- “Once we step through, we might not be able to come back. We may never see our parents again. There's no turning back. But this may be our only chance. We can't let fear stop us! I'm not afraid of the darkness!”
Riku's personality is as strong as the land for which he was named. He is very strong-willed and confident, at times being arrogant. He values his friends deeply and puts protecting them above all else.
Riku is extremely competitive, and spent his childhood playing games, play-fighting, and racing with Sora. This competitiveness also made him easy to become jealous, especially during Kingdom Hearts, where he becomes very irked that Sora received the powers of the Keyblade while he did not, though he is not immediately vocal about it. This jealousy led him to behave aggressively to the people most important to him, and he began to act recklessly and harshly in an attempt to prove himself. He loses this childish jealousy streak entirely as he grows older.
He has a had an intense curiosity about the world he lives in (and what lies beyond it) ever since he met the foreign Terra as a child. His desire to know more became to consume him somewhat negatively over time. He has no qualms with going through the unknown to earn this knowledge, willingly stepping into a dark portal with an unknown destination, simply because he knew it may be his only chance to leave. After he does finally see other worlds, this desire subsides, and he finds comfort in his once-restricting island homeworld.
After the events of Kingdom Hearts, Riku becomes more humble, learning from the reckless mistakes he had made, and seeks to make amends. He becomes much more affable and mellows out. He has learned well from his mistakes in siding with darkness, and becomes wise and well-versed enough to become a Keyblade Master that Yen Sid can rely on.
Riku has striking cyan eyes and silver hair that he tends to wear rather long.
In the prequel game Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Riku is a barely more than a toddler at 5 years old; as such he is extremely short and small. He has shorter hair, and wears a sleeveless yellow vest with a high collar (lined with blue), and black shorts. He wears large blue and white shoes, and two blue wristbands with a yellow line through the center, one on each arm.
In Kingdom Hearts, Riku is 15 years old. His hair reaches just above his shoulders. He is more muscular and taller than Sora, and has paler skin. He wears a vest that is yellow in front and black on the back, and blue jeans under large blue wading pants, secured by black straps at the ankles. He wears stylistically large blue and grey shoes, with two straps, and yellow accents.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Riku is now 16 years old. He has grown up both mentally and physically, becoming much taller and more muscular. His hair has grown right past his shoulders; it is unkempt and in his eyes. He now wears a sleeveless unzipped beige vest with a a white collar, over a sleeveless zipped black vest. He wears very baggy blue jeans with large pockets, secured by a black belt. He now wears more realistically sized grey shoes with two yellow straps. He reprises this look as a 17-year-old in Dream Drop Distance and 0.2, though his hair is cut short.
As a Dream Eater in Dream Drop Distance, Riku's body reverts back to his 15-year-old body. He wears a white, black-trimmed zip-up vest with yellow lining on the sides, a black high collar, and a black Spirit Dream Eater sigil on the back. He also wears a pair of black wristbands, white-blue pants with a black belt with a silver buckle, and white shoes with black laces and a yellow lining on the bottom just above the black soles.
In Kingdom Hearts III, Riku wears a black, hooded jacket that he keeps unzipped, with short sleeves, gold buttons, and a checkered pattern at the hem. Underneath, he wears a white shirt with a V-neck. He wears blue cropped trousers that are hemmed with the same checkered pattern as the jacket, black gloves on each hand, and black high-top boots. His hair remains the same length as it was in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, though it appears more spiked up in the back.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Riku is revealed to have taken on Ansem's dark form, which he kept hidden under an Organization XIII cloak for the majority of the game. As such he is identical to Ansem.
Powers and Abilities
When Terra approached Riku during Riku's childhood, Terra gave Riku the ability to use the Keyblade. Before leaving Destiny Islands, he has trained himself, along with Sora, to use a weapon, more specifically a sword. As the island was being engulfed in shadows, Riku was about to receive the Keyblade. However, he left too soon, and it came into the possession of Sora. Before the two crossed paths again, Riku gained the ability to manifest a sword called the Soul Eater.
Through Maleficent, Riku possessed the ability to control and create Heartless. This was demonstrated when Riku made a Heartless replica of Sora in Neverland. In Hollow Bastion, Maleficent gave Riku the ability to use the darkness within him, further weakening his heart after he teleported to Hollow Bastion using the darkness. After losing to Sora and being possessed by the Seeker of Darkness, he saw the error of his ways, and swore off his dark powers. He struggled with the darkness within him for a time, but with encouragement from Naminé, he regained control, and was able to wield the darkness along with the light. Late in the events of Kingdom Hearts II, his Soul Eater evolved in form to the Way to the Dawn Keyblade.
While possessed by the Seeker of Darkness, he gained another Keyblade crafted from the hearts of the kidnapped Princesses of Heart, the Keyblade of People's Hearts. Sora destroyed this Keyblade after defeating the possessed Riku when he released Kairi's heart from his, restoring the other Princess' hearts.
Riku is next seen in Traverse Town, where he finds Sora with Donald Duck and Goofy. They have a pleasant reunion, though both are disappointed that neither knows where Kairi is. Sora proposes that Riku comes with them, but Donald argues against it. Sora turns away to argue, and finds Riku gone when he turns back. He grumbles about it briefly, but finds solace in the fact that he's OK. A short time later, Riku looks on while Sora talks with Donald, Goofy, Leon, Yuffie, and Aerith, with Maleficent beside him. She tells him that while he, Riku, had been working so hard to find his friends, Sora had simply replaced them with other friends, and requests him to come with her.
Ultimately, Riku yields to Maleficent's offer in order to find Kairi himself. Maleficent promises to lead him to her in exchange for kidnapping Jasmine, one of the Seven Princesses of Heart, upon seeing that Jafar was unlikely to prevail against Sora during their battle in the Cave of Wonders in Agrabah. He does so, and she subsequently has Captain Hook use his Jolly Roger to lead him to where Kairi is. Riku, suspicious of Maleficent's motives, asks her what the catch is. She replies that Riku is like a son to her, and that she only wants his happiness. Riku expresses his skepticism, and Maleficent says that he can believe what he wants, but reminds him that she kept her word.
Riku next meets Sora within Monstro, where he lures Pinocchio away into the depths of the whale. When Sora manages to catch up to him, he questions him as to how much he cares about Kairi, saying that his motives have been mixed up. Their conversation is postponed when Pinocchio is captured by the Parasite Cage Emblem Heartless, and they work together to free him. Upon his liberation, Riku promptly runs forward to catch him, and disappears through the hole in the room. Upon seeing Geppetto, he denies his request to return Pinocchio, thinking that a puppet with a heart may be the key to helping someone who had lost theirs. Sora questions if he means Kairi, and Riku accuses Sora of not caring about her before vanishing back into the depths of the whale. Sora pursues him to the stomach, and tells him to let Pinocchio go. Riku ponders aloud that the puppet may hold the key to helping Kairi, and proposes to Sora that they join forces to save her. Sora instead takes a fighting stance, saying that Riku was on the wrong side. Before Riku can fight against him, however, the Parasite Cage reappears, and Riku departs through a dark portal, leaving Pinocchio behind, who flees while Sora faces the Parasite Cage and defeats it for good.
Aboard the Jolly Roger, Riku learns from Maleficent that Kairi's heart had been taken by the Heartless, and tells Riku of the Seven Princesses of Heart, who can open a door to the heart of all worlds, where he will surely find a way to restore it. She then gives him the power to control the Heartless, and Riku promises Kairi that he'll find the way to help her soon. When Sora, Donald, and Goofy find their way to the Jolly Roger, Riku confronts his friend on the deck. Sora asks where Donald and Goofy are, and Riku says that instead of wondering about them, he should be asking about Kairi, who he steps aside to reveal behind him. He reveals his new powers to Sora, who says that the darkness will swallow his heart sooner or later, but Riku dismisses this, stating that his heart is too strong. He then drops Sora into the brig. Some time later, after discovering that Wendy, who had been kidnapped by Captain Hook, was not one of the Seven Princesses, Riku tells Captain Hook to hoist anchor as soon as possible, leaving all the dead weight behind, including her. But upon learning that Sora and his friends had escaped, and that Peter Pan was with them, the pirate orders Smee to bring the hostages to his cabin. As Sora arrives, Riku summons a Heartless to attack him, Anti-Sora, then takes Kairi's body and returns to Hollow Bastion using the powers of darkness. He is exhausted upon his arrival, and Maleficent tells him that it was reckless not to use a vessel, and reminds him that relying too heavily on the powers of darkness could cost him his heart. A roar then sounds from outside the castle, and Maleficent informs him that it was a castaway; though his world perished, his heart did not. He had followed the princess that Maleficent stole away from his castle to Hollow Bastion through sheer force of will. She then informs Riku that his power was far greater, and uses her magic to awaken that power to help him reach his full potential.
When Sora arrives at Hollow Bastion, he finds Riku before the castaway Maleficent spoke of, revealed to be the Beast. Riku asks him how he managed to get there without a vessel or help from the Heartless. The Beast replies that he simply believed; when their world fell into darkness, Belle was taken from him, and he vowed to find her again no matter what the cost. He believed he would find her, and that brought him to Hollow Bastion. He finishes by saying that he will have her back. Riku provokes him, by taunting him to try and take Belle if possible, and then knocks him back with his dark powers when he attempts to attack. Sora stands up to him, and Riku states that he had been waiting for him. He touches on their past, how they had always been rivals pushing each other to do better, but states that it ends there, and that there couldn't be two Keyblade Masters. He extends a hand out, commanding the Keyblade to choose its Master. To everyone's astonishment, it leaves Sora's hands and appears in Riku's. He states that Maleficent was right, and Sora didn't have what it took to save Kairi. At Sora's protest that he had fought his way there with the Keyblade, Riku replies that he was just a delivery boy, then throws him the toy sword that he had used at Destiny Islands as a replacement weapon. Disheartened, Sora falls to his knees, and Donald and Goofy reluctantly leave him to follow Riku, in conjunction with their king's command to follow the Keyblade.
Sora fights his way to the castle with the Beast's help, and finds Riku in the entrance hall, after being separated from the Beast when he's lured back into the hallway they came from with an illusion of Belle becoming a Heartless, who commands him to quit while he can. Sora responds that he won't leave without Kairi, and Riku takes on a dark form as he states that the darkness will destroy Sora. Sora retorts that while it could destroy his body, the darkness couldn't touch his heart, that it would stay with his friends and never die. Riku says that they'll see about that, and launches a Dark Firaga at Sora to test his belief. Sora flinches, but the blast is diffused as it impacts Goofy's shield, the Captain saying that Sora wasn't going anywhere. Riku questions if he's betraying his king, and Goofy says that while he'd never do that, he wouldn't betray Sora either after all they'd been through. He then requests Donald to give the king his apologies, but Donald responds that they'll tell him together, and then rejoins Sora. Riku asks how Sora will fight without a weapon, and he replies that he knows that he doesn't need the Keyblade, and that his heart is a better weapon. Riku scoffs, asking what "that weak little thing" could do. Sora replies that his heart may be weak, but it's not alone. It had grown with all of his experiences and friends, they had become part of his heart as he became part of theirs, and if they thought of each other, their hearts would be one. "I don't need a weapon. My friends are my power!" he finishes. To Riku's astonishment and disbelief, the Keyblade leaves his hands, and returns to Sora. Angered at how the Keyblade abandoned him so quickly after claiming it, drawing his Soul Eater, Riku fights Sora, but is defeated, reverting back to his normal appearance, and runs away into the castle in disgrace.
He questions aloud as he returns to the castle chapel why the Keyblade left him, and is then confronted by a robed figure, who informs him that the heart that was strong and true would win the Keyblade, and that for that instant, Sora's heart was stronger than Riku's. He offers him a way to become stronger: surrendering his heart to darkness and becoming darkness itself. Riku submits to the stranger.
Riku, in his darker form, is next seen meeting with Maleficent at the world's Keyhole in the Grand Hall. In a warped voice, he informs her that unlocking it would result in the Heartless overrunning that world. Maleficent states that she does not care, and that she will not be controlled by the darkness, but use its power to rule all worlds. "Riku" remarks on her confidence, and then summons a Keyblade forged from the hearts of the princesses. There is no reaction, however, and Maleficent turns to Kairi, the seventh Princess of Heart, realizing that without her heart, she could not unleash her power. At that point, Sora and his friends near them, and Maleficent goes to fight them in the Castle Chapel. Upon her defeat, she stumbles away, heavily damaged, and "Riku" appears next to her, asking if she needs help. Sora and his friends then appear, and Donald sees the Keyblade "Riku" holds. "Riku" says that his Keyblade has the power to unlock others' hearts, and demonstrates by stabbing Maleficent, forcing her to open herself to the darkness. She reacts in ecstasy to feeling the power of the true darkness, and takes on her dragon form. Ultimately, however, she is slain by Sora, and "Riku" appears to remark on how ironic it was that Maleficent was just another puppet of the darkness and the Heartless before leaving.
When Sora arrives at the Keyhole in the Great Hall and finds Kairi's comatose form, he attempts to wake her, but is informed by "Riku", sitting nearby on top of the portal to the Dark Depths, that "that girl" had lost her heart and could not awaken. Hearing this, Sora realizes that he's not Riku. "Riku" ignores this, jumping down from his perch while stating that the Keyhole could not be completed while the last Princess of Heart sleeps. He confirms to Sora that Kairi is that princess, and states that without her power, the Keyhole would never be complete, and it was time that she awakened. Sora tells him to release Riku and give him back his heart. "Riku" ignores this as well, and states that Sora must return the princess' heart. Sora's heart flashes, and he falls down in pain and confusion. "Riku" informs him that Kairi's heart had been there all along, within Sora. He then states that he knows all that there is to know, and Sora asks who he is. "Riku" then reveals himself as Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness, and approaches Sora. Donald attempts to stop him, but is knocked aside with a casual punch. Standing before Sora, Ansem states that he will release the princess' heart, completing the Keyhole, opening the door, and leading him into everlasting darkness. He prepares to strike Sora, but at the last moment, Sora hears Kairi call out to him, and blocks the blow with his own Keyblade, stating that Ansem will not take Kairi's heart. The two clash, and Sora proves victorious. Ansem vanishes, leaving only his Keyblade, and Sora then attempts to seal the Keyhole. However, without Kairi's power to complete it, it proves unable to be sealed. Understanding what has to be done, Sora takes the Keyblade that Ansem left behind and stabs himself, unlocking his own heart. The Keyblade breaks apart into the hearts of the other six princesses, which return to their owners, while Kairi's heart emerges from Sora's body and returns to her. Sora manages to smile as he sees her awaken, even as his form begins to break apart into light. Seeing Sora fall, Kairi runs forward to catch him, but his form dissolves into pure light, and vanishes.
Moments after this, Ansem reappears in his true form, stating that now that the Keyhole was complete, Kairi had no further use to him. He moves towards her, Donald and Goofy standing before him to guard Kairi, though not confident that they can win against him, but Ansem begins to struggle. An aura of Riku's true form appears, stating that Ansem won't use him to attack Kairi. He holds him back long enough for Kairi, Donald, and Goofy to escape as several Shadow Heartless appear to try and surround them.
Sora is later restored thanks to Kairi, and departs safely from Hollow Bastion to return to Traverse Town. In his absence, Ansem is absorbed into the darkness flowing from the Keyhole, while Riku's spirit is imprisoned within the realm of darkness. He wonders if it is the afterworld, and he states that he's not ready, not before he sees Sora and Kairi again. A voice calls out to him, informing him that his heart had won the battle against darkness, but it was too late for his body, which was why he was where he was. The voice informs that he has the other Keyblade, the one that belongs to that realm, and that the Door to Darkness will open soon, and must be closed from both sides, with two keys and two hearts. The voice remarks that perhaps Riku was there for the same reason he was, and that it may be fate. Riku remarks on this, and asks the voice if Sora and Kairi are all right, since he knows so much. The voice replies that Riku already knows the answer, and tells him to look into his heart. Smiling, Riku confirms that he's right.
When Sora, Donald, and Goofy succeed in defeating Ansem, who opened the door to the realm of darkness as his last act, they attempt to close the door. Riku appears on the other side as Sora loses hope, and encourages him to keep trying. They try more to close the door, but as Heartless appear on the other side, including two large Darkside Heartless, hope seems to be lost, until the Darksides are suddenly slain. The one who destroyed them with the dark realm's Keyblade then reveals himself to be none other than King Mickey, and encourages Sora to help him close the door for good, stating that there will always be a door to the light. Thus encouraged, they successfully close the door, and Riku's last words to Sora before the door closes are "Take care of her." Sora nods with a stern look of confidence on his face, and then closes the door before he and King Mickey seal it from both sides with their Kingdom Key Keyblades.
Some time not long after the events of Kingdom Hearts, Riku awakens in a strange space, where he hears a voice urging him to stay asleep. Reacting at once, he asks who's there, and the voice reiterates that he should stay asleep, there, between light and darkness. While considering this, Riku recalls the King, and asks where he is. The voice says that after the two of them closed the Door to Darkness, he came drifting there by himself, either because he was not strong enough to overcome the darkness, or was close to it. Riku responds that he's no demon, and the voice chuckles before repeating again that he should stay asleep, that where he was, sleep was safety and eternal. A card imbued with the world emblem of Hollow Bastion then appears in the air before him, as the voice states that it is a door to the truth. Taking it would end his sleep as he took his first step towards the truth, though the truth would bring him pain, and there was no return to sleep. Riku considers briefly, and then takes the card, stating that where he was seemed like a boring place to take a nap anyway. The voice remarks that that was well said before the card shines brightly. When the light clears, Riku finds himself in the 12th basement of Castle Oblivion.
Using the card, he finds himself in Hollow Bastion. The voice informs him that his memories of his time there created a card, which created that world. Riku asks if he was going to learn something or meet someone there, and the voice replies that he would meet the people in his memories...ordinarily. Riku asks the voice to elaborate, but it goes silent, and after a few moments, Riku heads deeper into the castle. Along the way, the only beings he meets are Heartless. The voice speaks to him again as he enters the library, which was his bedroom while he stayed at the castle. The voice taunts him by saying that he gave up his home, his friends, everything...but at least he got a nice room. Riku shouts at the voice to stop talking before running off. He finds his way to the entrance hall, finding the room empty, like everywhere else. He yells at the voice to tell him to explain why he wasn't meeting anyone from his memories. The voice asks if he wanted to see them, saying that he cast them away. Opening the door to outside worlds, he cast everything aside in pursuit of darkness. Riku retorts that he cast the darkness away too, and the voice asks what he had to show for it. It elaborates by saying that his heart only knew how to cast away. It was empty, like that room, and like his memories. There was nothing left in his heart except the residual darkness. Riku denies this, saying that he rejected the darkness, and the voice questions this as Riku runs deeper into the castle. He finds his way to the castle chapel, where he meets Maleficent. He is initially shocked that she's alive, but she reminds him that she is merely a figment of his memories. Riku grumbles about having to meet her out of all of the people that he could have met, and Maleficent replies that since his heart was steeped in darkness, he could only meet beings that dwelled in that same darkness, and tells him to be grateful that he has some company; without the darkness, he would be completely alone. Riku states that that sounded good at that point, and Maleficent reminds him that he once turned to her out of his hunger for darkness. Riku states that that was true, but he would never do that again, that the darkness had nothing to offer. He then states that if he's stuck seeing beings of the dark, he'll destroy them one by one. Maleficent states that he'll have to destroy himself last, as he too is a being of darkness. Riku states that that's fine with him, saying that he turned to the darkness out of weakness, and that he hates that weakness. Maleficent remarks that he hates the darkness enough to fight it, and says that she will end his pain forever with the wondrous powers of darkness. She then takes her dragon form and attacks him, but Riku proves victorious.
As he leaves the Hollow Bastion that his memories generated, the voice speaks to him again, asking why he shunned the darkness. Riku retorts that the voice heard every word he said to Maleficent, and the voice replies that the darkness was his weapon, and it was time for him to accept it, that he had no choice if he was to serve him again. The voice then reveals himself as none other than Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness. Riku is unsurprised, stating that he had only been talking about the darkness, and wanted to pull him back in so that he could control him. Ansem remarks on his cleverness, and says that he knew he would be the one to most appropriately serve him. He then tells Riku to surrender to him again, and Riku angrily refuses, lunging at him with his Soul Eater. Ansem repels the attack with a single hand, knocking Riku onto the ground. Ansem tells him that he couldn't even defeat Sora with darkness on his side, so how could he think to do him harm? Riku sarcastically apologizes for being weak, and Ansem replies that he was weak, and that he needed darkness. He tells him to bow to darkness, and to him, and when Riku refuses, Ansem says again that only darkness could give him the strength he needed. Another voice suddenly states that Ansem is wrong, and a sphere of light descends towards them. Riku recognizes the voice as King Mickey, who says that Riku isn't alone, that the light will never give up on him, and that he'll always find it, even in the deepest darkness. Riku, comforted by this advice, stands up and declares that he won't lose to darkness. Ansem questions if he thinks that that feeble light can save him from the darkness that he commands. After a short fight (which serves as a tutorial for the player that shows how to use Riku), Ansem states that Riku seemed determined to resist the darkness, and tells him to see it for himself. He then holds up a card crafted from his memories, and tells him that advancing through the world it creates will make him understand that chasing after light is not the way, that it will not give him distance from the darkness, and that there is no running from the darkness. Riku replies that he's not running, and asks for the card, saying that he'll enter the world, and if he hasn't yielded to the darkness in the end, that he wins. Ansem gives him the card, and then grants him one more gift, by tempering the darkness that yet remains in his heart. At Riku's indignant response, asking if he thinks he would still rely on darkness, Ansem replies that using it or not was his choice. He then vanishes after saying that he'll be waiting for Riku to yield to the darkness. Riku gains possession of four cards: Traverse Town, Agrabah, Monstro, and Neverland.
As Riku reaches the 11th basement, he detects a strange scent, and then identifies it as the smell of darkness. He states that he can't believe that the darkness had seeped into his skin, only to be consoled by King Mickey's reappearance. He manifests a form onto him, though a transparent one, as he can only send a bit of his power to where Riku was. He then says that he has a request for Riku: to fight the darkness inside of him. He knows it won't be easy, but reminds him that even in the darkest darkness, there's still light, which they had both seen firsthand. The light of Kingdom Hearts would show him the way. Riku states that he'll try his best, and Mickey promises in turn that he'll find a way to reach him. They attempt to shake hands, and while they pass through each other, Mickey states that they shook hands in their hearts, and that they're connected, before fading away.
Riku fights through Traverse Town, where he faces Guard Armor, and Agrabah, where he faces Jafar's genie form. Upon reaching the exit of the 10th basement, Vexen appears from a corridor of darkness and confronts him. Riku asks if he is with Ansem, and Vexen replies that he's half-right; the Ansem he's associated with is not the one that Riku knows. "He is Ansem and he is not Ansem. Perhaps a 'Nobody' best conveys the idea." Riku tells him to cut the riddles, and Vexen states that he belongs to neither light nor darkness, but walks the twilight between, like Riku himself. Vexen states that they have much in common. Riku replies that there is darkness left inside of him, but states that darkness is still his enemy, as is Vexen for reeking of the smell of darkness. Vexen gleefully engages him in a battle, and upon his defeat, states that Riku had provided him with invaluable data, and offers his thanks before leaving through a corridor of darkness. Riku grumbles briefly about it being a trick, but shrugs it off as he continues through the castle.
After defeating the Parasite Cage in Monstro and Captain Hook in Neverland, Riku emerges at the exit of the 8th basement, to come face-to-face with a doppelgänger Riku. This Riku takes amusement in the real Riku's reaction for a moment, before revealing that he's a replica created by Vexen. He angrily denies being a fake at hearing Riku say that, saying that just because he's "real", he's not better. He says that they have the same body and talents, but there's an easy way to tell them apart: he is not afraid of anything. Riku angrily asks if he means he's a coward, and the replica responds that he's afraid of the darkness inside of him, no matter what he says. The replica states that he's different, that he embraces the darkness and can make it do whatever he wants, and can wipe the floor with the real Riku. After a fight in which the real Riku prevails, he taunts the replica on his previous boast. The replica, unfazed, replies that he's still new, and will grow stronger and stronger. He says that the next time they fight, Riku will be defeated, and Riku leaps towards him, saying that they can fight then. The replica deflects him with the power of darkness, and then laughs, saying it was nice having darkness on his side, and saying that Riku was missing out. Riku dismisses this, and the replica snarks at him again before leaving. Riku quietly denies being a coward, and then heads to the 7th floor, calling for the fake to come out. He is nowhere to be found, though another voice states that "fake" wasn't the right term. Ansem appears before Riku, who asks him what he meant. Ansem elaborates that he was more like a model for what Riku should be, since he accepted the darkness, just as Riku once accepted him. But now, perhaps Riku was being fake, since he pretended to have no fear of the dark. Riku asks when he had been afraid, and Ansem replies that in the card-worlds, he grappled desperately with the darkness, and desperation was fear; he fought the darkness because it was what frightened him. Riku tells him to be quiet, and then lunges at him just as he had on the 12th basement. As before, Ansem repels him with a single hand, but Riku lands on his feet, ready to strike again. Ansem remarks on his stubbornness with an air of irritation, and then gives him another card, telling him to continue his fight if he had to, but affirming that eventually he would learn that he could not resist the darkness.
Riku receives World Cards of Wonderland, where he fights the Trickmaster, Olympus Coliseum, where he fights Hades, Atlantica, where he fights Ursula, and Halloween Town, where he fights Oogie Boogie. As he reaches the 4th floor, he ponders having only one card left, and wonders aloud if he makes it through the last world, he will be free of the darkness. Upon reaching the exit hall, however, he finds Lexaeus waiting for him, and identifies him as another Nobody due to his scent. Lexaeus tells Riku that he has done well thus far, but it was a shame that with his powers, he feared the darkness. Riku again denies fearing it, and Lexaeus replies that he could sense that he did, and also that he was capable of controlling the darkness. He commands Riku to cast aside his fear and embrace the darkness, and when Riku asks what will happen if he refuses, Lexaeus replies that he will lose both light and darkness, and disappear. He demonstrates his power with a billowing aura, causing Riku to shield his face, and when he ceases, he states that he will not yield to the frail heart of an infantile coward. He again commands Riku to stop resisting and let the darkness in before engaging him in battle. After a lengthy fight that leaves both of them panting, Riku lunges at Lexaeus, saying that he's finished. The Nobody angrily tells him not to mock him, and swings his axe sword at him. Riku is struck head-on, and knocked against the ceiling before dropping to the ground, out cold. Lexaeus mutters that he, Riku, was too much trouble before moving towards him, stopping and looking in curious shock as he sees darkness surrounding him, and Riku taking on his darker form. He slowly rises to a position on one knee, taking up his Soul Eater, and then vanishes. Lexaeus' face contorts in pain, his axe sword falling from his hand and fading into darkness, while Riku behind him, having struck a fatal blow, says "Too slow" in the warped voice that signifies Ansem's presence. Lexaeus realizes the connection to his Superior, and as he fades into darkness, quietly apologizes to Zexion, saying that he should not have started that fight.
Riku is startled to consciousness in a dark void by a voice saying that he can see him. Riku initially thinks it to be Lexaeus, but soon realizes that the foulness of the darkness around him could only belong to Ansem. Ansem chuckles, and says that Riku had been thinking about him, afraid of the darkness that he commanded, and the more he thought of him, the closer his return drew. He manifests his form by Riku as he states that his heart will be his, and reaches out towards him. Riku attempts to back away and shield himself, but before Ansem can make contact, a light appears, King Mickey's voice encouraging Riku to fight and not let Ansem win. His transparent form appears between them, and Ansem curses the king before Riku struggles to consciousness back in the castle. He realizes that the king protected him, and calls out for him before realizing that he was there, in his heart. Riku smiles at the realization.
As Riku reaches the third basement, the entire castle begins to quake, and as the shaking subsides, Riku realizes that one of the scents had died, a particularly strong one. A corridor of darkness appears by the door in the room, revealing Zexion, who states that the castle's keeper, Marluxia, had just been felled by the Keyblade master. Riku realizes that he meant that Sora was in the castle, and Zexion asks if he wanted to see him, and if he could face him. When Riku asks what he means, Zexion states that the world of darkness, and Ansem's shadow still dwelled within Riku's heart. He asked if he planned to face Sora like that, and if he was not ashamed of himself. Riku is affected by Zexion's words, and the Nobody continues by saying that Sora's fate was to battle the darkness, and by extension, anyone who hosted the darkness, which meant Riku. Zexion gives Riku a card as he says that if he didn't believe him, he could see the truth for himself. Riku reacts in shock as he sees the emblem of the world on the card: his home, Destiny Islands. Zexion departs through a dark corridor, leaving Riku alone.
Entering the world, Riku finds himself seated on the trunk of the Paopu tree, and he remarks on how much he missed the island winds, and how ironic it was that he was acting relieved when there was a time that he couldn't wait to leave the islands. Looking around, he sees Tidus, Selphie, and Wakka at the pier, and runs towards them. Reaching them, he asks what's wrong, having never seen them so quiet. They remain silent, and after Riku asks again, they fade away. Some time later, he runs back to the islet where he was before, but turning around, finds Kairi standing behind him on the bridge. Riku hesitantly asks her something, but before he can finish, she fades away. Riku reacts in angered disappointment, only to hear Zexion remark from behind him that he should have known that this would happen. Before this world, he had encountered nothing but dark memories, because that was all that remained in his heart. He states that all of his memories from home are gone, and Riku angrily denies this, stating that he remembered everyone from the islands, and that they were his closest friends. Zexion responds that he cast away his friends, and reminds him of his past actions: he destroyed his home. The scenery around them changes to show the last state of Destiny Islands, the night that they were destroyed. Zexion relentlessly speaks to him, saying that all of the islands he grew up on were sundered and scattered, many hearts forever lost to the darkness, all because he hated being an islander, and opened the door to darkness. He continues by saying that Riku was pulled into the darkness then, and now belongs to the darkness, and says that he should look at what he truly is. The silhouette of his past self showing his actions then contorts into a Darkside, which Riku is forced to face, denying that that could be what he was truly like.
After defeating Darkside, Riku sees Sora standing at the edge of the ruined island, and approaches him, only to narrowly avoid being struck by his Keyblade. He blocks Sora's attacks, telling him to stop and asking if he recognized him. Sora replies that he recognized him, and could see exactly what he had become. He leaps back, and then shoots a beam of light from the Keyblade at Riku, knocking him back. Sora questions how the light could hurt him, asking aloud if Riku had actually become a creature of the dark. He quietly confirms this to himself, saying he was just a pawn of the darkness, and tells Riku that it's time for him to face the light. Light emanates from the Keyblade, surrounding Riku, and beginning to make him fade away into the light. But as he realizes the situation, Kairi appears within the light, saying that he wouldn't fade, and that neither light or darkness had the power to defeat him; both would only make him stronger. The darkness in his heart was vast and deep, but if he could face it without fear, he wouldn't be afraid of anything again. He reflects that he had always tried to push the darkness away, and Kairi reaffirms that if he accepts the darkness and doesn't fear it, he'll gain strength like no other, able to overcome the deepest darkness, and see through the brightest light. She tells him to follow the darkness, that it would show him the way to his friends. Riku asks if he could face them, and as Kairi asks if he didn't want to, a silhouette appears from her showing who was actually speaking: Naminé. Riku replies, to her happiness, that of course he wanted to face them. As Kairi fades, he says that he will face them, with his strength...his dark strength. His form reappears in the light, and he embraces the power of darkness within his heart, changing to his darker form, and then lashing out with the Soul Eater, striking Sora. The light and illusion fade to reveal that it was Zexion pretending to be Sora. The Nobody questions Riku how he found him while he was in the light, and Riku replies that he reeked of darkness, and even the light couldn't block the smell. He smirks as he says that he followed the darkness to Zexion. Infuriated, Zexion engages Riku in a battle, but victory proves to be beyond his reach with Riku's fears of the darkness destroyed. Kneeling in defeat, Zexion remarks that after all of his protests, he was still on the side of darkness. Riku responds that he knows who he is, and Zexion, getting to his feet, asks when that happened, since he was always scared of the dark before. Riku angrily states that he wasn't anymore before lunging at Zexion, striking him again. Gasping, Zexion manages to retreat through a corridor of darkness, thoroughly defeated. Riku reverts back to normal, now comfortable with his dark powers.
As he reaches the second basement, Riku hears Ansem's voice calling to him again, saying that he knows he can feel the grip he has on his heart, and that now that he's let the darkness in, his heart will soon become an all-consuming darkness. Riku denies being like that, and Ansem dismisses his denial before binding him, preventing him from moving a muscle. He says that with how much he had let the darkness in, controlling him was effortless. Ansem's efforts are diverted when a familiar sphere of light appears from the ceiling and enters into Riku. As a bright light fills the room, Ansem curses Mickey for interfering again, and as the light fades, Riku falls down, while Mickey states that he was glad he made it in time, and that ought to keep Ansem busy for a while. Looking up, Riku sees Mickey standing there, not merely an illusion but in the flesh. Riku touches his face to be sure that he's real, and expresses how happy he is that he could make it there. The king reminds him that he made a promise, and looks in concern as Riku falls over. Riku says that he's all right, only relieved; he had been alone for so long that having someone else around was a little overwhelming. As he thinks on it more, he asks how the king had gotten to him, since he thought it was too far. He says that he found help from a card, which he shows to Riku; the display on it is of Twilight Town. He says that he needed a way out of the Realm of Darkness, that the card suddenly appeared, and that he could see Riku's heart beyond the darkness. He holds out the card, finishing by saying the card must belong with him. Riku accepts it with a smile.
Entering into Twilight Town, and remarking on how it was unfamiliar to him, Riku finds that the king was no longer with him, and calls out for him. Ansem suddenly appears before him, saying he must fight him and the darkness alone. Riku takes up a fighting stance, but after a few moments, relaxes. Ansem asks if he's surrendering, but Riku says that he's not the true Ansem. His scent was different; the Ansem in his heart had the foul smell of darkness, but the one who stood before him didn't have that scent. Riku states that he understands: the one standing before him was the one who guided him at the start, the one who gave him the card to make him face the darkness, under the guise of Ansem. The figure smirks as light surrounds him, his voice changing as he says that Riku is correct. As the light fades, his true form is revealed as an enigmatic figure, red bandages covering his entire head except for his right eye and mouth. The figure introduces himself as DiZ, and says that he's watched Riku all along. When Riku asks what he wants, he responds that he wants Riku to choose. He, Riku, is a special entity, dwelling in the twilight between light and darkness. He is to meet with Naminé, and then choose. Riku asks who Naminé is, and DiZ replies that he'll know soon before vanishing in a ball of light.
Wandering through the town, Riku finds his way to the Old Mansion, and thinks that Naminé may be there. A voice calls from behind him to stop, and Riku turns to see his own dark form...the Riku Replica. The two stare each other down for a few seconds before the replica states that Riku had changed, and wasn't scared of the dark anymore. Riku asks how he could tell, and denies his answer of being Riku, saying that he is him. The replica reflects on this, thinking that a fake like him could never say such a thing. Suddenly angry, he admits to being completely fake, in every part of his being, even his memories (which Naminé had been forced to erase and replace), and even his newfound power. A dark aura comes from him to demonstrate the power he spoke of, gained by draining all of Zexion's life force, and Riku looks in surprise. The replica continues ranting, saying that he thought that by gaining power, he could be someone that wasn't at all Riku, but it didn't work; he was still empty, everything about him was borrowed. He summons his Soul Eater as he tells Riku that he'll never be more than a shadow as long as he's around. Riku wordlessly draws his own weapon, and engages the replica, who is defeated and fatally wounded. His body begins to fade into darkness, and he states that he's not afraid of death, that he was glad to be rid of a fake life. He reflects that his heart was never real, and thinks that even what he may be feeling wasn't real. Riku asks what he felt, and the replica wonders what would happen to his heart, the heart of a fake? Would it disappear? Riku says that it will go somewhere, perhaps to the same place as his replica scoffs, seemingly in amusement, "A faithful replica, until the very end. That's...okay." With those words, he fades away into darkness.
Riku searches the mansion, eventually coming to the basement where Sora's pod is. Naminé comes into view, and confirms her identity, while Riku reflects that it was her. He elaborates no further on what he meant, and Naminé tells him to come closer. Riku sees Sora asleep in the pod, and demands of Naminé what she had done. She tells him the story of what Sora had gone through in Castle Oblivion, and then tells Riku that he has a choice to make as well, not because of his memories, but because of his darkness. Ansem dwelled in the darkness in his heart, and though he was at bay for now, he would awaken in time, and take Riku over again. Naminé says that she can use her powers to put a tight lock on his heart, so Ansem could never come out from within him. He would forget about the darkness, and go back to the way he was. Upon her request to choose, Riku looks at Sora, asking if he'll sleep like that too. Naminé confirms it, and Riku reflects in a tone of amusement and exasperation that Sora always found a way to slack off. He says that he'll chew the slacker out as soon as he wakes up; he had told him to look after Kairi, and here he was napping! But he couldn't tell him off how he deserved if he, Riku, was asleep too. He says that he doesn't need his heart locked, and resolves to fight Ansem. Naminé asks what would happen if Ansem's darkness overtook him, and Riku confidently replies that the darkness would show him the way. Smiling, Naminé agrees, and Riku remarks on how she seemed to know he'd say that. Naminé replies that she only hoped, because she wanted Riku to face the darkness, as he was the one capable of doing it. Riku understands that that's why she came to him under the guise of Kairi, and when Naminé asks when he realized it, he replies that it was as soon as he met her, that she and Kairi smelled the same. He leaves the pod room, telling Naminé to look after Sora as he walks away.
Leaving Twilight Town, Riku meets King Mickey in the exit floor of the second basement, the latter stating that Riku had chosen not to sleep. Riku asks how he knew, and he replies that DiZ told him, pointing him out at one side of the room. As he walks to stand in the center of the room before the two of them, Riku asks the King if he knew him, and Mickey replies that he wasn't sure, but had a feeling that he had met him somewhere before. Riku approaches DiZ and asks who he is. DiZ gives an enigmatic response, stating it was Riku's choice to believe in him. Riku remarks on how he liked making others choose, to which DiZ replies that he had made the choice to fight Ansem. More questions follow, both met with enigmatic responses before DiZ gives Riku a dark cloak, the same ones that the Nobodies wore. DiZ states that the Organization would pursue him, and sneak up on him if they sensed him, but the cloak would mask him from their eyes and noses, though not their ears, looking at King Mickey as he says the last part. He goes on to say that the Nobodies wore the cloaks to protect themselves from the darkness, and states that even the Organization couldn't rule the darkness. Riku affirms that he won't run from the darkness, and DiZ tosses him a card imbued with Castle Oblivion's image, saying that it would draw out the darkness in his heart, and telling him to finish his business with Ansem. Riku and King Mickey head for the last basement, and DiZ turns to watch them as they walk away.
The two of them approach the door, and Riku reflects on what DiZ said, that the card would draw out Ansem. Mickey affirms that they can take him together, but Riku apologizes, saying he has to face him alone, that there's no point in doing it if he can't do it himself. He then asks Mickey for a favor: if Ansem won, he would enslave Riku again, and in that case, he wants Mickey to destroy him. Before he can finish his request, however, Mickey cuts in, promising to save him if it happens. Riku tries to make his request again, only for Mickey to cut him off again, making the same promise to save him, unless Riku doesn't believe in him. Riku says otherwise, affirming his belief in the King, which Mickey returns, confident that Riku will win. Riku uses the card, and walks through the door alone. Within, he runs down a deserted hallway before angrily summoning his Soul Eater, and calling out to Ansem, commanding him to show himself. Ansem's laughter echoes from further down the hallway, remarking on Riku's hurriedness, and assuring him that he'll be waiting at the heart of the darkness.
At the end of the hallway, Riku finds a blank and empty room. He calls out to Ansem, saying he can smell him. The dark figure materializes before him, and states that he watched him fight, and knows his strength, that his skill with darkness has matured. He asks, therefore, why Riku accepts the darkness but refuses him. They both follow the darkness, so is it because of a lingering fear of the dark? Riku denies this, stating that he simply can't stand Ansem's stench. Ansem calls him a fool, saying that Riku knows his powers well. Riku uses his own words against him, pointing out that even when Riku used all the power Ansem had to offer, Sora still beat him; he's not at all impressed with Ansem's powers. Ansem subsequently unleashes his full strength, transporting Riku into a dark battleground where he waits with his Guardian. The two fight, the battle exhausting them both as they return to the empty room in Castle Oblivion. Ansem fires a dark energy pulse at him in rage, only for Riku to deflect and diffuse it before rushing forward, taking Ansem by surprise. In a mirror of the move that killed Lexaeus, Riku kneels behind Ansem, sword outstretched, and says this is the end. In a pained voice, Ansem denies that, saying that he gave Riku all of his darkness, and that his shadow still lingered within. He vows that he'll return someday before exploding, forcing Riku into another dark void. He reflects on his best friends before Mickey's light comes into the void, asking if Riku minds just a little help before helping him out.
The two of them come to the Entrance Hall of the castle, and Mickey asks what Riku plans to do next. Riku states that he can't go home yet, saying that he can feel a faint presence of Ansem in his heart, and expressing his fear that his darkness still might have a hold on him. Mickey states that Riku's darkness was his, just like his light was. He continues by saying that until he met Riku, he thought darkness should never exist, but spending time with him changed his mind. The road Riku chose, with light and dark back-to-back, was a road that he'd never seen before, the darkness fitting in a way it never had. He extends a hand as he says that he'd like to see where that road leads, and travel it with Riku. Riku smiles as he takes the hand, saying that he's flattered, but using the honorific of "Your Majesty" just as he always had before. Mickey states that they're pals now, and he doesn't have to call him that. Riku responds with a smile, "Fair enough, Mickey."
A short while later, both of them walk down a deserted road, wearing the robes they received from DiZ. The enigmatic man meets them where the road parts into three different paths, and Riku asks what he wants him to choose this time. DiZ responds that he must choose between the road to light and the road to darkness. Riku responds that neither suits him, and he'll take the middle road. DiZ inquires as to whether he means the twilight road to nightfall, and Riku replies no. "It's the road to dawn."
He is first seen on the bridge in Beast's Castle where he fights Xion. As a defeated Xion lies on the ground, Riku pulls off her hood and pulls up his blindfold to get a good look at her. He is shocked by her appearance and begins questioning her how she is able to use the Keyblade, calling it a sham and worthless. Angered, Xion demands what right he had to say such a thing and attacks him, only to be knocked down singlehandedly.
After Xion wakes upon Destiny Islands, she expresses her curiosity about "Sora and that girl he's always with", in which Riku tells her that Kairi is someone very special to Sora. He tells her that she is the reason Sora is unable to wake up because part of his memories are inside of her. Even though Xion is unsure of where she truly belongs and what the right choice is, Riku gives her some time to think about it. He is also seen conversing with DiZ next to the pod Sora sleeps in.
Riku is the final boss of the game, as the game ends with the battle between him and Roxas depicted in several scenes in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, including the secret endings of Another Side, Another Story... and Deep Dive.
He allies himself with DiZ, as they have a common goal: to help Sora awaken (though Riku finds his memories of Sora fading, being a side-effect of Naminé's toying with Sora's memories). DiZ asks Riku to kidnap Roxas, the Nobody of Sora, who has been having trouble regaining his memories. If he and Roxas join, Sora should be able to reawaken. Riku enters the Realm of Darkness, and corners Roxas in The World That Never Was. When Roxas proves too powerful for him to overpower on his own, Riku transforms into Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and subdues Roxas through Ansem's Guardian, allowing him to bring Roxas to DiZ to place inside a virtual Twilight Town until it is time for Roxas and Sora to reunite. From that point on, Riku remains in his Ansem appearance.
When Axel and the Nobodies are able to breach the virtual Twilight Town, Riku enters himself to prevent Roxas from discovering the truth by first stealing the Munny pouch that he and his friends were going to use to buy tickets to the beach, then the blue crystal orb from the Struggle trophy that Roxas kept after passing the other ones to the virtual Hayner, Pence, and Olette. DiZ wanted the items destroyed as he wanted to keep things from the virtual Twilight Town out of the real one, but Riku instead passes the items on to King Mickey to give to Sora at the real Twilight Town's Central Station after Sora awakens once he learns from DiZ that his main goal is revenge against Organization XIII. Riku also deals with taking Naminé away before she can fully expose the truth to Roxas of his origins when he confronts her in the virtual Old Mansion after telling the virtual form of DiZ that the virtual Twilight Town was being overrun with Nobodies.
Following when Organization XIII launches their invasion of Hollow Bastion at the same time as Maleficent, when the sorceress saves Sora, Donald, and Goofy from being overwhelmed by Heartless under the Organization's command, Riku leaves a couple of clues behind for the trio in the Realm of Darkness, one of them being the photograph of Hayner, Pence, Olette, and Roxas from the virtual Twilight Town.
Near the top of the Castle That Never Was, Riku reunites with King Mickey and DiZ, his true name being Ansem the Wise, who is using a machine to try and encode Kingdom Hearts into data. Xemnas also arrives, and he and Ansem the Wise trade bitter words. The machine then explodes, unable to handle Kingdom Hearts, sending Ansem the Wise to the Realm of Darkness while causing countless hearts Xemnas had collected into Kingdom Hearts to rain down on the world, creating a slew of Heartless. The explosion also cleanses Riku's heart and restores Riku to his original form, though he is still remorseful.
Towards the end after the final attack used by Xemnas, Sora is left open and Riku takes a blow intended to finish off his friend, which allows Sora to finish Xemnas off with both Riku and Sora firing a beam of light from Sora's Keyblade that impales Xemnas, leaving him wide open to finish once and for all. After the fall of Xemnas, Sora and the injured Riku face an onslaught of Dusks ready to fulfill their master's final order: eliminate the Keyblade wielders. However, the Dusks disintegrate back into nothingness, and Sora and Riku escape the realm, entering the Dark Meridian.
Sora then manages to open the Door to Light, as King Mickey predicted while he read Kairi's Letter, and the two return home, reuniting with their friends. While Sora shares a hug with Donald and Goofy, Riku shares his own moment with King Mickey.
In one of the memories recovered from the journal, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Riku encounter each other shortly before Destiny Islands is completely swallowed by the darkness. At the last minute, Ansem opens a portal for Riku, allowing him to escape.
In another memory, revealed to Data-Sora in the digital version of Castle Oblivion, Riku stands on top of the Clock Tower with an unconscious Kairi, looking out at the moon.
The real Riku does not appear again until the end of the game with the real Sora and Kairi as they read Mickey's letter. This scene corresponds the final scene of Kingdom Hearts II.
During the events of Birth by Sleep, Riku was a five year old boy who lived on Destiny Islands, along with Sora. They have always trained and pushed each other to make one another stronger. When Terra visits their home world, Riku says that Master Xehanort has already passed by Destiny Islands, which preoccupies Terra. Terra has a vision of Riku's future self, making him choose Riku as his successor, and submits him to the Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony, but asks to keep this conversation as a secret to keep the world's order.
Summoned by Yen Sid alongside Sora, Riku learns the truth of Master Xehanort and his impending return. Riku and Sora are tasked with the mission to awaken seven different worlds from a state of sleep as part of their Mark of Mastery exam. However, as he and Sora go through these worlds deep within the Realm of Sleep in new attire, Riku encounters both "Ansem" and a younger incarnation of Master Xehanort.
Ending up in The Castle that Never Was, Riku learns that Sora was captured by the new Organization XIII. Riku faces off against Xehanort's younger self in battle before Master Xehanort reveals himself. Revealing his overall scheme and role in the events of the years before, Xehanort reveals that Riku was originally planned to be the final vessel to complete the new Organization. However, Riku's ability to resist "Ansem" and retrain his inner darkness forces Xehanort to make Sora into a suitable replacement. Restrained by "Ansem" so not to interfere, Riku is saved when Donald and Goofy arrive after Lea. After Master Xehanort and his group leave, Riku and the others take Sora back to Yen Sid's tower where he enters Sora's dream world to save him. Soon after, Riku learns that Yen Sid had deemed him to pass the Mark of Mastery and is entitled a Keyblade Master. Afterward, Riku brings Kairi to Yen Sid at his request so she may begin training with her Keyblade.
After their arrival at Mysterious Tower, Riku and Kairi learn a secret from Mickey, that Aqua was there when he and Mickey sealed the Door to Darkness, and at the end of the story it was revealed that Aqua sacrificed herself to draw away a swarm of Heartless in order to protect Riku.
After the story Riku is surprised by this and that Mickey kept it a secret for so long when they could have done something. However Mickey states that it was to respect her wishes, along with Yen Sid mentioning he forbade Mickey from telling anyone else to avoid any reckless rescue attempts, knowing that while Riku would have understood the danger cautiously, Sora would had made a reckless attempt to try to save her if he knew.
Mickey reveals that Riku should now be capable of being able to help pull Aqua out of the Realm of Darkness safely. Riku agreed to accompany Mickey to look for a way of entering the Realm of Darkness to carry out their mission, and the two left, but not before Yen Sid presented them with special traveling clothes created by Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather to help shield them from the darkness.
Riku returns in Kingdom Hearts III, where he travels with King Mickey back to the Dark Margin to rescue Aqua. However, his Way to the Dawn Keyblade is broken, but he is able to gain a new one to replace it. Soon, he and Mickey are attacked by the Heartless in the form of the Demon Tower, which manages to capture Mickey. From the Demon Tower, a shadowy figure emerges and picks up Mickey's Keyblade he dropped when he was captured. When it speaks, Mickey recognizes the voice, but when the darkness surrounding the figure dissipates, it is revealed to be Aqua, having been corrupted by darkness earlier by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness when he came for Ansem the Wise, and now having been turned into Anti-Aqua due to the despair in her heart being turned into anger, bitterness, hatred, and malice by Ansem's attack. After Anti-Aqua blames Riku and Mickey for leaving her stranded in the Dark Margin for over a decade, she decides to give them a taste of the despair she went through as she has the Demon Tower attack Riku, forcing him to fight back against it while dodging Anti-Aqua's attacks as he tries to save Mickey until Sora arrives to help Riku and Mickey. Together, Sora and Riku are able to destroy the Demon Tower and rescue Mickey, but Anti-Aqua then charges across the water to attack Riku, only to be intercepted by Sora, who engages her in battle and purges the dark corruption from her, reverting her back into Aqua, before saving her from sinking into oblivion in the Dark Margin's ocean and taking her back to the Destiny Islands.
When Aqua comes to, she initially believes to still be in the Realm of Darkness, but once Sora and Riku reveal she's back in the Realm of Light, she is overjoyed to be home again. Riku then sets about picking up Kairi and Lea/Axel, while Sora travels to Castle Oblivion with Aqua to recover Ventus.
Once everyone is gathered in the Keyblade Graveyard to confront Master Xehanort, he sends Terra-Xehanort to take them out early. Though Terra-Xehanort knocks out Ventus and Lea, he is repulsed by Donald at the cost of Donald exhausting his strength and magic. Then the Demon Tide appears and transforms into a powerful tornado. Though Riku, Sora, and Aqua attempt to make a stand against it, Aqua hesitates, and the Demon Tide sweeps up her, Ventus, Lea, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Kairi. Losing them sends Sora into a devastated state, unable to fight back, believing that without them, Master Xehanort has already won. Riku attempts to convince Sora if he truly believes that, before making a defiant last stand against the Demon Tide, managing to hold it off for several seconds before he is consumed by it as well and it goes for Sora. However, Sora is able to recover his body while in the Final World, along with everyone else, in both body and heart, thanks to his power of waking, and reverse time to moments before the encounter with Terra-Xehanort in the Keyblade Graveyard. When Terra-Xehanort attempts to repeat events, the Lingering Will appears to force him off the scene, and Sora destroys the Demon Tide once and for all with the support of the Keyblades of fallen Keyblade Warriors from around the Keyblade Graveyard. With that attempt to take out the Guardians of Light lost, Master Xehanort creates a labyrinth for them to face off with his thirteen darknesses after the endless army of Heartless, Nobodies, and Unversed are held off by the combined efforts of Master Yen Sid, Donald, and Goofy.
Riku soon manages to fight his way to Master Xehanort, as does Mickey, but when joined by Sora, they find they still have to beat Ansem, Young Xehanort, and Xemnas, before they can face Master Xehanort. Once they succeed, Master Xehanort brings out an unconscious Kairi, who Xemnas kidnapped earlier. Before Sora can stop him, Master Xehanort strikes down Kairi in cold blood. Enraged by Kairi's murder, Riku attacks Master Xehanort after Sora's attempt fails, but is easily repulsed, before being frozen in time with Mickey by Master Xehanort's Stopza, allowing him to use the reforged X-blade to open Kingdom Hearts. When they recover from the Stopza, Riku and Mickey regroup with Sora, Lea, Xion, Roxas, Aqua, Ventus, and Terra, and realize they need to use Master Xehanort's power over time against him. Once Sora volunteers, supported by Goofy and Donald, Riku joins the other Keyblade wielders with paralyzing Master Xehanort, allowing Sora to drag him into Scala ad Caelum, his old homeworld, within Kingdom Hearts where they have their final battle.
When Riku arrives later with the others, Master Xehanort has been defeated, and the spirit of Eraqus appears to convince him to surrender peacefully. Realizing his mistakes, Master Xehanort entrusts the X-blade to Sora, and departs peacefully to the afterlife with Eraqus. Afterwards, Riku joins Sora and the others with using the X-blade to close Kingdom Hearts for good. Back in the Keyblade Graveyard, Riku shows his support to Sora as he prepares to hunt down Kairi and bring her home to the Destiny Islands, despite knowing the risks doing so would take on his heart, wishing him good luck as he departs to complete his final mission.
Riku later travels to Radiant Garden by Gummi Ship, where Ansem the Wise has just finished transferring Namine's heart into a new body from the Replica Program, and picks up Namine to take with him back to the Destiny Islands. Once there, Riku joins everyone else in celebration, before watching as Sora, having succeeded in rescuing Kairi, spends one last moment with her before disappearing to parts unknown.
- Riku's name is derived from the Japanese word for "land", as part of the name theme he shares with Sora and Kairi. Together, their names make up "Land, Sea, Sky".
- Riku is the first non-party assistance character to appear in the Kingdom Hearts universe as he helps Sora, Donald, and Goofy fight the Parasite Cage in Monstro the first battle. Riku was also the first party character that can be fought against in the same game he is fought with, followed by the Beast, Xion, and later Zack.
- In Kingdom Hearts, Riku wears a garment called "wading pants". These are used by people that walk in high water regularly, like fishermen, suggesting that Riku spent a lot of time walking in the ocean.
- Riku's cutting of his hair after the events of Kingdom Hearts II can represent a major change in his life, and is likely why he cut it. It can symbolize cutting away his mistakes and starting over, as his hair had grown very long while he was aligned with the darkness.
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