- "Don't ever forget. Wherever you go, I'm always with you."
- —Kairi to Sora
Kairi is one of the main characters in the Kingdom Hearts series, serving as a deuteragonist. She was born in Radiant Garden and currently lives on Destiny Islands along with her two best friends, Sora and Riku. Kairi is also a Princess of Heart, one of seven maidens whose hearts hold no darkness but only pure light, and is needed to open the Final Keyhole to Kingdom Hearts.
She is voiced by Hayden Panettiere in the English version of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, and by Alyson Stoner in the English version of Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. and Risa Uchida in the Japanese version.
Kairi is caring, kindhearted and outspoken but can become 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 has auburn hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and a necklace with a silver bead.
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 sneakers with black laces.
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.
- "So, suppose you get to another world. What would you do there?"
- —Kairi to Riku
In the Destiny Islands, Kairi lives peacefully with her friends Sora and Riku who playfully compete for her attention. She appears to have 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 when suddenly 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 embraces him.
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. 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 too, 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.
- "This time, I'll protect you!"
- —Kairi to Sora's Heartless (whilst shielding him from the Heartless attack)
After fleeing from Ansem's reappearance, Kairi along with Donald and Goofy attempt to escape Hollow Bastion only to be cornered by the Heartless. 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 and find shelter in Traverse Town. 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.
- "Remember what you said before? I'm always with you too! I'll come back to you—I promise!"
- —Sora to Kairi
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.
Kairi, now fifteen years old, lives her life normally on Destiny Islands and attends school regularly along with her friend Selphie. While she misses Sora, most of her memories of him have faded away because of Naminé's interfering with her own memories.
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, 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.
- "Maybe... waiting isn't good enough."
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.
- "This is real."
- —Kairi to Sora as she embraces him
The two are soon confronted by Saïx during their escape only to be saved by a cloaked figure. Kairie walks towards him to remove the hood, revealing 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. 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.
- "You're home."
- —Kairi to Sora after he returns to Destiny Islands with Riku
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 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.
In the prequel set ten years before Kingdom Hearts, Kairi appears as a child in Radiant Garden, where she is shown to have lived with her grandmother. One day, she is chased by a group of Unversed and encounters Aqua. Frightened, Kairi touches Aqua's Keyblade, unintentionally performing a Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony. 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 suggests that they team up, but is called away immediately afterwards. Kairi then gives Aqua the flowers she picked before the Unversed appeared as token of thanks for helping her and in return, Aqua puts a protective charm on Kairi's necklace that will lead her to the light of another should she ever get captured by darkness. Kairi thanks Aqua and then returns to her grandmother.
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 accepting Sora's choice.
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.
- 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, though 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 darkness's) however Nomura has already 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.