SoKai vs SoRiku

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Ship War
ShipWar: SoKai vs SoRiku
Date(s): 2002/2004-present
Location: FanFiction.Net, LiveJournal, DeviantArt, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
He is Mine ! by pun-riii (2018)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

SoRiku vs Sokai a ship war in the Kingdom Hearts fandom between shippers of two Sora pairings: SoKai (Sora/Kairi) and SoRiku (Sora/Riku). It takes place on most websites where fan activity occurs.

Due to the length and notoriety of the ship war, the war itself is sometimes referenced in memes and fanworks created by fans of the series, ranging from jokes mocking the war itself to writing fanfic that directly comments on the conflict.

Overview

SoRiku and SoKai have been the most popular Sora ships since the release of the first Kingdom Hearts game in 2002, where his relationships with each of them played a key role in the plot. The ship war was already considered an infamous hotbed of toxicity during the 2006-2010 period, an especially active era in the KH fandom's history.[1] The ship war entered a new phase when Square Enix released sequels that gave more interactions and screentime to Sora’s bond with Riku than to his bond with Kairi, particularly the game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012).

Many fans feel that Kairi has been framed as a typical love interest according to the common tropes and cliches of various media, including JRPGs and shounen animanga. As a result, Kairi is most commonly seen as Sora's genre-standard love interest, even among fans who don't consider themselves shippers or as invested in any romance subplot. While the interpretation has never been explicitly confirmed by either canon media or word of god, as of 2024 it has yet to be jossed either. Thus, while SoRiku has an equal or higher volume of transformative fan works compared to SoKai fan works across various websites, the majority of casual fans treat SoKai as canon by default, regardless of their individual shipping preference (see: r/KingdomHearts, etc).

Many SoRiku shippers, even those that agree with this interpretation, argue that SoKai as presented in canon is forced and underdeveloped. They see the pair’s portrayal in the games as being pushed into a romantic relationship simply for the sake of having a het romance. Some feel that Kairi’s lack of screentime makes her feel more like a plot device than an actual character, and that the way the narrative treats her falls into the sexist trope of a female love interest being treated as a prize for the male protagonist. Others point out that while Sora clearly cares about Kairi, neither of them explicitly voice whether they define their relationship as romantic or non-romantic in canon, despite many characters acknowledging how important they are to each other. Some fans who don’t ship SoRiku agree that the portrayal of Sora and Kairi as a potential romance is forced, regardless of whether or not they personally ship SoKai.[2]

Due to the assumption that SoKai is canon by default, many fans are hostile toward SoRiku shippers because they view not believing Sora has romantic feelings for Kairi as a willful misinterpretation of canon[3][4] and a lack of respect for the franchise’s creators. Theories and meta written by SoRiku shippers are commonly dismissed as crack theories or tinhatting on the assumption that the author is misrepresenting canon in order to justify their ship, even when the theory or analysis has nothing to do with SoRiku. Meanwhile, the ideas that SoRiku shippers present in their meta are often more likely to be taken seriously by other fans when presented by someone who doesn’t ship Sora/Riku.[5][6][7][8][9] Fanworks and social media posts related to SoRiku also frequently receive unprompted comments claiming that SoKai is canon[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] and/or that SoRiku is not canon,[17][18][19] even when nothing was said in the work or post about either ship’s status. Some have also call for future games to definitively remove any chance of SoRiku ever being canon, whether by explicitly confirming SoKai or by rendering Riku ineligible as a canon love interest, in the hopes that this will make SoRiku shippers give up interpreting the pair as a couple.[20] Other fans deliberately tag SoRiku on posts and tweets containing SoKai art and headcanons, as well as screenshots they consider to be proof that SoKai is canon, resulting in SoKai content showing up in searches for SoRiku posts on sites like Tumblr and Twitter. A few SoKai shippers have even sent Direct Messages to SoRiku shippers containing spoilers for upcoming game releases in an effort to demoralize SoRiku fans by sending out-of-context clips that they claim are proof that SoKai has been confirmed as canon.[21]

Meanwhile, many fans opposed to SoRiku deny the existence of any romantic subtext in Sora and Riku’s relationship,[22] frequently referring to fans who do see the pair as romantic as “delusional”,[23] friendless,[24][25] mentally ill,[26][27] taking drugs,[28] or otherwise detached from reality.[29] Other fans acknowledge that Sora and Riku’s relationship has potential romantic subtext but insist it's only there by accident; For example, some argue that the SoRiku only seems more romantic than SoKai because Japan has different cultural norms than the United States when it comes to platonic and romantic relationships,[30] while others agree that SoKai is underdeveloped but insist that it’s only because the writers are incompetent at portraying romance in comparison to friendship[31] and that nothing will change about the ship’s chances of becoming canon.

Some fans will also comment on SoRiku-related content to try and discredit romantic interpretations of the pair[32] by providing alternate explanations for how Sora and Riku are, often without regard for canon facts;[33][34] For example, many SoRiku fanworks and social media posts discussing the Kingdom Hearts II reunion scene will receive comments claiming that Sora’s reaction to Riku is so much stronger because he already knew that Kairi was safe, despite him having specifically come to the Castle That Never Was because the Organization kidnapped her.[35] Meanwhile some fans will comment on SoRiku-based discussions of game elements that are confirmed in-game or by word of god to exclusively represent Sora and Riku to argue that those elements are not actually about Sora and Riku,[36] but instead represent Sora and Kairi[37] or the Destiny Trio as a whole.[38]

Others attempt to justify Sora and Riku’s closeness by arguing that Riku’s bond with Sora after his own redemption arc is that of a protective big brother.[39][40][41][42][43] This headcanon started receiving pushback from SoRiku shippers after it was jossed in 2020 by the official Kingdom Hearts Character Files guidebook, which featured short stories by Tomoco Kanemaki - author of all official KH novel adaptations who has also been working as a writer for the games since 358/2 Days[44] - where Sora and Riku each express that siblings is not an accurate label for their relationship. However, due to the book only having been available for 3 years as of this writing, the contents of the short stories are not common knowledge. After learning of the stories in question, many fans who support SoKai either dispute the canon status of both the guidebook and the novelizations, or attempt to argue that the wording of the stories still leaves room for Sora and Riku to see each other as siblings in canon.

Some fans agree that Sora and Riku’s relationship in canon has romantic undertones to it, but claim that it’s only there to draw in audiences and isn’t something the writers intend to ever be endgame. Others have argued that even if the game developers have the desire to make Sora/Riku canon, they will inevitably be held back from doing so by corporate executives at Square Enix and/or Disney so that the companies can continue to make money off of the series in markets that are hostile toward depictions of queerness.[45] While social acceptance of LGBTQ identities and representation of them in fictional media has increased since 2002, this argument remains a widely accepted viewpoint within many Kingdom Hearts fan spaces as of 2024, even among many SoRiku shippers.

Meanwhile, as a result of SoKai being treated as canon by default, many early SoRiku shippers active when the first few games released saw Kairi as an obstacle to Sora and Riku being able to get together. Some created fanworks that kill her off and portray her negatively in order to remove her as a competitor, as was common in slash fan spaces during the 2000s. However, many other SoRiku shippers have and continue to view her as a supportive wingwoman who happily supports Sora and Riku's romance, such as when she helped Sora see through Riku’s transformation into Ansem and realize his best friend’s identity in Kingdom Hearts II. Some headcanon Kairi as having a crush on Sora that she eventually gets over after she realizes that he doesn’t reciprocate. Others headcanon her as experiencing comphet and have her realize that she’s a lesbian, with SoRiku fanworks typically pairing her with either Selphie or Olette, most frequently as a background ship or Pair the Spares ship.

Some fans who don’t support SoRiku will interpret Riku as gay and having an unrequited crush on Sora,[46] however most pair him up with another female character in order to argue against queer interpretations of Riku. Due to his interactions with them in Chain of Memories, Days, and KH2, most non-SoRiku fans ship Riku with either Namine or Xion. Following the release of Kingdom Hearts III in 2019, many fans began claiming that the scene during the ending where Riku arrives in Radiant Garden to pick Namine up after her being given her own body again was confirmation that the Riku/Namine ship was going to be canon.[47] These claims persist even after series creator Tetsuya Nomura stated that Riku was only fulfilling a last request to the Riku Replica and the scene was edited in 2020 to remove Riku and Namine’s smiles after the release of the game’s DLC.

Due to Kairi’s lack of screen-time in comparison to Sora and Riku, many SoRiku shippers write meta about what Kairi’s role in the story is if she isn’t a love interest and speculate on ways to increase her involvement in the story. Some like the idea of Kairi actively accompanying Sora and Riku on their adventures, while others portray her spending time away from them out of a desire to see her have more on-screen friendships with other characters so that she has more going for her than just being Sora and Riku’s best friend. Regardless of what they prefer for Kairi going forward, most SoRiku shippers emphasize in their meta and speculation that Sora loving Riku romantically doesn’t mean he doesn't care about Kairi or that his relationship with her is not important.

Following the release of Dream Drop Distance in 2012, some fans began promoting the idea that Riku had nothing left to contribute to the story now that he’d fully completed his redemption arc, and that he should be killed off or sidelined in order for another character to receive more focus.[48][49][50] When the Secret Ending and DLC for Kingdom Hearts III instead set up Riku as the key to finding Sora in Quadratum, some fans began demanding that the focus of this storyline be given to Kairi and her relationship with Sora instead.[51][52]

Interpretations of canon

The fact that both sides have different interpretations of the story and what various aspects imply about the writers’ intentions is a source of further conflict in the ship war, as neither side agrees on what certain details canonically mean. As a result, what some fans consider to be evidence for their own ship is not viewed the same way by fans of the other ship. Due to the length and scope of the series, there are a wide variety of topics that spark such arguments, however there are some that are fought over more commonly than others:

  • Paopu fruit - The paopu fruit is introduced in Kingdom Hearts (2002), where Riku explains that sharing it intertwines people’s destinies and ensures that they will always remain a part of each other’s lives. In an optional conversation shortly after, Selphie tells Sora that she thinks sharing a Paopu with someone is a romantic thing to do. In Birth by Sleep (2010), Aqua creates good luck charms based on the legend and describes the fruit as representing an unbreakable connection between friends.
    • Fans who favor SoKai argue that Sora and Kairi in the first game each using drawings to express the desire to share a paopu fruit with the other is proof that the two are in love and destined to end up in a romantic relationship together, with many fans subscribing to the headcanon that the pair finally sharing paopu fruits in Kingdom Hearts III was the moment they officially became a couple.
    • Fans who favor SoRiku point out that Aqua’s platonic use of the legend in Birth by Sleep indicates that the paopu fruit is not automatically proof of romance.
  • Theme songs - Both SoRiku and SoKairi shippers believe that the three theme songs to the main numbered installments are supposed to be about their respective ships.
  • Destiny Trio reunion in Kingdom Hearts II - One of the most frequently discussed topics in debates about which ship is canon as well as conversations about the ship war itself is the contrast between Sora’s individual reunions with Riku and Kairi at the Castle That Never Was in Kingdom Hearts II. When he reunited with Kairi, Sora greeted her by saying that she’s different, but that he’s glad to see her. After she runs up and hugs him, he acts surprised, and hesitates before reciprocating. When Sora reunited with Riku, he fell to his knees and cried while clutching his friend’s hand and talking about how he look everywhere for him.
    • Non-SoRiku shippers argue that situational differences can account for the differences in Sora's emotional reactions. Kairi had been safe on their home island before being kidnapped for a relatively short amount of time, and then soon rescued; whereas Sora hadn't seen Riku safe for a year since Riku had been possessed by an evil entity, sealed in the Realm of Darkness for what was predicted to be an indefinite and potentially endless amount of time, and then later trapped in the physical form of the main villain.[53][54] Fans headcanon that Sora's apology to Kairi and shock at her hug were expressions of his shame at failing to bring Riku home as well as failing his promise to Riku to keep Kairi safe. Fans also point out that Sora was eager to reunite with both of them in the first game, after the trio had been simultaneously separated by the fall of their island to darkness; and Sora concentrated on finding and saving Kairi after reuniting with the seemingly safe Riku.
    • SoRiku shippers argue that the situational differences justification contradicts what is shown in the actual game, pointing out that Sora had already received confirmation that Riku was safe and out of the Realm of Darkness earlier from both Mickey and the Emperor of China, and had even encountered Riku himself; Meanwhile, he had spent half the game trying to get into the Organizations castle to rescue Kairi, and reacted with excited when he saw her from a distance just a few cutscenes prior to their reunion. Based on the fact that Sora had daydreamed about Kairi earlier in the game and imagined her in her KH1 appearance, many SoRiku shippers view Sora's reaction as shock at how his mental image of her no longer matches reality. Some SoRiku shippers see Sora as having had a puppy crush on Kairi in KHI that faded by the time they reunited, and headcanon his reaction to her hug in their reunion as the moment he realized that he wasn't attracted to her anymore. Others believe that any potential romantic subtext between them prior to that moment was the result of comphet—that he thought he liked her romantically because everyone around him kept assuming he did, but that in this moment he realized that the way he felt about her did not match how someone in love was supposed to feel.
    • Some shippers dismiss the reunion sequence in KHII as evidence that Riku and Kairi cherish each other as friends, and instead theorize other explanations that would support the headcanon of them being bitter love rivals who only tolerate each other for Sora's sake.
  • Parallels with canon couples - Fans on each side point out parallels between their respective ship and canon couples from Disney movies and the Final Fantasy series to argue that their ship has more canon support.
  • How Kairi and Riku feel about each other - Because the ship war revolves around which of them is Sora's true love interest, how Riku and Kairi feel about each other is a recurring source of conflict in the ship war.
    • Most fans view all three as being best friends who all care about each other equally, which has resulted in other interpretations being treated as a deliberate misinterpretation of the characters.
    • However, some believe that she and Riku are not as close to each other as they are to Sora based on the fact that the two are rarely ever shown interacting with each other one-on-one onscreen, as well as her joking at the beginning of the first game that she and Sora should take the raft that Riku had built and leave him behind. Since these beliefs tend to be more popular in SoRiku communities, other fans frequently treat it as an attempt to demonize Kairi in order to justify SoRiku. Among fans who support this interpretation, opinions vary as to the specifics of how Riku and Kairi feel about each other:
      • Some interpret them as actively disliking each other and only tolerating each other for Sora's sake.
      • Others see them as friends of Sora who hang out together when Sora's there and get along just fine but otherwise aren't close friends with each other.
      • Another contingent argues that while Riku and Kairi were close friends growing up and clearly still care about each other in canon, their lack of one-on-one interactions and the fact that Kairi never shown apologizes for her joke indicate that they've grown distant from each other due to some unresolved issues between them. Fans of this theory often headcanon that Riku somehow overheard Kairi's joke about leaving him and that this contributed to his decision to open the door in the Secret Place and cause their world to fall into darkness. The fact that Kairi's comment has not received any follow-up in canon is headcanoned as Kairi and Riku each being afraid to bring it up due to their individual insecurities and mutually choosing to avoid the subject rather than address it. Some fans view this headcanon as pinning responsibility for Riku's villain arc on Kairi, contriving hurt that she never canonically caused.

Accusations of Misogyny

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 KH fans;[56] Kairi was commonly labeled as a "bitch",[57][58][59] "whore",[60][61][62][63] and "slut".[64][65][66][67][68][69][70] She was bashed as a mean girl queen bee fueled by jealousy and malice in her personal quest to deliberately sabotage Sora and Riku's relationship; and she was the subject of some infamous fan works in which she was gruesomely killed as punishment for these unlikable traits.[71][72] Among Kairi's haters, SoRiku shippers gained a reputation for being an especially vocal and even toxic contingent.[1][73][74][75] Some SoRiku shippers have agreed that excessive hate toward Kairi has been a problem among SoRiku shippers.

relation to the KH fandom, I'm a little miffed and frustrated by the running theme of 'zomg Kairi is a bitch!!1!!11', and the fact that it gives the slashers a bad rap in a lot of other people's eyes.

I don't hate Kairi. Kairi is a great character, as they all are. The fact I enjoy shipping the boys together does not change that.

Nor does the fact I write fanfiction about Sora/Riku and Axel/Roxas mean I automatically slaughter their characterisation to make them do what I want.

I for one can't stand all the terrible fanfiction that exists in those ships. I hate ghastly OOC-ness, character-bashing, OOC character bashing... (yes, I'm talking about Kairi. Some people who ship Riku and Sora -do- get the fact the three of them are close friends who went through a lot together and thus Kairi is not the antichrist, the boys -don't- hate her, and she is not the worst thing about the entire game)

It frustrates me most of all that there are people who don't like said ships -because- of all those things. We don't all do it. It's not fair to group us all together. >.< [76]

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not inherently against Soriku. It's by no means my OTP, but I have seen many a Soriku fanart that I've snickered and awwwed at its cuteness and/or smexiness. The subtext is there, yes, this I will fully admit. And when done right, it can be quite fun.

But I seriously CANNOT stand the Kairi!Hate that often goes along with it. The idea that Kairi is a bitch/whore/whatever whose sole purpose is to separate Sora and Riku from their TWU WUV is absolutely MADDENING because it has NO BASIS in canon or even in *subtext* and is essentially a way for fanits to "get Kairi out of the way" of their Sora and Riku shagging each other. If nothing, this trying to get *rid* of Kairi is a testament to just how important she is to Sora (and to Riku, for that matter!)[77]

Overt misogyny became less common and accepted in online spaces during the 2010s. However, the history of misogyny toward Kairi among the series' fanbase still colors the dominant image of how SoRiku shippers are perceived by the rest of the fandom in the 2020s.

The "misogynistic yaoi fangirl" remains one of the most common stereotypes of fans who ship Sora with Riku, to the point where some many fans who support SoKai treat shipping SoRiku as inherently synonymous with hatred of Kairi as a character.[78][79][80] This has led to several instances where fanworks and social media posts by SoRiku shippers have been falsely accused of hating and vilifying Kairi simply because the original poster ships SoRiku,[81][82] regardless of whether it's a meta about Kairi, or a post just talking about SoRiku that doesn't even mention her.[83] Others have accused SoRiku shippers of attacking other fans and trying to start a fight simply for making a post that interpreted Sora and Kairi's bond as platonic.[84]

In the 2020s, many Kairi and SoKai fans complain that SoRiku shippers still downplay key moments in canon that emphasize Kairi's bonds with Sora and/or Riku,[85] ignore her achievements, misrepresent her character,[86] and promote sidelining her even more than she already has been in order to elevate the exclusive bond between Sora and Riku—resulting in a female character being further erased from an already androcentric narrative.

Am I the only one slightly concerned that every Sora or Riku thread at some point derails into really sappy honest SoRiku-consideration / -dismissal talk, while all Kairi gets is "woman in the kitchen" clichés?[87]

Some SoRiku shippers argue that these complaints are based on fanon and differing interpretations of Kairi rather than concrete facts, viewing the fans making such complaints as embellishing her accomplishments and overstating her importance to the story to compensate for her lack of focus in canon.

Other SoRiku fans have complained that the fandom applies a double standard to SoRiku shippers’ opinions about Kairi, pointing to the lack of accusations of misogyny when fans who favor SoKai criticize the way she's written in canon, portray her as a jealous yandere toward Sora[88][89], or create fan theories where she turns evil as examples.

Still just a bit bitter about how popular dudebros can fantasize about dark twisted semi evil K//airi meanwhile Sor//ikus can’t even gingerly suggest that she was used as a pawn exactly like virtually every single other character in the series without getting called misogynistic[90]

A few even argue that the accusations of misogyny in the 2020s are hypocritical, and that fans who equate shipping SoRiku with erasing Kairi are acting as if she has no value to the narrative outside of being shipped with the male protagonist.

Some SoRiku shippers in the 2020s complain that talking about Kairi in any capacity is a no-win situation for those who ship Sora with Riku; that when they restrict their discussions about her to private spaces instead of sharing their opinions publicly, they are accused of trying to erase her and her relationship with Sora; but that when they do share their thoughts about Kairi on public platforms, everything they say is automatically interpreted by non-SoRiku fans as bashing and vilifying her, even when their opinions of her are positive, simply because they interpret her bond with Sora as platonic and/or their interpretation of her character goes against popular fanon.

Accusations of Homophobia

Because SoRiku is a slash pairing and a large portion of its supporters are LGBTQ+ themselves, the ship is frequently subjected to both overtly homophobic vitriol as well as homophobic dog whistles from other fans;[91][92][93] For example, many negative comments about SoRiku attempt to frame the ship itself as inherently taboo and immoral and fans who support it as sexual predators[94] – commonly by either promoting the double standard that queerness is inherently sexual and therefore inappropriate because of the characters’ canon ages while straight romance is inherently safe for children,[95][96][97][98][99][100][101] or by using the headcanon that the two are like brothers to imply that romantic interpretations of their bond are promoting incest.[102][103]

Never forgot that Twitter mf;

Gets mad because someone tweeted the possibility of Sora liking a man.

Answers about how it’s wrong to “““sexualize””” a 17yo teenager.

Proceeds to answer someone else about how Sora will “eat out” Kairi’s.[104]

really suspicious how people compare to unrelated men to siblings to make reading their relationship as romantic gross and taboo without being blatantly homophobic about it if you ask me

like you can’t just say “i think shipping these two men is gross” so you have to tack on that it’s because they’re PRACTICALLY brothers because of how close they are so shipping them is like yucky incest like…just say you think men being romantically intimate is gross and go.

[105]

Other comments promote double-standards against queer pairings and representation; For example, some KH fans claim that Sora and Riku becoming a couple would ruin the story’s themes because “the series is about friendship",[106] but have no issue with - or even support - the idea of romance between Sora and Kairi.[107][108] Others argue that various interactions between Sora and Riku commonly seen as romantic by SoRiku shippers are not proof of romance, but also use the same type of interaction between Sora and Kairi as proof of romantic feelings. Many fans will also complain that people can be friends without it automatically leading to romance,[109] yet react to platonic interpretations of Sora and Kairi’s bond as if the only alternative to him loving her romantically is not caring about her all.

The post: sora realizes that he doesn’t love kairi romantically but still loves/cares about her platonically that’s why the awkwardness is gone

The comments: HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT SORA DOESNT CARE ABOUT KAIRI ANYMORE?!?

[110]

Many fans are also hostile towards anything that associates Sora and/or Riku with the LGBTQ community in any capacity[111]. Social media posts that headcanon either character as queer or feature them decorated in pride flags without mentioning a specific ship will receive comments asserting that their interactions with a female character such as Kairi or Namine are proof of canonical heterosexuality[112][113][114][115].

Some fans who support SoKai agree that the homophobia toward fans who interpret Sora and Riku as a couple is a problem among SoKai fans.[116][117]

Some fans feel that SoRiku shippers who accuse people of being homophobic go too far and make such accusations over any disagreement with their own opinions, even when the other person is also a SoRiku shipper. When accused of homophobia for their responses to SoRiku content, some will also argue that they cannot be homophobic because they are LGBTQ+ themselves and/or they ship a different same-gender pairing.[118][119][120][121][122][123][124]

Other fans, whether they personally ship SoRiku or not, have countered that being queer and/or shipping non-straight pairings does not exempt people from holding anti-LGBTQ biases, and feel that fans who use it as their defense are doing so in order in order to shield themselves from being criticized for their behavior. Some have also said that it’s not the difference in shipping opinions that people are accused of being homophobic for, but the fact that they go out of their way to comment their dissent on any SoRiku fan works they find.[125][126][127][128][129][130]

Get this, anyone can harbor homophobic attitudes without even realizing it. Not all homophobia is explicit hate and hurling slurs at gay people on the street.[131]

Do you also jump onto posts of people talking about a S//ora and K//airi romance and try to shame them for “pushing romantic ships on a game with children”? No? Why is that? Why the double standard? Maybe it’s something you need to examine. Just a thought. [132]

I've seen this happen multiple times where straight guys will use LeaIsa as the gay ship to prove they're not homophobic. Its just so annoying when we all know that they're only 'comfortable' with LeaIsa because they're side characters with not a lot of screentime. 💀 [133]

My two cents about recent dicussions: I am sure dudebros only use Leaisa to prove they're not homophobic because they have been a duo so far. The second subject x was introduced, some of them already debunk leaisa because "Isa is in love with her" so its the same old story 🙄🙄🙄[134]

No one would be calling you homophobic for seeing them as brothers (despite being canonically incorrect) if you would just stop telling sorikus your unawarrented opinion every time we make a post about them being gay[135]

Opinions on the War

The SoRiku vs SoKai conflict represents only a portion of the Kingdom Hearts fandom.

Among the general fandom, the most common perception of the ship war blames new incidents on SoRiku shippers being overzealous in their desire to prove that their ship is canon,[136][137] or believes that both sides are equally at fault for the latest instance of shipping wank.[138][139]

In the 2020s, some SoRiku shippers and other fans feel that the content algorithms on social media sites such as Twitter or Tumblr are to blame for continued hostilities between the two sides, pointing out how the tabs for trending topics display posts regardless of context, causing posts intended only for the original poster's circle of mutuals to be exposed to a much larger audience that lacks the context to recognize when the original poster is making a joke.[140] Others blame it on fans opposed to SoRiku actively choosing to interact with SoRiku-focused content instead of using whichever filtering tools are available to them on a given website to avoid content for the ship.[141][142][143][144]

Y’all love talking about how we start shit when we’re just minding our own business but then YOU decide to jump onto our tweets to tell us how wrong we are because you didn’t like our version of the story. If you’re upset by it, block us. Ignore us. Scroll. It’s not that hard. [145]

“riku is in love with sora”

“cool! but—“

no. i didn’t ask for buts. if i wanted content that wasn’t exclusively this statement i would’ve asked for it. i see that all the time. why can’t ppl just agree or disagree (and not say anything) to a finalised tweet? smh[146]

Many fans, regardless of shipping preference, have expressed a desire for both sides to stop fighting and get along. In an effort to promote compromise between SoRiku and SoKai shippers, some fans advocate for everyone involved to ship SoRiKai so that neither side feels that their OTP is being excluded,[147][148][149][150][151][152] frequently using the phrase "Sora has two hands" to declare that Sora loves both Riku and Kairi equally.[153]

Both of these approaches have been criticized by SoRiku fans for ignoring the homophobia they've experienced for interpreting Sora and Riku as queer, as well as the hostility they've faced from SoKai shippers toward the idea that Sora has romantic feelings for anyone other than Kairi.

Fans promoting SoRiKai have been criticized in particular because of how they deliberately jump into the comments of posts that exclusively ship SoRiku in order to push their own ship,[154][155][156][157][158] but rarely ever do the same to SoKai or RiKai shippers.[159] This behavior has also been criticized for treating polyamory and bisexuality as a shield to frame their ship as inherently morally superior. As a result, SoRiku shippers who have received comments promoting SoRiKai on their SoRiku content complain that the fans advocating this come across as SoKai fans who begrudgingly recognize the queer subtext of Sora and Riku's bond but refuse to tolerate a platonic interpretation of Sora and Kairi's, rather than people who genuinely enjoy shipping the Destiny Trio as a romantic polycule.[160][161]

In response, some SoRiKai shippers have accused SoKai and SoRiku shippers of being biphobic and mononormative due to supposedly disproportionately intense backlash against a bisexual polyamorous ship.

Meanwhile many SoRiku shippers in the 2020s have complained about how fandom stereotypes from 2004-2010s are used to demonize SoRiku shippers and justify automatically treating everything they say as either a continuation of the stereotypical bashing of Kairi, or as a tinhat conspiracy theory twisting or ignoring facts to prove that their ship is canon[162]:

Dude someone gets introduced to soriku and the replies are like OH GOD OH NO THE SORIKUS

sorikus: talking about nature, cats, dogs and birds

Like seriously i get curious what do they think we are gonna do to someone lol

For that matter, what people they think we ARE?

[163]


Dear people who hate sorikus:

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe - just maybe - instead of mocking us, shit-talking us behind our backs, treating us like we're insane...you could actually listen to us? Engage in genuine conversation? Get our side of the story- (1/4)
-before immediately assuming the worst? Especially when we use clips and screenshots to back up whatever we're saying to prove that we're not making things up. Instead of accusing us of "twisting narratives", you could actually hear us out, with an open mind? (2/4)
Everyone else in this fandom is free to talk/theorize about whatever they want, but for some reason, we're the ones who get frowned upon no matter what we say. If you want this fandom to be more "tolerable", you could start by treating us like we're part of it. (3/4)
No more one-sided discourse, please. We're tired of you putting words in our mouths to make us look bad. And we're tired of feeling the need to defend ourselves from people making us out like we're literal villains. We're just trying enjoy what we enjoy, like you. (4/4)

[164]

Soriku shippers discussing the meta of the paopu scene on their own accounts is not discourse, is not 'ship bashing', is not 'character hate'. Please stop twisting 'people interpreting canon in a way i dont like/agree with' to fit your narrative of 'toxic sorikus'. Im so tired.[165]


Some SoRiku shippers have also criticized how even fans that present themselves as neutral and wanting people to co-exist still feel the need to emphasize the assumption that all SoKai interpretations are canon and all SoRiku interpretations are fanon.[166]

Meanwhile, many LGBTQ fans of SoRiku have expressed feeling hurt and unwelcome in Kingdom Hearts fan spaces because of how often they're told that they're delusional for interpreting Sora and Riku as queer.

The more valid and possible and blatant Sora and Riku’s feelings become, the more painful the queer phobia is. It’s not that we just think they’re cute together—we see ourselves in this narrative.
By saying we’re delusional for seeing/hoping for this.... people are saying our experiences and how we feel and understand love is delusional. And that’s not “opinion” anymore. That’s fucking hurtful.[167]

Other SoRiku shippers who have been active for multiple periods of the fandom's history have also argued that the homophobia from SoKai shippers is worse in the 2020s than it was in the previous decades.[168][169]

As a result, some SoRiku shippers in the 2020s have begun to resist labeling the conflict between SoRiku and SoKai fans as a ship war due to their own experiences consisting exclusively of SoKai shippers going out of their way to attack SoRiku shippers for interpreting the characters as anything other than heterosexual.

it doesn’t feel like “fighting over ships” when one side is just asking the other to stop jumping on our posts to tell us how wrong we are for enjoying the gay[170]

Meta

In fan works and fanon

  • Jealous Kairi, evil Kairi, yandere Kairi.
  • Kairi dies, sometimes after being gruesomely tortured and murdered for her crimes
  • Fans headcanon that Riku overheard Kairi's joke about abandoning him and running away with Sora, and that this contributed to his decision to open the door in the Secret Place which triggered Destiny Islands' fall to darkness; their lack of onscreen one-on-one interactions in later games is used as evidence that they never properly talked about how she hurt him with that comment. Some headcanon this moment as evidence of Kairi scheming to drive Sora and Riku apart.
  • Riku as a mere cheerleader for Sora and Kairi's romance.
  • Riku and Kairi don't actually like each other, and they only tolerate each other for Sora's sake.
  • Some fans in the 2010s and 2020s headcanon that Riku is being built up to die or be sidelined now that his redemption arc is complete so that Kairi and her relationship with Sora can receive more screentime.

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ including Snow White and her Prince Charming, Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, Cinderella and her Prince Charming, Princess Ariel and Prince Eric, Donald and Daisy, Hercules and Meg, Simba and Nala, Belle and Beast, Mulan and Li Shang, Esmeralda and Phoebus, Aladdin and Jasmine, Mickey and Minnie

References

  1. ^ a b KH FANFIC STEREOTYPES (2016)
  2. ^ comment on a forum post about LGBT relationships in KH from a non-shipper expressing that SoKai feels forced
  3. ^ Response to a forum thread discussing whether SoKai or SoRiku is better
  4. ^ [1]<ref>QRT of a SoRiku shipper's platonic interpretation of SoKai accusing the OP of misinterpreting canon
  5. ^ Tweet showing screenshots of Sokai fans tweeting about theories alongside screenshots from Soriku accounts tweeting the same theories several months earlier.
  6. ^ Soriku account explaining the double-standard to a fan who hadn't encountered it before.
  7. ^ QRT of a soriku fan complaining about BNF YouTubers being praised for presenting that were dismissed as conspiracies when Soriku shippers presented them.
  8. ^ twitter thread complaining about this phenomenon.
  9. ^ tweet commenting on the automatic assumptions the fandom makes about slash shippers.
  10. ^ a sokai shipper responding to a soriku tweet about how they feel when thinking about sora and riku’s love for each other by stating that sokai is canon.
  11. ^ a sokai shipper telling a storyboard artist who developed a pilot for a KH TV Show in the early 2000s who just learned about soriku for the first time that SoKai is canon.
  12. ^ a tweet from a Kingdom Hearts fan account reminding the fandom that no ships are currently canon whose first comment was a sokai shipper insisting that their pairing is canon.
  13. ^ response to a soriku fan’s platonic interpretation of sora and kairi.
  14. ^ another response to a soriku fan’s platonic interpretation of sora and kairi.
  15. ^ a comment on Soriku art insisting that sokai is canon.
  16. ^ a QRT claiming that SoRiku shippers are not real fans because SoKai has always been canon.
  17. ^ responses to a soriku tweet insisting that sora and riku are just friends.
  18. ^ tweet showing a screenshot of a review left on a SoRiku fic
  19. ^ a comment on SoRiku art insisting that sora is straight
  20. ^ I want Riku to sink the SoRiku ship so bad even fanfiction can't bring it back<ref>Tweet saying Nomura should make Sora and Kairi kiss to make SoRiku shippers stop shipping SoRiku
  21. ^ one of the recipients of these DMs complaining about the experience
  22. ^ Forum post arguing that there's been no evidence for SoRiku
  23. ^ tweet displaying a screenshot showing comments on youtube videos calling soriku shippers delusional.
  24. ^ a reply to a SoRiku tweet insisting that they can tell that the OP "never had a good bro or friendly rival like Riku"
  25. ^ reply to a SoRiku tweet asking how many friends OP has
  26. ^ QRT of a SoRiku tweet associating romantic interpretations of Sora and Riku's bond with projection and mental illness
  27. ^ "if you think those 2 are gay. You've got issues"
  28. ^ a reply to a soriku thread arguing that believe the ship is intended as endgame asking if OP was on drugs when they wrote it.
  29. ^ a thread dismissing soriku interpretations of the story as originating from fantasy rather than the actual games.
  30. ^ Forum post claiming that Sora and Kairi's reunion in KH2 is the equivalent of a kiss in Japanese culture
  31. ^ i feel like people arguing that soriku has been planned this whole time are grasping at straws
  32. ^ response to a SoRiku tweet that treats the use of the word friend in-game as proof that Sora and Riku's bond is exclusively platonic
  33. ^ a twitter conversation discussing an article written by a Sokai shipper that dismisses a statement of canon fact regarding how Sora and Riku see their relationship as subjective opinion.
  34. ^ Soriku shipper providing examples of sokai fans making false claims about the story.
  35. ^ a twitter thread outlining how a common Sokai talking point to dismiss the romantic undertones of Sora and Riku’s reunion contradicts what is shown in canon.
  36. ^ response to a tweet about the series' theme song Dearly Beloved being stated in-game as the sound of Riku and Sora's hearts
  37. ^ </nowiki> twitter exchange in response to the same tweet arguing that the soung could represent Sora and Kairi
  38. ^ comment on a twitter thread about sokai shippers treating various sora and kairi moments in KH3 as symbols of marriage talking about how the commenter was DMed by Sokai shippers who insisted that the combined keyblade that Sora and Riku form in Dream Drop Distance has elements representing Kairi to make it a symbol of the Destiny Trio.
  39. ^ forum post that the male characters in KH can be viewed as loving each other in a brotherly way but not romantically
  40. ^ response to a forum thread about Sora and Riku fitting together better than Sora and Kairi
  41. ^ Sora and Riku are brothers argument example A
  42. ^ Sora and Riku are brothers argument example B
  43. ^ Sora and Riku are like brothers argument example C
  44. ^ 358/2 Days Ultimania - Main Nomura Interview
  45. ^ Disney as the main obstacle to SoRiku being canon.
  46. ^ [2]
  47. ^ Forum post claiming that ReMind teased RikuNami
  48. ^ Speculation that Riku will die in KH3
  49. ^ twitter conversation discussing an article written by a Sokai shipper that speculates Riku will be replaced because there isn't anything left for him to contribute to the story.
  50. ^ tweet claiming that Riku going to save Sora alone would be boring compared to the build up of Kairi's importance
  51. ^ A tweet claiming that Kairi has the best chance of saving Sora because their connection is deeper than his other bonds
  52. ^ A thread comparing arguments for Riku's mission to be given to Kairi with other narratives.
  53. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/3exjux/soras_reuniting_with_kaiririku_in_kh2/
  54. ^ https://old.reddit.com/r/KingdomHearts/comments/7lqbfw/kh2_why_was_sora_so_much_more_emotional_reuniting/
  55. ^ gifset demonstrating parallels between Soriku and canon Disney couples
  56. ^ https://khfanficrants.livejournal.com/346185.html
  57. ^ "The bitches $Kairi$ must DIE"WBM
  58. ^ "The Way Kingdom Hearts Should've Been..."
  59. ^ [3]
  60. ^ "Kingdom Hearts Stereotypes" by emily-bright (2009)
  61. ^ [4]
  62. ^ [5]
  63. ^ [6]
  64. ^ [7]
  65. ^ [8]
  66. ^ [9]
  67. ^ [10]
  68. ^ [11]
  69. ^ [12]
  70. ^ [13]
  71. ^ "The Horribly Bloody Death of Kairi"
  72. ^ https://www.deviantart.com/kairi-haters/art/Death-to-Kairi-by-RikuGirl-35993732
  73. ^ https://khfanficrants.livejournal.com/114241.htmlWBM (2006)
  74. ^ https://khfanficrants.livejournal.com/261889.html
  75. ^ And because Kairi is portrayed as Sora's love interest , those who do ship SoRiku detest her for "getting in the way of Riku and Sora's awesome sexy times". But as said, not every yaoi fangirl does this to the pair. The ones that do just make sure the whole internet hears.
  76. ^ https://khfanficrants.livejournal.com/63905.html
  77. ^ https://www.deviantart.com/lynxgriffin/journal/Just-a-Little-Random-Rant-249477453
  78. ^ QRT of a Soriku fan sharing an analysis of Kairi accusing the theory's co-creator of not caring about Kairi
  79. ^ Example of sokai shipper treating being a soriku shipper as synonymous with hating kairi.
  80. ^ joke tweet making fun of how quick sokai shippers are to accuse soriku fans of hating kairi.
  81. ^ a KH fan complaining about other people lying about the contents of the Sleeping Realm Theory.
  82. ^ a complaint about sokai shippers accusing a fan theory that Sora is slowly losing his memories of Riku towards the end of KH3 of claiming Kairi is evil.
  83. ^ a Twitter conversation in which a sokai shipper replies to a tweet about soriku accusing them of hating Kairi, and other replies point out that nothing was said about Kairi at all.
  84. ^ QRT of a SoRiku shipper's platonic interpretation of SoKai arguing that it must be bait
  85. ^ An example of these accusations.
  86. ^ another example
  87. ^ https://www.khinsider.com/forums/index.php?threads/why-didnt-kairi-take-the-exam.215534/post-6496186
  88. ^ reddit post shaowing rt of Kairi calling Strelitzia a "thieving cat" with several comments expressing approval
  89. ^ art of Kairi getting angry at Sora for living with Strelitzia in Quadratum
  90. ^ a tweet discussing this double-standard
  91. ^ tweet complaining about getting called a homophobic slur for liking SoRiku
  92. ^ reply to a QRT of a soriku tweet in which the commenter states that Soriku shippers' behavior supports the argument that homosexuality is a mental illness
  93. ^ Tweet showing a screenshot of a KH fan calling SoRiku shippers toxic and referring to them with a homophobic slur
  94. ^ Tweet insinuating that SoRiku shippers have child porn on their computers
  95. ^ Response to a "Reasons why Kingdom Hearts is Gay" forum thread
  96. ^ QRT of a SoRiku tweet characterizing the OP as inherently wanting Sora and Riku to have sex
  97. ^ another QRT of the same tweet expressing the same sentiment and commenting on Sora and Riku being children
  98. ^ reply to a Soriku fan saying "no one in KH is gay" and telling soriku fans to "stop shipping minors"
  99. ^ a complaint about how the people calling soriku shippers creepy for seeing Sora as queer make jokes about sora going to strip clubs.
  100. ^ a soriku artist sharing the direct messages they received from a Sokai shipper attacking them for shipping soriku, as well as comments on their soriku art
  101. ^ Tweet replying to a "Kingdom Hearts is gay" headcanon saying that to a straight fan the series is "wholesome", then immediately saying that "Sora is into pussy."
  102. ^ response to conversations about SoRiku in a thread about the possibility of LGBT relationships in KH3
  103. ^ another response to the same forum thread
  104. ^ never forgot that twitter mf.
  105. ^ a twitter conversation about why commenting "they’re brothers" on soriku fanworks is bad
  106. ^ "kh is all friendship and even family"
  107. ^ a tweet showing screenshots of a sokai shipper commenting on youtube that sora and kairi sharing the paopu fruit was the narrative equivalent of a marriage proposal.
  108. ^ a complaint about the double standard
  109. ^ KH fan complaining about male friendships being viewed as romantic by other fans
  110. ^ a summary of the replies to a SoRiku shipper's platonic interpretation of Sora and Kairi's bond
  111. ^ tumblr post anti-shippers have exactly two arguments
  112. ^ tweet disparaging gimmick account for saying that Sora is bisexual
  113. ^ 2 het shipper using kairi and namine to prove sora and riku don't have feelings for each other
  114. ^ a reply to a pair of soriku drawings on twitter insisting that Sora isn't gay because he's going to end up with Kairi
  115. ^ QRT of a SoRiku tweet by a spanish-speaking fan asking how anyone can think Sora and Riku are gay when Sora is in a relationship with Kairi
  116. ^ Tweet expressing distress at seeing unprompted homophobic comments directed toward soriku in the comments on SoKai fan works
  117. ^ A SoKai fan calls out the homophobia in their ship's fanbase
  118. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example A
  119. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example B
  120. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example C
  121. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example D
  122. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example E
  123. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example F
  124. ^ fans complaining about homophobia accusations example G
  125. ^ Tweet complaining about a fan who harassed soriku content while claiming to not be homophobic
  126. ^ Two tweets complaining about how people feel the need to share their negative opinion of SoRiku any time they see fan content for the ship
  127. ^ twitter exchange of two fans complaining about other fans' refusal to tolerate soriku interpretations of the series
  128. ^ tweet from a shipping-neutral gimmick account
  129. ^ a tweet satirizing the behavior and words of anti-SoRiku fans
  130. ^ a reply to a tweet calling SoRiku fans crazy for allegedly accusing people of homophobia for not shipping SoRiku
  131. ^ tweet complaining about fans denying homophobia
  132. ^ a twitter exchange in which this double standard is called out
  133. ^ twitter conversation about people dragging LeaIsa into Soriku vs SoKai discourse
  134. ^ a LeaIsa shipper commenting on fans using the ship to claim they aren't homophobic
  135. ^ tweet commenting on fans claiming to be accused of homophobia just for seeing sora and riku as brothers
  136. ^ responses to a storyboard artist who made a cancelled KH tv show pilot in the early 2000s learning about soriku for the first time and acting as if he’s putting a target on his back.
  137. ^ - an article “defending” heterosexual interpretations of sora and riku’s reunion in kingdom hearts 2 written in response to a twitch streamer getting dogpiled by sokai shippers after he interpreted Sora and Riku’s reunion as romantic.
  138. ^ soriku and sokai fans stop fighting for 5 seconds holy shit
  139. ^ tweet saying that both sides are terrible
  140. ^ complaining about jokes being taken seriously
  141. ^ s0kais need to back off and stop looking at soriku stuff
  142. ^ tweet pointing out that interacting with SoRiku content will cause the algorithm to show you more of it
  143. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20230827000328/https://twitter.com/anemosandwich/status/1695575732544561651 soriku shipper finds out a fan who hates their ship was following their Twitter account]
  144. ^ another soriku shipper finds out a fan who hates their ship was following their Twitter account
  145. ^ tweet urging other fans to block SoRiku content if they don't want to see it
  146. ^ a tweet complaining about this phenomenon followed by a reply containing a screenshot demonstrating it.
  147. ^ How to solve a "shipping war"
  148. ^ The Sokai and the Soriku wars can finally end now
  149. ^ example of Sorikais framing the poly ship as a compromise
  150. ^ reblog of a ship popularity poll on tumblr pitting soriku against sorikai with tags stating that sorikai is "soriku but extra better"
  151. ^ reblog of the same poll with tags stating that sorikai is the best of both worlds between soriku and sokai
  152. ^ reblog of the same poll with tags placing the poly ship as superior and urging voters not to leave Kairi by herself
  153. ^ Sora has two hands example A
  154. ^ example A
  155. ^ example B
  156. ^ example C
  157. ^ example D
  158. ^ example E
  159. ^ A sorikai shipper demonstrating this phenomenon and being criticized for it
  160. ^ Sorikai shipper announcing that they're going to block anyone who makes the "sora has two hands" comment on soriku tweets
  161. ^ criticism of sorikais
  162. ^ A SoRiku fan describing what their experience with the conflict has been
  163. ^ Tweet commenting on other fans treating SoRiku shippers like a boogeyman
  164. ^ Twitter thread asking sokai shippers to treat soriku theories with respect instead of vilifying them.
  165. ^ a complaint about the demonization of platonic interpretations of Sora and Kairi scenes
  166. ^ A twitch streamer sharing a screenshot of a Kingdom Hearts fan declaring that everyone is free to interpret characters how they want while stating that Sora is straight in canon
  167. ^ twitter thread explaining this reaction
  168. ^ twitter thread from a soriku artist summarizing their feelings about the increase in homophobia
  169. ^ it’s genuinely so upsetting to see how the harassment of soriku artists by homophobic so/kai fans has gotten so bad
  170. ^ a tweet and replies by soriku shippers discussing their frustration with being blamed for incidents that SoKai shippers instigated.
Related Concepts, Fandoms, Terms, Fanworks
See also Destiny Trio