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What characters do you think are overrated/underrated in the series?



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Launchpad

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Donald and Goofy continue to be massively underrated and disregarded by fans. So many people want them to be replaced by Riku and Kairi.
 

kirabook

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But most of my points were related to her character in BbS. She didn't call herself master until Terranort. She constantly referred to herself as someone still in training and not a hero even though she literally passed the test and is a master. In her final moments in BbS, she's pretty much ready to end it all and fade into darkness. 0.2 just expanded on those points. All of Anti-Aqua's quotes in 0.2 are basically from BbS.

Like I said, it's not the best writing in the history of man, but there's no revisionism here. Aqua's worst enemy is herself, followed by Vanitas and Xehanort because they were trying to hurt her friends. They aren't her personalized villains and it's clear they were never meant to be. Xehanort never makes an effort to do anything about Aqua cause he doesn't care about Aqua other than to use her to push Terra and Ven further away. Vanitas only cares about Aqua as a backup if Ven doesn't work out. That's what the story is. You consider that less effort. I consider that the whole objective, SHE is her own worst enemy, not an outsider. 0.2 strengthens what was already there. I mean, I NEVER guess anything right (ok I did guess Ven was a Dandelion) but I've been headcanoning Aqua developing an anti mirror version of herself filled with all her self doubt since 2011 just because of BbS.

0.2 would have existed whether Aqua was popular or not because Birth by Sleep v2 existed before it got canned or whatever. But I guess you're right, we never would have seen some parts of the story of the canned BbSv2 had Aqua not gained some popularity. The whole story segment would've been gone forever and never seen the light of day like Kairi's side of the story.

Do I think it could've been better? Why, of course. The biggest example of this would've been the mirror fight in BbS. Instead of just copying Terra's boss with no context or effort, they could've started showing earlier signs of her ever growing self inflicted darkness. I doubt at this point Nomura literally conceptualized evil mirror Aqua but if only his creative process thought that far ahead.

Or, my #1 suggestion to fix BbS as always, erasing the idea that all three characters have to have a plot/story in all worlds. Make like 1 world story exclusive to one character, a few exclusive to 2 characters, and the last few allowing for all three. In my opinion, the BbS characters didn't get enough time to themselves or together. A problem still present today.

Before I ramble any further about BbS fixes, to summarize again, no revisionism is going on here. Aqua does not have a personal AnsemSoD whispering about darkness in her ear and she was never meant to, clearly. I think it gets boring that every single good character needs a bad guy to help them dabble in the darkside. Maybe a good character accidently dabbles in darkness all by themselves and there's no magic solution of "Kill bad guy" or "Get unpossessed with pure light" to resolve it. Why does Aqua need one to be relevant? So far whether you agree with the method or not, she hasn't needed a personal bad guy to get into personal trouble or have internal conflict.
 
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Noivern

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The fact that I got two very different counterarguments to the complaint of Aqua not having her own nemesis sort of supports my point. On a conceptual level Aqua has less effort put into her. Terra is the young man that became Xehanort's vessel. Ventus is the boy who had his heart ripped into two and his other half is the source of the Unversed. What is Aqua? The good student and responsible one? I've seen some people argue that that's the point, Xehanort not properly accounting is why his plans ended up failing, but that doesn't excuse the neglect from a meta perspective.

What point? Her popularity? Because I never really argued against that (as it's blatantly obvious, specially in KHI. I don't think everyone needs to like her character, that will always boil down to personal opinion.), but you didn't really say anything about her rivalry with Vanitas working just fine as a villain for her rote.

Does she need a personal villain directly connected to her character for it to work? Genuinely curious here, because the only other game up to that point that had this kind of connection between hero and villain was Riku's route in CoM. Sora never had any personal beef with the Norts, and the actual villain of Days would be Xemnas & Saïx, but that game never really go into that direction.

but that doesn't excuse the neglect from a meta perspective.

.. How so? Aqua being a young girl with a big responsability having to take her friends back is the whole point, like you said, and I definitely don't think everyone needs to enjoy that and it's fine to think she's quite overrated (even if its because she merely stands out compared to the poor female writing), but how exactly is that neglected from a meta perspective in BBS?

"Terra is the young man that became Xehanort's vessel" So was Riku, who we met before him. Terra was not really unique nor was he particularly good written, but he definitely got the least love out of the fandom. I will say that actually playing through the descent into darkness was cool, even if Terra could be a huge dumbass sometimes.

"Ventus is the boy who had his heart ripped into two¹ and his other half is the source of the Unversed²"
1 happens at the very start of the game, 2 is his own character. Sure, Vanitas is part of Ventus and should be taken into consideration when talking about him, but he was more than just Ven's other half.

Regardless, between 1 and 2 is the entire chunk of Ven's route which plays pretty much like Sora's during KH2; standart protagonist trying to find his friend but ending up entangled in the world's affairs, while sometimes getting taunted by the antagonists.

What is Aqua? The good student and responsible one?

Shes the girl who lost everything. Although she was just as young as Terra, she was called a Master and had to bring her friends back, but ended up witnessing the death of her Master (in the hands of her best friend to save her other best friend, on top of that), then lost in the hands of Xehanort.
She was the good student and the responsible one, but still lost in the end.

Also the one who sacrificed herself to bring "Terra" back, not knowing of the evil that would bring upon others.
 

Zackarix

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But most of my points were related to her character in BbS. She didn't call herself master until Terranort. She constantly referred to herself as someone still in training and not a hero even though she literally passed the test and is a master. In her final moments in BbS, she's pretty much ready to end it all and fade into darkness. 0.2 just expanded on those points. All of Anti-Aqua's quotes in 0.2 are basically from BbS.
Most of those points seem less like an intentional arc and more her characterization being thin enough to project an arc retroactively. Pretend we're back in 2010 and BbS has just been released. How many fans would think that Aqua was her own worst enemy? 0.2 is a great character piece, but it's also the type of story one would write if you are putting a spotlight on a character but don't want to introduce anything truly new. Combing through her existing story and putting together the pieces you find in ways that weren't necessarily intended when originally written, but still fit.

But okay, I'll bite. Let's assume for the sake of argument that Aqua was intended to be her own worst enemy from the beginning. If so, that arc is very neglected and underwritten. Call it "subtle" if you want, but most fans did not get that out of her story at the time of release, which means the writers failed. The fact that BbS volume 2 was never greenlit means that there was no guarantee that the strongest parts or her arc would ever see the light of day. In the end a place was found for it, but it's very easy to imagine a scenario where it didn't work out (for example, deciding to feature Xehanort's past instead.)

And I thought this went without saying, but apparently not: I am ultimately judging and BbS by the versions we have, not the perfect versions that exist in the platonic realm. I know that the writing of KH is weak enough that fans have to read in between the lines to find substance for most characters, but you also have to accept that other people won't necessarily see what you see.
What point? Her popularity? Because I never really argued against that (as it's blatantly obvious, specially in KHI. I don't think everyone needs to like her character, that will always boil down to personal opinion.), but you didn't really say anything about her rivalry with Vanitas working just fine as a villain for her rote.
The point that Aqua lacks a true nemesis. Is it herself or Vanitas? Because her male counterparts have very clear answers to the question of who their ultimate villains are.

Just think of it this way: you could take Terra and Xehanort out of BbS and isolate them into an independent narrative and you'd still have a story. Put Ventus and Vanitas into their own game and you still have a story. But isolate Aqua and suddenly you have no story, because Aqua's arc exists to compliment the stories of Terra and Ven, not because there's a high concept at the center of her character. (I suppose we could follow your suggestion and put Vanitas as her enemy, he even considered using her as a substitute in canon. But at this point it's less her story and more replacing Ven.)

You could argue that it doesn't matter because the BbS we have is the intertwined story of all three characters and maybe you'd be right. And despite everything I've said in this I actually do like Aqua. I just feel that she's an okay character instead of one of the best in the franchise.
 

Sephiroth0812

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is it really "witnessing" if she wasn't there and just heard about it from a third party?
And on top of this said third party (Yen Sid) has also no idea what exactly happened either since he only "knows" via his stargazing or whatever he does that "Eraqus' star blinked out" and that both Xehanort and Terra were somehow involved.

---
Generally I am hesitant to point fingers at "over- or underrated" characters as that is more a subjective topic related to fandom and you'll get 50 to 60 different takes out of 100 fans depending on which characters are put into the spotlight.

When I look at the different themes, setups and tropes used in KH none of them are "bad" per se and each of them, even the whole big cast of major characters, several possibilities to revive/bring back characters, dimensional and/or time travel as well as the constant introduction of new concepts can be used to tell a compelling and engaging story and even used effectively in different combinations.

The crux is however as already mentioned several times by others that the overall writing quality of the series, especially when it comes to characters, character interactions and relationships and general consistency in characterisation is on the lower average level at best.

Which is mainly due to Nomura setting priorities elsewhere when it comes to narrative and overarching scenarios, giving more attention to flashy twists and surprises for the sake of having them and forcing most characters to bend themselves into shape for the narrative demands instead of having the characters, their decisions and interactions form the narrative.
Furthermore there is an unfortunate tendency to combine all those elements mentioned further above in the worst ways possible amplifying the problems already present.

Considering how the first KH has had a whole team of writers and many middle titles of the first saga had at least one or two co-writers while KH III was iIRC Nomura alone it shows more than ever that he shouldn't do all the major story writing by himself.
 

kirabook

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Most of those points seem less like an intentional arc and more her characterization being thin enough to project an arc retroactively. Pretend we're back in 2010 and BbS has just been released. How many fans would think that Aqua was her own worst enemy? 0.2 is a great character piece, but it's also the type of story one would write if you are putting a spotlight on a character but don't want to introduce anything truly new. Combing through her existing story and putting together the pieces you find in ways that weren't necessarily intended when originally written, but still fit.

But okay, I'll bite. Let's assume for the sake of argument that Aqua was intended to be her own worst enemy from the beginning. If so, that arc is very neglected and underwritten. Call it "subtle" if you want, but most fans did not get that out of her story at the time of release, which means the writers failed. The fact that BbS volume 2 was never greenlit means that there was no guarantee that the strongest parts or her arc would ever see the light of day. In the end a place was found for it, but it's very easy to imagine a scenario where it didn't work out (for example, deciding to feature Xehanort's past instead.)

And I thought this went without saying, but apparently not: I am ultimately judging and BbS by the versions we have, not the perfect versions that exist in the platonic realm. I know that the writing of KH is weak enough that fans have to read in between the lines to find substance for most characters, but you also have to accept that other people won't necessarily see what you see.

The point that Aqua lacks a true nemesis. Is it herself or Vanitas? Because her male counterparts have very clear answers to the question of who their ultimate villains are.

Just think of it this way: you could take Terra and Xehanort out of BbS and isolate them into an independent narrative and you'd still have a story. Put Ventus and Vanitas into their own game and you still have a story. But isolate Aqua and suddenly you have no story, because Aqua's arc exists to compliment the stories of Terra and Ven, not because there's a high concept at the center of her character. (I suppose we could follow your suggestion and put Vanitas as her enemy, he even considered using her as a substitute in canon. But at this point it's less her story and more replacing Ven.)

You could argue that it doesn't matter because the BbS we have is the intertwined story of all three characters and maybe you'd be right. And despite everything I've said in this I actually do like Aqua. I just feel that she's an okay character instead of one of the best in the franchise.

Me? I did? I'm pretty sure everyone got excited and fangirled/boyed the first time Aqua said "I am Master Aqua!"It was a defining moment that she finally accepted that to do what she needed to do to save Terra? It wasn't a mistake that Aqua kept downplaying her accomplishments throughout the story. It was such a defining moment in BbS, they repeated it at the end of 0.2 where she had a moment of strength and resolve to call herself a master again.

Like I said in my post, pretty much as soon as BbS ended in 2011, my friend and I have been headcanoning her mega depression in the dark realm leading to some bad stuff such as: evil version of self (happened), darkness infection like a disease making her feelings worse (didn't happen... though now that I think of it that's kinda how it was talked about in KHUX), etc. And we're not alone. I never got super into KH tumblr fandom back then, but there were plenty of Aqua blogs making the same assumptions and coming to the same conclusions about Aqua's character. It was amazing to see 0.2 CONFIRM our predictions, not create them.

0.2 did not pull this stuff out of thin air like you seem to be implying. the bread chunks were there and Nomura took that and made a bread slice, it's too bad it wasn't a full loaf.

In BbS, Aqua was not happy that only she received the title of Master and not Terra. Her friends never once congratulated her (some Aqua fans hold this against Terra and Ven even to this day, I don't). She goes through world to world cleaning them up and closing them out, but still downplays her accomplishments like "I'm not a hero." "I'm still in training" or whatever she said. The entire game she never uses her title until the final hour. After the final hour, she lays down to die until something reignites her will to live and smile (Terra and Ven's unexplained keyblade adventures). You can find evidence of people talking about this stuff before 2017 when 0.2 came out.

Again I ask, why does Aqua need someone ELSE to be her nemesis though? Did Aqua need a new old man who isn't bald to chase her around the worlds and make her feel bad about herself and her accomplishments? Aqua has done a great job of doing that all by herself. Not every character needs a DBZ villain to work.

I mean, I've explained why quite a few times why Aqua is her own worst enemy in her original game before 0.2. At the point of BbS, is it as bad as Vanitas and Xehanort breathing down Terra and Ven's necks? No, but thankfully, Birth by Sleep was not made in a bubble and given this is a continuous story, they further expanded on how bad Aqua's nemesis (that being herself) truly is with the power of darkness aiding the process.

I see no value in added another villain or trying to make Xehanort/Vanitas care about Aqua more than they already do. At that point, you're just trying to force some kind of connection that doesn't need to be there. They are Aqua's opponents because they are Terra and Ven's opponents. But Aqua's personal demon is not some darkness weirdo calling her into a van that reads "Free Candy".
 

Noivern

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The point that Aqua lacks a true nemesis. Is it herself or Vanitas? Because her male counterparts have very clear answers to the question of who their ultimate villains are.

Just think of it this way: you could take Terra and Xehanort out of BbS and isolate them into an independent narrative and you'd still have a story. Put Ventus and Vanitas into their own game and you still have a story. But isolate Aqua and suddenly you have no story, because Aqua's arc exists to compliment the stories of Terra and Ven, not because there's a high concept at the center of her character.

I think I understand your point better now, even though I don't agree with it, it's a fair way to see her route. She definitely doesn't need a ultimate villain, but now that I see what you mean I agree that if she got a more defined goal throughout her rote apart from her friends. Maybe have her questioning the master exam and being more suspicious about Xehanort, which could also tie into the whole "Am I really fit to be called a Master?" thing that Kirabook brought up.

I still believe her route worked just fine and there isn't really anything wrong with her arc complementing the other two as BBS was made to be a trio, but I definitely agree now that adding more beef to it could have given much more to her character going further into the franchise.

is it really "witnessing" if she wasn't there and just heard about it from a third party?
Fair point. I suppose it doesn't really count.
 

Elysium

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kirabook said:
Her friends never once congratulated her (some Aqua fans hold this against Terra and Ven even to this day, I don't).
That's me. It's sort of like how I always think of Kairi in relation to some of her early quotes about Riku in KH1. That Aqua's story was one of self-doubt makes it worse that her friends decided to lash out at her out of jealousy rather than encourage their friend. Anyway, I don't see most of this talk about Aqua's story / arc as unfounded since BbS vol. 2 was always intended. When that game was cancelled, its story was mutated into 0.2 since they couldn't make a full game out of it. If the ReMIXes had not allowed them to tack on a mini-game like 0.2, I have no doubt we would've got an even more truncated version of it as KH3's prologue. Well, really, 0.2 already is KH3's prologue, imo, considering 3 is completely lacking one.

Random tangent: Maybe it's because I'm in the middle of a Merlin re-watch, but reading kirabook's posts made me think about similarities between Aqua and King Arthur. Her belief system from Eraqus making light oppressive to darkness (darkness being like magic / nature), and her having a tragic ending (falling into darkness as well as LoD becoming Oblivion) despite always having tried to do the morally correct thing.
 

Zackarix

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0.2 did not pull this stuff out of thin air like you seem to be implying.
I never said this. If you would stop trying to cram your words into my mouth that would be cool, thanks.

I also never said that Aqua didn't have an arc in BbS, or that 0.2 was made up from scratch, or that Aqua wouldn't be traumatized by losing her friends and having her life torn apart.

I just think there's a difference between a character having flaws and insecurities and a character being their own worst enemy, and I think that Aqua doesn't meet the criteria for the latter in BbS. Not boasting about being a Master when she's just become one and her best friend is bummed about not passing? It sucked that she could never properly celebrate her accomplishment, but it never truly hurt her. Choosing to save her best friend instead of herself when she could only save one? A horrible decision in hindsight, but she wasn't the one to face the worst consequences of it. In BbS Aqua goes through a lot, but almost none of it is brought upon herself. If Aqua's route truly was intended to be a "character is their own worst enemy" arc in BbS it's the gentlest I've seen.

For an example of a "character is their own worst enemy" story that I think actually works, try Ralph Breaks the Internet. The story is kicked off by Ralph's misguided attempt to alleviate Vanellope's boredom. The stakes are raised by Ralph and Vanellope ignorantly having a bidding war. Then the movie goes on seemingly without introducing an antagonist until the climax when it's revealed to be Ralph. He was a bad friend to Vanellope by trying to hold her back from exploring the outside world, but it was also his mistake that caused the situation in the first place.

Or for another example, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (the original webcomic, I had aged out of the demographic by the time it became a bigger franchise.) It's easy to feel sorry for Greg, his life sucks even if it's in an amusing way! But over the course of the story it became clear that a lot of the stuff Greg goes through was a result of his own actions or was a reflection of them. He's a terrible friend to Rowley, he gets picked on by his older brother but picks on the youngest himself, etc.

Compared to examples like these Aqua's flaws and mistakes are nothing. If she hadn't been living in a tragic prequel she would not have fallen to them. The thing about BbS V2 is that even if it had been greenlit it probably wouldn't have focused completely on Aqua, or even the BbS cast. If the trailer is anything to go by it would have been a game based on filling in the gaps of the saga as a whole. (What a weak concept for a game, no wonder it wasn't greenlit.) In the end they took one potential storyline from BbS V2 and recycled it into KH3's prologue then separated it into 0.2. Maybe they chose Aqua's story because that's the one they most wanted to tell, maybe because of her incredible popularity, or maybe a mix of both. Oh, and another thing to keep in mind about BbS V2 is that if it had been greenlit there's no guarantee that Aqua's story would have played out the same way. Games and the stories they tell can change a lot during development.

If I absolutely had to pinpoint a nemesis for Aqua's story in BbS I'd point to her friends before I'd point to Aqua herself. She loves them, but from having to deal with the fallout of their actions to the final bosses of her story being Terra and Ven (even if they are possessed) they're a major source of conflict in her story. But that just gets back to how Aqua's story depends on Terra and Ven, but the boys have stories that stand on their own.

As an aside, out of all the things to be Wrong on the Internet about I did not expect the opinion of Aqua being Just Okay Not Great to be one of them. But maybe I should have expected it when criticizing such a beloved character.
 

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Yen Sid - he is meant to be this very wise and formerly powerful keyblade wielder but we know very little of his history or abilities. He basically just sits behind his desk in every game and does NOTHING. KH3 showed that he still has powerful magical abilities, yet he continually sits there and chooses not to help.

Firstly, we don’t know anything about his history as a keyblade master. We are told he is a friend of Eraqus but that’s it. Where was Yen Sid trained? What is his relationship with Xehanort? Was Yen Sid involved in the Dark Road stories? We don’t even really know where he comes from - possibly Disney Castle?

Next, we are told he is a retired keyblade wielder. Since when is someone a retired keyblade wielder? Did he retire because of his age? Can he still summon a keyblade? His abilities in KH3 showed he is still a valuable fighter, even if he’s not as strong as he once was. So why retire? Xehanort was very old and still a powerful keyblade wielder - physical ability doesn’t seem as important. Sora was the size of a 10 year old in the first game, Kairi is a weak teenage girl (sorry just being honest), Mickey is tiny, and Xehanort is like 70...so Yen Sid shouldn’t use age as an excuse to retire.

Finally, Yen Sid does nothing to help in the modern games. He sends people on dangerous missions and then just sits at his desk. He didn’t even help train Lea and Kairi. I assumed Yen Sid was old and couldn’t physically contribute, but KH3 showed he has some powerful magic. Same thing with Merlin - they need to be travelling around worlds and using their magic to help out more.

Yen Sid should have been given more importance in the game’s history.
 
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