Sora (Japanese: ソラ) is a fictional character and the protagonist of Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts video game series. Introduced in the first Kingdom Hearts game in 2002, Sora is portrayed as a cheerful teenager who lives in the Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since childhood. When they plan to go on a journey to see other worlds, they are separated by creatures known as the Heartless, with Sora obtaining a weapon called the Keyblade. Donald Duck and Goofy then recruit him in their journey across various worlds to aid King Mickey while Sora searches for his friends. Along the way, the trio protects the worlds they visit from various villains. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora searches for Riku and fights against Organization XIII, who attempt to seize Kingdom Hearts for their own. Sora has also made supporting appearances in other games from the series, and reprised his role in manga and light novel adaptations of the games.
Sora was originally designed by Kingdom Hearts series director and character designer Tetsuya Nomura during a discussion between Disney and Square about who should be the protagonist of the series. Wanting an original character, Nomura made various sketches of Sora until the design met the approval of Disney. Nomura came to regard Sora as his favorite character that he had designed, and pushed for the character to have a leading role in the Kingdom Hearts story in spite of the character's youth. Throughout the series, Sora has been voiced by Haley Joel Osment in the English version and Miyu Irino in the Japanese version. For his depiction as a child in the prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Sora was voiced by Luke Manriquez and Takuto Yoshinaga in English and Japanese, respectively. Sora's character has received generally positive critical response due to his warm personality and adventurous spirit. His personal and martial growth in the series also received praise, especially in his appearance in Kingdom Hearts II. Additionally, Sora has ranked high on various video game character popularity polls.
|Kingdom Hearts character|
Sora as he appears in Kingdom Hearts III.
|First game||Kingdom Hearts (2002)|
|Created by||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Designed by||Tetsuya Nomura|
Haley Joel Osment
Luke Manriquez (child)
Takuto Yoshinaga (child)
Sora was designed by Tetsuya Nomura as the protagonist of Kingdom Hearts. However, he was not originally slated to be the protagonist as Disney wanted Donald Duck to fill the role, while Square wanted Mickey Mouse. Nomura designed Sora with the concepts of the Disney characters in mind, basing his outfit on Mickey Mouse's trademark white gloves, red shorts and giant yellow shoes. Sora originally wielded a weapon resembling a chainsaw; however, the weapon was not well received by Disney which led Nomura to redesign the weapon into a Keyblade. He was also designed with lion-like features, which were removed as the staff found them to be similar to the one of the Final Fantasy IX protagonist Zidane Tribal. After a talk with the Disney staff, the design was further reworked, and Nomura finished it after a night's work. Because of originally being a new character in the first Kingdom Hearts, Square added Final Fantasy characters who support the protagonist.
One of the main concepts of Sora's character in the series is that, according to Nomura, he is a normal boy instead of a supernatural being, even though he is deeply connected with other characters from the series. With Sora, Nomura wants to give players the message that even though they are not "important people", they have the opportunity to accomplish great things. This was emphasized in Birth by Sleep's secret ending, which Nomura hoped players would find because it showed Sora's potential to influence everyone's lives. In early versions of development of Birth by Sleep, Nomura thought that Ventus would actually be Sora before being reborn, but due to negative feedback from overseas, that plot line was discarded. Nomura has stated that Sora's name can be interpreted as "sky", since the Japanese word sora (空) means sky. This name was also chosen to symbolize Sora's role and his personality, as well as his close relationship with Riku and Kairi, making their three names together "sky, land, and sea." He was also described by Nomura as having an outgoing personality, which allows him to make friends throughout the series. Of all of the characters Nomura has designed, Sora is his favorite, calling him "special" after having worked to develop the character over many games.
Following the first Kingdom Hearts, Nomura was worried that players would be unhappy that Sora would start Kingdom Hearts II as a weak character with few powers who once again had to be leveled up like the first title. Therefore, Nomura developed the plot of Chain of Memories to explain how Sora loses his abilities in Castle Oblivion and then starts anew. Additionally, with Chain of Memories a new mystery regarding Sora's memories of Twilight Town was added, which would be explained in Kingdom Hearts II. The team in charge of Kingdom Hearts II expressed difficulties in animating Sora's "Valor" Drive Form for having a completely different motion except in Sora's walking animation, which is shared with his regular motion. After finishing Kingdom Hearts II, Nomura wanted to give Sora a rest from the series in order to focus the following games on other characters from the series. Moreover, the events from the endings of Coded and Birth by Sleep hinted a new mystery regarding Sora's character, which will be revealed in Kingdom Hearts III. Although Nomura stated in March 2010 that Sora would once again be the focus of the next Kingdom Hearts, he will share it with another character with great importance. In response to rumors saying that Sora's story would end in Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura answered that Sora is the protagonist of the series and that his role will end once the series ends. For this game, Nomura was interested in giving Sora a new costume, but was worried about doing so because of the popularity of the character's Kingdom Hearts II outfit. In the end, he decided to create a new one as Kingdom Hearts III was a new numbered title.
Sora appears as a child with spiky brown-hair who, when first introduced, wears a red shirt, red pants, and a white and blue jacket covered by keychains. Upon traveling to certain worlds, Sora's appearance is altered by Donald Duck's magic to adapt to different environments; for example, he turns into a merman in underwater environments. After undergoing significant growth in Kingdom Hearts II, Sora is given a new outfit given by Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather similar to the previous one but mostly black. When battling, Sora's outfit can change into other designs depending on the player's choices. The primary form of Sora's Keyblade is the Kingdom Key (キングダムチェーン Kingudamu Chēn, lit. "Kingdom Chain"), but through the use of game items called keychains, the Keyblade can assume a variety of unique forms. During Kingdom Hearts II, Sora dual-wields Keyblades, their forms depending on the player's use of keychains.
Across the series, Sora is depicted as a cheerful teenager who cherishes his friendships and relies on them for his strength. As a result, several of Sora's enemies use his friends as bait to use the Keyblade for their purposes. During the first game, it is discovered that Sora was not meant to wield the Keyblade, which only chooses him in the absence of its intended owner, Riku. However, Sora's greater strength of heart causes the Keyblade to reject Riku in favor of Sora.
In Kingdom Hearts, Sora, Riku and Kairi plan to leave their home on the Destiny Islands to explore new worlds. However, they are separated when the island is attacked by the Heartless, leaving Sora alone with a key-shaped weapon called the Keyblade. Sora arrives at Traverse Town, where he discovers himself to be chosen by the Keyblade to eliminate the Heartless. Soon after, Sora meets Donald Duck and Goofy, who join forces with him under instruction from their missing king, Mickey Mouse, to follow the "key". The three travel across worlds in their Gummi Ship in search of their missing friends, sealing the worlds' "Keyholes" along the way to protect them from being consumed by the Heartless. They are opposed by an alliance of Disney villains led by Maleficent, who seeks out the seven Princesses of Heart to unlock the Keyhole that leads to "Kingdom Hearts", a repository of knowledge and power, and the source of all hearts. Riku, who has come under Maleficent's watch, fights with Sora on several occasions under the belief that Sora has replaced him with new friends. As the group travels to Hollow Bastion and defeat Maleficent, Riku becomes possessed by Ansem, who reveals that Kairi's heart is in Sora's body. To save Kairi, Sora impales himself with Ansem's Keyblade, briefly transforming him into a Heartless before Kairi restores Sora to human form. After taking Kairi to safety, Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat Ansem at the open door to Kingdom Hearts. From inside the door, Mickey and Riku help Sora and his friends close it to prevent the Heartless within from escaping, with Mickey and Sora using their Keyblades to lock the door. Separated from their friends again, Sora, Donald and Goofy continue their quest to reunite with Riku and Mickey.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora's group stumbles upon a fortress known as Castle Oblivion, where a girl named Naminé is forced by the group Organization XIII to manipulate their memories in order to turn Sora into their slave. After Sora and friends defeat the Organization members controlling the castle, Naminé helps restore the trio's memories to their state prior to entering Castle Oblivion, at the cost of their memories of the events in the castle. This requires them to sleep in the castle for the restoration of memories to be completed. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora reawakens along with Donald and Goofy in Twilight Town once his Nobody, Roxas, merges within him. They visit Mickey's master, Yen Sid, from whom they are reacquainted with Organization XIII. Sora embarks with Donald and Goofy to find Riku and King Mickey, traversing new and unfamiliar worlds to eliminate the threat of the remaining Heartless, Nobodies, and local villains. Learning that the Organization has abducted Kairi to force Sora to gather more hearts for them, Sora's group rejoins Mickey and arrives at the Organization's fortress in the World That Never Was, where they reunite with Kairi and Riku. After being separated from the others, Sora and Riku defeat Xemnas, after which a doorway appears that allows them to reunite with their friends on the Destiny Islands.
Sora makes a minor appearance in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, the majority of which is set as he sleeps to recover his lost memories from the events of Chain of Memories; it is also established that Xion, an experimental replica of Roxas created by the Organization, inadvertently hinders the restoration process until she joins with him. In Kingdom Hearts Coded, a computer program based on Sora's likeness serves as the primary protagonist of the game, finding out the truth behind a mysterious message found inside Jiminy's journal. A four-year-old Sora appears in the prequel, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep; after Ventus, one of the protagonists, has his heart damaged following a confrontation with his dark side, Vanitas, his heart finds its way into Sora, who accepts it into his own heart. In the game's secret ending, set after the events of Kingdom Hearts II, Ansem the Wise tells Aqua about Sora's adventures, and how he may help all the people connected to him. In the final scene, Sora decides to save them after reading Mickey's letter.
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Sora and Riku undertake a Mark of Mastery exam in response to Xehanort's return. The two are sent to awaken several worlds submerged in sleep after the defeat of Ansem, but once the task is complete, Sora's heart is damaged by Xemnas, whose companions plan to turn him into a vessel for Xehanort's heart. Riku and his friends save Sora and bring him back to Yen Sid's tower, where Riku dives into Sora's body and repairs his heart, awakening him from his coma. As Yen Sid promotes Riku as a Keyblade Master, Sora congratulates him.
In the ending of Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, Yen Sid reveals that Sora has lost most of his powers as a consequence of Xehanort's attempted possession, and advises Sora to seek out Hercules, who has gone through a similar experience. This leads to the events of Kingdom Hearts III, with Sora becoming a full-fledged Keyblade Master as he engages in a final showdown with Master Xehanort and the thirteen seekers of darkness alongside his companions, Mickey, Riku, Kairi, Ventus, Aqua and Lea, joined by a restored Terra, Roxas, and Xion. But after averting Xehanort's scheme to use Kingdom Hearts in wiping out everything, learning the full depths of his power of 'Waking' and its risk of overuse prior, Sora uses his power to restore Kairi after Xehanort destroys Kairi’s body resulting in him fading away. It is later revealed in the game's secret movie that Sora survived his sacrifice and has ended up in a city that appears to be Shibuya.
A 2D cartoonish avatar version of Sora wearing his original outfit in Kingdom Hearts is also present in the online community-based social gaming networking service, Kingdom Hearts Mobile. Medals of Sora appear in the mobile game Kingdom Hearts χ. Sora also appears in the Shiro Amano's manga and Tomoko Kanemaki's novels in which he reprises his role in the video games.
Various types of merchandising have been released based on Sora's character. There are several types of action figures which show Sora with a different appearance such as his original form, the Kingdom Hearts II design and others variants. Other accessories include plush, necklaces and phone charm straps.
In January 2010, Famitsu featured Sora as its readers' fifth most popular character of all time. They also featured him on its issue #1105 cover, showing his many appearances through the years. UGO Networks placed Sora nineteenth on their list of "Top 25 Japanese RPG Characters" calling him a "charismatic and visually interesting" character. Although he did not make to the top ten of Electronic Gaming Monthly's "Top Ten: List of Videogame Characters", Sora was nevertheless noted for his growing popularity. In an ASCII Media Works poll in which fans voted selected whose video game or manga character would like to name their children after, Sora's name was second in the male category. In a Famitsu poll from 2011, Sora was voted as the most popular Kingdom Hearts character, with his fight against Roxas from Kingdom Hearts II also being listed as the best scene from the series. He also placed 15th in the Game Informer poll of best characters from the 2000s.
Overall, critics and fans have generally praised Sora's character. When Sora was first revealed in 2002, GameSpot's Giancarlo Varanini regarded him as "an appropriate amalgamation of the Square and Disney universes." He also comically noted that Sora "doesn't look like much, but you know how it goes." A 1UP.com writer called Sora "one of my all-time favorite Square characters", praising his cheerful personality. Gamasutra commented on Sora's journey along the series in their feature "The Birth of Collecting: The Osiris Archetype In Games" by Jason Johnson; while comparing Sora with Isis, Johnson found Sora's adventure appealing. IGN praised Sora's resilient character, noting how such an ordinary "youngster" could face up to his challenges during his adventures for the sake of friendship, while RPGFan's Nicole Monet Kirk labelled him as an "extremely likable hero". Furthermore, in the book "Interactive Storytelling for Video Games: A Player-Centered Approach to Creating Memorable Characters and Stories", it is noted that while Sora follows a "standard hero archetype", his character becomes more believable and strong when worrying about his friends' fates. Haley Joel Osment, Sora's English voice actor, has also been praised by Gaming Target's Matt Swidder, who mentioned Osment "makes a perfect fit for Sora". While remarking on Osment's work, Louis Bedigian from GameZone mentioned that "Sora had something rarely found in video-game characters: depth" also praising his role in Kingdom Hearts. Game Informer's Bryan Vore found that in Kingdom Hearts II, Osment has improved in voicing the character, praising his work. In their Super Smash Bros Brawl list, IGN described Sora as "...the most active and evolved hero on this week's list." IGN listed him as a possible character in Brawl, though he was not chosen as the "reader's choice".
Sora's transformations in the various Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts II were commented to be entertaining by Julia Reges from AllGame due to how varied they are. Also reviewing Kingdom Hearts II, Greg Bemis from G4TV praised Sora's development in the game, including his growth and the fact each of his attacks from the title are entertaining. Although Computer and Video Games also found an improvement in Sora's movements due to sequences made with the Reaction Commands, they found them "fairly straightforward." RPGamer's Cortney Stone stated that Sora now moved "like an acrobatic honed fighter" in contrast to his "adolescent awkwardness" seen in the first Kingdom Hearts, and remarked on Sora's transformation into a lion seen in the sequel as enjoyable. His new outfit was also well received by GameSpy, who found it to be an improvement from the original one that looked like a "wardrobe from Mickey Mouse's closet". GamesRadar had similar opinions and particularly focused on Sora's transformation and his new abilities. Game Informer viewed Sora's Drive Forms as well as his combined techniques with other characters as one of the best additions to the gameplay. Although IGN also praised Sora's growth in Kingdom Hearts II in their article "Kingdom Hearts III: The IGN Concept", they stated that in order to make his role in a future sequel more entertaining, he would need more development making him "be confident, collected and committed to the tasks at hand". Also commenting on his role in a future sequel, GamesRadar stated that having Sora's character older would be necessary to make the story more mature.
Sora also received negative comments regarding his characterization. He was third in 1UP.com's "Top 5 Most Irritating RPG Protagonists" with writer Bob Mackey commenting he is "a human version of Mickey Mouse", criticizing his original outfit and relationship with Riku and Kairi, and finding him to be less popular than the Disney characters featured in the series. In January 2007, Sora was listed the fourth "biggest dork" of 2006 by Game Informer, citing the Atlantica singing portions of the game.
Donald: Okay, guys. Prepare for landing. / Sora: Land where? In the sea? We'll drown! / Donald: Not with my magic, we won’t. Just leave it to me.
Goofy: Two Keyblades! / Merryweather: This journey's gonna be twice as difficult as your last. / Flora: Your garments also have other powers---but you will have to discover what they are as you continue on your journey.
Sora: I've become a part of their heart just as they've become a part of mine. And if they think of me now and then...if they don't forget me...then our hearts will be one. I don't need a weapon. My friends are my power!
Saïx: So, you really do care for her. In that case...the answer is no. / Sora: You rotten...! / Saïx: Are you angry? Do you hate me? Then take that rage, and direct it at the Heartless.
Riku: Let the Keyblade choose...its true master. /.../ Sora: But that's impossible. How did this happen? I'm the one who fought my way here with the Keyblade! / Riku: You were just the delivery boy. Sorry, your part's over now.
Ansem: Know this. The heart that is strong and true shall win the Keyblade. / Riku: What? You're saying my heart's weaker than his? / Ansem: For that instant, it was.
Sora: The Heartless? / Yuffie: The ones who attacked you, you remember? / Leon: Those without hearts. / Yuffie: The darkness in people's hearts—that's what attracts them. / Leon: And there is darkness within every heart. / ... / Leon: The Heartless have great fear of the Keyblade. That's why they'll keep coming after you no matter what.
King Mickey's Note: Donald, Sorry to rush off without sayin' goodbye, but there's big trouble brewin'. Not sure why, but the stars have been blinkin' out, one by one. And that means disaster can't be far behind. I hate to leave you all but I've gotta go check into it. There's someone with a "key"—the key to our survival. So I need you and Goofy to find him, and stick with him. Got it? We need that key or we're doomed! So go to Traverse Town and find Leon. He'll point you in the right direction. P.S. Would ya apologize to Minnie for me? Thanks, pal.
Goofy: Hey, why don't you come with us? We can go to other worlds on our vessel. / Sora: I wonder if I could find Riku and Kairi... / Donald: Of course. / Goofy: Are you sure? / Donald: Who knows? But we need him to come with us to help us find the king. / Leon: Sora, go with them. Especially if you want to find your friends. / Sora: Yeah, I guess.
Maleficent: You see? It's just as I told you. While you toiled away trying to find your dear friend, he quite simply replaced you with some new companions. Evidently, now he values them far more than he does you. You're better off without that wretched boy. Now, think no more of him, and come with me. I'll help you find what you're searching for...
Sora: What? You... You're not Riku. / ... / Sora: Tell me. Who are you? / Ansem: It is I, Ansem, the seeker of darkness.
Ansem: The Keyhole cannot be completed so long as the last princess of heart still sleeps. / Sora: The princess...? Kairi's a princess? / Ansem: Yes, and without her power, the Keyhole will remain incomplete.
Ansem: Don't you see yet? The princess's heart is responding. It has been there all along. Kairi's heart rests within you! / Sora: Kairi... Kairi's inside me?
Sora: A Keyblade that unlocks people's hearts... I wonder. / Goofy: Sora? / ... / Sora, hold on! / Donald: No, wait! / ... / Sora... Sora! / Kairi: Sora.
Kairi: Sora? Is that you? / Goofy: Uh-oh! / Kairi: This time, I'll protect you. / Goofy: Kairi! / Sora: Kairi, thank you.
Goofy: Gawrsh, is that all that's left of the worlds taken by the Heartless?
Mickey: Now, Sora! Let's close this door for good! / Donald: Close it, quick! / Sora: But... / Mickey: Don't worry. There will always be a door to the light. / Goofy: Sora, you can trust King Mickey. / Riku: Now! They're coming!
Donald: Well, now what do we do? / Sora: We've gotta find Riku and King Mickey.
Larxene: You're so stupid. Don't you get it now? That's what Naminé's powers are about! She can enter, rearrange, and even create new memories---of anything, even things that never happened. The girl you've been trying to protect all this time---is really a manipulative witch who shackles people's hearts! / Sora: Then...my memories...are all... / Larxene: Oh, you do get it! Lies, lies, all lies! Just Naminé's illusions, nothing more.
Naminé: You won't be able to remember anything about what happened here. / Sora: Not even you? / Naminé: I'm sorry. It's the only way, I'm afraid. Sora, you have a choice. You can lose your memories of this castle and reclaim your old one...or keep your memories here and give up the memories that you've lost.
Riku: Will it work? / DiZ: If we can maintain the simulated town until Naminé finishes chaining together Sora's memories. / Riku: What will happen to Roxas? / DiZ: He holds half of Sora's power within him. In the end, he'll have to give it back.
Saïx: Pitiful Heartless, mindlessly collecting hearts. And yet they know not the true power of what they hold. The rage of the Keyblade releases those hearts. They gather in darkness, masterless and free... until they weave together to make Kingdom Hearts. And when that time comes, we can truly, finally exist.
Saïx: If it's Kairi you're worried about, don't. We're taking very good care of her.
Kairi: You're home.
Riku: Xion...your memories...they really belong to Sora. / Xion: So you mean...I'm like a part of him? / Riku: When his memories were scattered, some of them...found their way inside you. Now, Sora has been put to sleep so that we can piece together his memory. Except... / Xion: You can't, because part of it is inside of me. That means...he can't wake up. / Riku: Yeah. You got it.
Sora: Hey, can you hear me? / Ventus: I heard your voice. /.../ Ventus: Would you mind if I stay here with you? / Sora: Sure, if it'll make you feel better. / Ventus: Thank you.
Riku: Your mind's made up / Sora: Yeah. /.../ Sora: Kairi, I... it's just they really need me. I have to go. I am who I am because of them. / Kairi: See you soon.
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