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Religious Allegory in Kingdom Hearts

Updated on January 7, 2015

Square Enix has a habit of putting religion into its games (see link below). Why, then, should its partnership with Disney make Kingdom Hearts any different? It doesn't, although not to the extent of other game franchises like Final Fantasy (even though those characters still appear in Kingdom Hearts). Of course, the games rely on the basic good-versus-evil/light-versus-darkness theme that can be found at the heart of everything. However, the characters' involvement and attitude toward these concepts and how to deal with the problems they encounter are also worth noting as part of this eternal struggle.

Once again, we look to Birth By Sleep to provide a basis for this argument. In this game we are told via Kairi's grandmother a legend about people wanting the light all to themselves, their greed causing the darkness to spread and take over the world. We can easily substitute the word "religion" for "light" and "destruction" for "darkness" and we would get a clear picture of our world as we know it. People fight over religion all the time whether or not fighting is really warranted. This is not to belittle the people who have fought, suffered, and died for their beliefs, but people attach their own importance to things that others do not. Throughout history, people have fought land wars over sites considered by one or both parties to be holy or to convert other lands (those they had conquered or with whom they had a working relationship) to their way of thinking. How is this any different from the Keyblade War and what Master Xehanort has done thus far to get it to happen again? The legend ends with the world being saved by the light in the hearts of all of the children; unfortunately, we've seen people, including children, get manipulated and corrupted quite often in this series.

Each character has different motivations driving them whether or not their actions can be seen as ultimately good or evil. When two or more characters disagree, the outcome isn't always pretty. In times of crisis, who would you turn to for help, short of God? My spiritual and moral role models growing up were Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Princess Diana. In this game, we have Master Eraqus (who stays in the Land of Departure and does nothing to help anyone), Master Yen Sid (who stays in his Mysterious Tower and does nothing but spout somewhat biased exposition), and Ansem the Wise (who accidentally starts helping make matters worse and is too late to stop it). In Eraqus' case, when he has a disagreement with Terra over whether or not Ven should be killed, they physically fight over it. However, Terra had already sent Ven to safety on Destiny Island through one of his portals, so there is no real reason why they still had to come to blows over it (granted Eraqus would be just as dead when Xehanort stabs him, but at least then Terra wouldn't feel like the blood was on his hands so much). In Ansem's case, which we have yet to see in its entirety, he forbade the experiments to continue and was overthrown/banished as a result of what I would imagine must have been a very heated argument between him and the apprentices. Neither is a very healthy way of dealing with problems and disagreements (although you could argue that by that point Xehanort had already set the situations in motion and it was too late to hit the brakes). Our world's history is full of the same if not similar mistakes. The fate of Galileo is a perfect example. Don't like someone's scientific theories about how the universe works? Put them under house arrest and make them kill themselves. In the end it comes down to the clashing of ideologies, the influence of the people behind them, and the ability of other people to be convinced either way. Today we have laws to regulate the opposing viewpoints that wage war against each other, although the separation of church and state has its own opposing viewpoints to deal with.

In conclusion, the course of human history, both in fiction and reality, is full of people making mistakes. These people believed in what they were trying to accomplish whether or not they were actually in the right (and the ones who knew they were in the wrong made it worse for all involved). If you find yourself disagreeing with someone over something of this magnitude, it's time to check any and all extremism at the door and have a calm, rational discussion; when emotions enter the fray, the field of battle becomes clouded. Our beliefs can sometimes make us too blind to see what is really going on around us and prevent us from realizing when we've gone too far until it's too late.


(If you were wondering what Yen Sid's problem was, it was telling Sora that his objective was to kill the Nobodies because they are evil, with Ansem telling Riku the same out of hurt; Riku calls Ansem out on this and refuses to kill any more of them for the sake of his vengeance while Sora just continues to do what he's told because he's the hero. It's a little bit racist but not the whole point because in their case it's complicated, and they aren't really dead as per the retcon explanation Yen Sid gives us in Dream Drop Distance. At least Sailor Moon healed her enemies; here it ended up so that killing a person's Nobody and their Heartless brought them back to life, never mind Kairi hugging Sora's Heartless to bring him back in the first game.)


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