- “I don't need a weapon! My friends are my power!”
Sora is the main protagonist of Square Enix's best-selling Kingdom Hearts series. Introduced in the series' first game in 2002, Sora is a cheerful teenager who originates from Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since early childhood. When they plan to go on a journey to see other worlds, they are separated by creatures known as Heartless. Fighting them, Sora obtains a weapon called the Keyblade, which makes Donald Duck and Goofy recruit him in their journey across various worlds to aid King Mickey, while Sora searches for his friends, who were sucked in by the darkness. In the meantime, the trio protect the worlds they visit from various villains. Sora has also made supporting appearances in a few games from the series, and reprised his role in manga and novel adaptations of the games.
The main series focuses primarily on Sora's own journey and his growth as a Keyblade wielder, while several side stories follow the characters that are linked to Sora. Sora is four years old during the events of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, fourteen during Kingdom Hearts through Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and fifteen during the events of Kingdom Hearts II through Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Sora is the original persona of his own Heartless and Roxas, the source of Xion's memories, and the carrier of Ventus's heart.
Sora's original design was created by Kingdom Hearts series director and character designer Tetsuya Nomura during a discussion between Disney and Square about who should be main character of the series. Wanting it to be an original character, Nomura made various sketches of him until it met the approval of Disney. Nomura came to regard Sora as his favorite character from all the ones he has designed, and wanted to emphasize the importance of him despite being an ordinary boy. Throughout the series, Sora has been voiced by Haley Joel Osment in the English version and Miyu Irino in the Japanese version. As a child, Sora was voiced by Takuto Yoshinaga in Japanese and Luke Manriquez in English, respectively. Sora's character has received mainly positive critical response due to his interactions and development across the series and has also appeared in various popularity polls from video game characters. Sora's name is derived from the Japanese word for "sky".
Sora appears as a spiky brown-haired child who, when first introduced, wears a red shirt alongside red pants as well as 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, such as turning into a merman within the sea. After undergoing a significant growth in Kingdom Hearts II, he 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. Sora's Keyblade's primary form is the Kingdom Key, resembling a classic skeleton key approximately 3.5' long, with a long silver keychain extending from the hilt, and a Mickey Mouse token on the end of the keychain. However, through using Keychains, the Kingdom Key can assume a variety of unique forms. During Kingdom Hearts II, he also dual-wields Keyblades, but their form is dependent on the players' use of Keychains.
Across the series, Sora is depicted as a cheerful teenager who cherishes his friendships and states that, thanks to them, he gains his strength. As a result, several of his enemies use his friends as a bait to use the Keyblade for their purposes. Although Sora is not the real Keyblade's chosen warrior to protect the worlds, his actions across the series cause others to believe Sora will be able to save the ones close to him.
Before Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
After Ventus's heart is damaged by the creation of Vanitas, Master Xehanort brings the unconscious Ven to the Destiny Islands. Here, Sora's newly born heart encounters Ven in his Dive to the Heart. He offers to join hearts with Ven until Ven's heart can heal. This connection mends Ven's damaged Station, and as a side effect, it causes Vanitas's face to resemble Sora's.
Sora and Riku grow up together on the Destiny Islands as best friends and rivals. They are often seen around the islands battling with wooden swords, racing, and competing in any other way they can think of.
When Sora is four years old, he encounters Terra and Aqua, two Keyblade wielders, on separate occasions. He never speaks with Terra, but they see each other from a distance. Terra shows no interest in Sora because he is unable to sense his potential, and is instead attracted to Riku. When Aqua meets Sora and Riku, she senses that their friendship parallels that of Ventus and Terra, and she tells Sora to protect Riku if he ever falls into darkness. Sora, despite his confusion, agrees.
Later on, Sora and Riku rest on a beach. When they prepare to go home, Sora suddenly feels sad. Riku tells him that maybe someone in another world is in pain and encourages him to reach out with his heart. Sora successfully calls to Ventus, whose heart has been lost after the destruction of Vanitas and the χ-blade. Ven's heart makes its way to Sora's Station in the Dive to the Heart and Ven asks if it can stay with Sora while he sleeps. Sora, wanting to make Ven better, happily accepts, and Ven's heart merges with him.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts
Some time later, a young girl named Kairi arrives at the Destiny Islands from another world during a nighttime meteor shower. Not long after that night, Sora and Riku explore a small, hidden cave on their islands, in search of a "howling monster". They are disappointed to find only a featureless door in the "Secret Place" and they decide to someday leave the island and have real adventures. As they leave, they decide to go see "the new girl", and Riku, unbeknownst to Sora, looks back at the door to see the Keyhole of the Destiny Islands.
Sora and Riku befriend Kairi and the three quickly become inseparable as they play together on the islands. Often, during the next several years, they often wonder about what lies beyond their small world, prompted by the mystery of Kairi's forgotten home.
Several years later, Sora, Riku and Kairi start building a raft, in the hopes of sailing to other worlds. Sometime during construction, Sora dozes off on the beach and has an odd, prescient dream, in which a mysterious voice guides him through a dark realm, where he fights strange monsters. Sora is awakened by Kairi and he resumes helping with the preparations for their voyage. Over the next couple days, he searches the island for building materials and provisions, while taking the time to play-fight with his friends and compete with Riku. Riku repeatedly teases Sora over his relationship with Kairi and tells him to share a Paopu Fruit with her. Sora enters the Secret Place while foraging and draws himself giving a paopu fruit to Kairi on the wall. He suddenly encounters a shadowy figure, who speaks of the world being consumed by darkness and taunts Sora about his ignorance of the outside world before disappearing.
That night, a severe storm hits the small island. Sora comes to check on the raft and he finds a strange, dark force hovering overhead, and the islands overrun with Shadows. He finds Riku, who simply tells him that the door has been opened to the outside world and that he is not afraid of the darkness beyond it. As Sora tries to reach towards Riku, the two begin sinking into darkness. However, before Sora is swallowed by darkness, he receives the Kingdom Key, which dispels the darkness around him. He uses it to fight his way to the Secret Place, where he finds Kairi in a daze. Before he can get to her, the mysterious door bursts open with a blast of dark wind. Kairi disappears and Sora is blown outside, where he faces a Darkside on the rapidly disintegrating island. The two are swept away into the darkness.
Sora falls through a Corridor of Darkness into Traverse Town, where he finds more Heartless before meeting Leon and Yuffie, who explain the nature of the Keyblade, the Heartless and Ansem to him. When they are attacked by Heartless, Sora is forced to part with Leon and Yuffie. He makes his way to the town's Third District, where he meets Donald Duck and Goofy, and the three of them take down a swarm of Heartless and the Guard Armor that leads them. After introductions, Donald and Goofy ask Sora to come with them to other worlds, as per King Mickey's request, and Sora agrees, hoping to find Riku and Kairi.
After traveling to numerous worlds, they find Riku on a return trip to Traverse Town. Sora discovers that Riku is also searching for Kairi. Riku shows a surprising affinity for the Keyblade, taking it from Sora right from under his nose, before returning it at will. Sora and Donald argue about whether Riku can travel with them, but Riku disappears. Satisfied with the knowledge that Riku is fine, Sora resumes his quest to find Kairi, unaware that Riku is slowly being turned against him by Maleficent.
As his journey continues, Sora makes many new friends throughout many worlds and he becomes much closer to Donald and Goofy as well. He also repeatedly crosses paths with an increasingly hostile Riku and, in Neverland, Riku finally turns on Sora, revealing that he has been given the power of darkness and has found Kairi, before summoning Anti Sora and throwing Sora into the hold of Captain Hook's ship.
Sora, undeterred, continues on to Hollow Bastion, where he encounters Riku once again. Riku reveals that he is the true master of Sora's Keyblade, taking it for his own. Donald and Goofy reluctantly follow Riku, as per the King's instructions, and Sora is left alone with the Beast, armed with only a Wooden Sword. The two make their way into the Entrance Hall of the castle, where they are temporarily separated. Riku confronts Sora again, accompanied by Donald and Goofy. When Sora refuses to back down, Donald and Goofy step in to defend him from Riku's attacks. With his heart strengthened by his bonds of friendship, Sora reclaims the Keyblade and the three defeat Riku, who retreats. Continuing through the hordes of Heartless infesting the castle, they make their way to the Chapel, where they fight and defeat Maleficent.
When they reach the Grand Hall, they find Kairi's supine body. Riku, now possessed by Ansem, reveals that Kairi has lost her heart and that it is inside Sora. Ansem attempts to extract Kairi's heart from Sora with the Keyblade of People's Hearts, in order to complete the final Keyhole. Sora fights back and defeats Ansem, but in order to save Kairi, Sora stabs himself in the chest with Ansem's Keyblade, freeing Kairi's heart and turning Sora into a Heartless (a common Shadow, to be precise). While in his Heartless state, Sora follows Donald, Goofy and Kairi as they leave the castle. Kairi is somehow able to recognize him and restore him to his body. The group flee the growing flood of Heartless and retreat to Traverse Town, where Sora prepares to return to Hollow Bastion and free Riku from Ansem. Kairi gives Sora her Lucky Charm and tells him that she will be with him wherever he goes.
Sora returns to Hollow Bastion and successfully seals the final Keyhole. He is then reunited with Leon, Yuffie and Aerith, who tell him that Hollow Bastion was their previous home. The newly revived Princesses of Heart tell Sora that Ansem has departed for another world. Sora and company track Ansem to the End of the World, a Heartless world made of the remnants of all the worlds destroyed by the darkness. Sora, Donald and Goofy find Ansem on the remains of Destiny Islands, where they fight with him. Their battle brings them to the endless abyss just outside the Door to Kingdom Hearts, where they finally defeat Ansem and his World of Chaos. In desperation, Ansem tries to open Kingdom Hearts, but as Sora realizes that beyond the door is light, that light bursts out and seemingly destroys Ansem.
Sora, Donald and Goofy attempt to close the door before the Heartless can come through from the Realm of Darkness, and they are helped from the other side of the door by a freed Riku, as well as King Mickey, who holds back the Heartless. As the door closes, Riku asks Sora to take care of Kairi as Sora and Mickey use their Keyblades to seal the Door to Darkness, leaving Riku and Mickey on the other side.
As the End of the World breaks apart, Sora finds Kairi and promises to return to her before they are separated once again, with Kairi returning to Destiny Islands. Sora, Donald and Goofy end up on a path in a grassy field, thinking about how to find Riku and Mickey, when Pluto appears with a letter from Mickey and they follow him into the distance with renewed hope.
After following Pluto all day, Sora, Donald and Goofy set camp on the path. During the night, Sora wakes up and follows the path to a crossroads. A mysterious man in a hooded black coat appears and tells him, "Along the road ahead lies something you need. However, in order to claim it, you must lose something that is dear to you". The man disappears down a path and Sora, followed by Donald and Goofy, follows the path to Castle Oblivion. When they suddenly get the feeling that their missing friends are inside the castle, they enter and the stranger reappears to introduce them to the castle's strange mechanics.
The three travel from floor to floor, exploring memory-based facsimiles of worlds they have visited in the past and learning lessons about memory from their residents. They eventually discover that their memories are disappearing as they continue, along with the contents of Jiminy's Journal. They also encounter other members of the mysterious Organization, who taunt and coax Sora along the way. Gradually, Sora begins to "remember" a girl he once knew on the Destiny Islands Naminé. As his memories paradoxically become stronger, and upon discovering from Larxene that Naminé is being held in the castle, Sora becomes determined to find her.
After Sora clears the seventh floor of Castle Oblivion, he encounters Riku, who declares that he will be the one to rescue Naminé and that she doesn't want to see Sora. The two fight multiple times in the castle's halls, with increasing ferocity. As Sora's memories of Naminé become stronger, and as his memories of Kairi fade away, Sora becomes obsessed with finding Naminé. Vexen, hoping to undermine Marluxia's plans, warns Sora not to blindly trust his memory, after luring him into a memory-based Twilight Town; however, before Vexen can tell Sora about the memories from "the other side of [his] heart" and the existence of Roxas, he is eliminated by Axel.
Riku appears before Sora again, as he leaves the eleventh floor. They discover that they both have exactly the same memories of Naminé, as well as identical charms, supposedly given by Naminé. Riku angrily fights Sora, calling his charm fake, and runs off after being defeated. Sora becomes even more fixated on finding Naminé and Donald and Goofy worriedly warn Sora to be careful. Sora runs off in a fury and enters the next memory-world, Destiny Islands, alone. After defeating the Darkside, Sora finally meets Naminé, who has escaped Marluxia's custody at Axel's prompting. Naminé tries to remind Sora of Kairi, but Riku interrupts, challenging Sora again for the right to protect Naminé. In order to stop Riku, Naminé breaks the memories in his heart. Larxene arrives and she reveals that the Riku that Sora has been fighting is actually a replica created by Vexen and that Naminé has been manipulating both his and Sora's memories as part of Marluxia's plot to take control of the Organization by controlling Sora. When Larxene attacks, Donald and Goofy arrive to support Sora, who manages to eliminate her.
Naminé explains how she manipulated everyone's memories at Marluxia's command, but Sora forgives her, stating that his feelings are real, even if his memories aren't. Sora, Donald and Goofy head for the thirteenth floor to face Marluxia, so that Naminé can restore their memories, while Naminé stays behind with the Riku Replica. Upon entering the thirteenth floor, the three promise to stick together, even if they lose the rest of their memories. They eventually come across a battle between Axel and Marluxia, arriving in time to see Axel preparing to attack Marluxia through his shield, Naminé. Sora challenges Axel, after saying that Marluxia will be next. Marluxia escapes during the battle, as does Axel upon his defeat.
Sora, Donald and Goofy track down Marluxia, who commands Naminé to erase Sora's memory and destroy his heart. Naminé refuses, but Sora tells her to do so in order to protect herself. The Riku Replica arrives, having come to his senses, and he separates Naminé from Marluxia while Sora takes him on. Although Sora wins, Marluxia reveals that he was fighting a decoy. Sora leaves Naminé in the Riku Replica's protection while he, Donald and Goofy enter Marluxia's room to face him. After a grueling battle, Marluxia is destroyed and Sora locks the door to the room. The Riku Replica leaves and Naminé has Sora, Donald, and Goofy enter Memory Pods so that they can sleep while she reassembles their memories. Although the process will cause them to forget Naminé, Sora promises that the memory of her will stay in his heart and that he'll find her again. Right before he goes to sleep, Naminé tells Sora to focus on remembering Kairi, as the memory of her will illuminate his other memories, which are lost in shadow.
In the meantime, the real Riku, who has appeared in the lowest basement of Castle Oblivion and made his way up to the second basement, meets Naminé, who brings him to where Sora's Memory Pod is. Riku refuses her offer to seal his darkness inside his heart, saying jokingly that he can't tell off Sora for sleeping if he himself is asleep. He leaves, telling Naminé to take care of Sora.
Several weeks after Sora goes to sleep, Naminé and DiZ move the Memory Pods to Twilight Town's Old Mansion, making it their base of operations. During the course of restoring Sora's memories, Naminé discovers that some memories are not returning. She realizes that the cause is the existence of Roxas, Sora's Nobody, and Xion, a replica of Roxas created by Organization XIII. Xion, designed to become a duplicate of Sora, absorbs Sora's memories through Roxas, which causes her to dream, to collapse during missions and, eventually, to take Sora's form. Eventually, the flow of memories slows to a stop, even after Xion is defeated and absorbed by Roxas. In response, DiZ sends Riku to capture Roxas, with the intention of merging him with Sora.
- “A scattered dream that's like a far-off memory. A far-off memory that's like a scattered dream. I want to line the pieces up... yours and mine.”
- ―Sora in the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II
During Roxas's six days in the Simulated Twilight Town, Sora's restoration picks up dramatically, causing Roxas to dream every night and to black out randomly during the day. Late on the first day, Sora subconsciously reaches out to Roxas, and on the fourth day, he speaks to Kairi when Roxas accidentally connects with her. Roxas finally sees Sora on the sixth day, when he finds the Memory Pods in the Mansion's basement.
After sleeping for most of a year, Sora, Donald and Goofy awaken in the basement of the Old Mansion with their memories from before Castle Oblivion restored. They leave and explore Twilight Town, with Sora feeling a strangely familiarity with the town. They meet Hayner, Pence and Olette, who claim to have seen Mickey near the Train Station. They are ambushed at the station by Dusks, but they are saved by Mickey, who dispatches the creatures and directs them to board a specific train. Hayner, Pence and Olette arrive to see Sora off and Sora is briefly overcome by emotion.
The train takes them to the Mysterious Tower, where they encounter Pete, who has been working under Maleficent. After defeating Pete's squad of Heartless, they ascend the tower to meet the sorcerer Yen Sid. Yen Sid fills the trio in on the current state of the worlds, as well as introducing them to the Nobodies and Organization XIII. Afterwards, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather provide Sora with new clothes containing new powers and Yen Sid sends them on their way in the Gummi Ship.
Their first stop is Hollow Bastion, currently being reconstructed by the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee, made up of Leon and company. Organization XIII sets a group of Nobodies on the town, but Sora and Leon drive off the attackers. The members of the Organization appear briefly to confront Sora before leaving, except for Xigbar, who hangs back to comment cryptically about Sora's similarity to another before exiting. Shortly after, the Keyblade opens the path to the next world and Sora and company head out. They visit a number of worlds, defeating the Heartless unleashed upon them by the Organization and Pete, as well as meeting old and new friends.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy are summoned to Disney Castle, which is under attack by the resurrected Maleficent, who has sent Pete into the past to destroy the castle's Cornerstone of Light, which protects it from darkness. With Merlin's help, Sora ventures into the past and manages to stop Pete, saving Disney Castle from being taken over by Maleficent.
On a return trip to Twilight Town, they fight off a horde of Nobodies led by Saïx. Saïx expresses concern for Sora's safety, informing him that his fellow member, Axel, intends to turn him into a Heartless and warning him not to be reckless, lest he end up like Riku. After Saïx leaves, Hayner, Pence and Olette find Sora and tell him about Kairi appearing in Twilight Town before being taken away by Axel. Sora leaves for the next world, resolving to find Kairi and Riku.
After visiting several worlds, Sora returns to Hollow Bastion to find even more Heartless and Nobodies running rampant. He, Donald and Goofy head to Ansem's study, where Leon has discovered the computer of Ansem the Wise. When Sora and Donald are careless with the terminal, the Master Control Program digitizes the trio and sends them into Space Paranoids, where they meet Tron. Tron helps Sora, Donald and Goofy open a path back to the outside and, with the help of King Mickey, who has come to Ansem's study, they help Tron access Ansem's dataspace, the DTD (an acronym meaning "Door To Darkness"). Along the way, they thwart the efforts of the MCP to hijack the dataspace and destroy Hollow Bastion, taking out the Hostile Program in the process. After exiting the system, Sora, Donald and Goofy speak with Mickey, who reveals to them that the "Ansem" they defeated was a Heartless who had been impersonating Ansem the Wise and that his Nobody counterpart heads Organization XIII.
Organization XIII sets off a massive invasion of Hollow Bastion and the residents start taking on waves of Heartless and Nobodies. Sora, Donald and Goofy enter the battle, against King Mickey's orders, and they fight and defeat Organization member Demyx. However, while defending Mickey, Goofy is struck by a boulder sent flying by a Heartless and he appears to have been killed. Enraged, the group forges on without him, fighting through swarms of Heartless, but Goofy soon comes to and rejoins them. After taking on a massive army of Heartless, Sora confronts the Organization's leader, Xemnas, who Mickey realizes is the Nobody of Ansem's apprentice, Xehanort. Xemnas retreats, with Mickey right behind, and Axel appears before Sora and he reveals that Xemnas's plan is for Sora to release hearts by defeating Heartless. Before he can say more, he is interrupted by Saïx and flees. Saïx informs Sora that he has custody of Kairi and that the goal of the Organization is the formation of Kingdom Hearts. Sora is overwhelmed by despair, but Maleficent's intervention allows Sora, Donald and Goofy to escape. Sora then resumes his quest, determined to find Riku and Kairi and stop Xemnas once and for all.
The trio resume their travels across the worlds, hoping to find a way to Organization XIII's headquarters and, despite Sora's worries about using the Keyblade, they continue taking out the Heartless and Nobodies the Organization has released into the worlds. They also counter a number of Organization members' plots, eliminating Xaldin along the way. Eventually, they return to Twilight Town, where they find Hayner, Pence and Olette at the Old Mansion, looking for clues leading to an alternate Twilight Town. They are ambushed by Nobodies, but Mickey arrives to assist. They enter the mansion and use the basement computer to enter the simulated Twilight Town's mansion, where they find a passageway. They are ambushed within by a horde of Nobodies, but Axel arrives to help and he sacrifices himself to wipe out the enemies. As he lays fading away, Axel apologizes for kidnapping Kairi and opens a portal to the Organization's world, The World That Never Was.
While traveling through the Dark City, Sora is confronted by Roxas, who transports them to his Station of Awakening. Roxas attacks Sora relentlessly, at one point asking why Axel chose Sora over him, but Sora gets the upper hand and defeats Roxas, returning to the real world to rejoin Donald, Goofy and Mickey. They make their way to the Organization's castle, where Kingdom Hearts is nearly complete. Sora makes his way through the castle with Donald and Goofy while Mickey goes ahead. Saïx corners the three in the Hall of Empty Melodies and sets a massive swarm of Heartless on them, but the battle is joined on the upper level by Kairi, who was freed by Naminé, and Riku, in the form of Xehanort's Heartless, while Maleficent and Pete take the opportunity to infiltrate the castle. While Mickey reunites with DiZ, really Ansem the Wise, Xigbar takes out the remaining Heartless and challenges Sora, while calling him by Roxas's name and cryptically comparing him to his predecessors. Sora, Donald and Goofy defeat him and work their way to the upper level, where Sora is reunited with his friends. Together, the group continue onward and Sora encounters and destroys Luxord and Saïx. They then reach Mickey and Ansem, who tries and fails to seal Kingdom Hearts by encoding it as data. The encoder explodes, severely damaging Kingdom Hearts, restoring Riku to his true form and apparently killing Ansem. The damage to Kingdom Hearts causes an endless wave of Heartless to spawn, but Maleficent and Pete hold them off while everyone heads for Xemnas.
At the Alter of Naught, at the top of the castle, the group confronts Xemnas as he contemplates the broken Kingdom Hearts. Sora fights Xemnas one-on-one in Memory's Contortion and defeats him. Xemnas then merges with the remains of Kingdom Hearts, transforming the interior into a facsimile of the World that Never Was. Sora and company pursue him and manage to defeat him and his draconian fortress. While Xemnas apparently fades back into darkness, Roxas and Naminé appear before Sora and Kairi before merging with them. While everyone starts leaving through Naminé's Corridor of Darkness, the portal suddenly closes, stranding Sora and Riku. Xemnas reappears, but after a series of grueling battles, they finally destroy him.
Sora and Riku wander until they reach the Dark Margin, where Sora finds a bottled letter from Kairi. The Door to Light appears before them and sends them back to Destiny Islands, where they are reunited with Kairi, Donald, Goofy and Mickey. Sora returns Kairi's Lucky Charm to her, happy to be back.
- “Sora, you are who you are because of those people, but they're hurting, and you're the only one who can end their sadness. They need you.”
- ―Mickey to Sora about Terra, Aqua and Ven
- Main article: Data Sora
Mickey digitizes Jiminy's Journal in order to find the source of a mysterious message and creates a Sora made of data in order to rid the journal of countless bugs. Eventually, Data-Sora and Mickey find a data version of Naminé, who reveals that she was responsible and the message is for the real Sora, who, as the "Key that Connects Everything", must venture out on another quest to find and rescue those connected to his heart who are suffering, namely the real Naminé, Roxas, Xion, Axel, Terra, Aqua and Ventus. Mickey sends Sora a bottled letter to inform him.
Soon after, Sora is walking around in the Secret Place. He smiles while looking at all the pictures he and Kairi had drawn over the years. He glances down at the picture of Kairi and himself and sees that Kairi drew the other half of a Paopu Fruit and smiles to himself, mimicking Kairi's actions from a year ago. Outside of the cave, Sora asks Riku what he thinks the door to light was. Riku replies that it was Sora's heart; "It's always closer than you think". Kairi runs up to them breathlessly with Mickey's bottled letter, which Sora reads with Riku and Kairi.
- “I am who I am... because of them.”
- ―Sora about Terra, Aqua and Ven.
In response to the imminent return of Master Xehanort, Sora and Riku are summoned to the Mysterious Tower in order to take the Mark of Mastery exam and become Keyblade Masters. Despite having the enormity of Master Xehanort explained to him, Sora initially objects, convinced that he can already defeat Master Xehanort, but when Riku agrees to the exam as a way of proving that he has overcome his darkness, Sora also agrees. Yen Sid sets the pair the task of entering the Sleeping Worlds and awakening seven worlds which were left submerged in sleep following Ansem's defeat.
Sora and Riku's journey begins on the Destiny Islands, but they soon move on and Sora finds himself in Traverse Town, where he discovers his new attire and abilities. After meeting up with Neku Sakuraba and his circle of friends, who tutor him, Sora leaves on his new journey, venturing across more sleeping worlds, meeting new friends and battling new villains. However, several times along the way, Sora comes into contact with a mysterious young man with ties to Master Xehanort, who is accompanied by figures like Ansem and Xemnas, whom Sora believed to have been defeated long ago.
After Sora seals all seven keyholes in the Dreaming Realm, he finds himself in The World That Never Was instead of the Realm of Light and he is confronted by Xigbar, who explains that he and his companions had been engineering Sora's arrival in their domain from the start. Placed within a dream version of the Dark City, Sora speaks with the mysterious young man, who reveals that he is actually the younger self of Master Xehanort, who was paid a visit long ago by the disembodied Ansem, via time travel. Ansem had then sent Young Xehanort through time to gather many different incarnations of Xehanort while arranging Sora's journey. As he travels through the dream city, Sora encountering illusions of Naminé, Xion, Roxas, Riku, Kairi, Terra, Aqua and Ventus along the way, occasionally hearing Riku's voice encouraging him not to fall for the illusions and stay awake. Eventually, Sora approaches the castle and encounters both Xemnas and Xigbar, who explain that the true purpose of Organization XIII was to create thirteen vessels to harbor the essence of Master Xehanort and their intended thirteenth vessel is Sora himself. Sora refuses to allow it and, spurred on by the thoughts of those connected to him, he fights and defeats Xemnas. However, Sora's heart is badly weakened and he falls into a deep sleep, while Young Xehanort takes him to the Castle That Never Was. As he drops into the darkness, Ventus's heart envelops him in Ven's Keyblade Armor.
Riku tracks Sora to the castle and only barely manages to save Sora from the newly-revived Master Xehanort, with help from Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Lea. Sora, still comatose, is brought back to the Mysterious Tower, where Yen Sid tells Riku he now has the power to wake Sora up. Riku dives into Sora's Dive to the Heart, where he captures the fragments of Sora's shattered heart and battles Sora in Ventus's armor, which has been possessed by a Nightmare. Riku defeats the Nightmare, then meets projections of Roxas, Ventus and Xion, deep inside Sora's heart. A projection of Ansem the Wise informs Riku that Sora has awakened and tells him about the data he hid inside Sora and about Sora's power to connect with people's hearts. Riku returns to the real world and reunites with Sora.
With the exam at an end, Yen Sid names Riku as a Keyblade Master, and despite having failed, Sora congratulates Riku. Shortly afterwards, Sora leaves on a new journey, traveling to the sleeping Traverse Town, where he is reunited with the Spirit Dream Eaters.
Disney Theme Parks
Sora briefly appeared as a walkaround character at Magic Kingdom for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party when Chain of Memories was first released. The costume was used for other promotional events for the series around that time in Japan.
A statue was viewable for a month to promote the release of Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded at Tokyo DisneySea.
Concept and creation
Sora was designed by Tetsuya Nomura as the main protagonist of Kingdom Hearts. However, he was not originally slated to be the main protagonist as Disney wanted Donald Duck to be the main protagonist of the game while Square wanted to have Mickey Mouse as the main protagonist. Nomura wanted neither as the protagonist of the game and went on to design his own main protagonist with the concepts of the Disney characters in mind which resulted in the creation of Sora. 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. Sora's original outfit in Kingdom Hearts was also designed with Mickey Mouse in mind with Mickey Mouse's trademark white gloves, red shorts and giant yellow shoes due to Square's original preference to have Mickey as the main character of the game. The tail was removed as the staff found his design to be similar to the one of the Final Fantasy IX protagonist Zidane Tribal who also had a tail. After a talk with the Disney staff, the design was further reworked, and Nomura finished it after a night's work.
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 can have the opportunity to accomplish notable actions. This was emphasized in Birth by Sleep's secret ending, game in which he hoped players would like to see him. In early versions of development of Birth by Sleep, Nomura thought that Ventus would actually be Sora before being reborn, but due to overseas opinions, such portrayal was discarded.
Nomura has stated that Sora's name can be interpreted as "sky" as his name, means sky in Japanese and was also chosen by Nomura to symbolise his role as well as personality in the story. It also shows his relation with Riku and Kairi, making their three names together "Sky, Land, and Sea." The writings from Jiminy Cricket's journals which are supposed to be written by Nomura in the Japanese versions joking that they have similar writings and wanted people to recognize his hand-writing. He was also described by Nomura to have a forward personality, which allows him to make friends across the series. From all of the characters he has designed, Nomura comments that Sora is his favorite having encountered him many times and finding him as "special".
Following the first Kingdom Hearts, Nomura was worried about how players having Sora in a high level would use him in Kingdom Hearts II starting once again with a low level due to the games' natures. Therefore, he developed the plot of Chain of Memories to explain how Sora loses his abilities in Castle Oblivion and then start anew. Additionally, with Chain of Memories a new mystery regarding Sora's memories from Twilight Town was added and while Sora did not have any memories from such town, this fact would be explained in Kingdom Hearts II. The team in charge of Kingdom Hearts II expressed difficulties in animating Sora's Drive Valor Form for having a completely different motion except in the part that Sora walks 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 in other characters from the series. Moreover, the events from the endings of Kingdom Hearts 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 will once again be the focus of the next Kingdom Hearts, he will share it with another character with a big importance. In response to rumors saying that Sora's story would end in Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura answered that Sora is the main protagonist of the series and that his role will end once the series ends.
Various types of merchadising 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 reader's fifth most popular character of all time. They also featured him on its issue #1105 cover, gaving him a tribute, 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", he was nevertheless an up-and-comer. 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 was also 15th in the GameInformer poll of best characters from the 2000s.
Overall, critics and fans have generally praised the character of Sora. When Sora's character 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 he "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 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 Super Smash Bros. 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 Regen from Allgame due to how variated 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 Sora's transformation into a lion seen in the sequel as enjoyable. His new outfit was also well received by GameSpy who found an improvement from the original one that looked like "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.
On the other hand, 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. GameDaily listed Sora as an example of "The spiky-haired hero" archetype, type of characters who have appeared in RPG games since Final Fantasy VII.
- "I've been having these weird thoughts lately... Like, is any of this is real or not?"
- "(Yawn) Woah! Give me a break, Kairi!"
- "No, this huge black thing swallowed me up! I couldn't breathe, I couldn't... Ow!"
- "Who... Who's there?"
- "W... What are you talking about?"
- "Well, whoever you are, stop freaking me out like this! Huh?"
- "Wh... Where did you come from?"
- "So, you're from another world!"
- "Oh yeah? Well, you'll see. I'm gonna get out and learn what's out there."
- "A storm?"
- "Oh no! The raft!"
- "Where's Kairi? I thought she was with you!"
- "What are you talking about? We gotta find Kairi!"
- "So, you're looking for me?"
- "I wonder if I could find Riku & Kairi."
- "Yeah, I guess."
- "Happy? CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE!"
- "Ok, why not? I'll go with you guys."
- "I'm Sora."
- "How did he get so small?"
- "Wait, what do we have to do to grow small?"
- "Ha ha. Looks like I'm headed for the games!"
- "Forget it! There's no way you're taking Kairi's Heart!"
- "That's not true! The heart may be weak and, sometimes, it may even give in. But I've learned that deep down, that there's a light that never goes out!"
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
- "Who are you?
— confronting Xemnas in Hollow Bastion.
- "What's that supposed to mean?"
- questioned Xemnas about Sora looking like him.
- "What are you talking about?"
- "Wait, what are you?"
Kingdom Hearts II
- "A scattered dream that's like a far off memory... A far off memory that's like a scattered dream... I wanna line the pieces up... yours, and mine..."
— Sora in the intro to Kingdom Hearts II.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
- "My friends. They are my power!"
— confronting Xemnas and Xigbar in The World That Never Was.
- "I know the Keyblade didn't choose me, and I don't care. I'm proud to be a small part of something bigger. The people it did choose.
- "Just stop it! You treat people's hearts like bottles on a shelf, but they're not! Hearts are made of the people we meet and how we feel about them. They're what ties us together , even when we're apart. They're what... make me strong!
— when healing Goofy.
— when healing Donald.
— when healing Jack Skellington.
— when healing Beast.
— when healing Aladdin.
— when healing Tarzan.
— when healing Ariel.
- "Peter Pan!"
— when healing Peter Pan.
- "That's the power of the Keyblade!"
— after winning a Coliseum round.
- "Nothing to it."
— after winning a Coliseum round.
- "I blew it."
— after losing a Coliseum round.
- "I give up."
— after losing a Coliseum round.
- "We're the champs!"
- after winning a Coliseum cup.
— when healing Ping.
— when healing Mulan.
— when healing Auron.
— when healing Jack Sparrow.
— when healing Simba.
— when healing Tron.
— when healing Riku.
- "Come on!"
- "Take that!"
- "Back off!"
- "Take this!"
- "This is it!"
- "It's over!"
— when using Fire.
- "Deep Freeze!"
- when using Blizzard.
- when using Cure.
- when using Thunder.
- when using Zero Gravity.
- "Good Save!"
- "This should help."
- when healing himself.
- uses an item.
- "See ya."
- "Give me strength!"
- when activating Summon or Drive forms.
- In English, Sora is voiced by Haley Joel Osment, who has also voiced many other Disney characters
- In Japanese, he is voiced by Miyu Irino, who also voiced PaRappa in the Japan-exclusive PaRappa the Rapper anime and Syaoron Li in the anime Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
- Sora's original design was going to depict him as part human and part lion, with a chainsaw sword instead of a Keyblade. This design was rejected, however.
- It's possible the Darkside Heartless that constantly attacked Sora in the first game is a reflection of Sora's inner darkness. Evidence supporting this includes Sora's shadow turning into Darkside in Sora's Awakening, & Sora's Heartless transforming into Darkside after collecting enough data in Re:/'Coded.' Also, the Darkside Heartless is currently the only Heartless to appear in every game in the series so far, possibly alluding to the fact that Darkness is never far from the Light. In this case, Sora is Light, & Darkside is Darkness.
- It was intially believed that Sora was in the Tapper's scene in the 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph, though it was later discovered to actually be a cowboy from Tapper's. Had he appeared, Sora would've been the only Disney character originating from a Disney game to appear in the film.
- Although none of the parents of the characters on the Destiny Islands are shown on screen, Sora's mother can be heard calling him for dinner during the calamity in the first game. Also, in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora mentions both his mother and father while reminiscing about Naminé, and Riku mentions Sora's father to Terra in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
- In Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, during every cutscene involving a Keyblade, Sora wields the Keyblade the player has equipped. The only cutscenes where this doesn't apply are the scenes when Sora and King Mickey seal away Kingdom Hearts, when Riku temporarily takes the Keyblade from Sora in Hollow Bastion, before the Battle of 1000 Heartless in which he has the Kingdom Key, and when Sora returns to the sleeping version of Traverse Town. In the scenes with Riku, the Keyblade retains Sora's Keychain while in Sora's possession but reverts to the Kingdom Key while in Riku's hands.
- Though the player can have Sora pick any of the Dream Weapons in Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days confirms that Sora canonically picked the Dream Sword, as it is his final weapon in 358/2 Days. This would also explain why most of Keyblades mainly give Attack boosting stats, as well as his superhuman strength, as choosing the Dream Sword will primarily make Sora's stat growth focus on his Attack stat.
- Despite his somewhat lanky appearance, Sora has a heavy-hitting fighting style, attacking with power-focused strikes and combos.
- Ironically, his Nobody, Roxas, has an aggressive, hit-&-run fighting style.
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