The Keyblades are mysterious weapons that are heavily featured in the Kingdom Hearts series. Wielded by the main character, Sora, as well as a number of other important characters, the Keyblade is a main part of the battle between Darkness and Light.
As the name implies, in combat, Keyblades are used in a manner similar to swords. Despite the fact that most possess no actual blade, Keyblades still make efficient combat weapons and are shown to be particularly effective weapons against both Heartless and Nobodies. Keyblades can vary in appearance by placing different keychains on them. However, there are many Keyblades that do not possess a keychain, possibly to represent the realm they came from, or how they were made.
Most Keyblade wielders are also able to extend their Keyblade’s length with Light or Darkness for their ultimate attacks. This has been seen for Sora’s Ars Arcanum, Roxas, Xion and Riku’s Limit in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Sora and Riku’s Limit, Eternal Session, and Terra and Aqua’s Mode Change, Blade Charge.
The main power of the Keyblade, however, is the ability to seal or open the barriers between worlds, as well as “lock” a world’s Keyhole, preventing the Heartless from attacking that world’s heart. As an offset of this ability, the Keyblade can also be used to lock or unlock any lock, allowing the user to access any sealed interior, whether it be a locked room, gate, or treasure chest.
In addition to its base powers, it is possible to modify a Keyblade’s appearance and powers by attaching various Keychains or Gears in the wielder’s inventory. There are other instances of the Keyblade changing form, such as when Riku’s Soul Eater becomes the Way to the Dawn and when Roxas’s two Kingdom Keys transmute into the Oathkeeper and Oblivion, but the mechanism behind these transformations is uncertain.
The Keyblade has a special power that only lets a chosen wielder hold it. This is proven when Sora gives his Keyblade to Jack Sparrow only to have it come back to his hand. In the final battle with Xemnas Sora was able to hold Riku’s Keyblade and the same goes for Riku and Sora’s Keyblade.
While there are many qualities a Keyblade wielder must have, the only known requirement is that they have an exceptionally strong heart. There are some instances where if one has an exceptionally strong connection to someone who can wield a Keyblade, they will be able to wield a Keyblade.Keyblades are natural conduits for casting magic, as seen when Sora uses his Keyblade to command his magical attacks. Some Keyblades have the innate ability to enhance specific kinds of magic, and many also augment the user’s magical abilities on a more general level. Keyblades can also augment the holder with other powers and abilities that they would not normally be able to use.
Keyblade wielders are also able to generate a second Keyblade using the Synch Blade ability. After Roxas defeats and absorbs Xion, he uses this ability at all times, generally with the Oathkeeper and Oblivion keychains, while Sora only uses this ability while in his Valor, Master, or Final Drive Forms; however, Tetsuya Nomura has confirmed in interviews that Sora is able to dual-wield Keyblades in his base state, as Sora and Roxas share all of the same abilities.
Riku also exhibits this ability when he and Kairi meet up at The Castle that Never Was, and he hands the second Keyblade to Kairi to allow her to help protect Sora. Keyblade wielders are also able to allow others to wield this second Keyblade, or have it taken by the other wielder. When Roxas encounters Riku at Memory’s Skyscraper he throws his Oblivion at Riku. Riku catches it and actually wields it in battle against him; when Roxas and Sora fight within the Awakening, Sora is able to steal Roxas’s Keyblades and use them against him.
All Keyblades shown have the same distinguishing features that are modeled after a key: a guard with a handle, a hilt and a head at the end of the shaft that resembles the teeth of a skeleton key (with the exception of Fenrir, which is instead modeled after a pin tumbler lock key). All Keyblades also have some theme, usually a World or a person associated with that World, that will reflect in its appearance.
The origins of the Keyblades is, thus far, unclear. Each game references the special qualities of the wielders and some give vague explanations of the Keyblades’ power, but none have shown where the Keyblades originated, how they are created, or what their original purpose might have been. One legend mentioned in Kingdom Hearts states that the Keyblade master saved the world, while another said he wrought chaos and destruction upon it. While these legends may appear to contradict themselves, it can be assumed that the Keyblade master chooses how to use the Keyblade, whether for good or evil. The Keyblade is known throughout the worlds as a unique and powerful weapon. In Atlantica, King Triton and Ursula both knew of the Keyblade and its powers. King Triton did not want Sora to seal the Keyhole because he thought that the Keyblade would send his world into chaos, while Ursula knew that it gave the ability for the one who wields it to travel around the worlds.
One of the pieces of text in the hidden ending video for Kingdom Hearts II, “the Gathering“, mentions a Keyblade War. Hundreds of Keyblades can be seen stuck into the ground during this cinematic, as well as the extended “Birth by sleep” cinematic at the end of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. It should be noted that none of these seemingly abandoned Keyblades, nor those of protagonists Aqua, Terra or Ventus, have keychains, although the significance of this detail is currently unknown as the history of the Keyblades is unknown and the trio have been shown in later scans to have keychains attached to their keyblades. Many of these Keyblades seem to be based on Keyblades already shown in the series, but many more are entirely original and new. Master Xehanort also stated that the thousands of Keyblades left are the ruins of the Keyblade War.
Sora’s Keyblade is known as the “Keyblade of Worlds’ Hearts”, and nearly all of his Keychain tokens represent some important item from a world he has saved. Usually, Sora is not actually shown to be given the Keychain from one of his many friends, so it is possible that after saving a world, or completing a major step in that direction, the world itself rewards him with the ability to access its power in the form of a unique Keychain.
Keychains that Sora receives from his friends, or from defeating challengers in the Olympus Coliseum, always use a token that is somehow intimately symbolic of that person. While Sora’s Keyblade is not specifically a Keyblade of human hearts, like the explicitly named Keyblade of People’s Hearts, it is likely that the connections between his heart and those he meets allow him to sometimes access their power as well. Sora and Roxas’s Oathkeeper and Oblivion are said to specifically embody Sora’s memories of Kairi and Riku and Roxas’s oath to Xion before her death (Oathkeeper) as well as her demise (Oblivion) and so it is extremely likely that for “people-Keyblades” like these, the Keychains act as a physical embodiment of the memories Sora and Roxas has of those that are important to them.
The most prominent character in the series to use a Keyblade is Sora, who has used them successfully in the two main games in the series (with one minor incident). His ability to use and possess the Keyblade was a major plot point in the first game. He has used more Keyblades than anyone else in the Kingdom Hearts series; the variations are created through various keychains attached to his original blade, the Kingdom Key.
The King of Disney Castle, King Mickey’s Keyblade is known as “Kingdom Key D“. It looks the same as Kingdom Key, but its colors are inverted compared to the Kingdom Key. In Kingdom Hearts coded, he uses the Star Seeker, the Keyblade he used in his days as an apprentice under Yen Sid.
Sora’s best friend and rival, he wields the Way to the Dawn Keyblade. In Kingdom Hearts, he stayed behind with King Mickey in the Realm of Darkness. In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, he explores the basement of Castle Oblivion and struggles in resisting the darkness in his heart, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. while in the second game, he helped Sora defeat Xemnas. In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts, he used the Soul Eater as his main weapon until he received the Way to the Dawn Keyblade. Sora’s Nobody and the thirteenth member of Organization XIII, Roxas also possesses the ability to wield the Keyblade, an ability which Xemnas uses to his advantage by ordering Roxas to gather countless hearts to complete Kingdom Hearts itself. Upon the absorption by Roxas of Sora’s imperfect replica, Xion, Roxas gains the ability to wield two Keyblades at once (mostly Oblivion and Oathkeeper), an ability passed onto Sora when Roxas fuses with him. Three Keyblade wielders before Sora, apprentices under Master Eraqus. Sharing a common foe, Master Xehanort, they each suffer horrific fates due to Xehanort’s doing at the end of the game: Terra is possessed by Master Xehanort and becomes the new Xehanort who becomes Sora’s archenemy; Ventus is rendered comatose after his heart is damaged following a victorious confrontation with his dark side, Vanitas; and Aqua is stranded in the realm of darkness. All three currently await for Sora to rescue them from their fates. The primary antagonist of the entire series. As his original persona, Master Xehanort, Xehanort is a Keyblade Master with plans to unleash the secrets of the Keyblade War onto the worlds and engulf the universe in darkness. To this end, he steals Terra’s body by transferring his heart into the latter’s body and becomes much younger and agile, but following a confrontation with Aqua, he loses his memories, except for his name, thus losing his ability to wield the Keyblade, as his Heartless, “Ansem”, is shown using a double-ended version of Riku’s Soul Eater, and his Nobody, Xemnas, uses Ethereal Blades in battle. As Xehanort is set to appear in future titles, it remains to be seen as to whether or not he will ever use the Keyblade again.