The Dream Eaters (ドリームイーター,Dorīmu Ītā?) are a species of creatures that debut in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance as a key element in the game. The Dream Eaters are forms that darkness takes when it enters the Realm of Sleep, and so come in two different varieties: the malevolent Nightmares, which eat good dreams and plant bad ones, and the acquaintable Spirits, which only eat bad dreams. Spirits serve as supporting characters that can be tamed by the player and serve as recruitable allies that Sora and Riku can collect, while Nightmares are the primary antagonists in the game.
Dream Eaters resemble different types of animals and come in a variety of colors. Nightmares often feature a dull, monochrome color scheme while Spirits have vividly bright colors, in contrast.
Being pure embodiments of darkness, Nightmares have a violent and aggressive behavior similar to Heartless. However, unlike most creatures made of darkness, Spirits have a polar opposite behavior as playful and benevolent entities, aiding Sora and Riku throughout the entire game. They represent a more positive form of darkness.
After Ansem's defeat in Kingdom Hearts, some of the worlds that remained trapped in the darkness became Sleeping Worlds. Nightmare Dream Eaters were born to substitute the Heartless' previous goal of devouring the worlds Keyholes. With the help of Spirits, Sora and Riku manage to defeat the Nightmares and awake the Sleeping Worlds. Eventually it is revealed that from the start of his Mark of Mastery exam, Riku was within Sora's own dreams, making Riku a Spirit that was defeating the Nightmares. Riku later woke Sora up from his slumber by defeating a Nightmare possessing him.
Kingdom Hearts χ/Union χ
In Kingdom Hearts χ and Kingdom Hearts Union χ, Dream Eaters are present as medals players can collect in the game. While the Dream Eaters from Dream Drop Distance do not physically appear in the game, a new variant of Dream Eater known as Chirithy, are introduced as cat-like anthropomorphic Dream Eaters and act as the player's companion. They were created by the master of the Foretellers and oversee the players' progress, putting them through trials but also offering advice and help so that they may get stronger. The Chirithy support all five Unions, and though they are not subordinates to the Foretellers directly, they work together with them to drive back the darkness. A Chirithy is bound to its player; in the event that the player succumbs to the darkness or vanishes, so does the Chirithy.
In the game, Sora can summon Meow Wow as a Link, who from there can bring forth other Spirit Dream Eaters in battle. Sora meets with a Chirithy in The Final World, who is revealed to belong to Ventus. The Chrithy talked to Sora about how to return to the Realm of Light, and Sora promised to meet it again. The Chirithy would later be reunited with Ventus.
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