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 Organization XIII. He wields fire and enchants 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 as Roxas's and Xion's best friend.
Lea, his complete being's original name, was revealed in the Day 356 Secret Report and also mentioned by Saïx. Lea was friends with Saïx's original persona, Isa. Lea, Isa, and Axel each appear in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Axel's appearance merely a cameo.
Like other Organization members, Axel 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 and emphasizes his lithe and skinny build. 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. His eyes are a bright emerald color and he has a purple reverse-teardrop shaped marking under each eye, which are similar to, although not the same as, Reno's facial markings.
When he is first introduced at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Axel has a mysterious, stoic, and calm demeanor on par with that of Marluxia. A very good liar, he makes a point of keeping himself difficult to read, coming off as fooling around when really his mind is at work manipulating the other members around him. Axel often makes witty conversation with Larxene while Marluxia is away, though is almost completely unfazed by her flirtatious behavior towards him. He also has friendly bets with Zexion as to which member will be defeated next, seeming amused at their deaths.
Eventually, Axel betrays both with no remorse. Vexen's cries for mercy only receive a cruel "Aren't you happy to die?" and a cocky "Goodbye" before Axel incinerates him without any hesitation. This cruel nature persists even when Marluxia uses Naminé as a human shield against him: Axel confidently declares he would eliminate Naminé to get to Marluxia. He is a person who does what is necessary to keep his actions, like those in Castle Oblivion, unnoticed by the rest of the Organization, so that his and his allies' goals are attained smoothly.
Axel's personality changes drastically in between Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II because of his friendship with Roxas and Xion. In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, he has a very sarcastic and laid-back, "go with the flow" outlook on many things, including missions and battles, very similar to Marluxia. He also is shown to have a very kind and protective side towards Roxas and Xion, which is ironic for a Nobody and his actions at Castle Oblivion. He acts like an older brother towards them, being their main source of advice and wisdom, shown by Roxas in a journal entry when he wrote that he thought Axel knew everything. In some cases he got them out of trouble even when it could and did earn him his own trouble, like his dismissal and eventual betrayal of Saïx to protect them both. Axel apparently does not like to talk about his past despite Saïx's insistence on its significance. Whenever Roxas or Xion asked him about it, he would give a brief or vague answer, then try to change the subject, often avoiding eye-contact when lying.
At his death, he was at least able to recall how Roxas gave him a "bizarre illusion of humanity". An important thing to note is that 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 clearly displays his unusual emotional capacity. Even during the events at Castle Oblivion, Axel displays emotion and acknowledges it when he begins laughing, but catches himself and stops. He even mocks his ability to feel during his death. Whether he, Roxas, Naminé, and Xion all seem have something unusual in common regarding the heart, is unknown. But 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. Axel has also stated that Roxas makes him feel as though he does have a heart, even though he does not.
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. Axel also effortlessly eliminated Vexen and dueled evenly with Marluxia.
In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Axel has a Limit Break called Explosion. During Explosion, Axel throws his Chakrams at enemies while they're engulfed in fire, creating a small explosion of fire afterwards. While not being thrown, Axel's Chakrams spin rapidly, gathering fire. However, they can be thrown at any time, and do not need to charge.
During Axel's Final Limit, Axel combines his two flaming Chakrams into one enormous flaming Chakram, easily many times larger than the two Chakrams. The explosion after the attack is also much larger.
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 in a cross 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 the whole 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 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.
- Main article: Lea
After inducting Roxas into the Organization, Xemnas places him under Axel's tutelage. Initially, Axel was unsure how to treat Roxas, as he acted like a "zombie" due to the lack of memories of his previous life. Over time however the Nobodies begin to bond, eating sea-salt ice cream together at the Twilight Town Train Station after missions. As their friendship grows strong, Axel began 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 stop their plans to overthrow the Organization.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories while Sora and Riku wandered around in Castle Oblivion, Axel worked for the two parties of the already divided Organization in the castle. One side, Marluxia and Larxene, sought to use Sora's powers to usurp Xemnas and the rest of the Organization while using Naminé to alter Sora's memories. Those who stayed in the castle basement were Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion—three of the original members of Organization XIII. The three realized Marluxia's ambitions and tried to counteract by using a replica of Riku to destroy Sora. At first, Axel joined the rebel group, though his intentions at that decision point remained unclear.
Upon throwing the first battle with Sora, Axel admitted to testing the Keyblade master's strength. Being the first Organization member to reveal his face, Axel gave up a card created from Sora's memories for him to progress further in the castle. After leaving 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 nearly reveals the existence of Roxas to Sora, Axel was ordered by Marluxia to dispose of him. Axel did so effortlessly, and was at last accepted by Marluxia and Larxene into their conspiracy. Using this to his advantage, Axel allowed Naminé to escape and contact Sora. He later confronted Marluxia, allowing him to figure out that he acted as a double agent during their entire time in the castle. Citing his previous order to rid the Organization of traitors, Axel readied to attack Marluxia, even after Marluxia used Naminé as a shield, but was interrupted by Sora, whom he eventually fought for the last time. At the end of the battle, Axel pretended to be defeated and confused Sora with the words "It was worth saving you after all," and vanished.
After his battle with Sora, Axel met with Zexion in the castle basement. Zexion brought up the subject of Riku and requested data on Destiny Islands in the form of a card. Despite their previous collaboration, Axel later offered Replica the honor of eliminating Zexion, promising the duplicate that he would gain new powers and be able to defeat the real Riku by taking them from Zexion. The exact reason for Axel's betrayal is not stated, and seems self-contradictory after he had helped stop Marluxia's betrayal, though it was true that both sides of the Organization members in Castle Oblivion had their own ideas for betrayal. Axel commented that it would be more interesting to see Sora and Riku's future than to save Zexion; however, this may have had something to do with Axel's friendship with Roxas, which could have been the reason why he effortlessly destroyed Vexen—to prevent either Sora or Roxas from meeting.
In Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Axel stated the reason for his betrayal of Zexion, saying: "You just found out way too much." This seems to be quite ambiguous, as in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories Axel and Zexion were shown to be friendly with each other (e.g. in one scene it was shown that Zexion and Axel were making bets on which Organization members in the Castle would be the next to die, something that Axel wins when he accurately predicts that Marluxia will be the next to fall), however this could mean Zexion found out about Saïx and Axel's plan to take over the Organization.
When Axel returns to The World That Never Was, he feels that Roxas has replaced him with Xion since he was told everyone at Castle Oblivion was terminated. 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 reveals that he regrets not being able to talk with Saïx as he could with Roxas and Xion. Saïx reminds Axel of the friendship they shared before becoming Nobodies, and the plans they had to take over the Organization to regain their hearts.
After discovering who and what she was, Xion began wanting to leave the Organization. Axel eventually catches her in front of Roxas despite his pleas. With him and Roxas not on speaking terms, Axel soon becomes torn between his attempt to save them both from Xemnas's intent to do with any one of them. While assigned to a mission in Wonderland, Xion runs off and Axel makes no attempt of stopping her once she knocks out Xigbar. A few days later, with Roxas learning of Xion's identity and that Axel kept it from him, he also leaves the Organization. Axel, who has enjoyed the time he spent with his best friend, is distraught by Roxas' decision as he tried to reason with him to keep him safe.
The next day, under orders, Axel tracks Xion to the Old Mansion in Twilight Town where he realizes 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 in their battle. But the fight took its toll as 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.
Axel is sent to DiZ's Digital Twilight Town to bring Roxas back to the Organization; however, his first effort failed due to DiZ's appearance and the restarting of the Twilight Town program. Roxas was dumbfounded by Axel's appearance, lacking any memories of him and awareness of what was going on. Pressed by the threats by Xaldin and Xemnas, 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 is called when he is unable to remember "their boss's name." DiZ then intervenes and Roxas escapes for 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 to the different worlds, Axel appeared before Kairi on a beach across 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 escaped through a Corridor of Darkness created by Riku and landed in Twilight Town where she stayed for some time in wait of Sora. Axel, however, followed her to the town and stole her away again, but not long afterward she was taken captive by Saïx who was under orders to give Axel something to actually worry about. After the invasion of Radiant Garden by the Heartless, Sora confronted Xemnas, the leader of the Organization. Xemnas decided to take his leave and Axel later greeted Sora. Axel hinted that the Keyblade caused the hearts that composed the Heartless to flee, but refused to say what Organization XIII would do with those hearts. Sora realized that Axel is Kairi's captor, and Axel confirmed this. Though initially seeming unrepentant for his actions, he soon apologized for kidnapping Kairi, and made a hasty exit when Saïx appeared.
On the way to The World That Never Was, Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Mickey are trapped in Betwixt and Between by Nobodies, but Axel arrives to help. Sora and Axel battled the Nobodies, but seeing that the Dusk's numbers were too great, Axel decided to put his entire being and essence into an attack, destroying the Nobodies but sacrificing himself in the process. He did this to save Sora, his best friend's original self, who stayed with him until the moment he faded. He sincerely apologized to Sora for getting Kairi involved. Confused, Sora asked him what he was trying to do and Axel confessed that he wanted to see Roxas, the only one who made him feel like he had a heart. Oddly enough for Axel, Sora made him feel the same way (possibly since Sora and Roxas are one and the same) and used these final words to urge Sora on to rescue Kairi. Axel opened the passageway to the World That Never Was with the last bit of strength he had in him before disappearing into darkness completely.
Afterward, Xigbar and Luxord were curious about Axel's foolish and senseless actions; essentially turning against the Organization for the sake of his friendship with Roxas, but Xemnas revealed that Axel's disappearance served to stir Roxas from his rest, claiming Axel's disobedience was not entirely meaningless and pitiful. Xemnas also stated that due to contact with Sora's heart, Axel's own ability to feel emotions could have been affected. Naminé, however, 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 before the latter's mental battle with Sora, where he gives a final farewell to his best friend.
In the Data Castle Oblivion Episode 8, the data Naminé reveals to Data Sora and King Mickey that Axel is one of the people that, while gone, is still connected to Sora's heart.
Axel, Roxas, and Xion are seen in the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Blank Points, sitting happily together on the Clock Tower with sea-salt ice cream. The trio look into the sunset and Roxas and Xion say Sora's name.
Day 8: Roxas
Seems like we're getting new members every day. No. XIII was a boy, Roxas. Now we've got a No. XIV, Xion. Today's mission was to show Roxas the ropes. I feel like they've had me babysitting him since he got here. He's not a bad kid, but he's spacey. Good fighter, though. At least I won't be bored.
Day 14: This Kid?
Another mission with Roxas today. Is he seriously my responsibility? At least he's starting to talk like a normal person. Maybe that means his memory's coming back. Still, this kid's supposed to be the Keyblade master's Nobody? I don't see it.
Day 22: Castle Oblivion
They pushed up the C.O. plan. Our little hero with the key must've made a move. Me and his Nobody have been meeting up for ice cream the last few days. Not the best conversationalist, but at least he's mastered a few facial expressions besides "doom" and "gloom." I told him about C.O., but he didn't seem to follow. Guess that's understandable.
Day 28: Dealing with the Traitors
I've uncovered most of what I need to know about the Replica Program, but where's the other one? I can't find any trace of it. ...Vexen was caught in the middle. Pitiable, but unavoidable. I could not risk his Program falling into their hands. Of greater concern are the traitors. Not the obvious turncoats, but the ones who will get in his and my way. The Keyblade master is not our enemy.
Day 52: Another Mission
I've lost track of the Keyblade master and the other intruders. I'm the only one left in the castle. Everybody else has been destroyed. My orders were to end the traitors, but I think by this point, I fit that bill better than anybody. There's one last thing I need to look into while I'm here.
Day 72: Human
The longer you know someone, the less you need to speak in clear terms. Everything gets across with a wink and a nudge, a little reading between the lines... When it comes to what befell our late comrades at Castle Oblivion, ambiguity suits me just fine. But the Keyblade master and Roxas come out and say every little thing that comes to mind. Maybe that's human, or maybe they're just special.
Day 74: Xion's Face
Honestly, I never got why Roxas was so crazy about Xion. I know they both joined up around the same time, and they're both rookies, but how do you get so close to somebody who hides their face all the time? Well, I saw it today. All of a sudden, No. XIV up and takes off...her hood. Xion is a girl, and she looks just like Naminé.
Day 96: Friends
Xion regained her ability to wield the Keyblade. I don't know how or why. Maybe there's more to the Keyblade master they're not telling me about. I feel like I've been spending more time talking to Roxas and Xion lately than my old friend, Saïx. This has to have been what it was like, friendship.
Day 118: You Changed, Not Me
Talking to Roxas and Xion always brings back memories of my human life, back when I was a kid. It's a weird sensation. I ought to be able to share all this with Saïx, but I just don't feel like it anymore. It's strange, but I'm content with just missing what's gone. I'm not the one who changed. You did.
Day 152: Like a Real Person
Roxas and Xion must have had it out over something. Knowing them, it's something dumb, but still. Watching them, it's like they're human. It's messing with my head. I kind of wonder if Roxas understood all that about the wrong buttons. I get the sense a lot of it went right over his head.
Day 172: Meaning Behind the Words
There has to be something to what Saïx said. Why isn't Xion qualified to be one of us? He said to just look at her, but at what? The fact that she looks like Naminé? Xion and Naminé must be connected. Whose Nobody is Xion, anyway? What is Saïx hiding?
Day 194: The Replica
I thought I'd never see the word "Replica" again. Any rational man would realize the Riku Replica was not likely unique, but I'm the only one in the Organization who knew of his exceptional copying functionality, and that he ultimately formed a sense of self. The fact that I knew all that and still never noticed the truth about Xion speaks to how remarkable a Replica she must be.
But my questions remain unanswered. Who is she a Replica of? Naminé? Kairi? Or perhaps someone entirely different? Why did the Organization admit her into this membership? And why would such a fine Replica fall unconscious or sporadically lose its command of the Keyblade?
Day 276: Behind the Truth
Xion is gone. Roxas still doesn't know anything, but Xion found out. That's why I need to find her. We don't have hearts, so we accept the facts we're given as the truth. But something far more important lies behind that truth. Saïx would laugh at people with no hearts calling one another friends, but that doesn't make it not so.
As the Nobody of the hero of the Keyblade and the Replica of that Nobody, these two are special. Unique in every sense of the word. But that doesn't change the fact that we're friends. Nothing will. Got it memorized, Xion?
Day 297: Contact with Riku
The man they're calling the impostor, that fake Organization member? It's Riku. Roxas could very well remember that, somewhere deep in his memories. Still, it's too soon to report this. I need to know why Xion was with him first. If she's siding with the hero, it could easily mean her erasure. What are you planning to do, Xion?
Day 299: The Value of a Liar
Roxas doesn't trust me after the whole Xion incident, but I can't tell him the truth yet. So I keep lying. It's no big deal when you're a Nobody. There's no guilt, no feeling at all. So why does it still sting, just a little, when I lie to him? All my dealings with Roxas give me this bizarre illusion of humanity.
Day 301: Xion or Roxas?
Xion is burning through missions at full tilt. She seems frantic. Why, I don't know. And speaking of, I still don't know what to say to Roxas. Even without my orders from Saïx, I'd do anything to stop Roxas from being erased. I just don't know if I can stand by and let that happen to Xion, either.
Day 353: A Future That Never Was
I couldn't tell Xion she was wrong, and I can't bring myself to end her. But it's either that, or I have to erase Roxas. There's no future where the three of us can sit around and eat ice cream. I know Roxas will never understand. I don't want to acknowledge it myself.
Day 358: To My Best Friend
Roxas left. It's so like him to just leave that WINNER ice cream stick behind. Come tomorrow, I'll probably get the order to hunt him down, but leaving that here makes it feel so permanent. I wish the three of us - three? No. That the two of us could share some ice cream again someday. That's what it is to be friends.
- He is Lea's Nobody.
- In the English 358/2 Days cutscenes of Kingdom Hearts 1.5, Axel sounds a bit off; perhaps to show the lack of emotion Nobodies normaly have. However, this is contridicted by Re: Chain of Memories, where he shows emotion. Adding onto this, it's not until near the end of 358/2 Days that there's actualy emotion in his voice.
- In the Japanese version of Kingdom Hearts II, there were flames consuming Axel's body at his death. The flames were removed for the English version. In Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, despite keeping many changes made to the English version, Axel's death scene uses the flames.
- Axel is the first character to technically curse, as he says the word "hell" in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories when he says "It's about time you give me one hell of a show!" In Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Axel uses "Try and make it enjoyable, Sora. It's the least you can do for me, you know." instead.
- Axel's catchphrase was originally translated as "Commit it to memory" in the English version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, though it was later retconned into the more accurate translation of "Got it memorized?" as of Kingdom Hearts II.
- Axel has been resurected twice as he is a favourite character among many fans and the creators themselves. He was supposed to die at the end of Chain of Memories and was brought back because the developers liked working with him, and he was supposed to die at the end of Kingdom Hearts 2 but revived as his somebody Lea in Dream Drop Distance because fan's favored him.