Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The? where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings, Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I can’t figure out what the idea for them was or I think they could have been good but didn’t get a chance, and then for those characters who are dull as dishwater boring as a box and make you wonder what the author was thinking in creating them they will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes (No I’m not kidding). Today on the table of judgement, Sora the main character of the Kingdom Hearts series.
We are going to look at Sora as he is furthest in the story which is currently Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Sora is a young boy (fourteen years old in the original Kingdom Hearts) who lived a fairly normal life on a small island called Destiny Island. He and his friends Riku dream of seeing other worlds but never believed it would happen until one night when Sora is given the keyblade and thrown into adventure.
Right from the start it is apparent Sora doesn’t understand where he is or what’s going on, but this is understandable as he is in foreign lands and he is only fourteen. Sora is incredibly upbeat and happy 24/7 and I mean happy to the point where the Heartless (which are basically soul sucking demons) don’t even scare him or get him he just says, “alright time for more fighting!” This is one of Sora’s first major flaws in his design; he has never used a real sword in his entire life but as soon as evil monsters appear and he gets a weapon to fight them off he immediately knows how to kick some major butt. The only explanation in his ability to fight was that fact him and Riku practiced with wooden swords fighting each other, which would teach you somewhat but not that much. Now, okay, that is kind of because of game mechanics. So what about his happiness? His world and friends are gone, and he is fighting monsters but he is almost always happy to the point where you wonder how he still smiling, but then you realize why; Sora is trying to keep everyone upbeat all by himself and it starts to make sense.
By the end of the first game, Sora has learned the gravity of what he is fighting, and has developed into a hero with some good sense. In Kingdom Hearts 2, he is fifteen and ready to fight more Heartless and the new enemies, The Nobodies. Sora has had practice, so the fighting thing I mentioned before is no longer an issue, but his extreme jubilance has returned ten fold; starting to get a bit annoying. He does have some moments of sadness, but they are so short to the point where you almost want him to be a little more sad sometimes. Basically, it comes down to Sora having the emotions of a robot; he is set to happy at all times, and then acts slightly sad to keep up the ruse of having human emotions (I’m joking of course). Seriously though, it gets annoying to the point where you wish Riku was the main character. Sora does develop a little bit though and when it’s needed, he gets his serious face on.
Now in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Sora is sixteen (three years between the seven Kingdom Hearts games) but he doesn’t seem to be acting more adult-like whereas his best friend, Riku, is showing age. As a lot of fans pointed out (myself included), Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance made Riku more important than Sora.
Most people would say, “Sora is a bad character because his emotions are flat and he doesn’t show growth with time, right?” Well you are right. Sort of. If this were any other game or any other universe, I would agree with you. But the thing is, Sora fits like a puzzle piece in his game series; as people fight, get depressed, become afraid, and generally get hurt, he sticks out as a beacon of hope. He doesn’t show other emotions because people end up looking to him for protection. The games are also set in the world of Disney, so child like happiness in the main character fits the Disney motif very well. Square-Enix seems to have made the character of Sora to almost be a child’s fantasy hero to look up at and it make sense.
The conclusion here is a strange one; on one hand, Sora doesn’t really develop or show growth like the other characters, and he seems a little too comfortable with his horrible surroundings of fighting and fate of the world. But on the other, his design seems to be very deliberate and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. So how do you really judge this intentional flaw? Well, I just want to point out, before people get on the “Choo-Choo Hate Train” that Kingdom Hearts is my favorite game series. No, I’m not bagging on Sora because I don’t like the games. My rating comes down to this: Sora is classified as Good; if he were in a different world that wasn’t Disney and if he wasn’t actually intended to be a symbol of light, I would say he is a terrible character. But because he fits so snug into the series, I have to say he indeed has good character design.