With the coming of the latest Kingdom Hearts quasi-sequel Dream Drop Distance, my insane love for those keyblade wielders tales has come to the forefront once more. What makes me more excited is that fact I can play as my favorite character in the series – Riku.
For some reason, I found Riku to be far more of an interesting character as opposed to Sora who I considered the archetypal hero-type. Sora rarely ever experienced conflicts or doubt for too long, so while he played as the titular good guy, Riku’s story of becoming a hero was lot more winding and twisted. In my opinion, this makes him far more gratifying of a character as you see him progress.
What makes Riku such an interesting character is mainly the fact that he himself is his own worst enemy. Ever since the first Kingdom Hearts when Riku is taken into the other worlds, he does so without the slightest bit of fear or doubts. His drive and resolve to leave behind everything he knew was very interesting for someone who is only 15 years old.
Then when he enters the other realms in search of Kairi, he uses anything at his disposal to do so – this desire is what plants the first seeds of darkness in his heart that will haunt him throughout most of the series. After being taken over the darkness within him and becoming Ansem, it is at this point in his story that it shifts from being a mere rescue mission to a story of redemption.
During Chain of Memories the story shifts to Riku trying to overcome his own fears and guilt over having darkness in his heart and a growing anxiety over that darkness consuming him. It makes perfect sense for him to wake up in the deepest parts of the basement area within Castle Oblivion – symbolizing traveling throughout the darkest deepest reaches of his own repressed self. As he ascends, he is constantly tested by inner and outer forces that all question his resolve or even call him to give into the darkness within him. As he struggles to determine where he fits in this dynamic where Sora is a beacon of light and he is neither light nor dark, his time in the castle represents him trying to find his true self.
This journey comes to a head when he faces the embodiment of the darkness and dread that he repressed within him: Ansem himself. After finally defeating him, he comes to terms with the dark impulses within himself and finally comes to realize who he is the grand scheme of things.
He is not entirely light like Sora, nor is he completely dark like Ansem, but something in between. Upon choosing this third middle road, he is able to understand not only himself, but also come one step closer to overcoming the lingering sense of guilt he felt for his actions all that time ago. You could say this guilt is what drives him to become the person he is now, and it is also what drove him to aid DiZ in his plans to reawaken Sora during the events of 385/2 Days.
Now, for Dream Drop Distance, Riku is now set to become a full-fledged keyblade master, possibly marking the final step in his road to becoming redeemed in his mind and heart. By reconciling with all the various factions his psyche, he might be able to truly move forward toward the dawn he so desperately seeks.
Click here to view the article