid motivational tool to advance a plot or for character development?

Third, i didnt say we dont need to understand her motivation. I said we already understand her motivation well enough that it didnt really need to be further expanded upon in this story...

How about you spend less time writing full essay length responses to posts and spend a little more time understanding the argument of the person youre responding to. Wither youre intentionally misrepresenting me or youre just reading words you want to see
who cares about the treatment of wemen in kingdom hearts 3 it’s a video game, they have no meaning in real life if they got mistreated or not

kairi got killed by xehanort so what that’s how the story was written as a non fictional story

this argument is turning into off topic related conversations that have 6 paragraphs in it, just pm each other and battle it out there

better yet have a Skype conference call with all your kh debate team to discuss about how wemen got treated in kingdom hearts

this topic is being brought up every day lmao

someone lock it
 

Sora2016

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who cares about the treatment of wemen in kingdom hearts 3 it’s a video game, they have no meaning in real life if they got mistreated or not

kairi got killed by xehanort so what that’s how the story was written as a non fictional story

this argument is turning into off topic related conversations that have 6 paragraphs in it, just pm each other and battle it out there

better yet have a Skype conference call with all your kh debate team to discuss about how wemen got treated in kingdom hearts

this topic is being brought up every day lmao

someone lock it
Orrrrr, you could stop telling the mods what to do and just not come into the thread lol.

Also the treatment of minorities in fictional writing does affect real life, it affects how they see themselves and also how others see them
 
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rac7d

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who cares about the treatment of wemen in kingdom hearts 3 it’s a video game, they have no meaning in real life if they got mistreated or not

kairi got killed by xehanort so what that’s how the story was written as a non fictional story

this argument is turning into off topic related conversations that have 6 paragraphs in it, just pm each other and battle it out there

better yet have a Skype conference call with all your kh debate team to discuss about how wemen got treated in kingdom hearts

this topic is being brought up every day lmao

someone lock it
Xheanort Kidnapped Kairi and killed her to motivate sora into doing what he wanted. For decades women have been used as tools rather then people and its sad to see this from square again after the disaster with Luna Freya

"Needless violence against a woman character who is only significant as an object of a male character's desire? Hot damn!"

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WomenInRefrigerators
 

kirabook

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To add to the changes I suggested earlier, I think the worst thing about this Kairi situation is no acknowledgement from the villain. Kairi is a princess of heart, one of the lights holding the entire universe together. Sure, she would probably be replaced upon her death, but surely Xehanort would take extra interest in her right? A princess of heart, of of the lights that supposedly broke off from the keyblade, could recomplete it again. If only because Xehanort is a cruel weirdo, surely that would be a fun thing to do in his mind?

But he never acknowledges her. Her never really mentions what she is. He has no interest in her whatsoever other than to get on Sora's nerves a little bit.

I don't understand how all these opportunities to make things more thematic were overlooked.
 

AdrianXXII

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To add to the changes I suggested earlier, I think the worst thing about this Kairi situation is no acknowledgement from the villain. Kairi is a princess of heart, one of the lights holding the entire universe together. Sure, she would probably be replaced upon her death, but surely Xehanort would take extra interest in her right? A princess of heart, of of the lights that supposedly broke off from the keyblade, could recomplete it again. If only because Xehanort is a cruel weirdo, surely that would be a fun thing to do in his mind?

But he never acknowledges her. Her never really mentions what she is. He has no interest in her whatsoever other than to get on Sora's nerves a little bit.

I don't understand how all these opportunities to make things more thematic were overlooked.
Honestly considering the conditions of her death i take it she wasn't replaced as a PoH, seeing that light was used to reforge the x-blade. I actually wonder if after this x-blade there will be 13 lights or something, seeing it was made with 1 of the old and 6 new lights. Then again in total there were more than 7 Guardians at play so maybe not.

Kairi basically was fridged in this game's climax, sure she was resurrected by the end so technically it doesn't really count. Still her kidnapping and death weren't to further her own storyline and development, but Sora's and that really just sucks.

Like you said Xehanort doesn't even really acknowledge her outside of being a motivator for Sora.
Theoretically that evil nerd should be excited by the prospect of making his own x-blade with a fragment of the old one, but nope not even a mention of it.
 

Laurel

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Xheanort Kidnapped Kairi and killed her to motivate sora into doing what he wanted. For decades women have been used as tools rather then people and its sad to see this from square again after the disaster with Luna Freya

"Needless violence against a woman character who is only significant as an object of a male character's desire? Hot damn!"

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WomenInRefrigerators
Square also produced Nier Automata where the gender roles got reversed a few times. The female lead, 2B, has been shown to be stronger (emotionally and physically) than her male counterpart, 9S, who's the damsel in the relationship. Even the game's box art is 2B carrying 9S in her arms, in other games and movies it would've been the opposite. Granted the game isn't the best example of women empowerment since 2B and a majority of the other women wear questionable outfits, but at least they have personalities.

Major spoilers for Nier Automata's third half of the game:
Spoiler Spoiler Show
 
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