As a Kingdom Hearts fan you already know that the number three is incredibly significant throughout the franchise. Starting first with our original Destiny Island’s trio, Sora, Riku, and Kairi and second with Sora, Donald, and Goofy in Kingdom Hearts. Then the Seasalt Trio Roxas, Axel, and Xion in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and finally the Wayfinder Trio, Ventus, Terra, and Aqua in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. The question is why always three, and why does each trio seem to mimic the last in terms of structure and personality? Strap in, I have some theories to lay on you.
The number three is viewed as the number of good fortune in many cultures around the world with the Pytheagoreans even believing it was the first true number, the perfect number as it represented to them the beginning, middle, and end. This makes me wonder, could the trio’s be based loosely around this thought? Each trio has three very distinct character types. First is the beginning, this is the young, spirited, carefree individual who believes in their friends with all their heart and is eager to begin their journey. I am, in this case, speaking of Sora, Roxas, and Ventus. We then have the middle, this individual ends up being the “mom” of the group. The middle is more grounded in themselves then the beginning and they are able to see the bigger picture of what is going on and the impact of the journey so far, as well as what is to come. This time I’m talking about Kairi, Axel, and Aqua. Finally we’ll talk about the end, this individual is the dark horse of the group. The end has given in to the plights of the journey and allowed themselves to become weak to the unknown (or in this case, the darkness). Here we are talking about Riku, Xion, and Terra. See what I mean? The beginning, middle, and end.
As well as general belief like that referenced above, many symbols, religious and otherwise, have been conjured with the number three in mind. However, there are a few that really caught my attention bearing the Kingdom Hearts series in mind. First we have the Borromean rings. This is a mathematical symbol consisting of three topological circles that are fully interlocked to one another, and by removing any of the three rings the other two rings will fall apart. Now, if we have learned anything from playing through thirteen Kingdom Hearts titles featuring one, two, or all three of our beloved trios, it’s that if you take one of those characters away from the other two everything falls apart and someone gets “norted.” In Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 it was Riku, In Birth By Sleep it was Terra, In Kingdom Hearts III Xion gets got. Even our wise mother figure of the Wayfinder Trio Aqua got norted for a hot minute. It seems that even though each member of our beloved trios is a terrifying force on their own they will always be their strongest with their friends by their side. Queue the awww’s and the newest remix of “Simple And Clean.”
Three Jewels of Buddhism
Now let’s take a look at the Three Jewels of Buddhism. This is a three-circle symbol that represents the Buddha himself, the Dharma (his teachings) and Sangha (his followers). I find this very interesting. One, because to this day over ninety million people consider themselves Buddhists in Japan (so you know, the creators of the games probably know about this) as well as the fact that in a way these three entities also fit the bill of our trio’s archetypes (okay I may be stretching here, but humor me once again). Our angelic bright eyed babies (Sora, Roxas, and Ventus) could represent The Buddha himself, as they are extremely zen and kind, well maybe not Roxas all the time, but the other two absolutely. The Dharma would be represented by our seasoned but not yet grizzled veterans bristling with knowledge (Kairi, Axel, and Aqua), and the Sangha would be represented by the fiercely loyal yet easily swayed by power, you guessed it, dark horses (Riku, Xion, and Terra). Maybe? Possibly? It was a stretch, but nonetheless an interesting thought right?
Now if my extremely compelling ramblings didn’t convince you, check out the imagery of these two symbols. It does look just a little bit like the trinity symbols found around the Kingdom Hearts games? You know the one you can only activate by using the Power of Three and friendship? Hmm? I sense some inspiration, Square Enix!
Whether or not any of these theories are even the slightest bit true, it is impossible to argue that the Power of Three isn’t an incredibly powerful theme throughout the series and it’s characters, and I choose to believe that wasn’t an accident. Now I’ll leave this think piece with a final question. Who do you think the most compelling trio of the Kingdom Hearts franchise is?