Kairi (Kingdom Hearts)

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Name: Kairi
Occupation: Schoolgirl, Keyblade Wielder
Relationships: Sora and Riku (best friends)
Naminé (Nobody)
Tidus, Wakka, Selphie (friends)
Axel/Lea (kidnapper turned friend)
King Mickey, Donald, Goofy (acquaintances)
unnamed Grandmother
Leon, Yuffie, Cid, Aerith (acquaintances)
Hayner, Pence, Olette, Pluto the dog (friends)
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Kairi (カイリ) is a supporting character in the Disney/Square Enix video game franchise Kingdom Hearts and its related media.


Kairi is the childhood friend of Sora and Riku. She mysteriously arrived Destiny Islands when she was five years old, nine years before the events of Kingdom Hearts (2002).[1] After the Islands are swallowed by darkness, Sora journeys across the worlds to find Kairi and Riku.

Sora spends much of the first game searching for Kairi and Riku. Eventually he learns that her seemingly comatose body is being kept by Riku and the villains. However, it turns out that Kairi's heart took shelter within him during the destruction of Destiny Islands, and she had been within him in spirit throughtout his adventures.[2] After her heart is restored, she accompanies Sora, Donald, and Goofy back to Traverse Town, where she stays for the remainder of the game. Following Sora's defeat of Ansem and sealing the Door to Darkness, Kairi is transported back to the Destiny Islands as they reform, where she spends the next year waiting for Sora and Riku to come home.

Due to the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004), Kairi loses her memories of Sora, but regains them during the prologue of Kingdom Hearts II (2005). She spends the first half of II continuing to wait on the islands before Axel attempts to kidnap her. She briefly manages to flee but is ultimately captured by Organization XIII, who hold her in their dungeon for much of the game's second half. Naminé eventually helps her escape and reunite with her friends, during which she receives a Keyblade of her own.

When Sora and Riku once again set out on a quest between the events of II and 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012), Kairi promises to wait for them on the Island.

In Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- (2017), Kairi begins training as a Keyblade wielder alongside Lea. She continues training into III (2019), and joins her fellow Keyblade wielders in their fateful fight against Xehanort.

Kairi made her debut as a playable character in Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind (2020), a DLC expansion of Kingdom Hearts III (2019), nearly 18 years after her first appearance.

She is a prominent character in Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory (2020).


KH FANFIC STEREOTYPES by alltheickyjobs (2016)

Where Kairi is concerned, the Kingdom Hearts fandom can be divided. Overall, Kairi is a decently well-liked character within the general fandom, though it's fairly common for fans to express disappointment with her lack of presence despite her stated importance in canon. There are also fans who find the character to be insufferable, and promote her downfall or erasure in the narrative.

Fans have directed criticism toward the developers of the series, namely creator and director Nomura Tetsuya, for not placing Kairi in an active role in her male friends' adventures, despite her stated importance to the plot as a Princess of Heart and a Keyblade wielder. Thusly and additionally, Kairi has been the subject of character bashing.

In the fourteen years between Kingdom Hearts II (2005) and III (2019), many expressed desire for her to finally become a playable character.

Fan works have depicted Kairi in a more active role as a Keyblade wielder since the very beginnings of the fan community, even before the release of II.[3]

According to a 2017 Japanese-language Famitsu Weekly feature covering Kingdom Hearts' fifteenth anniversary, in a poll asking respondents' favorite female character out of ten female characters, Kairi ranked third, below Xion and above Naminé, with 182 votes[4]

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance elicited hope for Kairi’s fans, as the game’s post-credits scene ended with the reveal that Kairi would start receiving proper training in how to wield her Keyblade, causing many to expectat that Kairi would finally be taking a more active role in the story going forward. As a result, many were disappointed when her training occurred offscreen during Kingdom Hearts III, and the final stages of the game once again placed her in the role of the damsel in distress that Sora needed to save.

Her allegedly perfunctory role in KHIII has drawn criticism and controversy, mostly directed at the creators rather than at the character.[5]

Fans refer to Sora, Riku, and Kairi collectively as the "Destiny Trio," "Destiny Islands Trio", or "Paopu Trio".

As a female character in meta analysis and fanon

Many fans have been frustrated with Kairi due to her lack of agency, development, and fighting skills within the story, often saying that they prefer more action-oriented female characters such as Larxene, Aqua, some of the characters from Disney or Final Fantasy franchises, or even Naminé,[6] who is supposed to be a 'shadow' of Kairi. Some fans say that hatred of Kairi is warranted, and that she would be less deserving of hatred if she were more like the other female characters—though these claims often ignore the not-insignificant hatedoms surrounding Aqua, Naminé, and Xion. Other fans believe that the female characters collectively tend to be more shallowly written than the majority-male cast, and that sexism against female characters extends across the KH series.[7][8][9][10][11]

In regard to her often-cliche role as a female character, and her tendency to be fridged or otherwise sidelined, Kairi has been compared to other characters, including Haruno Sakura,[12][13][14] Princess Peach,[15] and Lunafreya Nox Fleuret.[16][17][18]

For a major part of the fandom's existence, especially in the 2002-2010 period, Kairi was a character infamously subjected to overtly misogynistic vitriol from certain pockets of KH fans;[19] Kairi was openly called a "bitch",[20][21][22][23][24] "whore",[25][26][27][28] and "slut";[29][30][31][32][33][34][35] some fans justified these labels because they judged her clothing to be too immodest.[20][note 1] She has been criticized for being too girly,[20] feminine,[36] and pink.[20] She has been slammed both as a "Mary Sue",[37] and as "useless". In fan works, she has been bashed as a mean girl queen bee fueled by jealousy and malice in her personal quest to deliberately sabotage her male friends' lives; and she was the subject of some infamous fan works in which she was gruesomely killed, as punishment.[38]

Overt misogyny became less common and accepted in online spaces during the 2010s; however in the 2020s Kairi fans still complain that the KH fandom continues to downplay key moments in canon that emphasize Kairi's bonds with her friends,[39] ignore her achievements,[40] misrepresent her character,[41] and promote sidelining her even more than she already has been—resulting in a female character being further erased from an already male-centered narrative.[42]

Further reading


sidelined, double-standards



Kairi needs a character arc as well as a plot arc.

What does she want? What’s in her way? How can she overcome it?

Very few characters in KH have actual in-depth development and even fewer have arcs. Like, you may like Braig, who’s decently developed as an secondary character, but he’s not going through any real character drama. Heck, Data Sora goes through more of a character arc than Sora had in 2.

So, Kairi just needs to be fleshed out with desires, dreams, ideas and her personality for just simple development (which requires good writing and screentime). For an even better character, she needs a character arc and a plot arc. We will at best get two of the three (development + something plot related).[43]

Common topics in fan works and discussions

  • Keyblade-wielder or Keyblade-borrower? -
  • Canon Rewrite/Roleswap/etc - Fans often reimagine Kairi's role in the series, often elaborating on canon aspects that have been teased, most popularly her role as a full-fledged Keyblade-wielder. Fans enjoy discussing and creating works about their ideas for Kairi in hypothetical future installments, or as what-if scenarios in which she is a protagonist.
  • Keyblade apprentice Kairi - It has been very popular fanon that Aqua would serve as a mentor to Kairi as a Keyblade-wielder, due to their connection in BBS. Redesigns of Kairi's appearance often pay homage to Aqua's influence.
    • Especially after Kairi was playable in the KHIII Re:Mind DLC, some fans have started pushing the headcanon that Kairi should instead derive her fighting style from Terra,[44] due to their similar fighting stances and aggressive energy; fans also see this as a fun subversion of Kairi being a tank or Mighty Glacier-style fighter, instead of having the magic-based combat style that is typically expected of female characters.[45]
  • Faking amnesia - In the first Kingdom Hearts game, Kairi is introduced as having amnesia, with no memory of her original home. However, some fans point out that the camera purposefully conceals Kairi's face when she says that she has amnesia, and that Sora has visions Kairi's childhood memories when her heart is with him; thus some fans speculate that Kairi lies about having amnesia, to avoid talking about the trauma of losing her original home and family.[46][47][48] These fans point to other details that could imply Kairi is conflicted about exploring other worlds, because she has first-hand experience of the dangers outside the safety of the islands.
  • Backstory and missing scenes - Relationship with grandmother and subsequent loss, amnesia, relationship with her unseen adoptive father, daughter of the mayor of Destiny Islands, everyday life and school https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/112123152181/steering-the-conversation-towards-some-more[49]
  • Princess of Hollow Bastion - A Princess of Heart is a girl with a heart of pure light and no darkness. Most of the PoHs are also literal princesses by birth or marriage. Because Kairi is a PoH, and her childhood memory shows her spending time in the castle library of Hollow Bastion, and certain lyrics in "Hikari"/"Simple and Clean" reference a father/family—some players finish the first game believing that Kairi is a princess of Hollow Bastion, and possibly the daughter or relative of Ansem. The sequels very much appear to disprove this theory.


Often considered the "main" female character of the series, and one of the very few female characters overall, Kairi is naturally popular in het and femslash shipping within the Kingdom Hearts fandom.

In the 2010 post The Most Popular KH Pairing According to FanFiction Is..., zettaLOL reported that Kairi was the fifth most popular Kingdom Hearts character to be shipped on FanFiction.Net. Out of the top twelve most popular KH pairings, SoKai (Sora/Kairi - 2,030 stories) and Kaiku (Kairi/Riku - 225 stories) ranked third and ninth, respectively.

In a sample of 565 Kingdom Hearts stories published between October 2013 and 11 October 2019, Kairi was overwhelmingly listed as paired with Sora (85%), distantly followed by Riku (3%), Naminé (2%), Roxas (2%), Zexion (2%), and Vanitas (2%), via FanFiction.Net's pairing feature[50]

Notable ships

Fan works

Fan art




Video essays


Fan fiction


Events and challenges

Vids and music videos

Archives & Sites

Fan sites



  1. ^ Several male characters in the KH series canon have worn outfits that have them naked from the waist up, or expose their nude bellies and collarbones.


  1. ^ https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/135905768796/does-kairi-still-have-no-memory-of-her-childhood
  2. ^ From the Ultimania: "When darkness engulfed Destiny Islands, Kairi sensed that Ansem was targeting her as a Princess of Heart, so her heart left her body on the spot and took shelter within Sora. Kairi's heart was with Sora after that, and they went on adventures together with neither one of them aware of this fact."
  3. ^ johnjoseco. Kairi from Kingdom Hearts posted to DeviantArt on 14 March 2003. (Accessed September 2020.)
  4. ^ Cecily. KINGDOM HEARTS 15th Anniversary Feature in Famitsu published to KH Insider on 5 April 2017. (Accessed September 2020.)
  5. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/anf463/i_forgive_kairi/
  6. ^ counterargument to argument that Naminé is better than Kairiarchive.is by themattress (2018)
  7. ^ https://www.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/doqyu8/opinion_on_how_women_are_represented_in_kingdom/
  8. ^ https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/99236359101/out-of-curiosity-are-you-only-following-kh-just-only ... https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/104603004411/is-kh-ever-going-to-have-a-strong-girl-girl-bond
  9. ^ https://burnmerdrummer.tumblr.com/post/55193121257/the-bechdel-test-and-kingdom-heartsWBM
  10. ^ https://strelightzia.medium.com/the-unfortunate-pattern-of-nice-girls-in-kingdom-hearts-cabbda4f8cb4
  11. ^ https://www.gameskinny.com/culture/ladies-in-gaming-kingdom-hearts-aqua/
  12. ^ I think there's a bizarre analog [in ''Naruto''] to the Kingdom Hearts franchise here—both series started out with a central boy-boy-girl "power trio" where all three of them were supposed to be equally significant to the plot, but the female character was so underwritten and unpopular that as the series progressed, she was moved more and more into the background, and the "power trio" was discarded in favor of the two boys as protagonist and deuteragonist and everybody else in supporting roles.
  13. ^ Kairi is the Sakura Haruno of the franchise, she’s doomed....
  14. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/dsxjyz/do_you_consider_kairi_to_be_the_sakura_of_kingdom/
  15. ^ Kairi, Princess Peach, "Sexy Lamp Test" (2014)
  16. ^ "Did Kairi (Kingdom Hearts 3) Get The Luna Treatment? (Final Fantasy XV)" by Final Fantasy Peasant (2019)
  17. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/93df3j/kh3_how_would_you_go_about_making_kairi_a_better/e3d6hrm/</ ; https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/8m9sph/discussion_does_anyone_else_feel_like_riku_and/dzngzq3/ ; https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/718920-kingdom-hearts-iii/77988965 ; https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/ambpoq/kh3_does_nomura_not_like_kairi/efkz5ed/
  18. ^ https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/182874506976/i-see-many-people-upset-about-kairi-being
  19. ^ https://khfanficrants.livejournal.com/346185.html
  20. ^ a b c d ~*~&~The Kairi Hate-Club~&~*~WBM on KH Insider
  21. ^ "The bitches $Kairi$ must DIE"WBM
  22. ^ "Kairi is a bitch" on YouTube (2006)
  23. ^ "The Way Kingdom Hearts Should've Been..." (2006) on YouTube
  24. ^ simple KH2 4 panel comics... by kimchii (2008)
  25. ^ "Kingdom Hearts Stereotypes" by emily-bright (2009)
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ [3]
  29. ^ [4]
  30. ^ [5]
  31. ^ [6]
  32. ^ [7]
  33. ^ [8]
  34. ^ [9]
  35. ^ [10]
  36. ^ Aqua. a powerful warrior and a great mage. and she has a lovely design that is not too feminine (unlike some people)
  37. ^ https://canonsueesandstues.tumblr.com/post/41922209839/kairi-of-kingdom-hearts
  38. ^ "The Horribly Bloody Death of Kairi"; "Death to Kairi" by RikuGirl
  39. ^ An example of these accusations.
  40. ^ rebuttal to the unofficial Kingdom Hearts II essay book by Alexa Ray Correa,WBM by themattress (2018)
  41. ^ https://themattress.tumblr.com/post/181777520069
  42. ^ How did SoRiku shippers even get labeled as misogynistic anyways So not shipping a girl with a guy is misogynistic now?
  43. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/93df3j/kh3_how_would_you_go_about_making_kairi_a_better/e3ces00/
  44. ^ https://twitter.com/hakei1211/status/1045158381252751360
  45. ^ https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/100944133051/if-we-do-get-to-play-kairi-in-3-do-you-think-she ... https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/100957519011/whats-wrong-with-kairi-potentially-being-magic ... https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/102403200491/do-you-think-kairi-being-a-princess-of-heart-will
  46. ^ [11] and [additional commentary https://www.tumblr.com/nadziejastar/614772345314344960/lies-of-the-series-beyond-17-kairi-remembers]
  47. ^ https://themattress.tumblr.com/post/174641242179]
  48. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/8tkdbq/discussion_was_it_ever_explained_why_kairi_cant/
  49. ^ https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/152332752701/theres-a-lot-to-be-explored-in-kairis-missing ... https://kh-info-block.tumblr.com/post/182275235216/what-100-slays-me-about-kairi-is-that-she-has-so
  50. ^ phantomstatistician. Kairi's FanFiction Shipping Chart 2013*-Present posted to Tumblr on 11 October 2019. (Accessed September 2020.)