With the launch of Kingdom Hearts III, everyone’s favorite Disney-crossover franchise returned to the spotlight. While it’s been 14 years since the last mainline game, hardcore fans remained faithful through the spin-off titles. Casual fans watched a few YouTube videos and did other research to catch up on the convoluted, intricate storyline. Every character is somehow related to people you’d never expect, and some of them travel through time because reasons. Even the main protagonist, Sora, has at least three different versions of himself running around.
Among the myriad characters that lie in this entangled web of a story, more than a handful of them share everyone’s favorite trait: The Edge™. Only a franchise about literal light and literal darkness could harbor some of the edgiest characters to share a stage with Disney. So today we’re looking at 10 of the edgiest characters you can find across the Kingdom Hearts games.
This article contains spoilers for every game except Kingdom Hearts III.
No. 10: Luxord
Luxord, the walking representation of gambling addiction, always challenges Sora to a game of wits. His allegiance to Organization XIII is fleeting at best, because all he wants to do is beat Sora at any game, fair and square. He doesn’t play fair, but it’s the thought that counts. You can often catch him preaching about the sanctity of rules while chiding the fools beneath him for not wanting to play his games. And his weapon of choice? The sharp edges of playing cards, of course.
No. 9: Auron
In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora, Donald and Goofy travel to the Olympus Coliseum, where they team up with — I’m sure you guessed it — Auron. More people may know him as an edgy character from Final Fantasy X, but he spends a brief moment showcasing his broodiness with Sora as well. He plays the silent but intimidating character, and he only uses one arm to swing his unwieldy sword. The other limp arm lies cradled in his gi. I'd tell you to watch out for his sword, but his edge alone just might cut you.
No. 8: Cloud
This is the last Final Fantasy entry, I swear. Cloud spends a majority of his time in Kingdom Hearts I and II fighting his inner darkness, alluding to his nemesis Sephiroth. Cloud mopes around, depressingly delivering heavy one-liners about surviving the darkness, all in a monotonous voice. He’s a real departure from his appearance in Final Fantasy VII, where he had some fun to balance out his solemn bouts of seriousness.
No. 7: Ansem
Ansem played the first villain of the series, as he orchestrated Kairi’s kidnapping and possessed Riku’s body. He has a fever, and the only cure is more darkness. His entire goal in Kingdom Hearts is to summon, well, Kingdom Hearts. He wants to use that power to plunge the world into an endless void. All he wants is darkness. He’ll endlessly demand that you submit to his whims as he speaks in edgy riddles. Seriously, I implore you to watch a few cutscenes with him and drink every time he says “Darkness.” You’ll be drunk before you know it.
No. 6: Repliku
This is the first of the many edgy versions of Riku on this list. Replica Riku, or Repliku, is a fake version of Riku created by Organization XIII in Chain of Memories. Repliku believes he’s the real thing, and it’s his destiny to fall into and embrace the darkness. He has cast off his friends because he doesn't need them. All he needs is the evil in his heart to keep himself motivated. His mission in life is to kill the real Riku, which will symbolize his graduation as the one true Riku.
No. 5: Axel
Axel, or Lea as he was known for a fleeting moment, lives by one rule: the rule of cool. This stylish stud rocks every room with his gloriously spiky red mane and constant barrage of sass. He’s constantly aloof, even with the people he’s close to, pushing them away with jokes. Even his weapons scream cool, as he (somehow) wields two spiky chakrams that are on fire. It’s like his weapons and hair were inspired by the same word cloud, and “edge” is at the center of it.
No. 4: Xemnas
Honestly, Xemnas’ voice alone should be enough to rank him pretty highly on this list. He talks like he’s at the top of every food chain, and every person under him is just another vessel containing a heart. Every line he spouts off edgily prompts the most basic existential crisis. To drive the point home, his entire mission in life is to claws for a chance to feel literally anything again. Because without feeling anything, he believes that darkness is the true nature of all hearts.
No. 3: Dark Riku
So this is where things start getting tricky. I’m talking about Riku when he was possessed by Ansem in Kingdom Hearts. This form of Riku lived in and loved the darkness. He turned against his best friend, Sora, because he thought Sora was weak. He even stole Sora’s Keyblade for a minute there, claiming he was the “true” chosen one to wield it. Dark Riku is the most ruthless form of Riku. He takes pleasure in pulling people into his circle of darkness, and his cockiness knows no bounds.
No. 2: Riku
But no form of Riku is as edgy as Riku Prime. Ever since he through his stint of darkness, he has forever wrestled with that part of himself. Every moment, he balances the light and darkness in his heart, but more importantly, he never shuts up about the darkness in his heart. Riku is the quintessential pretty boy who doesn’t stop complaining about his struggle. At the same time, he's too cool to ever be emotionally vulnerable. Whenever he’s relating to other characters, he almost always finds a way to bring up his darkness, cockily turning someone else's moment into something about himself. Riku is an edgelord, through and through.
No. 1: Vanitas
Vanitas literally says, “Because I am darkness,” in one of the games. Case closed.
GameLuster’s Tuesday 10 is a weekly column that highlights memorable, light-hearted facets of video games or the industry at large. The No. 1 is a hill no one should die on, but it’s a hill that should be admired from afar.