Keyblades (キーブレード, Kīburēdo?) are mysterious weapons that are prominently featured in the Kingdom Hearts series. These weapons play an important role in the battle between darkness and light; they are wielded by many of the series' major characters, particularly its main protagonist, Sora.
According to an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, the Keyblade was originally planned to be a chainsaw-like weapon.
The original χ-blade's existence was intimately linked with the existence of the true Kingdom Hearts, and so it was destroyed along with Kingdom Hearts in the first Keyblade War. Though Master Xehanort's research suggested that it can be reforged by fusing a heart of pure light with one of pure darkness, he later concludes that the χ-blade can be truly restored only by uniting seven hearts of pure light with thirteen hearts of pure darkness. The lesser Keyblade of heart, whose existence opens a path to Kingdom Hearts, can be forged from the union of seven hearts of pure light.
The method for forging a regular Keyblade is not entirely clear, although several newly-forged Keyblades do appear in the series. Riku's Keyblade, the Way to the Dawn, was able to manifest by using his Soul Eater as an intermediary, while Data-Sora's strength of heart allowed him to create a true Keyblade after his artificial, digital Keyblade was destroyed by Maleficent. Yuffie mentions Keyblades "choose" their wielders.
Should a Keyblade be damaged, it can be repaired. In Kingdom Hearts III, Way to the Dawn was snapped in half by a Demon Tower, but it was later repaired by Riku Replica. Mickey's Kingdom Key D was repaired via an upgrade by fusing his Star Seeker with it, creating Kingdom Key W. Lea's Flame Liberator was broken by Xemnas; however, he was later able to summon a repaired version.
Long before the events of the Dark Seeker Saga, in the "age of fairy tales" when the world was whole, Kingdom Hearts gave light to the world. However, it remained out of mankind's reach, as it was protected by its counterpart, the χ-blade. According to legend, many came to desire the light, and their greed and jealousy introduced darkness into the World. In order to conquer the light of Kingdom Hearts, people forged the first Keyblades in the image of the χ-blade, and they clashed with each other in a great Keyblade War that involved those who served the light, those who served the darkness, those who sought balance, and those who simply sought power.
In truth, however, the first known Keyblades were created by the Master of Masters, who was capable of extracting them from the hearts of people using his knowledge of the χ-blade, rather than forging them. The conflict embroiled even those who did not desire Kingdom Hearts and took the lives of thousands; it also extinguished the light from the world and trapped Kingdom Hearts in the deepest darkness while the χ-blade shattered into twenty pieces: seven lights and thirteen darknesses. The final site of the Keyblade War became the barren Keyblade Graveyard, littered with ancient Keyblades.
Because light remained in the hearts of children, it was able to draw the fragments of the World back together, creating several separate worlds. The remaining Keyblade wielders decided to use the Keyblade in order to protect what was left of the Realm of Light. They primarily settled in worlds within the Realm Between, such as the Land of Departure, where the Realm of Light bordered the Realm of Darkness. Memories of the Keyblade War survived in various legends, which disputed whether the Keyblade was a weapon meant to bring salvation or destruction.
Before Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Long before Sora's journey, Xehanort and Eraqus became apprentices under an unnamed Keyblade Master, and they served to protect the Realm of Light from darkness. However, Xehanort's natural curiosity about the darkness and his research into the Keyblade War eventually led him to believe that the sovereignty of light upheld by the Keyblade wielders was tyrannical and misguided. Xehanort sought to create a world in which light and darkness existed in equilibrium; due to the lack of balance between these two forces, if he was to accomplish this goal, he would need to unleash a flood of darkness upon the worlds in the form of a second Keyblade War.
While both Xehanort and Eraqus were declared Keyblade Masters, their differing opinions regarding the start of a second Keyblade War caused Xehanort to leave the Land of Departure. Eraqus became the Successor, and he took on Terra and Aqua as his apprentices. Elsewhere, Xehanort resolved to recreate the χ-blade, and when his pupil, Ventus, refused to submit to the darkness, the elderly Keyblade Master extracted the darkness in the boy's heart to create Vanitas. This left Ventus's heart incomplete and almost resulted in the boy's death, but when he survived, he was left in Eraqus's care. In time, Vanitas would be forced to clash with Ventus, thus forging the χ-blade.
Meanwhile, a retired Keyblade Master named Yen Sid took on Mickey Mouse as his apprentice. A former colleague of Eraqus and Xehanort, Yen Sid decided not to involve himself in their quarrel over the start of another Keyblade War. Instead, he chose to keep watch over the balance between light and darkness and oversee Mickey's Mark of Mastery exam.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Ten years before Sora's first journey, there were eight known Keyblade wielders: Eraqus, Terra, Ventus, Aqua, Xehanort, Vanitas, the retired Yen Sid, and Mickey Mouse.
Intending to sabotage Terra and Aqua's Mark of Mastery exam in accordance with his plot to reforge the χ-blade, Xehanort extended his apologies to Eraqus and requested to be present for the examination; this ended the feud between Xehanort and Eraqus.
When he visits the Destiny Islands, Terra performs the Bequeathing, granting a young boy named Riku the ability to one day wield the Keyblade himself. Aqua accidentally does this with Kairi in Radiant Garden; she initially intends to perform the ceremony and grant Riku's friend Sora the ability to wield the Keyblade, but Aqua decides against this when she senses that Riku already can.
When Terra, Aqua, and Ventus confront Xehanort at the Keyblade Graveyard, the elderly Keyblade Master explains that the world serves as the final resting place of the combatants of the Keyblade War.
When the worlds first start to disappear, King Mickey realizes that Kingdom Hearts was going to be opened, and went to the Realm of Darkness to find its Keyblade, with which he could seal the door. However, he would also need someone to use a Keyblade from the Realm of Light in concert with him, so he left a letter for Donald Duck and Goofy, asking them to find the chosen wielder of that Keyblade and assist him in saving the worlds.
When the Heartless invade Destiny Islands, Sora rushes to the small island to save his friends, but finds that Kairi and Riku have already been swallowed by darkness. It is at this point that the Keyblade which Terra had promised Riku finally appears on the island, but because Riku has already given himself to darkness, Sora becomes its wielder instead. When Sora first arrives at the Traverse Town, he meets Leon, who gives him shelter and some insight about the Keyblade and Heartless. Yuffie and Leon have to get Sora off the Keyblade since it's the only way to "conceal his heart (Sora's)," this is due to the Heartless fearing the Keyblade and they will stop at nothing to eliminate the wielder of the weapon.
In Atlantica, King Triton is enraged when he finds out that Sora is the key bearer and he tells him that as a key bearer, one must not meddle in the affairs of another world and that Sora had violated the principle. He declares that the Keyblade and its wielder can only shatter peace and bring ruin.
Sora uses this Keyblade to seal the Keyholes of the worlds he visits, but when he arrives at Hollow Bastion, Riku reveals that the Keyblade was intended for him, and he takes it back as Sora's heart falters. However, Sora soon confronts Riku again, and the strength of his heart proves greater than Riku's, allowing him to reclaim the Keyblade.
Confused and angry, Riku runs off and is found by Ansem, who convinces Riku to allow Ansem to possess his body in exchange for more power. While possessing Riku, Ansem summons the Keyblade of heart, created from the collected hearts of the Princesses of Heart, in order to unlock the Final Keyhole. However, both the Keyblade and the Keyhole remain incomplete due to the disappearance of Kairi's heart. When Sora tracks down the possessed Riku and confronts him, Ansem reveals that Kairi's heart is in fact within Sora, and he attacks Sora in order to take it. Sora defeats him, but in order to restore Kairi's heart and fully seal the Final Keyhole, he uses the Keyblade of heart on himself. This completes the Keyhole and restores all of the Princess's hearts, but Sora becomes a Heartless, until he is restored to his body by Kairi's light.
Later on, after Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat Ansem and attempt to close the door to Kingdom Hearts, King Mickey finally appears with the Kingdom Key D, a Keyblade of the Realm of Darkness. With their help, as well as that of the restored Riku, they close the door, saving the worlds from the imminent flood of darkness.
Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories
Since Sora retained his memories and feelings as a Heartless, something only one other person had done, Axel becomes particularly interested in why the Keyblade chose Sora as its wielder. Tired of Xemnas's rule, Marluxia conspires with Larxene to use Naminé to rewrite Sora's memories so they can use his Keyblade's power to overthrow the Organization.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
As Sora's Nobody, Roxas can use his Keyblade. Marluxia and Zexion explain the importance the Keyblade plays in slaying Emblem Heartless, which is to collect their hearts to create a Kingdom Hearts of their own. In addition, Xion is created by Xemnas to ensure there will be a Keyblade wielder loyal to the Organization.
Xion initially siphoned Ven's Keyblade from Roxas in the form of a copy of Sora's Keyblade. However, she briefly lost it after Roxas woke from his coma. Roxas lent her his Keyblade during a mission, allowing her to reestablish a link to Ven's heart and regain his Keyblade.
Following Xion's destruction, Roxas awakens the ability to wield two Keyblades. Both Keyblades initially appear as copies of Sora's Kingdom Key, before transforming into the new forms of Oathkeeper and Oblivion.
Kingdom Hearts II
Sora, Riku, Kairi, Roxas, and King Mickey can use the Keyblade. Sora uses the Keyblade to open new paths to new worlds through Gates. While King Mickey comes out occasionally to assist Sora, Riku obtains his own Keyblade, Way to the Dawn, at some point before reuniting with Sora and Kairi in The World That Never Was. During the Heartless surge in the Castle That Never Was, Kairi obtains the Destiny's Embrace from Riku.
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Kingdom Hearts coded
In the datascape, Data-Sora can use his digital version of the Kingdom Key to fix the source of Bug Blox and to seal the data Keyholes. His digital Keyblade was destroyed in Episode 5, but gained a new Keyblade in Episode 6. King Mickey explains that this Keyblade is tightly connected to the Power of the Heart, implying that his Keyblade is genuine.
King Mickey also uses his own Keyblade to defeat the Heartless that attack his castle.
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Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Sora and Riku take the Mark of Mastery exam to become true Keyblade Masters. However, Riku doubts his own ability to wield a Keyblade, as he believes that the darkness still has a hold of him and uses the exam to test his worth as a Keyblade wielder. During his exam, Sora is constantly being tracked by Organization XIII through the Recusant's Sigil on his shirt. After defeating Xemnas, Sora has been heavily worn down after diving so far into the dream world. He is captured by Young Xehanort and taken to Where Nothing Gathers. When Riku attempts to save Sora, Young Xehanort tries to stop Riku. Mickey stops Xehanort with a Stopza, but Master Xehanort's consciousness allows him to move in the space. Young Xehanort then summons an unfamiliar Keyblade to do battle with Riku. Riku emerges victorious and Young Xehanort's Keyblade is never seen afterwards.
Upon his materialization, Master Xehanort reveals his intention to clash seven lights and thirteen darkness to forge a χ-blade. He also reveals that it was his intentions to gather the Princesses of Heart to fulfill his old intentions. After discussing his ideals with the new Organization, he attempts to use his Keyblade, No Name, to make Sora his thirteenth vessel. He is stopped by Lea and all of the members of the Organization are forced to return to their respective places in time. Riku dives into Sora's heart, and fights against an Armored Ventus Nightmare, who wields the Kingdom Key in a similar fashion to Ventus's fighting style. After Riku wakes up Sora and returns to the real world, Yen Sid declares that Riku has passed the exam, but due to what has transpired, Sora does not attain the rank of master. It is later revealed that Lea has become a Keyblade wielder, as well.
The Keyblade only lets a chosen wielder hold it, but those with the strength of heart to wield a Keyblade are able to give or take them from others, or take control of them if they have been abandoned. Those incapable of wielding a Keyblade cannot keep it, even if a wielder hands it to them. A wielder is able to summon or dispel their Keyblades at will. In Kingdom Hearts, the Keyblade disappears until Sora starts attacking, while in Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, it reappears as soon as the player approaches an enemy. In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, the Keyblade appears when Roxas takes damage or begins attacking. In the manga, Sora keeps his Keyblade behind him, strapped to his belt.
However, it is implied that one can only wield a single Keyblade at a time, even if they have possession of more than one. The exceptions to this rule are Sora and Roxas, who can wield two Keyblades at once and channel both their abilities, due to Sora harboring Ventus's heart. It is also possible for a wielder at the level of a Master to choose someone of a strong enough heart as their successor. This is often done through the Bequeathing, but can also be performed informally when the wielder lets a candidate touch their Keyblade, or if their hearts link together.
When some wielders summon their Keyblades, they are accompanied by visual effects specific to the user.
The Keyblade's signature ability is the power to open or close any lock or door, be it to a physical object, to the heart of a person or world, or to a gate or pathway between worlds. For objects like treasure chests, this merely requires tapping the chest, while for more magical locks, the Keyblade generally operates by emitting a bright, thin beam of light from its tip, or by being thrust directly into the keyhole or person's chest.
In combat, Keyblades are wielded in the same way as swords, with the specific style varying with the wielder. Despite many Keyblades' apparent frailty or lack of a cutting edge, Keyblades are able to serve as both excellent blunt weapons and supernaturally precise cutting tools seemingly directed by the wielder's intent. Keyblades are especially effective against creatures connected to hearts or darkness, including the Heartless, Nobodies, Unversed and Dream Eaters.
Keyblades are natural conduits for magic; even Keyblade wielders without formal training are able to perform magic with power rivaling that of expert mages. Skilled wielders may imbue their Keyblade with magic for a variety of effects, including allowing the wielder to inflict greater damage or deal elemental damage to enemies. Keyblades can also be used to channel the powers of light or darkness.
A trained Keyblade wielder can also transform their Keyblade, changing its size and shape. This can be used to augment its use as a weapon, or to transform the Keyblade into a vehicle form, known as a "Keyblade Glider".
A Keyblade wielder can attach a Keychain or Gear to their Keyblade to transform it into a particular form, affecting both its design and abilities. Equipping a Keychain also changes the effect generated when the Keyblade is summoned; this effect is generally based on the Keychain's symbolism.
Keyblades seem to be a manifestation of their wielder's hearts and desires and can act upon these desires even when the user is incapacitated, or even in another world or realm entirely. When Aqua gave up hope and allowed herself to be destroyed in the Realm of Darkness, Terra's Earthshaker and Ventus's Wayward Wind came and destroyed the Darksides threatening her, protecting her without a wielder. Also, a Keyblade may appear for it's weilder in a time of need even if it is not consciously summoned, such as during Roxas's battles in the Simulated Twilight Town or when a large lock blocked Sora's path in the Underworld.
All Keyblades share the same fundamental features, modeled after a key: a guard with a handle, a hilt, and a head at the end of the shaft that resembles the teeth of a skeleton key, with the exception of the Fenrir and Braveheart, which are instead modeled after a pin tumbler lock key.
Disney Infinity 3.0
In Disney Infinity 3.0, if players purchase and scan every figure available for that version of the game, they can unlock Sora's Keyblade, which is the strongest collectible weapon in the game.
Notes and references
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