By Laura . January 6, 2010 . 1:14pm
It is no secret to those who know me that my favorite characters in the series was the Organization XIII, a group of beings called Nobodies who have lost their hearts. As such, they can feel no emotion (more on that later). Just to put things in perspective, I had actually quit the series at Kingdom Hearts, but after I had read spoilers on the existence of Nobodies and the theory behind it, I was actually intrigued enough to finish the last quarter of Kingdom Hearts and all of Kingdom Hearts II in one fell swoop.
And I was mildly disappointed in the lack of perspective into the Organization’s characters. They have such a wide range of characters that were introduced, that we were given a taste of, but were never fleshed out… because Sora went and killed most of them, or they went and killed each other. As such I was very, very excited to hear about Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. An opportunity to put the spotlight on a group of original characters to the game (not from Disney or the Final Fantasy series)? I’d bite.
Now, after playing Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days I’m torn between thinking of their use of the disappearance of memories as ingenious and contrived.
It was a good plus that the game fulfilled my expectations in the characterizations of the Nobodies, although not quite in the way I expected. We do learn more of the personalities of the Nobodies and their quirks, but it also drives home how odd some of the interactions are. While some may say that this is a one-trick pony to drive in the fact that Nobodies can’t feel emotions despite the fact that they act like they do, it does work. When the team at Castle Oblivion was obliterated except for Axel (and even he was thought dead for a while), all Xigbar had to say was “Yeah, so?” When you’re on a mission with Demyx, who is arguably one of the most emotional of the characters we see in Kingdom Hearts II, it’s slightly disturbing to see him skirt out of work … even when you’re facing an extremely tough boss battle. After the fight, Demyx is just happy that he didn’t have to fight it as well. No concern for Roxas’ well-being whatsoever.
Each member is unique and I enjoyed learning quirks like the fact that Xigbar speaks very differently from how he writes, a fact that definitely helped him in becoming the former-scientist he is. Saix isn’t just an unthinking lapdog of Xemnas; he has his own agenda as well. Even Xion, the newest addition to the team, was likeable.
These differences carry over to the Mission Mode as well, in which you can play as different members of the Organization. For every keyblade that Roxas has, every organization has their own weapon design and name, as well as their own variations of attacks and abilities that are derived from the weapons. It was fun, especially for (I admit) a fangirl like me, to see the members fighting and not trying to kill you. Currently, my favorite is Zexion, although Saix (although I abhor his personality) is a close second.
Despite all of this expansion into the world of Nobodies, though, the question of what precisely Nobodies are is still not explicitly answered. As I mentioned, they are beings without hearts, but what does that mean exactly? In the fandom, I’ve heard explanations varying from “they feel emotions because they remember it, not because they can actually feel them” to “they always feel a certain wrongness because they know they’re supposed to feel something but they don’t,” and there is even dispute between whether this “heart” they’re missing is physical or purely metaphysical or both. While little snippets of information is given in the games and some things may be deduced from the visuals in the game or the dialogue, one of the main premises of a game shouldn’t be left to such vague, nebulous descriptions.
Then again, the reason they (the Nobodies, possibly the creators of the game) don’t answer the question is that they don’t really know.
Another piece of information I’m hesitant to accept readily is this development on Replicas. Tales of the Abyss vibes aside, it was almost as though Replicas don’t even have real bodies, but are rather some form of spirit. During certain points in the game, there are scenes where Xion is seen with her hood up, then down, then up, and then down, ad nauseum. I had originally thought that this was some really odd bug that Square Enix had missed, but it turned out that was happening (and we were never told this, which bothered me) was that you were seeing her from different points of view. What does it mean when “what she is” resonates with someone in such a way that they see her as that person?
After playing this, I’m even more eager to see how the “Somebodies” come into play, seeing as they’re appearing in the upcoming game, as well as what role Venitus (Ven) plays in his dealings with the apprentices. Heck, I’m interested in seeing the whole fall of Ansem and his apprentices, which will almost surely be covered in Birth by Sleep.