This really does deserve a more thorough analysis with screenshots and everything, but @ramflega art [x] got me thinking about it and I want to get my thoughts out.

We are set up to assume that the Destiny Islanders are gonna follow most closely the paths of the person they inherited the keyblade from. It’s in their naming schemes and everything. Riku and Terra mean something related to earth, both end up doing quests for some form of Xehanort, both get possessed by him when he is looking for a new vessel, both give into the darkness, at least for a while, both are even protected by another Keyblade Master from total possession - Eraqus for Terra, and Mickey for Riku. 

Ven and Sora are deeply, deeply connected - from the moment of Sora’s birth. Vanitus looks like Sora and Roxas looks like Ven. Both are air themed in name. Both end up asleep at Castle Oblivion for a while. Both end up with a “dark double” running around that has to reunite with them.

Kairi and Aqua are the odd one out of both sets. The girl. The water themed name. The one left behind by her boys. The one that has to go after them. 

This is how it’s set up, and how the Keyblade inheritance goes. Terra gives his formally to Riku, Aqua accidentally hands it off to Kairi, and Sora gets it from Ven’s heart.

But not how it seems to be shaking out. As DDD progresses, Riku’s attack and defense patterns start looking more and more like Aquas. He cartwheels and casts powerful magic. His defense is a full circle barrier. He’s fast, rather than slow. In fact, his movements are faster than Sora’s, as Aqua’s are faster than Terra’s (but slower than Ven’s.) And at the end, he is named master, while Sora is not. He takes Aqua’s place, rather than Terra’s. There are other similarities between Riku and Aqua. Their time in the realm of darkness, for one. Their quest to wake up their sleeping friend and their friend who is lost at all cost. 

Which makes me wonder - If Riku is actually following mostly in Aqua, rather than Terra’s footsteps, does that mean Sora is following Terra, rather than Ven, and Kairi Ven instead of Terra?

After all, Sora and Terra both share a certain sort of naive trust that lands them right in the clutches of Xehanorts plans. Sora’s two handed swing and heavy stepped run are more reminiscent of Terra’s attack style than Ven’s, for sure, even if he does have Ven’s glide. And he takes Terra’s place as the Mark of Mastery applicant who fails. The difference between them, though, is striking. Terra is very self focused and thus prone to Darkness. Sora can be tricked into the darkness, but his natural tendency is to look almost everywhere else outside himself first. While both Sora and Terra fail the Mark of Mastery because of their susceptibility to Darkness, Sora seems to spend no time dwelling on this and harbors no resentment for not passing. Part of this, of course, is due to the exam not meaning much to him in the first place. (This contrast is also interesting because Terra’s obsession with his reason for failure was a foothold for Xehanort, but Sora’s complete inattention to how easily he was fooled is also concerning…)

Which leaves Kairi and Ven. Both with a forgotten past. Both specifically picked out by Xehanort as special. Both (at least at some point, in Ven’s case) hearts entirely of pure light. Ven, the one who wasn’t trained enough to get to take the Mark of Mastery exam, like Kairi. Both Ven and Kairi at one point had their hearts slumbering inside Sora as well.

So it really does seem like the original line up was a bait and switch. Which looks promising for Riku - whose true parallel is set to return, and who has already undergone his trial in the darkness. And promising for Kairi, who has already slumbered and just needs to take her place as an active speed-based part of the trio. But it’s concerning for Sora. Hopefully, though, the differences in attitude between him and Terra will prove to make a real difference. Sora, who always turns to his friends for help, where Terra insisted on fighting alone. Sora, whose heart is too open, rather than too closed. 

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hero/antihero
Whether you're a hero or a villain,
one shall always perish.

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@sorceressrinoa and i were talking about how utterly mortified riku would be if he had trouble calling his keyblade back to him after even after becoming a master. he thinks the whole concept of strike raid is bullshit, honestly, who even,, throws a keyblade, come on, ,,