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. He controls the Assassin Nobodies.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Axel is the trump card for the rest of the Organization, acting as a double agent in Castle Oblivion to keep track of Marluxia's plans. In Kingdom Hearts II, Axel betrays the Organization due to his friendship with Roxas, and acts of his own accord to aid Sora, though he had originally desired to turn Sora into a Heartless and restore Roxas. Axel appears in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days as a playable character in Mission Mode and one of the game's 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 Initially, Axel is unsure how to treat Roxas; he likens the new Organization member's withdrawn and taciturn disposition to that of a "zombie".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 his friendship with Roxas strengthens, Axel begins to demonstrate emotions, despite his being a Nobody.
Axel is also present when Xion joins the Organization, but is sent to Castle Oblivion to deal with the traitor Marluxia soon after Xion's induction. Having received orders through Saïx, Xemnas's second-in-command, it appears that Axel had also planned to eliminate other members who could have harmed their plans to overthrow the Organization.
While Sora and Riku wander Castle Oblivion, Axel works for the two parties of the already divided Organization members in the castle. One party, consisting of Marluxia and Larxene, wishes to use Sora's powers to usurp Xemnas and the rest of the Organization, using Naminé to alter Sora's memories. The other, consisting of Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion—three of the original six members of Organization XIII—realizes Marluxia's ambitions and tries to stop the traitors, using Riku to destroy Sora. Early on, Axel spends most of his time with Marluxia and Larxene, trying to obtain their trust.
Upon purposely throwing his battle against Sora, Axel admits to testing the Keyblade master's strength. Axel gives up a card created from Sora's memories, which allows Sora to progress further in the castle, After leaving a bewildered Sora, Axel confronts Larxene, professing an interest in preserving Sora's self-consciousness even after he became a Heartless.
After Vexen's first battle with Sora, Marluxia orders Axel to dispose of Vexen, both to test Axel's willingness to eliminate another Organization member, and to stop Vexen from interfering with Marluxia's plan. Axel effortlessly defeats Vexen, who had been weakened during his battle with Sora, and is accepted into Marluxia and Larxene's conspiracy. Taking advantage of Marluxia and Larxene's trust, Axel allows Naminé to escape and contact Sora. Citing his previous order to rid the Organization of traitors, Axel later confronts Marluxia, who now realizes Axel's continued loyalty to the Organization. During their battle, Marluxia attempts to use Naminé as a shield. Axel is undeterred, but before he is able to strike, Sora appears behind him, and is angered to learn that Axel would be willing to harm Naminé. A fierce fight then ensues, in which Sora defeats Axel. Conceding defeat, Axel leaves Sora with the words, "It was worth saving you after all," and vanishes.
After his battle with Sora, Axel meets Zexion in the castle basement. Zexion brings up the subject of Riku, and requests data on Destiny Islands in the form of a card. After Zexion is defeated by Riku, he retreats and meets with Axel. Despite their previous collaboration, Axel says that Zexion had "just found out way too much". Axel persuades the Riku Replica to absorb Zexion, promising the duplicate that he would gain newfound powers, including the strength needed to defeat the real Riku.
With the five members of the Organization finished off, Axel proceeds to carry out his orders to find the Chamber of Waking and retrieve Naminé, but fails to find the chamber and allows Naminé to escape, deeming her unnecessary. When Axel finally returns to the World That Never Was, he feels as if Roxas had replaced him with Xion, with whom Roxas now eats ice cream in Twilight Town in the same way Roxas and Axel had prior to Castle Oblivion. At Roxas's suggestion, the three begin to spend time together as a trio. Some time later, Saïx confronts Axel, revealing that he regrets not being able to talk with Saïx as he could with Roxas and Xion. Saïx alludes to friendship he and Axel had shared before becoming Nobodies, and reminds him of their plans to take over Organization XIII.
After discovering her identity, Xion develops a desire to leave the Organization. She eventually escapes, but is attacked and captured by Axel in Twilight Town, before Roxas's eyes. Despite Roxas's protests, Axel claims that his use of force had been necessary. No longer on speaking terms with Roxas, Axel 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 to stop her, instead allowing her to retreat through a Corridor of Darkness. A few days later, Roxas, having learned Xion's identity and that Axel had hidden it from him, leaves the Organization in anger. Axel, who had enjoyed the time he had spent with his best friend, is distraught, but is unable to stop Roxas from deserting.
The next day, under orders, Axel tracks Xion down to the Old Mansion in Twilight Town. Having learned Xion's intentions, and fed up with her and Roxas's selfishness, Axel battles Xion and knocks her unconscious. Axel, after managing to bring Xion back to the Castle That Never Was, faints from fatigue, and Xemnas takes the unconscious Xion from him. Later, in his quarters, after learning the aftermath of Roxas and Xion's fight, a depressed Axel discovers a popsicle stick labelled "WINNER", a gift left by Roxas. After 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, Riku captures Roxas, placing him in DiZ's Simulated Twilight Town, where his memory is wiped and replaced with an artificial one, leading Roxas to believe that he is a normal teenager on summer vacation. Axel is ordered to retrieve Roxas, but only agrees after threats from Xaldin and Xemnas. He enters the simulated town to confront Roxas; however, his first effort fails when DiZ's appears and restarts the Twilight Town program. Roxas is dumbfounded by Axel's appearance, as he lacks any memories of the Organization member.
Axel again tries to recover Roxas without destroying him, while keeping in mind the Organization's order to either eliminate Roxas or be destroyed himself. Roxas, who has since learned from Naminé that the two had been best friends, mentions this to Axel, who calls Roxas's bluff when he is unable to remember "their boss's name." DiZ again intervenes, and Roxas escapes to the Old Mansion in Twilight Town. The two meet again in the mansion's computer room basement. Despite Roxas's having regained his memories, Axel, who is hurt emotionally from his previous encounters, fights Roxas, who now wields dual Keyblades. Axel loses the fight and disappears, obliging not to finish his mission.
While Sora reawakens with Roxas inside him, Riku requests Axel to protect Naminé. Later, at Sunset Hill, Axel calls it a day before Riku makes a move for them to leave. Naminé's words, about those who are dear to them despite being Nobodies, strangely move him. As Riku thanks them both, he opens a Corridor of Darkness, allowing the three to make their exit.
During Sora's travels through the different worlds, Axel appears before Kairi on a beach in Destiny Islands, intending to kidnap her. Axel's plan is 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 waits for Sora. Axel, however, follows her to the town and steals her away again. 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 disappears after a brief exchange. Axel appears before Sora right after Xemnas disappears, and explains the Keyblade's ability to release the captive hearts that compose Heartless. However, Axel refuses to say what Organization XIII would do with those hearts. Sora realizes that Axel is Kairi's captor, which Axel confirms. Though initially unrepentant for his actions, he soon apologizes for kidnapping Kairi, but 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 battle the Nobodies. Realizing the Dusks' overwhelming numbers, Axel puts his entire being and essence into one, powerful attack, which destroys the Nobodies at the expense of his being.
As he fades away, Axel explains his motives: he had wanted to save Sora, Roxas's original self, who stays with him in his last moments. He sincerely apologizes to Sora for involving Kairi in Organization XIII's plans. Axel confesses that he had wanted to see Roxas, the only one who had made him feel like he had a heart. Oddly, Sora makes him feel the same way, possibly because Sora and Roxas are one and the same. With his final words, Axel urges Sora to proceed and rescue Kairi. With his last bit of strength, he opens the passageway to the World That Never Was before disappearing into darkness.
Afterwards, Xigbar, Luxord and Saïx are curious about Axel's foolish and senseless actions, in turning against the Organization for the sake of his friendship with Roxas. Xemnas reveals that Axel's disappearance had served to stir Roxas from his rest, claiming Axel's disobedience had not been entirely meaningless and pitiful. Xemnas also states that, due to his contact with Sora's heart, Axel's own ability to feel emotions may have been affected. In the written novel of the game, Naminé backs up this notion, mentioning that Axel had never truly died, but had rather faded into darkness, where he would wander until he found his heart. Axel makes one final appearance to Roxas, immediately after Roxas's mental battle with Sora. The two discuss their fate, reminisce about the good times they had shared with each other. Axel gives a final farewell to his best friend, as his body and soul reunite with his heart at Radiant Garden, reviving Lea.
Just before waking, Lea has a dream of Axel and Roxas eating sea-salt ice cream in Twilight Town. In the dream, Roxas reminds Axel of the promise he had made to him and Xion, to always bring them back. He asks Axel if he had it memorized before fading away, leaving Axel to chuckle.
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.