Roxas (Kingdom Hearts)
|Kingdom Hearts character|
Roxas as seen in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
|First game||Kingdom Hearts II (2005)|
|Created by||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Designed by||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Voiced by (English)||Jesse McCartney|
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Kōki Uchiyama|
Roxas (Japanese: ロクサス Hepburn: Rokusasu?) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First revealed during the final scenes of the 2004 title Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Roxas is a "Nobody", a being created when the series' main character Sora briefly lost his heart during the first game of the series. Kingdom Hearts II revealed that Roxas is a member of Organization XIII, a group of Nobodies who needed Roxas as he could wield the Keyblade, a weapon that allows him to capture hearts. As a member of the organization, Roxas bore the title "Key of Destiny" (めぐりあう鍵 Meguriau Kagi?, lit. "Serendipitous Key"). He is also the protagonist of the video game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which revolves around his origins. In the Japanese games, Roxas is voiced by Kōki Uchiyama, while Jesse McCartney takes the role in the English versions.
Since his first cameo in the series, director Tetsuya Nomura has stated that Roxas is an important character to the series, and that in order to explain his back story in more detail than done in Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was created. Since his introduction in Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas has received positive critical response from video game publications with most of them focusing on his development in 358/2 Days. Various types of merchandising have been released based on his character.
Roxas is depicted as a spiky blonde-haired teenager with blue eyes. As a civilian he wears a white jacket along with a black jacket and white trousers. As a member of Organization XIII, Roxas wears a black coat that covers most of his body including his head along with the other members. His weapon is the Keyblade known as Kingdom Key (キングダムチェーン Kingudamu Chēn?, Kingdom Chain), resembling a classic skeleton key, with a long silver keychain extending from the hilt, and a Mickey Mouse token on the end of the keychain, but the player is able to modify it during Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days using different keychains. Roxas also becomes able to dual-wield Keyblades after leaving the Organization, and exclusively uses the Oathkeeper (約束のお守り Yakusoku no Omamori?, lit. "Oath's Charm"), whose shaft displays two hearts, and its handle bears two angel wings, and the Oblivion (過ぎ去りし思い出 Sugisarishi Omoide?, lit. "Passing Memories").
Roxas' personality significantly changes across the series due to the fact that when first introduced, he appears with fake memories that make him believe he is a common teenager and spends most of his time with his friends. When learning that he is Sora's Nobody and remembering his past, Roxas gives up his existence so that Sora could continue existing, but still expresses happiness for his fate. During his time in the Organization, Roxas develops a calmed personality based on the experiences he has as a result of having no memories of a previous life unlike other Nobodies.
Roxas' first appearances were cameos in "Another Side, Another Story", a bonus trailer found in Kingdom Hearts, and in the ending of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. In Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas is introduced as a boy living in a digital replica of a city called Twilight Town. Unaware of the virtual nature of the city, Roxas begins to dream about the adventures of Sora, the series' protagonist. He later encounters Axel, a member of Organization XIII who was given orders to rescue him, and Naminé, a Nobody who tells him he is Sora's other half. Shortly after meeting, Ansem the Wise, the creator of the virtual world, Roxas learns the nature of Twilight Town as well as that Ansem erased his memory, and implanted false ones to make Roxas unaware of his past and then make him merge with Sora. Ansem leads Roxas to an old mansion where once reaching an asleep Sora, Roxas rejoins with him, allowing Sora to wake up. Sora later learns that Roxas is his Nobody, created during the events of the first game after Sora briefly turned into a Heartless. Xemnas brought Roxas to Organization XIII as he could wield the Keyblade, a weapon which would help them to capture hearts. Roxas later betrayed the Organization and encountered one of Sora's friends, Riku, who captured him to help Sora wake up. Roxas makes two appearances near the end of the game. The first is in a mental battle with Sora depicted as a cut-scene, and the second is with Naminé, who has merged with her other self, Kairi. In the re-released version of the title, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Roxas' fight against Sora was expanded, making him a boss character. The battle was meant to be interactive in Kingdom Hearts II, but time constraints imposed from creating fights for the other Organization XIII members prevented inclusion. With the opportunity to include the fight, Nomura's team worked hard to make it entertaining for players. Additional scenes regarding Roxas' past were added to the game to add to the mystery around him.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, a prequel to Kingdom Hearts II, reveals Roxas' life with Organization XIII. Unlike the other Organization members, Roxas lacks memories of his previous life. During Roxas' time in the Organization, he is placed under Axel's watch, and the two become friends. After Axel is sent to Castle Oblivion, Roxas is entrusted with Xion, another Keyblade wielder, whom he befriends. Roxas reacts to Sora's memory restoration and starts questioning why he uses the Keyblade and doubt the Organization's motives. When he discovers that Xion is a replica of Sora created by Xemnas, Roxas is compelled to defect from Organization XIII to find answers and meet Sora. After doing so, he encounters Xion, who tries to attack and absorb him so that she would become the "real" Sora; however, the fight ends with Xion's defeat who entruts Roxas to free the hearts the Organization captured. The death of his friend, coupled with full knowledge of how deranged Xemnas truly is, inspires Roxas to defeat Xemnas and release the hearts he and Xion captured for the Organization. On his way, Roxas is confronted by Riku who knocks him unconscious in order to help Ansem and Naminé wake up Sora.
A virtual representation of Roxas appears as a boss character in the mobile phone game Kingdom Hearts coded, in which he confronts a virtual representation of Sora. He makes a cameo appearance at the end of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, where he is shown with Xion and Axel eating sea-salt ice cream in Twilight Town, as well as in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance where Roxas contacts both Axel and Sora through dreams. He also appears in Shiro Amano's manga and Tomoko Kanemaki's novels, which reprise his role in the video games. The book Kingdom Hearts: Another Report includes a novel called Roxas–Somewhere in Time that retells Roxas' days in the Organization with the exception of his befriending Xion.
Creation and development
After Roxas first made a cameo at the end of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the director of the series, Tetsuya Nomura, was questioned about the character. However, he refrained from revealing too much detail about him and stated that he would become an important, playable character for the franchise. The developers wrote Roxas' story in Kingdom Hearts II to add mixed feelings to the game in a short time frame. After receiving a positive fan response regarding Roxas' sad scenario, Nomura concluded that it was well executed. He also stated that Roxas' merging with Sora in the game was one of his most memorable scenes from the series. Nomura later commented that Roxas was one of the first characters created for Organization XIII, and was always intended to be the 13th member. The meaning of Roxas' name was meant to be revealed in a scene in Kingdom Hearts II that shows the letters in the word "Sora" rearranged with the "X" added to expand the connection between the characters. This scene, however, was omitted as Nomura found it difficult to implement time-wise. Since his debut in Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas has been voiced by Kōki Uchiyama in Japanese and by Jesse McCartney in the English versions.
After Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix was released, Nomura wanted to expand Roxas' role in the series to explain the events between his birth and his disappearance from Organization XIII. For Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, the staff thought that Roxas' role as a member of the group would be a suitable theme for the plot. Roxas was chosen as the game's protagonist as the staff thought that having a main character besides Sora would help to introduce gamers to the series' first Nintendo DS title. Co-director Tomohiro Hasegawa explained that Roxas' height was originally lower and as the game continued development, the staff decided to increase it. Nomura desired to portray Roxas' activities different from Sora's. In Sora's games, he is on a journey around the worlds, while Roxas always returns to Organization XIII after each mission. The staff constructed Roxas' interactions with the Disney characters to be different from Sora's as the Organization was meant to be secret in the game's story. Nomura told the writers that he wanted Roxas to learn something from each of his missions or just to have something to think about. Nomura later clarified that Roxas' personality was different from the one portrayed in Kingdom Hearts II as he does not actively attempt to come into contact with other characters. With Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Nomura wanted to reveal why Roxas left Organization XIII. Although Nomura found it to be a sad story it, he considered Zack Fair's ending in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII more tragic. His last words in the game were also Nomura's most significant ones from the title as he wanted it to connect to Kingdom Hearts II's first scene, which is actually the same scene. Uchiyama expressed sadness when the game ended development as he would not play the character for a long time.
Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix's secret ending features a character named Ventus that bears a striking resemblance to Roxas. Nomura commented that, despite how similar they are, Roxas and Ventus are not the same character. Additionally, he stated that by playing Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, players will be able to distinguish Roxas from Ventus. In another interview, Nomura implied both characters are related, specifically to Sora, but he wanted fans to imagine reasons for such connection. The Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania clarified the connection, stating that Roxas and Ventus look alike because Ventus' heart entered Sora's body and Roxas' birth allowed Ventus' heart to reside in Roxas. This also confirms the mystery about Roxas having a heart in contrast to other Nobodies which allows him to express emotions despite his lack of memories from a past, something that Nobodies use to show emotions.
Roxas has been featured in various types of merchandising published by Square Enix. An action figure was released as part of the Play Arts action figures series. Other items sold include plush, keychains and replicas of his necklace.
Roxas' character has received a positive critical response by both fans and video game publications. During February 2010, Roxas was twenty-eighth in a Famitsu poll featuring the most popular video game characters from Japan. In another poll, Roxas was voted as the second most popular Kingdom Hearts character with his fight against Sora ranked as the best scene from the series. His fighting sequences from the first game's secret ending were labelled by GameSpy as one of the best video game cinematic moments. While reviewing Kingdom Hearts II Jeff Haynes of IGN said that Roxas was a "likable kid". Ron Fahey of Eurogamer took a similar stance, calling him a "likeable enough young chap who just happens to be troubled by memories and visions of people he doesn't even know". His playable position in the game was regarded as a transitional arc, being used to introduce the gameplay to players that are new to the franchise. Cavin Smith from PSXextreme also called Roxas a likable character and stated that the revelation regarding his existence in Kingdom Hearts II is "a shocker of a revelation for any RPG!" The New York Times liked the fact that the player controls Roxas in Kingdom Hearts II's introduction instead of the protagonist Sora, avoiding the continuation of Sora's search for his friends. Additionally, he found the switch from Roxas' story to Sora's after a few hours "a little jarring". Andrew Reiner from Game Informer emphasizes his role as a "troubled boy", calling his story arc "an amazing chain of events", particularly noting that the revelation of his nature as a Nobody creates a "devilish yet remarkable plot twist" which may impact the player in a way that he "may not want Sora back". On the other hand, UGO Networks commented that due to the game's initial focus on Roxas, gamers would have to wait until playing as Sora to experience the most exciting parts of the title.
Before Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was released, 1UP.com featured Roxas at the top of their "Why You Should Care About Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days" feature, calling him "The darling of fanfiction and doujinshi writers everywhere", and commenting on what he does during his only year within Organization XIII. Roxas' role as protagonist was labelled by G4TV as an attempt to "satiate the ravenous fanboy" due to the explanation from his background. While reviewing 358/2 Days, PALGN's Adam Ghiggino praised Roxas' development during the title, expressing that even gamers who did not like his character in Kingdom Hearts II would care about him as "he evolves from a self-described 'zombie' to a strong-willed and interesting character". Ghiggino especially noted his relation with Xion and Axel, which he found charming despite the fact that they repeatedly meet at the top of a clock tower in a large number scenes. A similar response was made by Game Informer, who commented that although such scenes were "dull", Roxas' relation with Xion and Axel was appealing and the game's ending would make up for such moments. GamesRadar also commented that Roxas "starts off like a zombie, but rapidly develops a personality" during the title and joked about the numerous times he eats ice cream. His growth in the game was also labelled as one of the most enjoyable elements from the title. IGN agreed, calling Roxas' friendship "heart-aching". On the other hand, 1UP.com mentioned that although Roxas' relationship with Xion and Axel is appealing, some of his first missions feel like "lonely, sad affairs". His maneuvers in the game were praised by GameSpot for being easy to learn despite how complex they look, while IGN liked the variation between all of them.
Due to his resemblance with Ventus, video game publications initially thought that Roxas would be one of the protagonists from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. However, when it was revealed that the two were different, publications still discussed how similar they were and if there was a connection between them.
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- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Roxas: Have to hang onto something, right? It's not like I have memories from before. Don't you remember? I acted like a zombie."
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- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Axel: This town is his creation, right? Which means we don't have time for a Q & A. You're coming with me, conscious or not. Then you'll hear the story."
- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Roxas: Yeah. Sora, Donald, and Goofy. They're from the dreams. / Naminé: About a year ago, some things happened, and I had to take apart the memories chained together in Sora's heart. But now... I'm putting them all back exactly the way they were. It's taken me a long time, but pretty soon Sora will be his old self again. The process has been affecting you, too, Roxas. / Roxas: You mean...the dreams? / Naminé: Yes... You and Sora are connected. And...in order for Sora to become completely whole again... He needs you/Roxas: Me? What for? / Naminé: You hold half of what he is... He needs you, Roxas."
- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Roxas: ...Donald. ...Goofy? / Ansem: At last, the Keyblade's chosen one. / Roxas: Who are you talking to? Me? Or Sora? / Ansem: To half of Sora, of course. You reside in darkness. What I need is someone who can move about the realm of light and destroy Organization XIII."
- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Roxas: Sora... You're lucky. Looks like my summer vacation is... over."
- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Sora: I don't get it. Why's everyone been calling me Roxas? / Riku: Because, Sora... Roxas is your Nobody. / Sora: My... Nobody? But that's crazy. I never turned into a Heart... oh, right. / Kairi: It was when you came to rescue me, remember? / Riku: Xemnas is the one who found Roxas. He could use the Keyblade because he was your Nobody. That's why Xemnas brought him into the Organization... But Roxas betrayed them. I went after him because DiZ said it would help you wake up. I fought Roxas, and I lost. The next time we met, I made sure I was the stronger one. Maybe I didn't have to fight him after all, I think he left the Organization because... he really wanted to meet you."
- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Sora: Wh-who are you? / Roxas: Someone from the dark. / Sora: You can't be Riku? / Roxas: Riku? ...I defeated a Riku once. / Sora: You what!? / Roxas: Tell me... Tell me why he picked you!"
- Square Enix (March 28, 2006). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games. "Naminé: Sure. See? We meet again, like we promised. / Sora: Huh? / Roxas: You said we'd meet again, but when we did, we might not recognize each other. / Naminé: I did, didn't I? / Roxas: But I knew you. / Naminé: Mmm...it's strange. / Roxas: I think I understand. I see myself the way you remember me. And you see yourself the way I remember you. / Naminé: I always though Nobodies were doomed to fade back into darkness... / Roxas: Yeah, but you and I didn't. We got to meet our original selves. / Naminé: So, we can be together again!"
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- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Roxas' diary: Me and Axel went on a mission to Twilight Town. Afterwards, we went and had ice cream again up on the clock tower. He said friends do stuff like that. Or they laugh together. So does that mean me and him are friends?"
- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Roxas' diary: Today was my third day with Xion. I've gotten to know a little more about her. That's right---she's a girl, with black hair, and she can use the Keyblade just like me! I took her out for ice cream afterwards, but I'm saving the WINNER stick. Axel deserves a reward when he gets back. Xion wants to have ice cream with us from now on. Maybe we'll be friends."
- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Roxas' diary: I don't understand the Organization. I don't understand Axel... I understand myself least of all. Why do I keep coming back to the castle? Me and Xion are special, connected by "Sora." If she's a puppet, maybe I am, too. I don't know what I am."
- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Axel: Your mind's made up? / Roxas: Why did the Keyblade choose me? I have to know. / Axel: You can't turn on the Organization! You get on their bad side, and they'll destroy you! / Roxas: No one would miss me. / Axel: That's not true. I would."
- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Xion: You're next, Roxas. I have to make you a part of me, too. Don't you see? This is why I was created."
- Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (September 29, 2009). Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. "Roxas: Am I...the one who did this to you? / Xion: No... It was my choice...to go away now. Better that, than to do nothing...and let Xemnas have his way. I belong with Sora. And now, I am going back...to be with him. Roxas... I need you...to do me a favor. All those hearts that I've captured... Kingdom Hearts... Set them free."
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