This site has been waiting a long time for a discussion about Ventus "Call me Ven" NoLastName versus Roxas. Because I have limited outlets for my numerous and endless Birth By Sleep (BBS) feels, this page is going to be kind of long, so fasten your seatbelts, kids.

Kingdom Hearts is probably the video game series that has made me feel the most feels over the years. And while Roxas remains my favorite character, BBS is unquestionably (as of 2016, pre-KH3) my favorite game in the series. It does for Kingdom Hearts what Goblet of Fire did for Harry Potter - it really expands the universe and makes the whole story seem bigger than just one boy saving the world from darkness. BBS tells you how the darkness in Sora's story came to be and how really all the pieces were laid out for Sora to become the hero, and lays a path for what he needs to do. It's a unique piece of storytelling in that you play through three different characters, each with very different play styles, to get the whole story, the main "hero" of the story is THE GIRL (!!!!!), and Mark Hamill and Leonard Nimoy (RIP) are in it. Jesse McCartney returns as Ventus. It's informative and worldbuilds without being too excessive, much to my surprise. (Here's looking at you, KH3D, which I have yet to play and what I have read confuses me greatly.) It's fun and introduces new worlds and has my favorite layout of Neverland of all the games.

Now, onto the story. When the O.G. Master Xehanort (the old decrepit bald guy with a bad back) - not any of his clones or whatever ridiculous thing discussed in KH3D - decided that he wanted to form the χ-blade, he decided to cut out the darkness in his student Ventus' heart to create a being of pure darkness (Vanitas) and eventually through the union of light and dark the χ-blade could be formed. Or something like that. Either way, when the darkness is extracted from Ven, his heart is so damaged in the process that he essentially falls into catatonia. Xehanort brings him to his hometown of Destiny Islands to allow Ventus a peaceful place to pass - perhaps the one unselfish thing Xehanort ever did - but there, Ven's fractured heart comes in contact with a young Sora's heart, which allows Ven's heart to mend. This is also the reason why Vanitas looks like KHII-Sora. Subsequently, through the events of Birth By Sleep, the χ-blade is half-forged and then destroyed, resulting in Ven losing his heart again ... which then somehow finds its way back to Sora's heart. As Ven says, "I've been here. So warm ... I remember now. This is your heart." Ventus' heart floats down to an itty bitty Sora.

Sora: Hey ... Can you hear me?
Ventus: I heard your voice. It cut through the darkness around me. All alone, I followed the sound into a sea of light, and found myself here, with you. You gave me something back when I needed it most. A second chance.
Sora: I did?
Ventus: But ... now I have to go back to sleep again.
Sora: Are you sad?
Ventus: Would you mind if I stayed here, with you?
Sora: Sure, if it'll make you feel better.
Ventus: Thank you. Birth By Sleep

And thus the explanation for why Roxas doesn't look like Sora. (Where's the explanation as to why Naminé looks like no one?) Roxas looks like Ventus because of his heart. Personally, the whole thing would have been more intriguing if Ventus had green eyes, as his entire theme is green, and Roxas kept Sora's blue eyes, which would signal some amalgamation of Sora and Ventus and make Roxas more unique. But I digress. Ventus' clothing looks like Roxas' Twilight Town attire except with the addition of armor pieces and a jacket that's half light and half dark colored, which I think is meant to signify the separation of light and darkness for Ventus personally, but it's also probably jsut to give some more visual differentiation between the two. Roxas' "feelings" probably really are just that - true feelings because Ventus' heart likely passed to him when Roxas came into existence. Roxas' second Keyblade, though activated through the trauma he experiences with Xion, is Ventus' Keyblade.

A lot of credit is due to the voice actors. I'm going to talk mostly about Jesse McCartney because I played the English versions, but from what I can tell and videos I've watched, the same thing happens with Koki Uchiyama in the Japanese version. Because of the visual similarity between Ventus and Roxas, it was quite necessary to differentiate the two and this is done via personality which Jesse illustrates quite well through voice acting. Roxas' speech has a slower rate, lower pitch, and even intonation, whereas Ventus' speech is fast, high pitched, and wildly inflective, which on the whole makes him seem much younger than Roxas does. This is also compounded by the fact that everyone treats Ventus like a fragile baby brother who's incompetent at everything (not far from the truth). Whereas Roxas, while prized by the Organization, becomes quite confident in his abilities. They feel like completely different characters.

I think what also underlies the difference between them is my own personal reaction towards the two. Obviously, I love Roxas a lot. However, while I do believe Ventus' musical theme is a lot better than Roxas' (but not better than Xion's), I do not care much for Ventus myself. He was developed like a Sora but a much less emotionally resilient version of him. Yes, I know, Ventus' heart was fractured by Xehanort when Vanitas was created, but even so - once he returns to a "normal" existence and the light (literally) comes back into his eyes, his affect is much more childish than Roxas. Ventus is cheerful and sunny, but is constantly riding an emotional rollercoaster, is very easily discouraged and disappointed ... which, frankly, I find emotionally immature. In this way, he is very unlike Sora, who is a constant ray of sunshine even during a hurricane, a positive force, and should be an inspiration to us all. Both Roxas and Ventus are naive - Roxas hilariously so at the beginning of his existence ("what's a chest?"), and while he has his ups and downs too, he feels much more steady, and his reactions seemed justified. The number of times Ventus looks down sadly is innumerable and whenever that happens he looks like he’s about to cry, and it usually feels like a huge overreaction to me.

Even more outrageous in my mind is that in BBS, when Ventus, Aqua, and Terra split ways because Terra's being a little bitch about everything and Aqua's just trying to be a good parent/Keyblade Master and Ventus gets offended on Terra's behalf about everything, Ventus literally goes around worlds looking for new friends because he's having a fight with his best friends. He stops by Disney Town and looks for new friends. He stops by Olympus Coliseum and makes friends with Zack and Hercules. Not to say that he can't make new friends, and the whole theme of KH is that "my friends are my power" or whatever, but this felt like poor coping if I've ever seen it. Maybe if everyone communicated this wouldn't be an issue ... but what do I know ... All this miscommunication just led to Ventus' indefinite sleep in the Chamber of Waking in the Land of Departure-turned Castle Oblivion, thanks to the #1 Keyblade Master, Aqua and the sagely advice of Master Eraqus.

Obviously, as BBS is pre-Roxas, there's no direct reference to Roxas anywhere in the game. There a few hints to BBS dropped in Days, most notably being from Xigbar, who had met Ventus while he was still a human (Braig) living in Radiant Garden. He taunted Ventus, saying "Oh, so this kiddo thinks he's a full-fledged Keyblade wielder? He's got the angry look down." In Days, to his credit, there's no visible reaction from Xigbar as he first meets and trains with Roxas, but there's still reminders of Ventus ... like Roxas' FACE. Or something.

Roxas is maturing at an impressive rate. His face, the way he handles the Keyblade, it's all exactly the same. The worlds seem so divided and alone, but there's always that steady thread there to connect them. And we Nobodies can never escape the things we did as humans. So it goes. Secret Report: Xigbar, Day 117 (Him and Roxas)

The first version of this page I wrote before BBS came out, and I had written that when I first read this journal entry I thought the "him" Xigbar references was Sora, but that couldn't be possible as he hadn't met Sora in KHII yet. I would however like to point out that "the way [Roxas] handles the Keyblade" is definitely not the same as Ventus, as Ventus holds his in a backhand grip and Roxas holds his Keyblade much the same as Sora does. However, Days was also released before BBS, and this may be part of the reason why this discrepancy exists, along with many other holes in KH. Later in Days, Xion turns on Xigbar, and we finally see her from his point of view and realize that he sees Ventus when he looks at Xion. "Why do I look at her and see yours? Why is it that you always have to glare at me like that?" Ventus' angry look coming back, as it were.

Regardless, we are now on the brink of the release of Kingdom Hearts 3. I never thought this would happen, and yet here we are. Whether or not Roxas and Ventus will have a meaningful interaction in the game(s) to come remains to be seen - knowing Roxas, I'd bet he'd want to know why he didn't look like Sora too and would want to meet Ventus. Maybe he'll have a fight with Ventus too. If Roxas' heart is actually Ventus, does Roxas' heart really belong to him? How this is going to be resolved, and if and how they will be returned to their own existences is the big question. "Free them from their torment," indeed.

Lastly, I'd just like to point out that if I had a dollar for every time Ventus says "I'm Ventus. Call me Ven!", I'd be a billionaire.

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