I distinctly remember, back in high school, our French class was doing a project to learn how to write and pronounce family members and we were asked to make a family tree with these titles. Since we had been allowed to use any sorts of pictures, one girl, and probably one of the only other people in that tiny, tiny school to be intrigued by the new Kingdom Hearts game, used a screenshot of Axel in her project. This was early into the official announcement of the second game, several years before its actual release. The picture of Axel still had Japanese subtitles on it and all I could think was: who is this guy!?
>Accepting a New Character Isn’t Always Easy
Since the debut of Chain of Memories, and most certainly Kingdom Hearts II, fans have been intrigued, delighted, even obsessed with the Organization XIII member, Axel. What exactly is his appeal to gamers? His curious appearance, the bad boy attitude, the deadly weapons, or maybe his mysterious background? I’ve thought about this and came to the conclusion within just a few short minutes that it must be all of the above. This assortment of attributes Axel came parading in with are ideal traits for a new role-playing character to be accepted into an already begun story.
A Humanized Antagonist
It’s no question to anyone who has completed their playing of Kingdom Hearts II and 358/2 Days that Axel is not only an important icon in the birth and progress of the plot, but he is also key in the emotional stability of the main protagonists, that being both Sora and Roxas. Axel’s layers create a well thought-out and complex man, someone who isn’t in the Organization just because. Before the release of 358, it was quite obvious throughout Sora’s meetings with the redhead that the member hid frustration and fear for the safety of his friend, Roxas. This makes him appeal to the gaming audience because a character who is essentially supposed to be our antagonist now shows hints of humanity and suffering that we can relate to and understand. Now that we have attached to him emotionally, we become intrigued by his mysterious life and how he came to be.
Drawn to the Flame
In regards to his appearance, Axel embodies all aspects of fire, an element that is both beautiful and powerful. He has weapons that radiate fire on top of their already deadly appearance. His red and spiky hair causes him to stand out from every other member of the Organization and its inability to be kept under control appears to be much like his attitude. Axel does what he pleases, despite the ramifications from his superiors, although for as much as his bad boy personality is used to get him out of sticky situations and jobs he wants to take on, it’s also used as a guard to hide behind. There has always been an appeal to viewers, or in this case gamers, of the lone wolf’s hard, outer shell being slowly dismantled to show off a more gentle person. In these regards, that would be the meeting of Axel and Roxas.
A Great Addition to Kingdom Hearts
Axel is a very well balanced character with enough of that unique twist and mysteriousness that grabs at RPG players. With his dangerous appearance and brash personality coupled with a kind nature hidden deep inside, it’s no surprise that he should be one of the more popular characters introduced after Kingdom Hearts I.