Aqua (Kingdom Hearts)

Aqua (Japanese: アクア Hepburn: Akua) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First making cameo appearances in Kingdom Hearts II and its updated version Final Mix, Aqua is one of the three playable protagonists who is introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. She is one of the Keyblade apprentices training under Master Eraqus alongside her friends Terra and Ventus. As the only one among her friends to obtain the rank of Keyblade Master, Aqua is assigned to monitor Terra and Ventus as she combats dark creatures known as the Unversed. She has also appeared in other Kingdom Hearts titles, most notably Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in the playable episode Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.

Aqua is the only protagonist in Birth by Sleep whom Tetsuya Nomura did not have a point of reference to design from, and thus was designed from scratch. Later in the design process, Nomura became concerned that Aqua would not be popular, which drove his decision to make her more distinct in her personal bravery and combat abilities. Aqua is voiced by Megumi Toyoguchi in Japanese and Willa Holland in English. The character received mixed reviews from game critics upon her debut, citing boring plot lines and unenthusiastic voice acting combined with weak combat skills. However, her role in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 has been more positively received, with critics favoring her stronger characterization over previous depictions.

Aqua
Kingdom Hearts character
Aquaconceptart
Official artwork for Aqua for Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
First gameKingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (2010)
Created byTetsuya Nomura
Designed byTetsuya Nomura
Voiced byEnglish
Willa Holland
Japanese
Megumi Toyoguchi
Information
WeaponKeyblade
HomeLand of Departure

Appearances

Before her introduction as a main character in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Aqua made camoe appearance in the secret endings from Kingdom Hearts II and its re-release, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, which depicted Birth by Sleeps climax when Aqua and her comrades battle Master Xehanort at the Keyblade Graveyard. Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix also contains an additional cutscene showing Aqua's Keyblade and armor to be stored in the "Chamber of Repose", a hidden room in Hollow Bastion that is frequented by Xemnas who would later be revealed to be Terra's Nobody through his possession by Xehanort.[1]

In Birth by Sleep, Aqua was initially an apprentice under Master Eraqus in the Land of Departure before passing her "Mark of Mastery" and becoming an official Keyblade Master. As her first task Aqua was instructed to travel the worlds in response to the Unversed while find Xehanort along with monitoring Terra and retrieve Ventus.[2][3][4] But this would bring Terra in conflict with her friends when she confronts Terra over his questionable activities on their quest which left some of the worlds she visited in worser conditions.[5] Aqua would also encounter a fellow Keyblade Master-to-be Mickey Mouse and Maleficent in her journey before learning of Eraqus's death at the hands of Xehanort manipulating Terra and Ventus to put their master in a weakened state. Aqua later reunites with her friends at the Keyblade Graveyard where she battles Xehanort's ally Braig before she and Mickey deal with Vanitas after he merged into Ventus's body, Ventus sacrificing his own heart to prevent the completed restoration of the χ-blade.[6] Aqua uses Eraqus's Keyblade to transform the Land of Departure into Castle Oblivion, leaving Ventus's catatonic body there.[7] Aqua would later find Terra at Radiant Garden, learning too late that Xehanort turned her friend into his thrall Terra-Xehanort.[8] When Xehanort unlocks his own heart to subdue a resisting Terra and sinks into the realm of darkness,[9] Aqua dives in and salvages Terra's body, remaining trapped in the dark realm. Both a secret episode in Birth by Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, depicts Aqua's time spent within the Realm of Darkness as she encounters Mickey by chance before remaining behind to fend off the Heartless from attacking Riku.[10] In Birth by Sleep's secret ending, Aqua meets Ansem the Wise when he ended up at the realm's edge after the events of Kingdom Hearts II and is told of the heroics of Sora whom she had encountered as a young boy during her travels.[11]

In Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Aqua is revealed to indirectly connected to Sora's heart through Ventus's heart.[12] She also makes a cameo in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance as part of Sora's memories. In Kingdom Hearts III, Aqua becomes corrupted when Xehanort's Heartless abducts Ansem and serves as a boss before Sora purifies her. Aqua then proceeds to lead Sora to Ventus so they can revive him. Afterwards, she proceeds with the Guardians of Light to the Keyblade Graveyard for the final battle. There, she and Ventus are reunited with Terra during the final battle against Organization XIII.[13]

Creation and development

For Aqua's unnamed first appearance in the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II, director Tetsuya Nomura stated he did not design her appearance, but had instead focused on what her story would be. While unwilling say who the character was, Nomura pointed that new character's scenes occurred prior to the events from the first game.[14] Following the release of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Nomura revealed more details about Aqua such as a connection with the character Xemnas. Nomura also revealed her name as said by the Lingering Sentiment in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, and explained that her name follows the "water" theme brought by Kairi's name.[15][16] However, a connection with Kairi was not intended, but rather with the series' main characters whose names bear various themes.[1]

Willa Holland PaleyFest 2015 (cropped)
Willa Holland has voiced Aqua in all her English appearances.

In contrast to Terra and Ventus, Aqua did not have a reference point for the characters design, leading Nomura to create a completely new character from scratch. Her outfit was based on Terra's Japanese-inspired clothes which are meant to expand the student-and-teacher bond shown in the game.[1][17] Aqua's outfit was altered three times during the game's development. Nomura felt the open back of Aqua's outfit presented at the Tokyo Game Show 2009 was too revealing and modified the design to be more conservative.[18] As with Terra and Ventus, the making of Aqua's outfit created issues for Nomura like how she would be able to summon her armor. To remedy this, an "X" was added to her clothes as a means to activate her armor. When designing Aqua, Nomura was worried the character would be unpopular due to her weak connection with other Kingdom Hearts characters. This led to a push to make the character distinctly "strong", which Nomura also did with Xion for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, but in a different way. While Xion was also a "brave girl", Nomura wanted to retain Aqua's feminine qualities along with her strength. After design was completed, Nomura was still unsure of how Aqua would be received. After the game's release, however, Nomura noted her popularity with fans, and referenced Megumi Toyoguchi's work as her voice actress as one of the reasons. Toyoguchi had already worked with Nomura in Final Fantasy X-2 voicing Paine, one of the game's protagonists. While Toyoguchi used a low tone with Paine, she used a tone closer to her original voice when performing as Aqua, which Nomura praised.[1]

From the beginning of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep's development, the staff decided its story would have three plot lines centered around three different characters, with Aqua's being the last one written. The original ending of Aqua's storyline showed her trapped in the realm of darkness, but that part was moved to the game's "Last Episode" playthrough in order to keep the game from being too negative in tone.[1] In terms of gameplay, Aqua was designed to be a character gamers would take some getting used to, and recommended them use her as the last one in order to understand the game's story better,[19] pointing out the intention that Aqua would be the last character to leave the Land of Departure in her scenario.[1] The staff developed her movements to reflect her personality as a serious and dignified young woman.[20] In the making of Kingdom Hearts 2.8, co-director Tai Yasue expressed the staff wanted to explore Aqua's torment in this title as she became trapped in the realm of darkness to the point they showed how the character wanted to escape from it as she became isolated.[21] Nomura was surprised by people's reaction to Aqua falling into the darkness in the E3 2018 trailer for Kingdom Hearts III, and expects her role in the upcoming game to surprise the audience more.[22]

Reception

Aqua's character has received mixed response from video game publications, with initial comments focused on her brief appearance in Kingdom Hearts II. Writing for GamesRadar, Chris Antista commented that he did not understand the importance of Aqua and the other characters being briefly featured in Kingdom Hearts II; only later was their importance explored at the end of Birth by Sleep.[23] Prior to Aqua's appearance in Birth by Sleep's trailers, 1UP.com's Jeremy Parish stated that fans speculated the character would be male.[24] Having played a demo from Birth by Sleep as Aqua in the E3 2010, Ryan Clements from IGN enjoyed her character due to her gameplay mechanics.[25]

While reviewing Birth by Sleep, Adam Ghigiino from PALGN criticized her "idealistic" dialogues, finding them repetitive.[26] PlayStation LifeStyle's Thomas Williams found the trio as welcome additions to the franchise, finding their stories enjoyable even though the three travel to the same worlds.[27] Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot gave praise to Aqua's character, based on her personality and how it contrasts Ventus's, as well as Holland's voice acting.[28] 1UP.com's Steve Watts found Aqua's gameplay as the weakest of all the three characters as she specializes in magic techniques, which are weak during the game's start.[29] On the other hand, Bob Miur from Destructoid found her gameplay appealing due to how it contrasts previous fighting styles seen in the Kingdom Hearts series. He also found her story less entertaining than Ventus's, but also less predictable than Terra's.[30] Following Square's advice of using Aqua as the last playable Game Informer writer Bryan Vore liked how her actions were played with Ventus's and Terra's. However, Bore still cited Aqua's playthrough as repetitive if played as the last one, adding that its plot was weakest from all of them.[31] Alongside Ventus and Terra, X-Play found Aqua similar to the protagonists from Kingdom Hearts, comparing her to Kairi.[32] In contrast to Van Ord, RPGFan's Ashton Liu found Aqua's voice "bored for almost the whole game", citing how it is notable when comparing her with other voice actors such as Mark Hamill and Leonard Nimoy.[33] In an ASCII Media Works poll, Aqua was voted as the twelfth most popular video game character from 2010.[34] In a Famitsu poll from 2011, Aqua was voted as the fourth most popular Kingdom Hearts character.[35]

Aqua's role in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 was highly praised by Siliconera. The writer enjoyed how the game explores Aqua's vulnerability as well as her strength and sacrifice to protect her friends. Additionally, the writer commented that "We see that she's not some perfect heroine capable of accomplishing everything, but rather a strong woman who's willing to do what she has to for the greater good".[36] Chris Carter from Destructoid expressed disappointment with the fact that none of the three protagonists of Birth by Sleep were saved by this game, but still wanted to play as any of them.[37] Kimberly Wallace from Game Informer said Aqua was one of her favorite characters due to "her selflessness and determination to save the world, and getting some resolution to her story was satisfying". She also commented that she expected Aqua to play a bigger role in Kingdom Hearts III.[38]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f キングダム ハーツ バース バイ スリープ アルティマニア [Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania] (in Japanese). Square Enix. 2010. pp. 640–649. ISBN 978-4-7575-2788-1.
  2. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Eraqus: Eliminate the Unversed and find Master Xehanort. I have unlocked the Lanes Between. You may use these forbidden pathways to travel between this world and countless others.
  3. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Eraqus: I told Terra this could be a second chance to show the Mark of Mastery...and I meant it. However, that flicker of darkness he displayed during the examination--I can sense it runs very deep. If he were to-- If those powers were to prove too much for him to handle, I want you to bring him back to me at once. It's for his own good. I could not bear to lose any of you to the darkness. / Aqua: Of course. I would never let that happen. I promise you I will bring Terra back. Only this time, you'll see he has what it takes to be a Master. He's not as weak as you think.
  4. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Aqua: Wait, Ven! / Eraqus: No! He mustn't! You have to bring him back!
  5. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Terra: You mean you've been spying on me? Is that what he said to do? The Master's orders? / Aqua: He was only-- / ... / Terra: Just stay put! I'm on my own now, all right? / Aqua: Terra, please! Listen! The Master has no reason to distrust you, really! He was just worried.
  6. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Aqua: Ven! Ventus! / Yen Sid: The boy's heart is sleeping. / Aqua: When will he wake? / Yen Sid: I could not say. It is almost as though his heart has left.
  7. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Eraqus's flashback: Just use the key, and this land will be transformed. From that day forward, all who visit this land will be lost to oblivion, none ever able to solve the mystery. None, Aqua, except you. / Aqua: I know it's a lonely place, but you'll be safe. Terra and I will be back to wake you up before you know it.
  8. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Xehanort: Terra's heart has been extinguished —- smothered by the darkness within him. / Aqua: My name is Master Aqua. Now return my friend's heart or pay the price!
  9. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Xehanort: Stop fighting back! / Aqua: Terra, I know you're in there! / Xehanort: This will teach you. Get out of my heart!
  10. ^ Sata (September 19, 2015). "Details On What's New In Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 And Aqua's Story". Siloconera. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  11. ^ Square Enix PDD 5 (September 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. PlayStation Portable. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Ansem: In fact, I would like to believe... Maybe he can set things right. A boy like him who touches so many hearts--he could open the right door, and save all those people whose lives I managed to ruin. So many are still waiting for their new beginning, their birth by sleep. Even me...and even you. / Aqua: What's this boy's name? / Ansem: His name...is... /.../ Aqua: Sora.
  12. ^ Square Enix, h.a.n.d. (October 7, 2010). Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. Nintendo DS. Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios. Level/area: Castle Oblivion.
  13. ^ Groux, Christopher (June 10, 2018). "New Kingdom Hearts 3 gameplay trailer shows Frozen world". Polygon. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  14. ^ キングダムハーツII アルティマニア [Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania] (in Japanese). Square Enix. 2005. ISBN 978-4-7575-1621-2.
  15. ^ Kingdom Hearts Another Report (Included with the video game Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix) (in Japanese). Square Enix. March 2007.
  16. ^ キングダムハーツII FINAL MIX+ アルティマニア [Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ Ultimania] (in Japanese). Square Enix. 2007. ISBN 978-4-7575-2013-4.
  17. ^ "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Q&A". GameSpot. July 19, 2010. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  18. ^ "Kingdom Hearts". Weekly Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain: 266–267. 2009-11-05.
  19. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (December 23, 2009). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep". Andriasang. Archived from the original on December 26, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  20. ^ Famitsu Staff (August 27, 2009). キングダム ハーツ バース バイ スリープ [Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep]. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain and Tokuma Shoten.
  21. ^ Dornbush, Jonathon (June 14, 2016). "E3 2016: KINGDOM HEARTS 2.8 IS A PRIMER FOR KINGDOM HEARTS 3". IGN. Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  22. ^ "Nomura On Kingdom Hearts III's Final Fantasy Characters, Aqua's Popularity, And Ratatouille". GameInformer. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  23. ^ Antista, Chris. "Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep review". GamesRadar. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  24. ^ Parish, Jeremy (September 10, 2008). "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Preview". 1UP.com. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  25. ^ Clements, Ryan (June 15, 2010). "E3 2010: Kingdom Hearts Introduces Keyblade Surfing". IGN. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
  26. ^ Ghiggino, Adam (September 22, 2010). "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review for PSP". PALGN. Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
  27. ^ Williams, Thomas (September 14, 2010). "PSP Review – Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep". PlayStation LifeStyle. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  28. ^ VanOrd, Kevin (September 3, 2010). "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review for PSP". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  29. ^ Watts, Steve (September 7, 2010). "Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep review". 1UP.com. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  30. ^ Miur, Bob (September 23, 2010). "Review: Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  31. ^ Bryan Vore (September 7, 2010). "Kingdom Hearts BBS Review: Great Mechanics Undercut By Story Reboots". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  32. ^ Marissa Meli (September 3, 2010). "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review". G4. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  33. ^ Liu, Ashton (October 1, 2010). "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review". RPGFan. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  34. ^ 電撃オンラインアワード2010結果発表 2010年一番おもしろかったゲームはコレ [Dengeki Online Awards - 2010 Results - The most interesting games in 2010] (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  35. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (July 13, 2011). "Famitsu's Readers Want Kingdom Hearts on PS3". Andriasang. Archived from the original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  36. ^ "Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage- Connects Many Characters". Siliconera. January 31, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  37. ^ Carter, Chris (January 23, 2017). "Review: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue". Destructoid. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  38. ^ Wallace, Kimberly (January 23, 2017). "A Great Collection Leading Into What Comes Next - Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue - PlayStation 4". Game Informer. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
Aqua

Aqua may refer to:

Aqua (color), a greenish-blue color

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