Out of all the characters in Kingdom Hearts, Kairi was the first one I fell in love with. It wasn't a case of love at first sight, mind - I liked her, and she intrigued me. Yes, she was the first one that I could solidly say I liked, probably by the end of the Destiny Islands segment (which in reality isn't that long a stretch of time). She's special to me; right from the moment she woke Sora up on the beach, she began to grow on me. And the love I have for her has only grown from there, since that moment. Anytime she appears on screen, I smile.

I am not unaware that Kairi gets a lot of hatred from parts of fandom - the only reasoning I will accept of this is that she's not the most interesting, as the story isn't centred on her. But she has a lot of potential. I love her, and the reasons as to why are usually ones some fans say she doesn't have. She does have strength and courage - a different kind of courage. She is determined and ever brave. I can relate more to Kairi on a personal level with her loyalty, her unwavering loyalty, even when she can barely remember who it is she wants to wait for - even if she forgets them completely - than to someone who fights. That's not to say she shies away from danger, even if, largely, she's a pacifist. When danger comes calling, she stands up for what is right. She is nothing but kind and caring, dedicated, with a little dash of stubbornness when it comes to her beliefs, but that's not a bad thing. She is a wonderful character if given the opportunity to watch, to see her shine, but sadly Square don't often give her this opportunity, either.

Thankfully, the manga often does, but that's a story for a whole other time. Square, follow suit, okay?

As the years have gone by, Kairi has soared to being one of my favourite heroines of all time. She is a heroine who I don't see being replaced by any other in my heart. I have always known her to be strong, to have strength in different ways, and I hope she gets to show it, like another one of my favourites: Serah, from Final Fantasy XIII. With the secret ending of Dream Drop Distance, I am positive that this will come. Someday soon, hopefully.

Here's to Kairi, then. Thank you for enriching my Kingdom Hearts experience all these years.