Axel, the Flurry of Dancing Flames (おどる火の風, Odoru Hi no Kaze?), is the Nobody of Lea, and is Rank VIII within the original Organization XIII. He wields fire and enhances his weapons, twin chakrams, with his pyrokinesis to unleash powerful rapid attacks. The Assassin Nobodies are under his control.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Axel was the trump card for the rest of the Organization as a double agent in Castle Oblivion to keep track of Marluxia's plans. In Kingdom Hearts II, Axel betrayed the Organization for his friendship with Roxas and acted of his own accord to try and help Sora, though he originally wanted to turn Sora into a Heartless to get Roxas back. Axel appears in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days as a playable character in Mission Mode and one of the main protagonists.
Axel bears a great amount of similarities with Reno from Final Fantasy VII, even sharing his voice actor with Reno over a variety of languages. Tetsuya Nomura stated that this is done intentionally as an experiment. He wanted to place a familiar character in a new environment and role. He also stated in an interview that the two are "different people, but subconsciously alike."
Axel was popular among members of the Kingdom Hearts staff and though he was initially supposed to die at the end of Roxas's prologue, his popularity caused him to be continued into the main game of Kingdom Hearts II.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
After Roxas joins the Organization, Saïx places him under Axel's tutelage. Initially, Axel is unsure how to treat Roxas, as Roxas acts like a "zombie". Over time, however, the two Nobodies begin to bond, eating sea-salt ice cream together at the Twilight Town Train Station after every mission. As their friendship grows strong, Axel begins to demonstrate emotions due to his time with Roxas. Axel is also present when Xion joins the Organization, but is sent to Castle Oblivion to deal with the traitorous Marluxia. Having received these orders through Saïx, the second-in-command to Xemnas, it would appear that Axel also planned to eliminate other members who could harm their plans to overthrow the Organization.
While Sora and Riku wander around in Castle Oblivion, Axel works for the two parties of the already divided Organization members in the castle. One side, consisting of Marluxia and Larxene, wishes to use Sora's powers to usurp Xemnas and the rest of the Organization by using Naminé to alter Sora's memories. Those who stay in the castle basement are Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion—three of the original six members of Organization XIII. The three realize Marluxia's ambitions and try to stop the traitors by using Riku to destroy Sora. Early on, Axel spends most of his time with Marluxia and Larxene, trying to obtain their trust.
Upon throwing the battle with Sora, Axel admits to testing the Keyblade master's strength. Axel gives up a card created from Sora's memories that allows him to progress further in the castle. After he leaves Sora bewildered, Axel holds a serious conversation with Larxene in which he professes an interest in the fact that Sora retains his self-consciousness even after becoming a Heartless.
After Vexen challenges Sora for the first time, Axel is ordered by Marluxia to dispose of number IV, both to test if he could eliminate another member of the Organization and to stop Vexen from interfering with Marluxia's plan. Axel did so effortlessly, and was at last fully accepted by Marluxia and Larxene into their conspiracy. Axel uses this to his advantage, allowing Naminé to escape and contact Sora when he's left alone with the "witch". He later confronts Marluxia, who now realizes Axel was always loyal to the Organization. Citing his previous order to rid the Organization of traitors, Axel begins to attack Marluxia, even after Marluxia used Naminé as a shield, but he's interrupted by Sora, who is infuriated at the fact that Axel would hurt Naminé, and a fight starts between the two. At the end of the battle, Axel is defeated and confuses Sora with the words "It was worth saving you after all," and vanishes.
After his battle with Sora, Axel meets with Zexion in the castle basement. Zexion brings up the subject of Riku and requested data on Destiny Islands in the form of a card. After Zexion fails to dispose of Riku, he retreats and meets with Axel. Despite their previous collaboration, Axel says that Zexion "just found out way too much", and allows the Riku Replica to eliminate Zexion, promising the duplicate that he would gain new powers and be able to defeat the real Riku.
With the five members of the Organization finished, his orders to find the Chamber of Waking and retrieve Naminé came into effect, but he failed to find the chamber and allowed Naminé to escape as he felt she was unnecessary. When Axel finally returns to the World That Never Was, he feels that Roxas has replaced him with Xion, as they eat ice cream in Twilight Town in the same way Roxas and Axel did before the Castle Oblivion mission. Axel becomes jealous, not sure exactly what to make of Xion. At Roxas's suggestion, the three begin to spend time together as a trio. Some time later, Axel finds himself before Saïx, and revealing that he regrets not being able to talk with Saïx as he can with Roxas and Xion. Saïx reminds Axel of the friendship they shared before becoming Nobodies, and the plans they have to take over Organization XIII.
After discovering who and what she was, Xion starts to desire to leave the Organization. She eventually escapes, but Axel eventually catches her in front of Roxas, attacking her despite Roxas's pleas to calmly take her back. With him and Roxas not on speaking terms, Axel soon becomes torn between his two friends, trying to decide which one to save from Xemnas's plan. While on a mission in Wonderland, Xion attacks Xigbar and Axel makes no attempt of stopping her once she retreats into a Corridor of Darkness. A few days later, with Roxas learning Xion's identity and that Axel kept it from him, he leaves the Organization. Axel, who has enjoyed the time he spent with his best friend, is distraught and fails to stop his best friend from deserting the Organization.
The next day, under orders, Axel tracks Xion down to the Old Mansion in Twilight Town where he learns her intentions, telling her that he's fed up with her and Roxas being selfish and doing whatever they want, before he manages to knock Xion unconscious. But the fight takes its toll when Axel faints from fatigue once he brings her back to the Castle That Never Was, with Xemnas taking Xion from him. Later, in his quarters, learning of the aftermath of Roxas and Xion's fight, a depressed Axel discovers a popsicle stick which reads "WINNER", a gift left by Roxas. As a result of Xion's defeat at Roxas's hands, Axel's memories of her eventually disappear.
Kingdom Hearts II
Shortly after Roxas's escape from The World That Never Was, Roxas is captured by Riku and put in DiZ's Simulated Twilight Town, where his memory is wiped and replaced with an artificial one, leading him to believe he is a normal teenager on summer vacation. Axel is assigned the mission to retrieve Roxas, which he refutes, but after threats from Xaldin and Xemnas, begrudgingly agrees. He enters the simulated town to carry out the mission; however, his first effort fails due to DiZ's appearance and the restarting of the Twilight Town program. Roxas is dumbfounded by Axel's appearance, lacking any memories of him and awareness of what's going on.
Axel again tries to recover Roxas without destroying him, keeping in mind the Organization's order to either eliminate Roxas or be destroyed himself. Roxas learns that the two had been best friends from Naminé and mentions this to Axel, but his bluff was called when he is unable to remember "their boss's name." DiZ then intervenes and Roxas escapes to the Twilight Town mansion. The two meet again at this mansion in the computer room basement. Despite Roxas's recovery of his memories, Axel is hurt from his previous encounter with Roxas and fights him and his dual Keyblades. Axel loses the fight and disappears, choosing not to carry out his mission.
While Sora reawakens with Roxas inside him, Axel is entrusted by Riku to protect Naminé. Naminé's words, about those who are dear to them despite being Nobodies, strangely moved Axel.
During Sora's exploits through the different worlds, Axel appears before Kairi on a beach in Destiny Islands, intending to kidnap her to draw Sora out. Axel's plan was simple; if Sora were to become a Heartless again, then Roxas would be reborn. However, Kairi escapes through a Corridor of Darkness created by Riku and lands in Twilight Town where she stays for some time in wait of Sora. Axel, however, follows her to the town and steals her away again, but not long afterward she is taken captive by Saïx, who is under orders to "give him something to be pitiful about". After the invasion of Radiant Garden by the Heartless, Sora confronts Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII. Xemnas decides to take his leave and Axel appears before Sora right after Xemnas disappears. Axel hinted that the Keyblade causes the hearts that composed the Heartless to be released, but refuses to say what Organization XIII would do with those hearts. Sora realizes that Axel was Kairi's captor, and Axel confirms this. Though initially seeming unrepentant for his actions, he soon apologizes for kidnapping Kairi, and makes a hasty exit when Saïx appears.
On the way to The World That Never Was, Sora, Donald, Goofy, and King Mickey are trapped in Betwixt and Between and attacked by Nobodies, but Axel arrives to help. Sora and Axel battle the Nobodies, but realizing the Dusks' numbers are too great, Axel decides to put his entire being and essence into an attack, which destroys the Nobodies but eliminates himself in the process.
He does this to save Sora, Roxas's original self, who stays with him in his last moments. He sincerely apologizes to Sora for getting Kairi involved with Organization XIII's plans. Confused, Sora asks him what he was trying to do and Axel confesses that he wanted to see Roxas, the only one who made him feel like he had a heart. Oddly enough for Axel, Sora makes him feel the same way (possibly since Sora and Roxas are one and the same) and uses these final words to urge Sora on to rescue Kairi. Axel opens the passageway to the World That Never Was with the last bit of strength he has in him before disappearing into darkness completely.
Afterward, Xigbar and Luxord are curious about Axel's foolish and senseless actions; essentially turning against the Organization for the sake of his friendship with Roxas, but Xemnas reveals that Axel's disappearance served to stir Roxas from his rest, claiming Axel's disobedience was not entirely meaningless and pitiful. Xemnas also states that due to contact with Sora's heart, Axel's own ability to feel emotions could have been affected. Naminé backs up this notion in the written novel of the game in which she mentions that Axel never truly died, but rather faded into darkness where he would wander until he would find his heart. Axel made one final appearance to Roxas, right after the latter's mental battle with Sora, where he gives a final farewell to his best friend, his body and soul reuniting with his heart at Radiant Garden to revive Lea.
Just before waking, Lea has a dream of Axel and Roxas eating sea-salt ice cream in Twilight Town. Roxas reminds him of the promise he made to him and Xion, to always bring them back. He asks Axel if he has it memorized before fading away, leaving Axel to chuckle as he muses the promise he made.
Axel is tall and slender in appearance. Like other Organization members, he wears the basic black gloves and boots. His black coat, however, is one of the more distinctive ones in the group, as its sleeves close up tightly around his arms. Axel himself is also easily distinguishable from other characters in terms of facial features, made easier by the fact that he rarely wears the hood of his coat up. Axel has a widow's peak, rather small eyebrows and thick, shoulder-length, bright red hair styled into slicked-back spikes. Xigbar teases him about it, calling him "Flamesilocks". His eyes are a bright emerald color and he has a purple reverse-teardrop shaped marking under each eye, which are similar to Reno's facial markings.
At the beginning of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Axel has a mysterious, stoic, and calm, as well as cold, unforgiving, and merciless demeanor on par with that of Marluxia. In Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, he interrupts Vexen's cries for mercy with a cocky "goodbye" before incinerating him without any hesitation, and seems to be amused by the deaths of his comrades as shown in the scene where he is making bets with Zexion. When Marluxia uses Naminé as a human shield against him, Axel confidently declares he would eliminate Naminé to get to Marluxia.
He seems quite distant at times during his time in Castle Oblivion, ignoring Vexen's insults and almost completely unfazed by Larxene's flirtatious behavior towards him. Although Axel seems to hold Larxene and Zexion in good company to an extent by making friendly conversation with Larxene while Marluxia is not around and making bets with Zexion as to which member will be defeated next, this was shown to be nothing more than an act to earn their trust. Eventually, Axel betrays Larxene by letting Naminé escape, although he seems disappointed yet satisfied upon her elimination. Later on, he encourages Riku Replica to annihilate Zexion to ensure that his actions in Castle Oblivion go unnoticed by the rest of the Organization, and to help Saïx keep his rank in the Organization. In Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, he appears indifferent to angering Xaldin, showing his disdain for the other Nobody.
Axel's cold personality changes drastically, due to his friendship with Roxas, stating that the latter made him feel "like he had a heart". In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, he has a very laid-back, "go with the flow" outlook on many things, including missions and battles. He is also shown to be quite sarcastic. This is shown once he has returned from Castle Oblivion, when Saïx asks him why he did not report, he simply responds with "Oh, good to see you, too. You're welcome, thanks for the kind words."
Axel revealed to have a very kind, heartful side, which he only displayed to his closest friends, Roxas and Xion, acting like an older brother towards them and being their main source of advice and wisdom. In some cases, he got them out of trouble, including helping out Xion and Roxas when Xion cannot summon her Keyblade and preventing them from destroying one another when they are tricked by the Organization into fighting each other. In Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, when Axel bids his final farewell to Roxas, it can be seen upon closer inspection that the teardrop at the end of the scene belongs to Axel, which displays his emotional capacities.
Originally, when Axel displays emotion, he finds it unusual given that Nobodies cannot feel anything and often refuses to acknowledge them, even mocking his ability to feel towards his death. He notes this in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories when he begins laughing, but catches himself and stops. However, it has been hinted by Xemnas, and Axel himself, that by being close in contact with Sora's heart, Axel began to feel emotions of his own.
Out of the whole Organization, Axel is probably the most difficult to read. According to Lexaeus, no one ever knows what he is thinking or whose side he is really on. While he seems to just be joking around, he may have done more thinking than everyone else combined, as stated in Jiminy's Journal. Similarly, in both Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Axel tends to avoid eye contact when lying.
In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, it is shown that Axel does not like to talk about his past. Whenever Roxas or Xion asks him about it, he gives a brief or vague answer and then tries to change the subject. Also, it is revealed that he thinks that women are complicated, claiming that real women are "double dose of complex" (since he thinks that real people are more complex compared to Nobodies), and Nobody women are "single dose". It is implied that he had some sort of experience with women in his earlier life, seen when he gives Roxas a friendly advice to "not push the wrong buttons" with women.
Axel's trademark quote is "Got it memorized?" whenever he refers to an important name, but mostly when he is introducing himself, even when he was Lea. The quote was originally "Commit it to memory" in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, but since Kingdom Hearts II, it was retconned to "Got it memorized?", and used in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories. On a side note, Axel is the only character in the series to curse, since he uses the word "hell" after letting Naminé go, asking Sora to "give [him] one hell of a show", but in the remake, it is changed to "Try and make it enjoyable".
As the Flurry of Dancing Flames, Axel uses two uniquely shaped weapons called chakrams, and specializes in Fire manipulation. He can summon pillars of flame at will and strike with rapid combos using his chakrams. He can also surround his chakrams in flame and throw them like boomerangs, spinning and looping them to hit opponents multiple times. In his one on one battle with Roxas in Kingdom Hearts II, Axel also summons a circle of fire to surround them and leaps into the flames to hide, emerging to strike with rapid attacks, and then leaping back to keep his opponents off their guard. Axel is a powerful member of the Organization, arguably even stronger, or at least a better fighter, than Saïx. This is seen when Saïx is defeated by Roxas, but Axel was able to defeat Xion at the Old Mansion, who at the time absorbed much of Roxas's power. However, Axel clearly put more effort into his battle, as he passed out after the fight, while Saïx remained conscious, though exhausted.
In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Axel has a Limit Break called Explosion, which causes Axel to throw his fire-engulfed chakrams at enemies. During the Final Limit, his two chakrams are combined into one enourmous chakram.
Axel utilizes two Chakrams, named "Eternal Flames". Each Chakram is circular and red, with silver spikes and circles around the edges, and two black handles shaped like crosses in the middle. Each chakram has eight spikes, possibly referencing Axel's rank in the Organization. Axel is very adept in the use of his weapon; he can throw them, use them as shields, or use them as melee weapons. He performs some unique attacks, including juggling them against an opponent, or throwing one across the entire battlefield continuously.
He also uses them in conjunction with his fire abilities, setting the tips, or even the whole thing, on fire before throwing them. From a scene in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, it is shown that he can set his Chakrams on fire from afar, acting as a remote detonator.
The Bond of Flame Keyblade, obtained from Axel, is similar in appearance to his Chakrams. Axel's Chakrams are among the few Organization XIII weapons that do not bear the Nobody symbol (the others being Xemnas's Ethereal Blades, and Roxas's and Xion's Keyblades), but the spikes on the wheel do bear some similarities to the Nobody insignia.
In real life, chakrams are actually small razor-edged throwing disks used by warriors in ancient India. Axel's Chakrams bear more of a resemblance to Chinese wind-and-fire wheels, wheel-shaped weapons that are used strictly as melee weapons.