[identity profile] bakingsodaftw.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto

Title: She’s HIS Knight in Shining Armor

Author: [livejournal.com profile] bakingsodaftw 

Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Pairing: Ventus/Aqua

Spoilers: ALL of Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep! I also have brief mentions of pretty big Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days spoilers. Additionally, there’s a bit of spoilerage for the Disney movie The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, but nothing too big there. I kinda expect you to know a bit about Birth By Sleep before you read, but anyone new to the series (who doesn’t mind spoilers!) should be able to understand just fine :D

Special Thanks: To [livejournal.com profile] cypsiman2 for his lovely interpretation of Vanitas and all the VenQua artists in the "Fandom Guide" section.  Thank you so much, you guys!  ^_^

Notes: Part one of two!  View part two here.

So, what is this, exactly?

Ah, Kingdom Hearts. On paper, the idea behind it sounded completely insane. Taking characters from the popular Final Fantasy series and mixing them with Disney’s beloved classics to make one RPG? How the heck does that work?

Even now, I’m not so sure how exactly it works at all. But somehow…this weird, insane mix-up of Final Fantasy and Disney just does. Yes, it’s a bit crazy. Yeah, it’s utterly wacky. But it works. And it’s hella fun, too.

The series is the sort of thing that you just can’t help but fall in love with. It’s loaded with cheesiness and corniness, and the villains all ham it up, and the plot has gotten increasingly more and more complex as the years go by, and sometimes, it can be completely ridiculous. But, at the same time, it’s simply endearing, and wonderful, and nostalgic, and fills your heart with joy as you mash buttons and destroy cute little monsters with a giant key. Really, there’s just something plain special about the whole thing. A something that I can only describe as a magical sort of charm that’s simply irresistible.

Of course, the games also have one important aspect to them that I feel Disney does best—an appeal for everyone, regardless of age. It’s got something in it for anyone to enjoy, from the addicting gameplay to the amazing music, to the pure nostalgia of seeing your favorite Disney movies come to life, to the overly complex plot, to the awesome graphics to the whole Final Fantasy element. It’s crazy, it’s fantastical, it’s wild. Yet, it’s one zany concoction that all blends together to make one freaking amazing RPG series. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a huge load of fun, and you can’t ask for much more than that, right? 

Personally, being the huge Disney and Final Fantasy fan that I am, I was originally drawn to the series for its bizarre combination of the two, and have since grown to love the series to death. And I’m certainly not alone in this. Starting with the first title, Kingdom Hearts, in 2002, this strange series has met great success, and has since spawned five other titles—Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts coded, and most recently, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep

But, of course, as anything these days, the series has shipping. Hoo boy, the shipping! Over the years, the Kingdom Hearts series has almost become famous for its wild shipping. The most popular ships, Sora/Riku (or SoRiku) and Axel/Roxas (or AkuRoku), are big enough to even make it onto Urban Dictionary! As a huge shipper myself, I can’t help but just adore the series’ many possibilities for ships. From the ridiculous ships that I love for no real good reason, to the ones that I seriously want to go further, I’ve shipped ship after ship from this series. And, with the release of each new game, there was the introduction of a plethora of new pairings. The latest game, Birth By Sleep, was no different. Even before the game came out, fans were shipping characters together like there was no tomorrow.

The most popular ships, of course, were the three couples possible from the game’s main trio: Terra/Aqua, Terra/Ventus, and Ventus/Aqua. My favorite of these pairings was, obviously, Ven/Aqua. Why? Well, let’s start by looking at these two characters:

Ventus: The Princess

“A cheerful and likeable boy who studies with the same Keyblade Master as Terra and Aqua. For “Ven”, as his friends affectionately call him, every day is a new discovery. He holds his Keyblade with a reverse grip, and fights with incredible speed.” –Square Enix’s Birth By Sleep NA website

I’ll start out with Ventus. And I’m not gonna lie: I absolutely love this guy. Sure, fans have deemed him the least interesting of the Birth By Sleep trio, and his storyline in the game the weakest of the three, but regardless, I feel he’s a better character than many people give him credit for, and he’s become my absolute favorite character from the series.

So, who is Ven? Well, the first thing you’ve gotta know about him is that he’s cheerful. Ven, at his core, is a happy guy. In fact, you can often describe the dude as a big ball of smiles and laughter. He’s upbeat, he’s bubbly, a mess of giggles, an explosion of excitement. And a grin seems to be always on his face.

But to say that Ven’s nothing more than just a smiling face would be dead wrong. He’s also insecure, and uneasy, and troubled, even if he hardly lets it on. His smiles hide his inner turmoil; the laughter veils his anxiety.            

You may think I’m spouting out bullshit with this, but hear me out. Ventus suffers from what TV Tropes would describe as Trauma Induced Amnesia, and what he’s forgotten hurts him. Ven, though, tries not to dwell on it, and has the strength to smile his problems away, knowing that gloominess won’t get him anywhere. Still, every so often, his inner troubles leak out (such as in the beginning of the game when he swore he saw shooting stars like the ones he was seeing before, and got bothered, or, all his reactions towards Master Xehanort, a figure from his forgotten past), but even when this happens, he usually quickly tries to cheer up again—to hide the feelings away behind smiles.

Yet, it isn’t as though Ventus’ happiness is an all-out lie. When he smiles and laughs, he’s genuinely happy—it’s just, there’s more to those smiles and laughter than he usually lets on. Really, that’s Ven in a nutshell—at first, he doesn’t seem like much, but in truth, he’s complicated and layered, and more to him than you can see at first glance. Just like his smiles, there’s more to Ven than it seems.

Really, Ven went through a lot of trauma before the events of Birth By Sleep (you know, getting your dark side ripped out of you by a creepy old guy and all…), so, many may be baffled as to why exactly Ven’s as happy as he is. One reason why is because he’s strong enough to move on, but this being Kingdom Hearts, the biggest reason is fairly simple—it’s his friends. Ven wants, more than anything else, just to be with the people he loves. He’s happiest when he’s with his friends—Terra, and of course, Aqua. As long as he’s with them, he doesn’t care what happens. In fact, in Castle of Dreams, when Jaq asks Ven what his dream is, he realizes that he’d never really thought of it before, because he’s already so happy and content just being with the ones he loves. He eventually answers that he dreams of being a Keyblade Master, though, so he can be just like both Terra and Aqua, and stay with them forever.

Ventus is really very attached to his fellow Keyblade trainees, and one of his biggest fears is to be left alone. The reason why lies in his Trauma Induced Amnesia, and the past he’s forgotten. Just after he’d lost his memory, he was totally blank—but Terra and Aqua treated him with kindness, and helped him recover. With nothing in his memory, these were the first people he would know of, and, as a result, he became incredibly attached to them. His entire story revolves around getting his friends back together so they can all continue sharing good memories with one another.

What more can I say about Ven? He’s incredibly curious. He loves adventure, and trying new things, and won’t back down from challenges. He has a fondness for shooting stars, a strong sense of justice, and is brimming with kindness. He’s playful and full of energy, and passionate in his beliefs. He’s easily excited and loves having a good time.

But, the biggest point of his entire scenario was for him to grow up. He starts off rather childish, but tries to act like an adult—he even moans to Terra to stop “treating him like a kid” at the beginning of the game. As he goes on his journey, though, he meets new people, learns new things, and finds more confidence in himself. He learns how to better handle responsibility, and becomes more and more selfless. He grows up; he matures. But he doesn’t stop being Ven.

And that’s Ventus. That’s who he is, and what he does. But what about his role? What role does Ventus play in Birth By Sleep? It’s certainly not as obvious as the other games—in those, there’s always the hero (Sora, Roxas), his best friend (Riku, Axel), and the chick (Kairi, Xion). From the looks of Terra, Aqua, and Ven, many would assume Ven was the hero, with Terra as his best friend, and Aqua as the chick. The creators even try to trick you into thinking he’s the hero—Ven’s in the front of the Birth By Sleep cover art, he has the longest description on the European website, and he’s the focus of many of the English trailers. But it’s not as it seems! Ven isn’t the hero, nor does he play the role of the “best friend”, either. He plays the role of the chick, or, more specifically, the Princess!

I know, I know. It seems silly—Ven is a dude, after all. But his entire role is based around the concept of a princess, and the game constantly plays with the idea. For starters, Ven got his darkness ripped out of him by a creepy old guy back when he was about eleven years old, giving him a pure heart, just like the Princesses of Heart. Of course, he isn’t a Princess of Heart (he was artificially made pure, not born that way), but the link between him and the Princesses of Heart is just one of the many ways he’s simply Princess-y in nature.

I mean, for those familiar with the series, his role is very similar to another Princess we know. He’s the key to the villain’s main goal, he’s got a pure heart, a mysterious past, two best friends that mean the world to him... Who does that sound like? That’s right! Kairi! And Kairi’s role in both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II can also be summed up as “the Princess”, too.

And with every Princess, there’s always their Knight in Shining Armor to go with them, right?

 Aqua: The Knight in Shining Armor

“A kind young woman whose sense of right and wrong never wavers. Aqua’s dignified bearing belies an inner sensitivity, and she often looks after Terra and Ventus, who study with her under the same Keyblade Master. She is nimble and gifted at magic.” –Square Enix’s Birth By Sleep NA website

 And this is where Aqua comes in. She’s the Knight in Shining Armor. And oh, who doesn’t love her? Kingdom Hearts is chock full of original characters, but only six of them are female, and of those six, three are essentially the same person. And those three—Kairi, Naminѐ, and Xion—are commonly bashed around the fanbase because they are sweet, “princess-y” girls who oftentimes find themselves playing the damsel in distress. Now, I personally like all Kingdom Hearts females (and definitely don’t agree with the consistent bashing on them), but Aqua is still a breath of fresh air from the other girls. She’s mature, she’s badass, and she doesn’t lose her feminine charm, either. She’s just as sweet as the likes of Kairi, or Naminѐ, or Xion, and heck, even Olette, and she can kick a lot of butt.

Nomura describes Aqua as the “honor student type”, and this is certainly true. She’s the kind of girl that’s the teacher’s pet, and always does what any sort of authority says for her to do, regardless of what it is. She’s incredibly polite, and when faced in front of someone with power, she will immediately heed to their orders. She takes things seriously—maybe too seriously—especially when it comes to her job as a Keyblade Master.

I think it’s now time to say that Aqua is indeed a very flawed character. While other Kingdom Hearts leads have gotten flack for being “perfect” (Sora, Kairi, etc.), Aqua is undoubtedly not so. She can tend to be too serious and focused on her orders, leading her to make decisions that hurt her friends. She also doubts and loses faith in her friend Terra, even though she tries so hard to keep holding on for him. While it may seem easy to get annoyed with such a character, what makes Aqua appealing is that she tries so incredibly hard to always be supportive, helpful, kind, and have faith in those around her, and do what makes everyone the happiest. She always tries to keep hoping, and even if she figures that it will all end badly, she tells herself to keep moving forward so that she can make it better.

And she’s also not exempt from learning and growing as the game carries on. As she goes on her journey, she begins to truly think about what her Master says, even question it, and is able to grow and change from what she learns around the worlds. Though I doubt she ever seriously lets go of what he preached, she is able to find out that maybe he isn’t as right as she thought, and the ending leaves us with a great prospect of her figuring out her own beliefs in the future.

The moment that made Aqua particularly interesting to me is at the end of the game, when everything fell apart all around her, with her home destroyed, Master gone, and friends screwed, and she was able to stay calm and secure—to smile and assure that she can make everything alright. She’s certainly modest of her abilities, never calling herself a “Master” and claiming to be a trainee until the very finale, but she’s not the sort of character you’d get irritated with for always beating themselves up over their strength, because Aqua truly does have faith in herself, and while that does admittedly falter a bit at the end, she can always find it in her to keep going with the hope that she can make everything better again. In short, she’s just not the sort of person to break down and cry when things go wrong; instead, she chooses to do something to fix it. Personally, at the end of Last Episode, when she looks at her charm and remembers all the stuff she went through, I cried for the first time in a Kingdom Hearts game. She went through so much, and it only landed her in the Realm of Darkness…and yet, she doesn’t shed a tear. Her strength and powerful resolve were just so touching that I was moved to tears.

What more can I say about Aqua? She’s tough. Serious, but not afraid to have fun every now and again. A friendship freak. Diligent, mature, and helpful.

But above all, Aqua is just overwhelmingly nice. Seriously, the things she does for her friends, and even those who aren’t her friends, is just incredible. From the little sweet things like making Terra and Ven good luck charms, to helping out the Disney characters, and then to risking her very life, this chick’s just an overflow of kindness. 

And, now I’m going to say something crazy about Aqua: she’s a lot like Sora. But before you press the back button on your Internet browser, hear me out on this. I know it’s true that Ven and Sora are the ones you’d expect to have the most similarities, being alike in both appearance and a bunch in personality, and that Aqua even notes how similar they are when she goes to Destiny Islands, but in a lot of ways, Aqua is just as, if not more, similar to Sora than Ven is. How the heck does this work, exactly?

Well, first of all, they’re both friendship freaks. They both say corny speeches to villains, and to their friends, and are all about justice.  Heck, the manual for Kingdom Hearts says that Sora “may seem simple-minded at times, but he has a strong sense of justice”. And what does this sound like? It’s pretty darn similar to Aqua’s description as “a kind young woman whose sense of right and wrong never wavers”. Sure, Aqua’s got a sense of maturity and seriousness that Sora really doesn’t have, but deep down, they’re very much alike.

And, most importantly, they’re both the true “heroes” of their stories. Like I said before, Birth By Sleep’s trio isn’t what it seems! Terra isn’t the hero, nor Ven…the truth is, it’s Aqua! Just like Sora, she brings “happily ever after” to the Disney worlds, spends her time worrying over her two friends, and beats up any villain that stands in her way.

To put it simply, Aqua kinda rocks. She’s heroic, she’s brave, she’s got a strong sense of justice…essentially, she’s the Knight in Shining Armor that’s not a dude! And we all love her for it.

And now the big question. Why ship Ventus/Aqua?

Ah, yes! The big point here. Why the heck ship Ven/Aqua? Birth By Sleep’s got a lot of great pairings to ship. Ven/Vanitas, Terra/Aqua, Aqua/Cinderella, Terra/Ven, Ven/Aurora, Aqua/Vanitas and Terra/Cinderella are just some examples. And with all these awesome ships, why add something like Ven/Aqua to that list of ships to ship?

Even with me being the rabid Ven/Aqua shipper that I am, I can see why this ship would be looked down upon. It doesn’t have the “hawtness” appeal of other ships, such as Terra/Aqua or Ven/Vanitas, nor is it particularly sexy. But, what Ven/Aqua lacks in utter hawtness, it makes up for in plausibility. Simply put, there’s a good deal of canon evidence for this couple, and while not exactly a sexy pairing, it certainly is a sweet, adorable one. Ventus and Aqua look darn cute together, they’ve got great chemistry, and there’s just something inherently charming about them as a couple. Plus, just think about it: Ven’s like a princess, and Aqua’s the real hero of this story—essentially Ven’s Knight in Shining Armor. It’s a classic pairing. Birth By Sleep just makes this old trope exciting by gender-flipping the roles.

And that’s exactly it! Fans may look at this pairing and deem it “boring”, or “bland”, but really, it’s quite fascinating. It’s not so common to see the girl play the part of the Knight in Shining Armor, and it’s a fresh, exciting twist that you can’t help but fall in love with. Add in that it’s also got the nostalgic Hero and Princess feel to it, and you’ve got a great pairing.

Additionally, in correlation with this, I think it’s also important to remember that Kingdom Hearts often structures itself like a fairytale, akin to the Disney movies that led to its creation, so, a Hero x Princess pairing just fits. Just look at the first game. Kairi, the Princess, gets magically sleepified and is rescued by her Knight in Shining Armor hero, Sora, kinda like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty (except, he doesn’t kiss her…he just stabs himself…). Ven and Aqua together simply works so well with the Kingdom Hearts universe, and come on, it’s absolutely adorable!

Now, I will admit that Birth By Sleep doesn’t really have much in the romance department, but what it does have is very lovely. Ventus and Aqua share a lot of great moments in the game, and it gives a lot of opportunity for a future relationship between the two in another installment in the series.

 Digging into the game

Doesn’t this look familiar?

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!). Less than twenty minutes into Birth By Sleep, there’s already a very nice Ven x Aqua moment that mirrors what Kairi and Sora did in the first game. For fans of the series, I’m sure you all remember this familiar exchange:

Ven: Gimme a break, Aqua.

Aqua: Ven, you hopeless sleepyhead.

But of course, Aqua and Ven aren’t Sora and Kairi, so the rest of the scene plays out rather differently:

Aqua: You know, you should have a least brought a blanket.

Ven: But— Did I dream that place up? It really felt like I’d been there before…looking up at the stars…

(Aqua affectionately ruffles his hair)

Aqua: ‘Cept you’ve always lived here with us.

Ven: Yeah… I know.

The main thing I wanna get out of this, though, is how well it showcases the pure understanding between Ven and Aqua. As I said before, Ven hides within him a sort of insecurity, and this is basically the only time you ever really see him talk about it to anyone. The fact that he’s talking to Aqua of all people about it shows that he trusts her, perhaps above anyone else, with his own personal trauma. “Wait,” you might be telling me. “But isn’t Aqua lying to Ven? He hasn’t always lived there with them. She’s just making him feel worse.” In regards to that, I think it’s important to understand the perspectives of both Ven and Aqua here. Aqua doesn’t need to say to Ven, “’Cept, you’ve always lived here with us for as long as you remember”, because Ven already knows that. And in that vein, it seems the line is saying, “Hey, you’ve always been here with us, right? So, you can ask me about anything.” Which is only furthered in the next few seconds. If Aqua had truly hurt him and he felt she was hiding the truth from him, Ven would not have been afraid to let her know that. But he smiles. And, the next line out of his mouth is a rather bizarre set of questions to her (“What’s light? What’re stars?”), showing that he knows well that she’s there for him, and he’s not afraid to ask her whatever’s on his mind.   

In many ways, this scene just proves how perfect Aqua is for him. She understands him. She gets it. She can see that under all those smiles, Ven still has his problems just like anyone else, and she’s willing to listen and help him. And Ven knows that. He knows he can talk to Aqua about what’s on his mind, and he does. Aqua cares deeply for Ven, and this scene just proves it.

So, you may be thinking, “But…it’s just motherly/sisterly love. She doesn’t like him like that.” And that’s where my next piece comes in. Take this bit of dialogue from the following day, during Terra and Aqua’s Master Exam. To give some sort of image as to what’s going on, Master Xehanort has just caused one of the tests to go awry, and a ball of evil doom is making its way over to Ven. Now, before you read this scene, do this: imagine Ven as a pretty princess in a fluffy pink dress, and Aqua as a knight in shining armor. Seriously!

Ven: Don’t worry about me. You two focus on the exam!

Aqua: But Ven, you’re in danger here! Go wait in your room.

Did you do it? If so, I’m sure you see the typical Hero telling his Princess that it’s dangerous and she should get outta there. Right? It’s just like a classic romance…only, with their genders flipped.

It’s a different sort of relationship than just motherly or sisterly. It’s like the romances you read in fairytales—a hero and his princess. Ven and Aqua break the tradition by gender-flipping the roles, but it’s a lovely, familiar sort of romance that we just love to see. Ven/Aqua is, simply, an interesting twist on a classic.

Alright, alright. I feel like I haven’t totally convinced you yet. Well, of course I haven’t! This is still basically the “tutorial” part of the game! So, it’s just after this, when the real story kicks off, that the Ven = Princess and Aqua = Knight in Shining Armor really comes in.

But before I go further, I want to pose a question. In the classic story, when the Princess goes missing, what’s the Hero’s main goal? Obviously to get her back, right? I call this the “Princess Rescue Mission”. And the Princess Rescue Mission is in full force in Birth By Sleep

As soon as Ven leaves Land of Departure, it’s made totally clear that getting him back is Aqua’s biggest priority. Perhaps this is most obvious in Castle of Dreams. It’s Aqua’s first world, and she comes into it to see Terra on the staircase! What do they say to each other? Well, take a look:

Aqua: Terra… Ven ran away from home.

Terra: What?

Aqua: I think he left to go find you. Do you have any idea why?

Terra: No… Actually… Just before I left, he tried to tell me something. I should have listened to what he had to say.

Aqua: Oh…

(She bows her head in disappointment)

There’s actually a lot to say about this one. Aqua sees Terra, and right away, she asks about Ven. No “Yo, dude, how ya doing?”, or “Hey, Terra, how’s it going?” or anything. It’s about Ven. Right away. Other issues, like a powerful master missing, a bunch of evil monsters terrorizing the worlds and stuff, and Terra’s whole deal…well, that comes later. Getting Ven back is what’s most important. Heck, she even says immediately after, “So…did you manage to locate Master Xehanort?”, as if it were just some casual thing!

Also, this scene is pretty interesting in relation to a common argument used against Ven/Aqua. Like any ship out there, there are many arguments used against Ven/Aqua. And one of the biggest ones is that Ven and Aqua can’t be together because Terra and Aqua are like Ven’s “parental” figures, and basically, he’s their kid. I call this the “family” idea, and though I do admittedly find it very cute, I see little in-game evidence for it. I mean, just take a look at this scene! I would think in a typical “family” scene, Aqua, the wife, would see her hubby on the stairs and go hug him and ask if he were okay, then fret about the kid, and definitely ask him to go look for him together. Yet…this doesn’t happen. At all. For Aqua, it’s all about Ventus.

And why is that? Well, it’s as I said before! Princess Rescue Mission. Aqua’s biggest priority is getting Ven back, and she’s not hiding this fact. Castle of Dreams again hits this later, when Aqua is shrunk down to the size of a mouse to help Cinderella out:

(Aqua summons her Keyblade)

Jaq:  Ooh! That’s like Ven’s! Did you ever meet Ven?

Aqua: I’m Aqua, but tell me how you know about Ven.

Jaq: We’re friends—good friends. Ven helped me fix Cinderella’s dress.

Aqua: And where is he now?

Jaq: He’s looking for a friend—another friend.

Aqua: I see… Ven…you must have just missed Terra.

Now, what’s so Ven/Aqua-y about this, and how does it prove my point? Well, it’s important to remember that at this moment, Aqua’s gotta help Cinderella out, and fast. But mention Ven and WHAM! She’s not thinking about Cinderella anymore. When Jaq says, “We’re friends—good friends. Ven helped me fix Cinderella’s dress”, Aqua essentially says, “Screw Cinderella! Where’s Ven?” Yeah, I’m being a bit harsh, but still, this scene is completely reminiscent of a standard story with the hero trying to save his princess. Make a mention of her, and his mind goes blank, and he forgets what he was doing. Aqua here also gets so distracted that only the horrible whining of the step sisters gets her to snap back to her mission of helping Cinderella.

By this point, things are just getting fun. I’d say the Princess/Knight in Shining Armor vibe is most obvious in Aqua’s scenario in her next world, Dwarf Woodlands, which practically says in bright bold letters that Aqua is Ven’s Knight in Shining Armor. And I’m seriously not exaggerating this.

Aqua comes to the world to find a “dead” Snow White, with the dwarves crying over her. Being the nice kind of girl that she is, Aqua agrees to go to a creepy castle to maybe find a way to help Snow White out. She meets up with the prince, and the scenario in the world ends just like the Disney movie. Snow White gets smooched by her Prince Charming, and wakes up, to the relief of everyone. Aqua is actually so overwhelmed with relief that she sighs out a happy “it’s just like a miracle”, and then, get this—she recalls how she was similarly filled with relief when Ventus woke after being in a coma! So, in other words: Snow White waking up to Prince Charming (or, Princess waking up to her Knight in Shining Armor), reminded Aqua of Ven waking up to her (or, Princess waking up to Knight in Shining Armor). Honestly, what else was this scene supposed to mean? It practically screams at the player that Aqua is like Ven’s Knight in Shining Armor!

Over and over again, the game just pounds this idea into your head. The “Ven is a princess” idea is even almost outright said! When Ven goes to the Enchanted Dominion, there’s this nice exchange of dialogue:

Flora: Who are you?

Ven: I’m Ventus. But you can call me Ven.

Fauna: Oh… You don’t seem bad, dear. I’m certain you have pure heart, just like our precious Aurora.

…and what’s Fauna saying? That Ven is like Princess Aurora. That he has a pure heart, just as she does. The game realizes the connection between Ven and the Princesses of Heart, and it isn’t afraid to vocalize it. The reason why is to hint more and more at his status as the main “princess” of Birth By Sleep. As if to cement this even further, when Terra comes to the world and Maleficent makes him steal Princess Aurora’s heart, as he despairs over what he did, he briefly sees the sleeping Princess Aurora as Ven, pointing out the connection even more.

Ventus effectively proves how he is a princess.

Okay, so I know what you may be thinking by now—“Ven/Aqua is totally one-sided! Aqua seems to like Ven, but what about the other way around?” Well, I’m going to admit that there’s a lot more evidence of Aqua’s feelings towards Ven (she is the hero, after all), but that’s not to say that the Princess hasn’t got any signs of loving his Knight in Shining Armor. It’s certainly true that Ven’s not the type of Princess that sits there and pines for his Knight, but he still certainly hints at loving Aqua. In fact, one of the best examples can be seen in Radiant Garden. Just after Aqua has an epic battle with Vanitas, Ven comes running towards her with the most ridiculous grin on his face, and the scene continues as so:

Aqua: Ven. Were you able to find him?

Ven: Yeah, but… He’s gone.

Aqua: Right. Then I can’t stay here.

Ven: Let me go with you, Aqua.

Aqua: No, Ven. Do as I say and go home.

Ven: Why won’t you let me?

Aqua: I don’t want to put you in harm’s way. You understand?

Now, this scene is absolutely oozing with the Knight in Shining Armor/Princess feel, with Aqua even saying the standard “I don’t want to get you involved in any danger” line, but take special note on Ven’s reaction to what Aqua says. When she refuses to let him come with her with that typical line, Ven’s smile just dies and he looks so crestfallen and hurt. If you look closely, you can see him breathing so hard, and it seems like the poor thing’s about to cry! As I said before, Ven doesn’t want to be separated from his friends, ever. Yet, just before, Terra had also denied the idea of Ven going with him, and while Ven was a bit upset at first, he smiled as Terra flew away. With Aqua, though, he was freaking miserable!

Now, Ven ditched the Land of Departure for a reason—one, because he wanted to get outta there, but mostly, because Vanitas was saying icky things about Terra. But at this point, I think it’s pretty certain that he thinks that whatever Vanitas was saying was utter crap. He’s feeling more confident that nothing bad would happen to Terra…I mean, if he was still really worried, he would have gone chasing after him again. More than anything, he just really wanted them all to travel together. And if Terra said no, well, he was okay with that. He understood it. But with Aqua…he really cares for her, and didn’t want to be away from her presence. He wanted so desperately to go traveling with her, and her refusal stung him hard. Afterwards, it’s hard for Ven to even cheer up to his usual self, and he sadly reminiscences about better times. Ven really, really thinks fondly of Aqua, and it hurt him a hell of a lot when she said no.

And, while I’m in the world of Radiant Garden, I’ve gotta talk about one very important scene here—one of the few times that Terra, Aqua, and Ven actually get together in-game! That’s right—the famed “Ticket Scene”! To give some sort of clue as to what’s going on, Terra, Ven, and Aqua have just beaten the crap out of Trinity Armor, and they’re all pretty happy to see each other again. And so, the scene continues as follows:

Terra: Got ‘im.

Aqua: We make a good team.

Ven: Sure do. Oh yeah! I got you these tickets.

(Ven gets out three tickets)

Terra: For what?

Ven: Lifetime passes to Disney Town. He said to— He said to take two grown-ups.

Aqua: You mean us?

(Terra and Aqua both laugh)

Aqua: Listen to me, Ven… We need to get you home—

Ven: It’s okay, Aqua. Trust me, that guy in the mask is history. He’ll never bad-mouth Terra again.

(Terra gasps)

Terra: You saw the boy in the mask?

Ven: Y-yes?

Terra: Vanitas… Ven. You let Aqua take you home.

Ven: No way. I wanna go with you guys.

Terra: You can’t. We have a dangerous task ahead of us. I don’t want you to get hurt.

Aqua: And what is this dangerous task, Terra? It doesn’t sound like what the Master told you to do.

Terra: It might be a different route, but I’m fighting the darkness.

Aqua: I’m not so sure. I’ve been to the same worlds as you and I’ve seen what you’ve done. You shouldn’t put yourself so close to the darkness.

Ven: Listen to yourself, Aqua. Terra would never—

Terra: You mean you’ve been spying on me? Is that what he said to do? The Master’s orders?

Aqua: He was only—

Ven: Aqua…

Terra: I get it.

Ven: Terra!

Terra: Just stay put! I’m on my own now, all right?

Aqua: Terra, please! Listen! The Master has no reason to distrust you, really! He was just worried.

(Terra walks off in a huff)

Ven: You’re awful, Aqua.

 (She clutches her friendship charm tightly)

Aqua: So now you know the truth. But the Master loves Terra, and you know that too.

Ven: Were you also “ordered” to take me home?

(Aqua turns away)

Ven: Aqua… Now that you’re a Keyblade Master, you’ve let it go to your head. I’m gonna go find Terra.

(Ven runs off)

Aqua: Terra… Ven…

Okay, I know what you must be thinking. “How the heck is this Ven/Aqua? He calls her awful!” Well, in all honesty, in many ways, it really isn’t. But, I think this scene shows off something that makes them so appealing as a couple—their pure understanding of one another.

I mean, let’s go back to what I said in Aqua’s description—she follows orders too readily and she doesn’t really question them. A big part of her scenario is focused on this; should she just follow what Eraqus says, no matter what, or is he wrong? By this point in the game, she’s pretty conflicted. Is what she’s doing right? Should she really be spying on one of her best friends? What’s really so Ven/Aqua-y about this is that Ven calls her out on this.

Ven can understand her conflict. He knows how she’s feeling, and he tries to set her on the right track. She tries to justify what she’s doing (“But the Master loves Terra, and you know that too”), but Ven can see through it. Aqua’s not acting like a confident, supportive best friend that Ven knows she is, and he tells her this (“Aqua… Now that you’re a Keyblade Master, you’ve let it go to your head”). What really hits the Ven/Aqua-ness, for me, is that Ven basically says that she’s not being herself. As in, he knows her, probably just as much as he knows himself, and he says outright what she’s been fighting through the whole game. He’s like the little voice in her head showing her the right way, and really, that’s what makes them so perfect for each other.

Terra, meanwhile, doesn’t get Aqua’s conflict. All he sees is that Master Eraqus, whom he sees as a father, doesn’t have faith or confidence in him, and his best friend since childhood, Aqua, doesn’t, either. Understandably, he’s hurt, angry, and feels betrayed. Heck, right afterwards, he goes as far as to say that “Master Xehanort is the only one I can still count on”!

 Now, this scene led a lot of fans to fall in love with the whole “family” idea I brought up earlier, and yeah, I completely get why (Ven giving Aqua and Terra tickets, saying they were meant for “two grown-ups”? LOL), but the big thing against this is that Terra doesn’t see Aqua as a worrying wife. Not one bit! If anything, he sees her as a nagging babysitter. I mean, in a lot of ways, this scene is pretty reminiscent to a scene from the Disney movie The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. You may be thinking “what the heck?!”, but seriously, I’m not kidding about this. See, in the movie, Kiara is going out for her first hunt, but Simba, being the over-protective dad that he is, orders Timon and Pumbaa (who are basically Kiara’s babysitters) to keep an eye on her. Take a look:

(Kiara has just screwed up and has found Timon and Pumbaa)

Kiara: Timon, what are you doing here?

Timon: Uuuuh, shopping! We thought a nice pelt for the den, some throw pillows, a little potpourri…

Kiara: My father sent you! After he promised to let me do this on my own! He lied!

Timon: No…he just doesn’t want you to get hurt.

Kiara: I should have known that he’d never give me a real chance…

(Kiara goes off in a huff)

The “Ticket Scene” is pretty darn similar to this, even with the notable differences. Kiara’s annoyed and hurt that her father has no confidence in her, and so is Terra. She’s angered and feels betrayed by Timon and Pumbaa, and Terra feels the same way towards Aqua. He’s not seeing her as a worrying wife or girlfriend—he’s seeing her as a nagging babysitter who has no confidence in him. And just look at Aqua’s lines! It’s like she’s saying, “Terra, are you doing what your father said? It seems to me like you’re not following his orders…” I think the “family” idea is cute, but really, it’s hard to see, considering both Terra’s and Aqua’s situations at the time.

Continued in Part II...


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January 2012

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