When it comes to Kingdom Hearts, we all know that Sora is supposed to be the star of the show. His daring escapades with Goofy and Donald (the main #Disney house pets) are nothing if not inspiring. But as the series goes on, it's becoming clear that Sora's prominence is only drawing our attention away from the real hero—and that's Riku.
Meet Riku: The Eternally Friendzoned Unsung Hero Of Kingdom Hearts
Riku is the more attractive, less whiny and all-round most effective of the three main protagonists of the #KingdomHearts series. Sure, we could go on for days about the games and their ridiculously large cast and emotionally manipulative writing. But, in this part of town, we're only concerned with the real star and the many ways he has continued to shine brighter than the red-panted buckle boy. Let's start with his big heart and penchant for fresh fruit.
Riku's Love Was Never A Secret
Part of what kept the fire going in the Kingdom Hearts story as the mythical Kingdom Hearts III grew more and more elusive, was Sora's journey of self-discovery and his perpetual disregard for the budding romance between himself and Kairi.
While we gritted our teeth and balled our fists in frustration, Riku didn't waste any time showing his adoration to both Sora and Kairi from the start. Though he usually tried to play it cool, Riku's dedication to his friends and their safety was clear early on. It wasn't just about protecting them though. Think back to the first ridiculously agitating challenge we received from Riku—a foot race.
During the drawn-out tutorial portion of the first game, Riku challenges Sora to a race across the island. The reward for winning was the privilege to name the raft they would use to explore other worlds, but thirsty Riku tacked on an additional prize—the opportunity to give Kairi a paopu fruit in an expression of love.
Riku knew he would win—unlike Sora, he left the clown shoes at home and his pant legs were closed at the bottom so the annoying parachute affect that keeps Sora from quickly recovering from falls was no problem for him. Pair that with Riku's obvious DTF status and it's hard to deny that this race was anything more than an attempt to win Kairi's favor. Upon winning, he backs out of the paopu fruit exchange out of love for Sora. He likes him too, apparently.
Sora on the other hand, the ultimate f*ckboy, has delivered nothing but apprehension from the start. If you take the story at face value, it would appear that Sora reveals his emotional alliances most when he's about to lose what he's got, which is just poor "heroship" if you ask me.
When a friend has to explain a paopu fruit to you—a fruit that is native to the island that you've inhabited all your life, mind you—you don't really deserve to have a crush let alone a keyblade. No wonder everyone is always trying to steal it from him!
Riku Has Laid It All On The Line
At the center of our circle is Kairi. She's the heart and driving force behind nearly everything that Sora and Riku do with one rather large exception—while Sora gets to dash around with a keyblade and 200 zippers on his pants, Riku quite literally puts his soul on the line to save Kairi and spends the rest of the series (so far) paying for it.
In Kingdom Hearts, Riku agrees to help Maleficent round up the other princesses for a chance to save Kairi. Though he experiences a brief moment of idiocy when he falls for Maleficent's attempt to turn him against Sora, Riku eventually cops on, ultimately saving Sora and his pets by sacrificing his presence outside of the Darkness.
The madness continues in Kingdom Hearts II. Though he is quite clearly trying to make things easier for Roxas and then eventually awaken Sora, Riku's own suffering seems to be amplified by his use of Darkness for purposes of good. He even "ages" and takes on a weird Ansem-like appearance for the majority of the game because he's lost so much of himself to the darkness.
By the end of this game, it would appear that everyone has finally been united, but I think we can all guess who got the spotlight then...
Riku's Adventure Is A Thankless Labor
If you really think about it, the whole "Sora is the star" thing goes a lot deeper than the boss fights and world hopping. Riku has essentially taught Sora everything that he knows.
Those stupid plastic sword battles and challenges from the earliest hours of the first game weren't all fun and games. Riku was always there to kick Sora's ass so hard that you had no choice but to ask yourself: "Do I really deserve to wield the keyblade?" No, you don't. At least not as Sora. And what about that boss fight. You know the one. You know the unskippable cutscene as well.
And what about all of Sora's questions? Has anyone made a super cut of all of the times that Sora has said "What", "Huh" or "How"? Because, if they haven't, they should.
If Riku went through the same bouts of confusion, the writers did a great job of leaving that out. Riku always knows what's going on, what to do about it and what it'll take to get things done—but, at the end of the day, it's always about Sora. When will he catch a break?
We'll just have to see what goes down in Kingdom Hearts 3. With our luck, Riku will die and we'll end up having to face what it's really like when Sora is left to his devices. My guess is it isn't going to be pretty!
It's Not All That Bad...
Fortunately, Riku doesn't have to be alone in the land of the friendzoned and underappreciated. He joins the ranks of video game greats like Jill Valentine of #ResidentEvil, Link from #LegendOfZelda, Bowser and probably also Amy from the Sonic series. No one in that zone is getting any from the one they love but maybe they could look into hooking up with each other? I'm not sure how that works but they're a resourceful bunch that could certainly figure it out.
Don't you think Kingdom Hearts III should just revolve around Riku?