Character Spotlight: Riku

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KH2-Riku_cgName: Riku

Game(s): Kingdom Hearts Series

Archetype: Fighter

Class: Weapons Master


  • Keyblade Wielder.
  • Dark Mode.
  • Skilled Fighter.
  • Mature.
  • Conflicted.


Riku!  Riku’s been requested a couple of times, and I’m actually excited our Patreon voters picked him for this week!

Riku is one of the character created exclusively for the Kingdom Hearts universe (in addition to the large cast of Disney and Final Fantasy characters found there).  As such, his design is rather similar to Final Fantasy characters such as Sephiroth (which Riku draws a few parallels with).  He’s a sworn wielder of the Keyblade, and as such is a formidable opponent through those skills alone.  Throw in Dark Mode (yes, I know he doesn’t have it in all games) and you’ve got a certified badass on your hands.

Riku fits comfortable in the Fighter archetype as a Keyblade-wielding Weapons Master.  He possesses superior strength, speed, and mobility, as well as various magic and Dark skills.  For his age, he’s quite strong, and very capable in a fight (even without weapons and magic).  He’s also a very mature, measured individual (at least at the current point in the series), having borne quite a bit of conflict, turmoil, and hardship in his short time.  Let’s take a look at what makes Riku, Riku.

The Key to Combat

Okay…let’s be honest here.  The Final Fantasy family loves themselves some impractical weapons, and the Keyblade is no exception.  Could it be wielded like a battle axe?  Probably.  Would it be effective?  Probably not as effective as a purpose-designed battle axe.  Do they wield them like axes anyway?  Nope, so it’s all irrelevant!  Let’s have some fun anyway!

Riku is seen single handed and dual wielding keyblades, depending upon the game.  I am of the personal opinion that dual wielding two blades of equal size is a little silly, and I MUCH prefer his style of combat with single hand mode.  So, in that respect, we’re actually going to refer back to Ike, as his bastard sword style is very similar to Riku’s keyblade style (some one-handed, some two handed, generally powerful strikes).  So, here’s the resources we touched on for Ike!

The HEMA Wikipedia Article
The HEMA Alliance Website (check out their forums)

Also, here’s some videos on HEMA lonsword combat:

Additionally, because I love messing around with impractical weaponry, I WILL be doing a Riku combat video.  Speaking of which, I think you’re gonna LOVE the new format for the combat videos when the next one comes out!

The Combat Glide

Okay, first off, I would LOVE to tell you how to double jump/glide.  I really, really would.  The combat mobility in the KH series is just SO MUCH FUN.  Unfortunately, it also defies the laws of physics.  I am working on how to break those, but unfortunately I just haven’t figured it out yet.  Sorry, but stay tuned, who knows what tomorrow brings!

In the meantime, we can talk about general mobility in combat.  Of course, fitness plays a part in this, and we’ll be looking at that in The Riku Workout.  Beyond fitness, though, there’s a style of movement as well.  Think about when you walk.  You lean slightly forward, and use the off-balance to carry your weight forward.  Then, you catch yourself with a foot, and begin a rolling alternating step pattern of off-balance, followed by catching yourself.  This is very good for conserving energy, which is why we evolved such a gait.  However, it is not as good for short term mobility or speed.

Instead, when moving in combat, you want to think about launching yourself towards the direction you’re going.  Rather than leaning forward (which can open you up for attacks and telegraph your moves), you want to keep your upper body relatively neutral as you being your motion.  In any combat stance, you want to have your weight on your toes.  When closing ground, rather than picking your front foot up and falling in the direction you want, you instead want to lift your front foot and explode across the distance, driving off of your back foot and propelling yourself across the ground (while keeping your front foot nice and close to it.

This is YOUR combat glide.  The explosive drive off the back foot adds fast, dynamic, unpredictable movement, while the front foot gliding along the ground maintains balance, reaction ability (easy to drop the ball of your foot down and alter your trajectory), and guards against grabs/sweeps.  It’s no diving glide, but it’s still pretty cool, and functional!

Dark and Light

Riku’s been through some s#%^.  Seriously.  He gets taken away, tempted, corrupted, possessed, and goodness knows what else.  It can be argued that the whole situation was driven by fear.  First, fear of the darkness which he felt the need to disprove, and then fear of the darkness in himself.  Now, we’ve talked about fear before.  It should be noted, here, that Riku only reached his strongest point after he accepted the darkness in himself, and used it as a tool, rather than a weakness.

Here’s the thing:  Dark isn’t evil, light isn’t good.  They are frequently portrayed as such in media/games/what have you, however I am of the firm ethical belief that this is not the case.  Dark can shelter, light can burn, dark can soothe, light can irritate.  We frequently fall into the trap of moral absolutes related entirely to how many or few photons occupy a single space (okay yes I know we’re talking a more philosophical concept but I’m just illustrating how silly this concept is).

Think about the things that we typically regard as “evil” or “dark.”  Anger.  Jealousy.  Greed.  Fear.

Here’s the thing, though:  These “dark” instincts can be the world’s best motivators.

Sure, any of these for their own sake are self destructive.  However, utilized correctly, they are tools.  Competition drives basically every athlete in existence, but you really can’t have competition without a touch of jealousy, perhaps greed, and maybe even fear or anger.  Does this make competition bad?  NO, it’s fantastic, and a great way to build social bonds AND push yourself further.

Anger and fear are FANTASTIC at triggering the “fight or flight” adrenaline rush to do well in exercise, combat, or competition, as well.  I had a HORRIBLE run tonight.  Not that the run itself was bad, but I started getting abdominal cramps very early on, as well as fatigue from a long day at work.  Did I stop?  No, I switched to my metal playlist, and poured all of my rage onto my self-doubt and laziness.  They were literally the things holding me back.  Cramps were pain, sure, but not enough to seriously impact anything but my mental state.  That mental state, that selfish laziness, was exactly what I targeted.  Anger is a fantastic motivator, my friend, as long as you point it at the correct target.

Going for a big lift?  Screw you, bar.  You are nothing.  I will put you over my head and then drop you like the trash you are.

Entering a competition of some sort?  Listen, I’m sure you’re all fantastic people outside of this sport.  But listen, I’m already jealous of the success those above me had, I’m hungry for the title, and I’m, quite frankly, insulted and angry that you would even step on the field with me.  Does that sound harsh?  Sure.  But it doesn’t mean you have to be a dick to someone, it just means that mentally you need to win the contest, before you physically can.  It’s always good to shake hands and be buddies immediately following.

The only caution I offer to you here, is the same one offered to Riku.  Don’t let your “darkness” consume you.  Hate your lazy urges, but don’t hate yourself.  Fear falling by the wayside for a superior competitor, but don’t let that fear paralyze you.  Let your hunger for greatness drive you, but don’t let that greed overwhelm everything else in your life.  Covet the skills your competitors have, but don’t let that jealousy put a wedge between yourself and other people, or make you feel bad about yourself.

They are tools.  Nothing more.  You use them.  They don’t use you.


See you Friday!  Live boldly, change the world, be awesome!


Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace



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5 thoughts on “Character Spotlight: Riku

  1. Pingback: The Riku Workout | Be a Game Character

  2. Jonathan Grubbs says:

    This is an excellent article. You’ve really captured the essence of who Riku is. I’m looking forward to the keyblade fighting video, but I do hope you explain the combat glide too. You did a good job explaining it, but I’m still not quite sure how to do it. Keep up the good work!

      • Jonathan Grubbs says:

        Thanks! This is an interesting technique. If you just look at your upper body, it does look like you’re gliding back and forth.
        I’ve been following this page for a while now, and I have found myself not only reading the character bios for information, but because hey are genuinely fun to read. You’re an excellent writer, and I think it’s a shame that this blog isn’t more popular. Even so, you stay devoted to your followers, interacting with them whenever possible. That means a lot to us believe me. I look forward to the next post and until then, continue to be awesome!

        • DaRatmastah says:

          Thanks for the kind words, and sticking with me so long! We’re getting there, haha! More and more people every day =D I do it for you guys, for sure, so hearing stuff like this just adds fuel to the fire! =D

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