Riku x Sora x Kairi is by far, the most obvious and important love triangle in Kingdom Hearts. If it weren't for the conflict between these three people, then the video game would have been drastically different. I could probably write a ten page paper on the dynamics of this triangle, but for our sake, I'll try to keep it short and focus on the nature of this complicated relationship.
From Kingdom Hearts to Chain of Memories to Kingdom Hearts 2, the nature of the triangle undergoes drastic changes. In the beginning, when Sora, Riku and Kairi were children, it was probably easy for them to say that they loved each other because kids don't consider the weight that those words carry. However, even back then, little things happened that forshadowed how things were going to play out. for example, in the manga the Secret Place was actually Sora and Riku's secret, but one day Sora brought Kairi there and made her promise not to tell anybody about it. This was probably the first incident of many that slowly made Riku begin to realize that he wasn't #1 in Sora's life anymore. Here we have an unrequited triangle, where Riku is the one who feels that he is left out.
Next, we have the events of Kingdom Hearts. Riku is overtaken by darkness, and now tries to use his power to totally dominate the people in the triangle. Kairi can't fight back because she's heartless, and Riku pretty much carries her around like a doll for part of the game. Riku also attempts to give Sora a beatdown, but as we all know, that didn't work out too well. Here we have a triangle of domination and submission.
In Chain of Memories, the triangle actually begins to shift. Sora's attention is no longer fully on Kairi, now he is determined to bring Riku back. However, before we could see how that would have played out, Namine takes all of Sora's memories away and makes him forget what they were doing. Interestingly, in the manga, it says that Sora and Riku's hearts were resonating with each other, like light and darkness. So here we have two hearts that resonate with each other, and a third that had already demonstrated an ability to live in Sora's heart. The question is, just how much space is in Sora's heart? He meets so many people and he cares about them all - so when it comes down to becoming romantically involved, can he ever just chose one? Some fans say yes, some say absolutely not. Unfortuantely, we don't know Sora's stance on love, and that is something that can definitely use some further exploring. Still, we have to wonder if he would be the catalyst to break the rules of monogamy and just take everything he wants.. whatever that might be.
Last, in Kingdom Hearts 2 many people were shaken up by Sora's awkward hug with Kairi and his tearful reunion with Riku. Had his feelings for Kairi changed over the course of time? Throughout the game he fantasizes about her, but is shocked when he mets her - because she looks completely different. Kairi is no longer the little girl he kept picturing himself with. Can Sora handle the woman that Kairi is becoming? Is the change so great that he finds himself attracted more to what he remembers than who she is now? Or is it opposite - is the attraction so great now that he is too frozen to make the next move?
Then we look at Riku, who has obviously been through hell and back. Considering everything that he had done and all that he had been through, Riku will probably take whatever scraps of affection come him way. Whether it's a one night stand or even an affair, Riku will likely cling to it for all that he is worth. Or maybe he will become obsessed with keeping Sora and Kairi together to make up for his sins. One thing is for sure, his bond with Sora is very strong. Whether it is strong with Kairi as well depends on how you take his meeting with her at the end of the game. They might have talked about a lot of things that brought them closer, or not talked at all. The only thing we can be sure of is that Kairi knew that Riku was very important to Sora, and she wouldn't let Riku get away without revealing the truth - no matter what selfish things she might have said in the past.
And so, we are brought to the million dollar question. Who loves who? Does Riku love Sora who loves Kairi who loves Sora? Or does Riku love Kairi who loves Sora who loves Kairi? Or is it Sora who loves Riku and Kairi but Riku only loves Sora and Kairi only loves Sora? Or do we have here a case where love exists on all ends, but when it comes to expressing it romantically, they repress feelings for the other person since they believe that two person relationships is the way to be?
Who knows! What do you guys think? The discussion is now open!