Name Meaning: “Sea”
True Domain: Radiant Garden
Current Residence: Destiny Islands
Premiered in: Kingdom Hearts (2002)
Voiced By: Hayden Panettiere
Now while I can agree that having a video game character be a Disney Princess might sound rather odd, and a bit unfair towards girls whom aren’t interested in gaming or are too young for such things, I still feel in my heart of hearts that Kairi should be included. In a roundabout way, she can technically be the first Japanese Disney Princess but more than that, she can one of the few that teenaged girls, true teenaged girls, can relate to. Now while I’m well aware that a majority of the Disney Princesses are teenagers in their respected films, can anyone say that they actually look their age? Heck, I honestly thought Ariel was twenty up until she declared herself to be sixteen and don’t get me started on Snow White…
But I digress.
Kairi, while not the youngest of the Seven Princesses of Heart, is quite easily more powerful than any of them not just for her near limitless compassion and love for those close to her heart but with her control over the Light. Kairi’s Light is so strong that she was able to not only sense that the small shadow of a Heartless was in truth, her (more-than-a) friend Sora but was able to restore him to his human form, something that has never been done before or since in the entirety of the game series. Aside from her own powers as a Princess of Heart, Kairi is a keyblade wielder though both her weapon and her skills with it are subpar whence compared to her friends Riku and Sora.
Speaking of Sora… I will say that the two of them are a couple and yet not a couple. The atypical “they’re so obviously in love with one another but blast it if either one of them actually admits to it aloud rather than through actions” kind of romance that only teenagers seem capable of doing. For those who’ve never played the games, one perfect example I can describe to the level of affection between them was when Sora discovered that his heart had, somehow, managed to take Kairi’s into it and in order to restore her back to herself, Sora willingly allowed his heart to be taken and turned into a heartless. A heartless being a creature composed entirely of darkness and whose hunger for the light of other hearts is so insatiable that most do not retain even a remote semblance of self and are nothing more than frenzied beasts.
I’ve seen men willingly die for those they love. I’ve seen warriors kill for those whom they adore. I’ve even seen monsters become men for the sake of their significant others. And yet I have never, not once, seen a boy become a monster as Sora had done. He all but damned himself to save Kairi knowing full well what awaited him and that, my readers, is a love stronger than the even the Light from whence it was born.
Kairi technically doesn’t have any sidekicks or companions of her own though she is, for whatever reasons, frequently accompanied by Pluto or other characters whom she easily gets along with. As to her domain… technically, as a Princess of Heart, Kairi’s domain is the Realm of Light itself but insomuch that she can access its powers and use it to combat against the Darkness.
In a more literal sense, she was born in the world known as Radiant Garden, a world that had been renamed to Hollow Bastion when Darkness had overtaken it for a time. Radiant Garden is, for lack of a better comparison, the world from whence a good majority of Final Fantasy characters preside, predominately those from VII and VIII. It is also the original home of Ansem the Wise but that’s a whole other ball of yarn that’d take far too long to unravel. Kairi’s new, and current, home is the Destiny Islands, a small archipelago, as in literally the islands are within swimming distance of each other for kids as young as five, and is the residence of Sora, Riku, and a small sampling of characters from Final Fantasy X plus one from VIII.
Between the two, I’d definitely take residence on Destiny Islands simply for the fact that it is a tropical but I can’t say that I wouldn’t consider spending the summer months in Radiant Garden either. Radiant Garden is a cross between a modernized world and a futuristic one with technologies one would expect from the worlds of Final Fantasy but not to the same extremes. That is to say that while things like gunblades and gummi ships exist, there’s nothing so fantastical as a flying military academy or a dragon-shaped spaceship. That and Radiant Garden is occupied by most of my favorite characters, Disney and Final Fantasy, why wouldn’t I want to stick around?
All in all, I understand why Kairi isn’t included amongst the official Disney Princesses what with the red tape that I’m sure is involved with Square Enix but that doesn’t mean that she should be shoved to the wayside like Kida or Eilonwy. Kingdom Hearts was a revolutionary game, one that changed many aspects of atypical RPG games, Final Fantasy included and showed the world that two entirely different media can come together and create something spectacular.