- “Don't ever forget. Wherever you go, I'm always with you.”
- ―Kairi to Sora
Kairi (カイリ) is one of the main characters in the Kingdom Hearts series, serving as the tritagonist. She was born in Radiant Garden, though after her world was destroyed, she is whisked away to the Destiny Islands, where she grows up alongside her two best friends, Sora and Riku.
Sora and Riku's childhood friend. As one of the seven princesses, she became a target of the forces of darkness, but thankfully Sora and Riku came to the rescue. She is waiting in the Destiny Islands for their safe return.
Kairi is caring, kindhearted, and outspoken, though quickly becomes determined and courageous when someone she cares about is in danger. Her sociable, charismatic nature enables her to quickly befriend others comparable to Sora's ability. At fourteen years old, Kairi was somewhat brash and bold, but by Kingdom Hearts II, she has become more mature and wise although still retains her tomboyishness and bravery.
Kairi is usually optimistic and upbeat, but can be rather stubborn sometimes. When faced with a challenge and to protect her friends, Kairi becomes quite loyal and headstrong.
Kairi is a beautiful young woman of average stature with auburn hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. She is alway seen sporting a necklace with a silver bead, which contains a protective spell on it placed by Aqua. Kairi displays a fondness for pink, white, and purple, wearing it in all of her casual clothing.At age 14, during the events of Kingdom Hearts, she wears a white top with a black one underneath, purple shorts underneath a purple skirt with a blue belt, and white shoes. She also wears 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 becomes taller while her hair becomes longer and darker, and her body has developed into that of a young woman. Her main outfit is a pink strapless mini-dress made up of three zippers as well as a white top underneath her mini-dress with a black hood. She also sports three bracelets on her left wrist, a black belt with a bag attachment, and lilac Converse sneakers with black laces.
As a child, she wore her hair short, and wore a white and purple sundress with flower designs, with matching slip-on sandals.
Powers and Abilities
As a Princess of Heart, Kairi won't succumb to darkness so easily and her heart possesses none of such within it. If her heart is lost, her body will remain in a dormant state until the heart is returned, making her one of the few beings who cannot become a Heartless. Besides this primary trait, Kairi inherently possesses other abilities to some degree, such as being able to open the Final Keyhole when she and the other Princesses are gathered and the ability to sense darkness.
In combat, Kairi's abilities are limited. However, when she touched Aqua's Keyblade when she was younger, Kairi inherited the ability to wield the Keyblade. She demonstrates this in Kingdom Hearts II when Riku hands her a Keyblade of her own, allowing her to protect herself without any help. She is shown to be fairly competent with it, and is later brought into training with Master Yen Sid to become stronger for the impending batter with Master Xehanort.
Kairi's disappearance 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). Riku eventually finds her first, but she is in a comatose state as she had lost her heart. As Maleficent manipulated him further, Riku was convinced that he alone could locate Kairi's heart and restore her to health.
In Neverland, Sora finally encounters her body, along with a 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 tries to reach towards her, Kairi's hand twitches before going still again, causing Riku to take her away at this revelation. Eventually, Sora follows Riku and Maleficent to the world of Hollow Bastion. 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, along with the truth that Kairi is one of the Princesses of Heart. He then attempts to take her heart from Sora, but Sora drives Ansem from Hollow Bastion after defeating him in combat. However, realizing Kairi won't wake up without her heart, Sora sacrifices himself using the Keyblade of People's Hearts to free Kairi's heart and in the process frees the captive Princesses of Hearts' hearts as well, and is turned into a Shadow Heartless. Awakened as her heart is finally restored, Kairi runs towards him, but he vanishes into light as soon as she touches him.
After fleeing from Ansem's reappearance as Riku holds him back, Kairi along with Donald and Goofy attempt to escape Hollow Bastion only to be cornered by the Heartless in the entrance hall. But in the midst of the Heartless, Kairi recognizes one of the Heartless to be Sora's and manages to bring Sora back from the darkness. The group escapes Hollow Bastion thanks to the Beast and find shelter in Traverse Town with Leon and his friends. In the underground water tunnel, Kairi expresses her wish to help rescue Riku and stop the darkness from emanating, but Sora convinces her to stay put, not wanting her to get hurt; he also acknowledges that, since their hearts were one, they will always be together. Kairi gives in and gives Sora her lucky charm.
In the game's final cutscene, she appears on a section of Destiny Islands after Sora's final battle with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. Sora runs up to her, a little too late as the world is breaking apart, restoring all the previously destroyed worlds. Just before she is sent back, Sora 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.
Although Kairi does not directly appear in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, she does play a very important role. She served as a constant figure of light for both Sora and Riku and fervently awaited their return on Destiny Islands.
In Sora's journey, Marluxia ordered Naminé to take Kairi's place in Sora's heart. However, Sora is able to remember her once in an illusion of Destiny Islands. In Riku's journey, 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.
In the credits for Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kairi is shown to still be waiting for Sora and Riku's return.
One day, while walking home from school with Selphie, her heart is put into contact with Roxas, later revealed to be Sora's Nobody. During this conversation, Roxas brings up Sora, and, when Kairi inquires about his name, Sora himself, despite being in stasis, is able to uses Roxas as a conduit to talk to her, and gives her a hint to remember ("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.
Sometime after this event, Axel comes to Destiny Islands and tries to kidnap her. However, Kairi is led to a nearby portal by King Mickey's dog, Pluto, into Twilight Town and meets Hayner, Pence, and Olette. 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. However, Saïx finds Axel with Kairi and takes her to the World That Never Was as a prisoner to bait Sora's anger. Kairi is devastated until she is freed by her own Nobody, Naminé, using a Corridor of Darkness.
The two are soon confronted by Saïx and a pair of his Berserker Nobodies during their escape, only to be saved by a cloaked figure. Kairi walks towards him to remove the hood, revealing it to be Riku, even though his appearance has changed to that of Xehanort's Heartless, though she is overjoyed to be reunited with him. Riku leads her to Sora and is attacked by a group of Heartless. He hands Kairi a Keyblade, and they successfully fend off the remaining Heartless. She is then reunited with Sora and shows him that Ansem is really Riku.
After Sora and Riku defeat Xemnas, Naminé appears and creates a portal, where Donald, Goofy, and Mickey go through leaving Sora, Kairi and Riku behind. Kairi walks towards her and Sora follows Kairi. Kairi thanks her as Naminé tries to make Sora remember her, but Sora gets confused. Roxas then projects out of Sora, where he and Naminé 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 and successfully destroy him.
In the penultimate cutscene, Sora and Riku are left at the shore of Dark Meridian. Kairi's letter washes up on shore and Sora reads it, which causes the Door To Light to appear and the two boys go through it to arrive at Destiny Islands' shores as Kairi shouts for them. Sora excitedly swims towards her as Donald, Goofy, and Mickey appear ahead to greet the duo. Sora shows Kairi the lucky charm and extends her hand to bring him up. 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.
Shortly after King Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Jiminy, Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, and Louie return to Disney Castle, Kairi runs up to Sora and Riku to hand Sora a letter from Mickey. The trio immediately open the letter and read it, though its contents are hidden from the player.
Kairi makes a brief appearance in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days in flashbacks. Kairi is also mentioned by Riku and Xion when they were in a conversation on Destiny Islands.
Kairi does not appear in the game, but during the end of Kingdom Hearts coded, Kairi, along with Sora and Riku, read Mickey's Letter, corresponding to the final scene of Kingdom Hearts II.
At the end of the game, Sora finishes reading King Mickey's letter detailing the events of Birth By Sleep. 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 again, accepting Sora's choice to leave once more to go help everyone.
Kairi makes an appearance as a figment of Sora's dreams when Sora enters a second sleep, and is seen side by side with Riku. 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.
After Xigbar and Xemnas reveal the true nature of the Organization to Sora, Kairi momentarily appears behind Sora with a Keyblade in hand alongside all the other friends connected in Sora's heart when Sora states that he was proud to be connected to those who it did choose as he states his friends are his power. 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, Master Yen Sid orders Riku to retrieve Kairi in order to train her for the battles that lie ahead.
During their meeting with Master Yen Sid, Mickey reveals that Aqua was there with him and Riku, in the Realm of Darkness when they sealed the Door to Darkness.
After Mickey finishes his story, and Yen Sid reveals the reason he kept it a secret was to prevent Sora or Riku from foolishly going after Aqua. Once Mickey assures Riku they can now help Aqua and Riku decides to join him, Kairi is surprised at how much Riku has changed over the last couple of years. Kairi is assigned to train alongside Lea under Merlin's guidance for the coming war. Though surprised that Lea was formerly Axel (given that he kidnapped her once), she is assured by both Mickey and Riku that Lea can be trusted.
Though not as often as her many friends and counterparts, Kairi appears in some printed media for the Kingdom Hearts series, including novelizations and manga.
Kairi appears in the Kingdom Hearts manga adaptation series by Shiro Amano, which illustrates alternate events to the series' story arc. In this series, Kairi's personality is more in depth; she is presented as a bold, friendly young teen who loves adventure as much as her two best friends. She is more interactive in the storyline, speaking more and acting out more often, as well as being more comedic.
Kairi also appears in the series' novelizations, which once again provides alternate events to the series. The novelizations are much more in-depth by virtue of having more time allotment to explain events and how/why they unfolded. The novels are currently being officially translated to English by Yen Press, after having been Japanese-only since 2005.
- Kairi's name is derived from the Japanese word for "sea" (海), as part of the name theme she shares with Riku and Sora. Together, their names make up "Land, Sea, Sky".
- Kairi is considered by many as the first Disney Princess to originate from a video game. She has been considered to be an unofficial Disney Princess, and she is an unofficial member of the Disney Princess franchise.
- The secret ending of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance hints that Kairi will be a Guardian of Light (and with her doubling as a Guardian and a Princess, that would make 13 beings of light in total (the other 6 Princesses and the other 6 Guardian) which would be an even match against Master Xehanort's 13 darknesses). However, Nomura has stated that players will be surprised by who the lights are, meaning the revelation could be a double bluff.
- Kairi's English voice actress Hayden Panettiere has jokingly said that she wishes she had Kairi's body.
- Her four-year old self is voiced by Ariel Winter, one of the voices of another unoffical Disney Princess, Sofia the First.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, before Luxord's battle, in the cutscene you see Sora and the gang as well as Kairi running, you only see the four running then Kairi appears out of nowhere, which is just a simple glitch.
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