Kingdom Hearts

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Fandom
Name: Kingdom Hearts
Abbreviation(s): KH
Creator: Square Enix
Date(s): first released in 2002
Medium: Video Game
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Official Square Enix site/JP, Official Square Enix site/EN
Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD Remix Wallpaper by SeventhKeyblade
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Kingdom Hearts is a video game series developed by Square Enix and Disney set in a giant crossover between various Disney movies and several Final Fantasy games. The first game follows Sora as he fights evil while travels among the worlds looking for his friends Riku and Kairi, accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy.

Games

The Kingdom Hearts franchise consists of the following titles:

There are also novelizations and a manga adaptation, plus supplementary materials such as concept art and official guides.

Characters

Many of Kingdom Hearts' characters come from Disney and Final Fantasy franchises. Characters that originate from Kingdom Hearts itself include:

Fandom

fan art by MNGNTO (2020)

The games have an extensive cast. Many fan works focus on the original characters, or the Final Fantasy crossover characters that had large pre-existing fanbases. Due to Kingdom Hearts story taking place over multiple games, many of which were on different hand-held consoles, theory and timeline explanation videos have become common on YouTube.

As the series has developed, some fans have noted the fandom fracturing somewhat as opinion on the games direction and characters differ.

From Kingdom Hearts II onward (if not even before that), it's become increasingly harder and harder to satisfy the entire fanbase. The biggest is one is probably the overarching plot of the series. Supporters say that it's an awesome and exciting Jigsaw Puzzle Plot, and that if you play all the games in the series and just pay attention to what it's explained, you can follow it just fine for a great ride, filled with awe and mystery. The fact that you need to think about it to understand it completely makes it more satisfying. According to them, the only real reason why it may be hard to explain, specially to newcomers, is that the series is now a Video Game Long Runner, so there's a lot of information to take in. Detractors, on the other hand, claim it's nothing but a confusing and nonsensical Kudzu Plot, for which it doesn't matter how much information you are given, it makes less and less sense as it progresses. And even if it does make sense, it shouldn't be necessary to play other games launched in a different console family that you are likely not to have just to understand what's going on in a later entry (the HD releases alleviate this last part, though).

Even outside of the issue of whether it's difficult to follow or not, the plot and writing is often debated on its other merits. Some feel that it is often too corny to be taken seriously, not helped by stilted dialogue from the non-Disney characters and the series being even more unapologetic about running on cheesy concepts than the average JRPG, such as The Power of Friendship, hearts, light and darkness, etc. Others find these same aspects to be Narm Charm instead and wouldn't have it any other way.

[...] There is a perception among some people that the Disney elements of the franchise have become less and less important over time in favor of the original elements of the series, leading the events in a number of Disney worlds feeling like filler. Some really enjoy the original characters and plot and don't mind this shift, others either don't like it as much and/or simply wish the Disney characters besides Donald, Goofy, Mickey and Yen Sid were integrated better into the series' narrative. Some people say the series as a whole has always had this problem.[1]

As of January 2017, Kingdom Hearts is the second-largest game fandom on Fanfiction.net, with more than 71,000 stories.[2]

Notable fanon and tropes

"Kingdom Hearts Stereotypes" by emily-bright (2009)

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Shipping

The Kingdom Hearts fan community has a large amount of shipping within its fandom which is only bolstered by it's crossover with Disney and Final Fantasy. When the game was first released common pairings included Sora/Riku, Sora/Kairi, Riku/Kairi and occasionally Sora/Riku/Kairi. Once the characters of Organization XIII were introduced in Chain of Memories there was a general rise in slash/yaoi pairings as 12 out of the 14 members are men. From this, Axel/Roxas went on to be one of the largest ships in the fandom.

In zettaLOL's 2010 post The Most Popular KH Pairing According to Fanfiction Is..., they showed data collected from FanFiction.Net on which pairings and characters were most written for. There were 7 slash and 5 het ships to be in the overall top 12.

The top twelve most popular pairings:

12. SoNami- Sora & Namine (173)
11. AkuRiku- Riku & Axel (189)
10. XemSai- Xemnas & Saix (202)
9. Kaiku- Kairi & Riku (225)
8. Namiku- Namine & Riku (283)
7. AkuDemu- Demyx & Axel (369)
6. RokuSora- Roxas & Sora (516)
5. RokuNami- Roxas & Namine (1,106)
4. Zemyx- Zexion & Demyx (1,139)
3. SoKai- Sora & Kairi (2,030)
2. SoRiku- Sora & Riku (3, 652)
1. AkuRoku- Axel & Roxas (4,617)

As of 19 March 2023, the three most popular Kingdom Hearts pairings on AO3 are Sora/Riku (3,780), Axel/Roxas (2,194), and Sora/Kairi (1,371).

As of 2022, the only canon ships in Kingdom Hearts are those that originate from other Disney media. Word of God has yet to confirm any pairings involving characters that originate from Kingdom Hearts, and nothing definitive has been said within the actual games. However, the idea that Sora/Kairi is the intended endgame pairing for the series is a popular fanon among fans of the series, even among those who do not ship the pairing, to the point where many assume it is already canon. This has led to considerable discourse in the fandom as fans of other ships involving Sora (especially fans of Sora/Riku) have received flames and other negative comments on various platforms for not accepting this viewpoint.

Ship Names

English-language fandom uses either portmanteaus like SoRoku or Zemyx, or transliterations of Japanese ship names like AkuRoku, which is constructed using the Japanese pronunciation Akuseru. Because Kingdom Hearts fanworks were once under severe threat due to Disney's lawyers, Japanese fandom developed certain codes for ship names, along with hiding their work on personal sites behind complicated passwords.

The codes use kanji to approximate a sound from the character's name; for example, Axel, written in katakana as Akuseru, becomes 悪, the kanji for evil, which is read as "Aku". Roxas, written in katakana as Rokusasu, becomes 六, the kanji for six which is read "roku". These codes are still more popular on Pixiv than the katakana versions of ship names. As of late 2021, there were over 400 works tagged 悪六 compared to under 100 for アクロク. Characters are usually tagged with their names in katakana, as they appear in the games: Sora is "ソラ" as an individual and only becomes 空 when constructing a ship name or a grouping like 空組, Sora-gumi.

The codes are usually used for BL couples, since that was the content originally felt to be at risk. On Pixiv's "Kingdom Hearts Pairings" dictionary entry, it can be seen that there are similar constructions for het couples like 六潮 (RokuShio, Roxas/Xion). However, it doesn't see much use compared to ロクシオ, and ships like SoKai have no code names entered at all.

Gen relationships

Holidays

See List of Kingdom Hearts Fan Holidays for full list

Since Organization XIII members have assigned numbers, holidays are usually decided with these numbers taken into consideration. A list of holidays (mainly shipping dates) was compiled by raberbagirl on deviantart. Other holidays have included Kingdom Hearts' 10th anniversary and the years 2014 and 2015 being considered the years of Xion and Sora respectively.

Following the trend of Disney treating the date of a character's first appearance as their birthday, series creator Tetsuya Nomura stated that the anniversary of the original game's Japanese release on March 28 was Sora's birthday[3]. In honor of that tradition, some fans declared that Riku's birthday was November 11th, the original release date for Chain of Memories, the game where he became a playable character for the first time--and similarly Kairi's birthday has been declared 23 January.

Notable fan works

Fan fiction

Fan art

Zines

See List of Kingdom Hearts Zines

Fan events, other collaborative projects, and challenges

Meta/Further Reading

Communities

Livejournal

Dreamwidth

Deviantart

Resources

References

Related Concepts, Fandoms, Terms, Fanworks
See also Project Destati