An urge to write an overly long meta-texty essay about a pairing hit me and I decided that there wasn't anything better to do... and so I let my muse run wild. May I present, my rambling thoughts on Axel, Roxas and shipping those two together?
Written purely for fun. Do not forget your sense of humour.
Since KH is a fandom where the canon material is known for its clarity and minor details may suddenly be declared important, a disclaimer: These are my opinions, YMMV, and are based on what has been learned in the games up to BBS excluding Coded
which I haven't played which turned out to be unhelpfull. This essay is SPOILERY for all the games.
Okay, before I get to the pairing(dynamic) itself, I better talk about characterization. It's on this base that the pairing is built on, and there really isn’t that much to say about shipping itself. Me thinks if two people look hawt enough and are incompatible, there’s a ship. Well, almost. But first about characters, then about ships.
Axel. Ah, what could I possibly have to say about him that isn't clichéd already? What makes defying Axel difficult (and fun!) is the changing he goes through between his first appearance in BBS and the dying scene in KH2. I love how difficult it is to get a spot on picture of him : D Anyway, timeline first, analyses later:
- He's around 15 when he meets Ven.
- The following ten or so years are a mystery, but he wanders around Radiant Garden and is friends with Saïx, has at least occasional contact with the rest of the Organization.
- Radiant Garden gets destroyed; Lea loses his heart; and the first major change in what we’ll call “Axel” from now on happens. Losing your heart has an effect on you. Most just disappear, the remaining end up (slightly) mad.
- This is followed with a year or two (too lazy to actually go get an "official" timeline for this) as a Nobody and working with the Organization.
- Roxas is the next important phase in Axel’s life, and more about it later. Some ice cream eating followed by the Castle Oblivion incident (where I like to think Organization sealed its fate. The whole plan was doomed from the beginning, but not important now. May write about “The Ten Reasons Organization Failed” if I get bored enough.)
- Dying. That's kinda important to mention.
Okay, onwards. During his time as a Nobody I see Axel as someone who is driven by his selfishness. All his actions can be traced back to some benefit for him: Organization provides him with power and a purpose and a heart. Reason to stay with the Organization is to get him HIS heart back. I see no love lost for the rest of the Nobodies . Loyalty isn’t that necessary. The backstabbing, plans to overthrow Xemnas? are proof enough of that.
Axel also sees something he can profit of in Roxas (His heart. Explanation later) and therefore stays close to a newbie nobody like him. Reason to die in a dramatic way? He has nothing to lose and nothing to gain while staying - and a payback to the Organization probably tastes sweet – and really, why not? It’s a selfish decision that get’s him nothing but a small moment of triumph, small moment of heroism and a way out.
The popular theory that the dramatic dying was to save Roxas isn’t one that I'm happy with. Sure, Axel senses Roxas inside Sora and wants to find him – but when Axel explodes he knows that Roxas is gone.This is YMMV, but I like selfish Axel more than the avarage lovesick-puppy-Axel.
What we learned about Axel in BBS is that he’s outgoing, cocky and even if he’s not the nicest person on planet he's friends with Ven after few minutes of knowing him. It could be argued that this is only an example of friendship-syndrome that Sora and Ven suffer from: friendships are built alarmingly fast and without any real explanation. This is therefore not a part of Axel's character. There's still no doubt if Axel is friendly once in a while. Even if there's some reluctance with getting to know Roxas better at the start (understandably. There's really not too many reasons to like Roxas in his zombified state.) Axel is the mentor figure to him when he's a new Nobady and very soon a friend too. Axel also get’s attached to Xion even though he definitely knows better – Saïx taunts him about both of these multiple times during Days.
Axel is friendly even if a bit cocky even after losing his heart. Losing a heart made him dependant on feelings that revolve around him-
The structure of this essay-thingy flew out of the window some time ago. Sorry about that. I want to talk about hearts now. I’m stealing this idea from Nepece, and it’s become part of my headcanon so it’s kinda important to try and explain it at some point.
Simply put: Hearts do not control emotions. Without even the basic emotions there would be no need for the Nobodies to do anything. No ambition. No anger. Nothing. Hearts do control one part of emotions though, one very specific and very important part. It’s not called love, sorry. It’s empathy. Nobodies are shown to express all sorts of feelings, but when it comes to relationships they lack the ability to make them “real”. Sorry, don’t know how to put that thought prettier. Heart is what unites two people: It’s the ability to understand the other, to like, to hate, to loathe, to love.
Axel has said a couple of times that Roxas makes him feel. I don’t think there’s really a need to quote. Roxas has a heart – Ven’s heart – and can therefore feel. But how does it make Axel feel? Two explanations as far as I’m concerned: One, Roxas acts like he can feel and Axel acts based on memories. This is a bit bittersweet, isn’t it? Two, Roxas has a strong heart and can really transfer some of the ability to feel. Axel get’s to feel, but only around a strong heart like this. Roxas’ heart is strong enough, Sora’s is naturally strong enough too. About Princesses of Heart I don’t know. They are pure, but strong like this? Maybe.
Anyway, the dependency that I claim Axel to have on feeling that are about and happen around him is either a case a) he knows how one acts in a certain situation and memories and habits kick in OR case b) there's feeling" escaping from those cabable of feeling - Roxas.
I know, I make it sound like Roxas is a drug and Axel is a drug-addict. Did I mention I like twisted pairings?
So, Axel in it to get high. Why would Roxas stick around, you ask. That'll be in part 2.