Kairi is one of several original characters appearing in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, and also one of the main characters in the series. She is the original persona of Naminé. Kairi was born in Radiant Garden and currently lives on Destiny Islands along with her two best friends, Sora and Riku. She is four during Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, fourteen during Kingdom Hearts, fifteen during Kingdom Hearts II, and sixteen during Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Kairi's name is derived from the Japanese word for "sea" (海, Kai?), though her full name is homophonous with the word for "nautical mile" (海里, Kairi?).
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Kairi was born in Radiant Garden, where she lives with her grandmother. One day, she is chased by a group of Unversed and encounters Aqua, who senses a pure light in her heart, since she is a Princess of Heart. Frightened, Kairi touches Aqua's Keyblade, resulting in Aqua unintentionally bequeathing Kairi her own Keyblade. As she and Aqua are about to be attacked, King Mickey arrives and Aqua evacuates Kairi before returning to fight alongside Mickey.
After the Unversed are defeated, King Mickey and Aqua talk about the light they sense in Kairi's heart, and Mickey suggests that they team up, but is called away immediately afterwards. Kairi then gives Aqua the flowers she picked before the Unversed appeared as thanks for helping her (which becomes the Destiny's Embrace keychain). In return, Aqua puts a protective charm on Kairi's necklace and tells her, "One day when you're in trouble, the light within you will lead you to the light of another, someone to keep you safe". Kairi thanks Aqua and then returns to her grandmother, who begins to tell her the story of the light and the darkness, while Aqua believes their meeting may not have been a coincidence.
After Terra-Xehanort's defeat, Kairi is seen picking flowers in a large garden. She looks up to the bright sky, looking as if she sensed something. As she does, her necklace emits a weak glow.
One year after these events, Radiant Garden became shrouded by darkness and everyone was scattered across the universe; Kairi appears on the Destiny Islands during a meteor shower. Though it was believed that Ansem, Seeker of Darkness had sent Kairi to the islands as an experiment to test any possible connection between the Keyblade wielders and the Princesses of Heart, her arrival was actually due to the protection spell Aqua had cast on her one year earlier.
Sometime later, Sora and Riku were in the Secret Place and talking about "the new girl at the mayor's house".
Kairi later becomes very close friends with Sora and Riku, who playfully compete for her attention. She often supports these competitions, although she does not know they were contests for her affection and not just innocent rivalry. She bears no memory of her life before the Islands, and her mysterious past sparks curiosity in Sora and Riku, who are anxious to leave Destiny Islands and see other worlds. This leads the trio to build a raft in the hopes of traveling to other worlds. However, before they can leave, their islands are attacked by the Heartless, and Sora finds Kairi in their Secret Place. She turns towards him, looking sad and a little ill, and then a huge gust of wind sweeps through a door in the back of the cave and Kairi flies towards him. Sora opens his arms to catch her, but she vanishes right as she is about to be swept into his embrace.
During this time, it is speculated that Kairi's heart chose Sora as a vessel and when she passed through him, her heart was left behind in him while her body vanished to some distant world. She then becomes the game's driving force, as much of the game's story centers around Sora's and Riku's attempts at finding Kairi. However, Riku is hostile to Sora (having been manipulated by Maleficent into believing that Sora no longer cared for either Kairi or himself).
Throughout Sora's journey, he encounters multiple images of Kairi without knowing about Kairi's heart being a part of his. First, when he wakes up in a motel room after his fight with Leon, and sees Yuffie in Kairi's form and mistakes her to be Kairi until she tells him who she is. Later when he visits the Magician's Study behind the door of the Third District, Kairi appears to him and tells him how much the study reminds her of their Secret Place, but she disappears when Goofy calls to him. When Sora crash lands into Deep Jungle, she reappears again for a short moment, right behind Tarzan, then disappears again. Finally, before setting off to Hollow Bastion, Goofy and Donald encourage Sora to believe in himself, then Kairi says from within "I believe in you." before pulling him into one of her lost memories about her grandmother telling her younger self a story about the light. These encounters speculate that Kairi was experiencing Sora's journey from within his heart, including befriending Donald and Goofy.
Riku finds her first, but she is in a comatose state, with a vacant, lifeless expression and a limp body. She'd lost her heart and because of her Princess status, her body remained untouched by the darkness that usually produced a Heartless. With empty promises by Maleficent, Riku was convinced that he alone could locate Kairi's heart and restore her to health. When inside Monstro, Riku attempts to kidnap Pinocchio in hopes to use his heart to restore Kairi's. This act confuses Sora as he hasn't learned of her fate. His attempt fails and he is forced to retreat.
Riku then brings Kairi to Neverland, first bringing her to the clock tower. Sora finally encounters her body, along with a painful reunion with Riku; who is very defensive about her and ends up locking her in a room with Wendy so that Sora can't get to her. When Sora reaches the room below her cell, he extends his hand towards her, desperately hoping for a reaction as he is just now discovering the full lengths of Kairi's condition. Unconsciously, her hand twitches before going still again, much to Sora's relief. Riku then takes her away yet again, having new knowledge of where Kairi's heart might be. After the defeat of Captain Hook, Goofy ponders aloud whether or not Kairi had indeed lost her heart, but Donald, not wanting to upset Sora, promptly shushes him. Sora, however, appears to be in denial, pondering over his disbelief that he could fly and whether or not Kairi would believe him.
Their friendship severed for the time being, Sora continues his journey, destined to clash with Riku in the near future once again over Kairi. Eventually, Sora follows Riku and Maleficent to the world of Hollow Bastion where he too learns of Kairi's fate. However, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, while possessing Riku, reveals that Kairi's heart has been resting within Sora all along, which explains all the visions he has had of her during his journey. Furthermore, Kairi is one of the Princesses of Heart, a maiden whose heart holds no darkness, and is needed to open the Final Keyhole. He then attempts to take her heart from Sora, but he defends himself to protect it. After winning a fight and driving Ansem from Hollow Bastion, Sora sacrifices himself using the Keyblade of heart to free Kairi's heart, and is turned into a Shadow Heartless. Awakened as her heart is finally restored, Kairi runs towards him, but as soon as her fingers touch him, he vanishes. Refusing to believe that Sora is gone, Kairi prepares to fight the Shadow Heartless that surround her, along with Donald and Goofy.
However, once Ansem reappears and Riku's spirit stops him from attacking Kairi, she flees. Devastated, she, along with Donald and Goofy, attempt to escape from Hollow Bastion. But just as they are cornered by the Heartless, she recognizes Sora's Heartless from the crowd and manages to bring Sora back from the darkness by embracing him and promising to protect him. The group escapes Hollow Bastion, revealed to be Kairi's home world, and find shelter in Traverse Town where she could be protected by Leon and the others.
Sora finds Kairi in the underground water tunnel after talking with Leon. She states absentmindedly how much this place reminds her of their Secret Place. While lost in darkness, Sora witnessed one of Kairi's memories of her as a little girl wandering around the Hollow Bastion library with her grandmother. Sora mentions this and it is revealed that after her heart was restored, Kairi could remember certain things from her past. Though Kairi wants to help rescue Riku and stop the darkness from emanating, Sora convinces her to stay put, not wanting her to get hurt and also joking that she would be in his way; he also acknowledges that, since their hearts were one, they will always be together. During this conversation, it was revealed that Kairi's voice brought him back from the darkness. Kairi gives in and gives Sora her lucky charm, which doubles as the Oathkeeper.
After Sora's final battle with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, the world is breaking apart as the worlds that were destroyed previously began themselves. Trapped on a section of Destiny Islands, Sora runs to Kairi and promises that he will come back to her as soon as he finds Riku and King Mickey. She is then transported back to Destiny Islands without him, wistfully watching the island regenerate around her with Sora's goodbye still fresh in her mind.
After the worlds are restored, Kairi visits the Secret Place and looks at the pictures that she and her friends had drawn over the years. After spotting the picture that Sora had drawn of him giving her a Paopu Fruit, she is moved to tears and adds onto it, so that it depicts herself and Sora exchanging two halves of a Paopu fruit.
Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories
In order to gain control Sora, Marluxia orders Naminé to use her powers to strip Sora's memories of Kairi and replace them with her instead. However, Naminé knew she could never truly replace Kairi in Sora's heart, and saw herself as merely Kairi's shadow. Kairi's image shows up at Destiny Islands when Sora remembers that the one he holds dear to his heart is Kairi, not Naminé. When Sora is about to go to sleep, Naminé tells him that if he remembers "the one most important to him" his memories will restore faster, so Sora looks deep into his heart and finds Kairi.
While traveling through the castle, Riku desperately tried to control the darkness within him, but Zexion, wanting Riku to succumb it, torments Riku with an illusion of Kairi, as well as with illusions of Tidus, Selphie, Wakka, and Sora. However, Naminé takes Kairi's form to help Riku control the light and darkness in his heart before the final face-off with the devious Nobody.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
While Kairi continues to wait for Sora and Riku to return home to Destiny Islands, her memories of Sora fade due to Naminé's interference.
Kairi appears in Roxas and Xion's dreams and memories, due to pieces of Sora's memories finding their ways to them. After Roxas wakes from his coma, Xion gives him a seashell, and when Roxas puts it up to his ear, he sees a memory that depicts Sora and Kairi on a beach looking at the sunset. Later, in Xion's nightmare, Kairi is seen waking up Sora. Roxas sees a memory of Kairi during a mission in Destiny Islands and remarks that she looks like Xion. And during Xion's coma, she dreams of the time when Sora sacrifices himself to restore Kairi's heart in Hollow Bastion. Kairi is also mentioned by Riku and Xion when they were having a conversation on Destiny Islands.
Because Xion is an imperfect Replica of Roxas, created from Sora's leaked memories as a fail-safe in case both Sora and Roxas proved to be useless to Organization XIII's plans, her appearance greatly resembles Kairi, since Sora's memories of Kairi were the strongest ones when she was created.
Kingdom Hearts II
Kairi, now fifteen years old, lives her life normally on Destiny Islands. She attends school alongside Selphie, and has noticeably matured, sporting longer hair and more defined features. With both Riku and Sora gone, she seems to have become less spunky, often pondering the fate of Sora, whom she can barely remember.
She misses Sora, but most of her memories of him have faded away because of Naminé's interfering with his own memories. One day, while walking home from school with Selphie, her heart is put into contact with a young boy named Roxas, later revealed to be Sora's Nobody. It appeared that Roxas was trying to contact Naminé, Kairi's Nobody, and ended up reaching her instead. During this conversation, Roxas brings up Sora, and, when Kairi inquires about his name, Sora himself, despite being in stasis, somehow uses Roxas as a conduit to talk to her, chastises her for forgetting his name, and jokingly gives her a hint: "Starts with an 'S'!". Soon afterwards, Kairi sends a letter in a bottle out to sea in hopes that it would reach Sora one day, and immediately remembers his name and possibly everything else about him.
One day, Axel comes to Destiny Islands and tells Kairi to come with him. When she refuses, Axel summons a group of Nobodies, but is saved when she runs off into a nearby portal with King Mickey's dog, Pluto, into Twilight Town and meets Hayner, Pence and Olette. She befriends them, immediately fitting in with the three and going as far as to explain for whom she is searching. To her joy, Hayner, Pence, and Olette know Sora, assuring her that she could stay in Twilight Town until his next visit.
Unfortunately, she is found again by Axel and forcibly taken by him, with Olette, Hayner, and Pence unable to stop him. However Saïx finds Axel with Kairi and takes her to The World That Never Was as a prisoner, stating that she is the "fire that feeds Sora's anger". Kairi is devastated, thinking all hope is lost until she is freed by her Nobody, Naminé. Naminé uses a Corridor of Darkness to allow them to escape the cell, telling Kairi to believe in herself.
The two's attempt to escape is stopped by Saïx and two Berserker Nobodies who offer to take Kairi to Sora. Once she refuses, Saïx gets ready to send the Nobodies to attack the two girls only to be saved by a cloaked figure. Naminé hints at who the cloaked figure is, causing him to pause as Kairi strides towards him to remove the hood. Her guess is correct and it is indeed Riku even though his appearance has changed to that of Xehanort's Heartless, though she takes this in stride and is just happy to be reunited with Riku. He leads her to Sora and is attacked by a group of Heartless. He hands Kairi a Keyblade named Destiny's Embrace, and they successfully fend off the remaining Heartless. She is then reunited with Sora with a touching hug between these two. She stops Ansem (Riku) from leaving and shows Sora that Ansem is really Riku.
The three along with Donald and Goofy face off against Luxord and Saïx to get to Xemnas. Kairi acts as a pillar of support during these battles more than an actual participant - as Luxord's battle leaves them caged by cards and Saïx uses a shockwave to force both her and Riku (using his body to shield her) behind a barrier so he can battle alone with Sora, Donald, and Goofy.
After Sora and Riku defeat Xemnas, Naminé appears and creates a portal, where Donald, Goofy and Mickey go through leaving Sora, Kairi and Riku. Kairi walks towards her and Sora follows Kairi. Kairi thanks her as Naminé tries to make Sora remember her, but Sora gets confused. Roxas comes out of him. Naminé and Roxas accept their fate together to live inside Sora and Kairi as they fuse with their original selves. Kairi walks into the portal, but when Sora and Riku follow the portal disappears and they fight Xemnas again.
After they defeat Xemnas, they arrive at the shore of Dark Meridian. Kairi's letter washes up on shore and Sora reads it. The Door To Light appears and the two boys go through it and arrive at Destiny Islands shores as Kairi shouts for them. Sora excitedly swims towards her but Donald and Goofy jump at Sora first and Mickey jumps at Riku. They hug Sora, then Sora shows her the lucky charm and replies to Kairi "W-We're back!" while Kairi corrects him, saying "You're home" and extends her hand. As Sora takes her hand, he simultaneously returns the lucky charm to her.
For a brief moment, Roxas and Naminé are shown smiling back at each other, just as Sora and Kairi are.
While Sora and Riku are talking about the Door to Light, Kairi runs up to them, shouting their names. Kairi hands Sora a letter in a bottle, containing King Mickey's letter. The trio immediately open the letter and read it.
Sora sits on the Paopu tree while holding the message from King Mickey, staring off into the sunset. After Sora tells Riku that he has made a decision, Kairi walks up to them. Sora tells her that everyone needs him, and that he has to go because he is who he is because of them. She then hands him her lucky charm and tells him that she'll see him soon.
In The World That Never Was, Young Xehanort forces Sora into a second sleep, during which he dreams of the various people connected in his heart. One of these figments takes the form of Kairi, who is walking side by side with Riku, away from Sora. She then takes the appearance of Aqua, while the figment of Riku turns into Terra, and Sora takes on Ventus's appearance. Sora is incredibly confused, especially when Aqua and Terra turn around and walk away from him again, morphing back into Kairi and Riku. Ignoring the voice of Riku in the back of his head telling him to wake up and choosing instead to follow the pain in his heart, Sora chases after them as they flicker back and forth between his friends and Aqua and Terra. A long-forgotten memory of meeting Aqua on the islands nearly twelve years prior is recalled before Sora is ejected from his dream, landing in front of Xigbar.
As Xigbar and Xemnas reveal the true nature of the Organization to Sora, he is outraged by their disregard for the value of people's hearts. When Xigbar brings into question the strength of Sora's own heart, he pauses momentarily before saying with conviction that the Keyblade may not have chosen him, but that he was proud to be connected to those who it did choose. Kairi momentarily appears behind him, Keyblade in hand, alongside all the other friends connected in Sora's heart. The immense power of all the intertwined hearts unnerves Xigbar, who flees, leaving Xemnas to battle with Sora.
Later on, with the knowledge that Master Xehanort is organizing a new Organization XIII, one made from thirteen different incarnations of himself, Master Yen Sid orders Riku to retrieve the seventh Keyblade wielder, Kairi, in order to train her for the battles ahead.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep -A fragmentary passage-
Right after being brought to the Mysterious Tower, Kairi is brought up to speed about the threat of the new Organization and the fates of Terra, Aqua and Ventus. Mickey reveals to Kairi and Riku that Aqua sacrificed herself to help keep the Heartless from attacking Riku back when the Door to Darkness was being sealed. After Yen Sid assigns Riku and Mickey to rescue Aqua, Kairi asks what she should do. To her confusion, Kairi learns that she will be taught alongside someone named Lea in how to use her Keyblade by Merlin. Mickey informs her that Lea is who Axel originally was, shocking Kairi due to the memory of Axel kidnapping her. However, both Mickey and Riku assure Kairi that Lea is now an ally, and even helped them save Sora from Xehanort. After Yen Sid gifts Riku and Mickey with new garments to protect them against the darkness, Kairi leaves to undergo her training.
Between Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- and Kingdom Hearts III
As Kairi trains with Lea, she is a little scared of him, even as he constantly apologizes for kidnapping her when he was Axel. However, Kairi warms up to Lea as their training progresses and they start getting to know each other, seeing him as someone she can't bring herself to hate when she learns that he also has a friend that he's trying to save. Kairi notices that Lea sometimes stares at her face, and asking him what's wrong, Lea would say he doesn't know, but feels like it's something he should remember.
Kairi's appearance shows the most growth with aging of the trio of main characters. Typically Kairi has dark red hair, violet-blue eyes, a pale complexion, and a necklace with a silver bead that is only absent when she wears her school uniform.
At age fourteen, during the events of Kingdom Hearts, she wears a white top with a black one underneath (the black one shows at her collarbone and at the hem) which slightly exposes her navel, purple bike shorts underneath a purple skirt with a blue belt, and white slip-on shoes with purple caps. She also features a black choker, a yellow wristband as well as a purple arm band on her left arm and a pair of bracelets on her right arm.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Kairi is taller, her hair is longer and has become a darker shade of red, her bangs part to the opposite side, and her body has developed into that of a young woman.
She dons two outfits in Kingdom Hearts II: her school uniform which features a white shirt of which she has rolled up the sleeves, a sky blue striped tie which she has slightly loosen up, a matching skirt with navy knee-high stockings and black shoes; and then her main outfit which mainly contains a pink strapless mini-dress made up of three zippers (two appear to be just decorative) as well as a white halter top underneath her mini-dress with a black hood. She also sports three bracelets on her left wrist, a black belt reminiscent of suspenders with a note book shaped bag attachment, and lilac sneakers.
As a child, as seen during Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and scenes from Kingdom Hearts, her hair is a little longer than it is when she's fourteen; she wears a white apron-like shirt with blue flowers and a blue line across the chest, a pink skirt with a white line on it and large, white shoes with pink and purple lines on them.
Kairi is caring, kindhearted, and not afraid to speak her mind. However, she is determined and courageous when someone she cares about is in danger, often risking her own safety to help that person. In Kingdom Hearts II she becomes slightly more withdrawn because of Sora's absence, having obtained wisdom usually beyond someone of her age. She's not as brash and bold as she was in the first game, but is still sociable. Kairi also makes friends easily, quickly befriending Hayner, Pence, and Olette in Twilight Town before being kidnapped by Axel. She's usually always very cheerful and upbeat and seems to be bit of a tomboy as well. In contrast to Sora and Riku, who were both bothered by not knowing about Kairi's hometown, she took it in stride and was able to look at the positives about living in the Destiny Islands. She is loyal and headstrong, and she can be rather stubborn sometimes.
As a child in Kingdom Heart Birth by Sleep, she is shown to have some affection for flowers, as she appears with flowers in her hand and is picking more during the final credits. But she won't hesitate to give them away in gratitude, like giving them to Aqua as thanks for saving her from the Unversed. Also, her Keyblade, Destiny's Embrace, has a floral design.
Kairi appears to retain of fear of anyone evil, such as Axel; when she heard Lea would be training with her to master a Keybalde, she became quite frightened at the prospect. However, she soon overcame this thanks to Mickey and Riku telling her that Lea had helped save Sora.
While the bond of friendship between Sora, Riku, and Kairi is very strong, Kairi seems to be particularly important to Sora, and vice versa. Though it has yet to be confirmed, Kairi's feelings for Sora have been hinted at several times. She jokes about her and Sora taking the raft, just the two of them. She embraces Sora's Heartless as the other Shadows jump on them. She gives him her Wayfinder in hopes it will bring him back to her. The face sketch on said Wayfinder resembles Sora. She sheds a tear when she sees that Sora added a paopu fruit to their drawings of each other they did as kids, and even adds another. Kairi was the only person on the Islands to have any recollection of Sora, and felt guilty that she couldn't remember his voice, face, or even his name. When Kairi tells the Twilight Trio about how she was looking for Sora, Olette says that it was "a romantic story". When Saïx asks her if she wanted to see Sora, she answers "I do, more than anything." After reuniting with Sora, she hugs him, confirming it's really him. When Sora tells her that he has to leave again, she just smiles and, once again, gives him her Wayfinder.
Powers as a Princess of Heart
Because Kairi is a Princess of Heart, her heart possesses no darkness within it, leading to the unique birth of Naminé when she accidentally gives it to Sora, who later sacrificed himself to restore her heart. Should her heart be lost, her body will remain in a dormant state until it returns, as revealed in the first game when her heart was lost.
Kairi is able to wield a Keyblade due to her having touched Aqua's Keyblade many years prior to the events of Kingdom Hearts. Kairi's abilities in combat are limited. Kairi cannot do much when she is in danger—she has to depend on Sora or Riku to come to her aid, and as such, she is fairly easily captured. This is seen when Axel merely grabbed Kairi by the wrist and effortlessly dragged her along with him; though, in the manga, she is shown to be more aggressive and tries to put up a fight, throwing punches at Nobodies and biting Axel's hand. During the events that take place in The World That Never Was, Riku hands her Destiny's Embrace, allowing Kairi to protect herself without any help. She is shown to be fairly competent with it, and was shown to take out two Heartless on her own in one cutscene. Her potential is recognized by Yen Sid, who has Riku bring her to him to begin training with the Keyblade to become stronger.
Notes and references
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