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Understanding magic in KH, going forward



Well-known member
May 14, 2017
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East Coast, USA

Now this is a topic that (to my knowledge) few people acknowledge/care about, and I understand why. Magic in KH often plays second fiddle to the classic attack button, which most people use especially on superbosses, which are immune to most spells anyways (reflect nonwithstanding). But the fact that magic is present in this universe means that, like any other fantasy game, it has rules associated with it (or at least, it tries to). For most games in the series, magic is leveled up from the most basic element to a -ra and then -ga level spell when the character gains a second level of it. In the original Kingdom Hearts, this can be seen as a good estimate on Sora's growing capabilities as a fighter, starting off with fire and growing to amass control over various elements and even time as the game progresses. Fittingly, he obtains the final fire upgrade before the final fight against Ansem making his journey come full circle.
But what am I really trying to talk about here? I want to understand how magic WORKS in KH

So there are a few ways that this happens in the series, and each seems to contradict each other. You've got games with MP bars (infinite magic provided you have MP left) which are in numbered titles as well as 0.2, deck commands (equippable magic with near infinite uses provided you wait for the command to refill) seen in Re:coded, DDD and BBS, and then what i call "item magic" from 358/2 days (finite magic that exists similar to a potion during a mission; once you use it, it's gone unless you use an ether, which you also have limited amounts of). But we don't know exactly what allows someone to use magic/makes it available.

Most people point to the "gargoyles" explanation of magic, where you need a conduit to channel it through, and you can't just use your bare hands or risk corruption. This can be seen in KH 1's Hollow Bastion, where Sora IS able to use magic through the wooden sword, but it's not as strong as it was when he used the keyblade. Other characters can use magic through other means, such as Ariel using potions or Merlin using his magic wand. Other characters might harness magic in different ways, such as Leon's fireball attack in KH 1 where he shoots it out of his hand. You might think that contradicts the theory, but it doesn't. Considering how KH is a blend of Disney fantasy and Final Fantasy RPG magic, it could be theorized that there are different styles of magic that can be learned. Perhaps because Leon was taught by someone in Radiant Garden how to cast a fireball before Maleficent took over, he can cast it through his hand, while Sora has been taught by Merlin and Yen Sid, Disney wizards who use conduits to cast magic. But KH 3 implies that even if you have a conduit, using high level spells can drain your energy, tiring you out. With this in mind, it can also explain how Sora is able to use -Ja and -za level spells in 3; he's grown enough to the point where he's able to use them, but he can't have it be a part of his arsenal whenever he wants, he has to work his way up to it.

So that's my attempt at understanding it. It might not be the OFFICIAL explanation, but given the mess that this series will become, it's the best I can do.


Well-known member
Apr 27, 2018
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So, as with most things Kingdom Hearts-related, I can't give you a simple answer, but I can give you AN answer.

First of all, generally speaking, it is the Keyblade that allows its wielders to use magic. This is simply because the Keyblade itself is a magical weapon. And the thing is, the Keyblade is basically magical in whatever way it needs to be. There's never been a concrete limitation prescribed to the Keyblade in terms of what it can and can't do, and so the limitations of its functionality are really just dependent on the limitations of its wielder's imagination.

This is why wielders like Terra, Aqua, and Ventus can perform so many more magic tricks in BBS than Sora can in KH1 or KH2. Whereas Sora is just learning how to use the Keyblade, and therefore thinking up very basic magic tricks like shooting fireballs or casting thunder and time magic, TAV have all trained under a Master for their entire lives, and so the repertoire of magic spells they can cast is much greater, because they're more used to using the Keyblade and thus can channel more complex spells with less thought or effort.

But magic is a particular force in the Kingdom Hearts universe—it takes many forms, and it isn't restricted only to Keyblade wielders. Also, magic powers are distinct from say dark powers (like what Ansem, Riku, and Maleficent use), light powers (like what the Princesses of Heart and Queen Minnie wield), and void powers (like what Xemnas and the Nobodies use—that's not officially what their powers are called, but since I don't have an official term to go by, I'm just rolling with it).

This is why you can have characters like Merlin, Genie, Yen Sid, and the Fairies who all use magic differently, partly because they come from worlds with specific localized rules. Keyblade wielders are bound by more universal laws of magic, so the Keyblade is the only way for them to channel magical abilities.

As for how Sora is able to use magic without his Keyblade in KH1—I'll be honest, I don't have a good answer to that. I think we can just chalk that up to the game developers going, "well, the wooden sword can't do shit, but we need a way for the player to be able to defend themselves, so let's just let Sora keep magic." That's my best guess. Otherwise, I suppose we could just assume that Sora managed to call the Keyblade to summon magic for him even though it wasn't in his possession simply because of the strength of his heart. But I think that's too big a stretch. Canonically, I'd rather assume that he doesn't actually use magic there and Beast just helps him all the way, but for gameplay purposes, they need to give you some way to defend yourself, especially on harder difficulties.

Hope this helped.