Xion (Kingdom Hearts)
|Name:||No. XIV, Xion; No. i|
|Relationships:||Roxas (friend); Axel friend; Sora (origin)|
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Xion is a supporting character in the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
Xion was introduced to the series in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (2009). She is shown to be a close friend of Roxas and Axel, but her existence is forgotten at the end of the game. She is revealed to be a duplicate of Sora, whose identity was created by Sora's memories of Kairi specifically, causing her to have the same face as Kairi and Naminé.
She reappears in Kingdom Hearts III (2019), and is reunited with Roxas and Axel (as Lea).
Reception and popularity
Xion was initially treated with hostility by the fanbase, because prior to 358/2 Days, it had been assumed that Roxas and Axel were each other's only best friends during Roxas's time in Organization XIII. She was decried both as a Mary Sue retcon and as an attempt to kill Akuroku. Comparisons were drawn between Xion, who strongly resembles Kairi with black hair, and fan-made Keyblade-wielding original characters "lazily" designed by recoloring official art of an existing canon character.
Ahhhhhh, well you see, the OG hate for Xion really stemmed from the marketing for the game. I don't have time to dig it up right now, but most of the information we got about Days leading up to it's highly anticipated release in 2009 came from Famitsu. For months, the magazine pushed the narrative that you played as Roxas and fought alongside the Organization, and learned more about the members, and it's totally an Organization fanservice game.
Right? Okay? You with me? (Also, just for clarity, the following is told truthfully, but sarcastically. Try not to get too offended)
A couple months prior to the release, they released a teaser dropping the unidentified 14th member bomb on the fandom, and it was not really that well recieved. Like, the simple fact that there was a 14th member in Organization XIII was not well received.
Okay? Still with me?
Then about a month before release, they revealed Xion's face (talk about spoilers, lmao), her name, and that she and Roxas were friends and both wield the Kingdom Key, AND that she seems to be friendly with Riku.
And then the Great Flame Wars erupted...into flames. Literally.
People were furious. Xion was synonymous with a Mary Sue, and the game hadn't even released yet. And then when the game was released, she still ticked off all the Mary Sue boxes and became a martyr. The fandom, in general, was not happy at all, that this was canon.
Thus started the very heated stigma against the "side games" adding "irrelevant content" that "ruined" the greatness of KH2, thus, obviously the "side games" could totally be skipped, right? This intense hatred carried over to BBS's release, where the hate train for Aqua, while not as severe as for Xion, was still highly toxic. Because at this point, the only girl characters in the series are obviously just Mary Sues sent in to both disrupt the gay (AkuRoku fandom was at its height, and SoRiku fans were also irritated at Xion, since she just gets along with everybody, of course) and "ruin the story". Aka, ruin Roxas, because obviously giving him a fridged girlfriend to be mad about is what he needed to leave the Organization. Obviously.
So, uh, yeah. (Back to less sarcastic now, for clarity). The hate for Xion, and by extension Days, is a lot more than just hating the character or game itself. Because you're correct, if you actually play the game, it's actually pretty good and Xion is....well, she is a Mary Sue. She's like the Rey of the series, except she dies. And then comes back to life, because no one actually dies in Kingdom Hearts.
If anything, that's my only long lasting complaint about Xion. I wish she would've just stayed dead, considering how many themes they tied to her and how her death symbolized a lot of what the games embody (the whole, "the people you love are always with you in your heart, because mEmOrIeS", hence why it's so dang sad when Roxas and Axel lose their memories of her....and also, that's the root of the "Who?" meme, not people's ignorance of the game itself). Like, SE wanted to go down the tragic character route, did it, and then reversed gears because the fandom wanted her back.
Yep. You read that correctly. The same fandom that dumpster fired Xion before Days even released, and spent years complaining the she even existed, also complained that she died.
I remember when Days was first announced and the fandom was in an bloody uproar over Xion, for many of the reasons stated above: yet another different colored Kairi, seemingly randomly inserted character into what was a duo of best friends, and hits many of the marks for a ‘Mary Sue’.
It took me probably halfway-3/4ths into playing Days to warm to her character back in 2009. I was more invested in seeing the dynamics of the Organization 13 members we already knew, particularly Axel and Roxas, rather than a sudden 14th member who happened to be a girl seemingly set up for a Roxas love interest. I also liked Larxene being the token girl.
But that being said, her story arc was complex and tragic, left marks on her friends even when they ‘forgot’ her and I grew to very much appreciate her and her relationship with Axel and Roxas, which led to them being my favorite trio to this day. Her interacting with Namine and Riku was important and I wanted more scenes with her and Namine. The Days manga was also a great adaptation and made me love them all even more.
Xion was voted "Best New Character" in the 2009 Nintendo Power Awards. Some fans declared the year 2014 as the Year of Xion, due to Xion being No. XIV in Organization XIII, and promoted appreciation for the character. According to a 2017 Famitsu Weekly feature covering Kingdom Hearts' fifteenth anniversary, Xion ranked second in a popularity poll of ten female characters, with 182 votes.
Fanon and tropes
It was popular fanon that Roxas possessed two Keyblades at the end of Days and the beginning of II due to inheriting Xion's Keyblade upon her death.
Due to her tragic end in Days and the decade-long wait for her reintroduction in KHIII, fix-its rescuing Xion from non-existence have been popular.
Since she started her existence as a blank Replica intended to copy Sora, and then gained an identity as "herself" over time, Xion is popularly interpreted as a trans girl, or at the very least someone whose narrative is strongly reminiscent of a trans character's.
In a sample of 173 Kingdom Hearts fics that used the pairing filter on FanFiction.Net between 13 October 2013 and 4 August 2017, Xion was listed as paired most often with Roxas (53%), followed by Riku (18%), Vanitas (11%), Naminé (7%), and Axel (5%); she was also listed with Sora (3%), Larxene (2%), Ventus (1%), Saïx (1%), and Kairi (1%). In an updated sample of 212 fics published to the site between 13 October 2013 and 7 July 2020, the distribution had only changed to an insignificant degree.
Fan communities and archives
- FanFiction.Net (FFN): Kingdom Hearts stories and crossovers featuring Xion
- DeviantArt (DA):
- Tumblr: Year of Xion (2014)
- Archive of Our Own (AO3): Xion (Kingdom Hearts)
- Pixiv: Xion (Kingdom Hearts)
- "Readers' Choice". Nintendo Power. Future US (252): 66–67. March 2010.
- Cecily. KINGDOM HEARTS 15th Anniversary Feature in Famitsu published to KH Insider on 5 April 2017. (Accessed September 2020.)
- Jackson Ingram at Gameskinny.com: "Op-ed: Xion's story in Kingdom Hearts is a transgender narrative"