My VG Music Picks #75 – Vector to the Heavens (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days)

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

This is possibly an unpopular Kingdom Hearts opinion depending on who is reading this, but I was never a big fan of Xion. I didn’t dislike her per se; I just never got attached to her like some fans did since I found her character to be rather generic and, considering 358/2 Days’ status as an interquel and the fact that she was never mentioned in Kingdom Hearts II (probably because Nomura hadn’t come up with her character at the time), she was most likely going to die by the end of the game. It’s hard to become engaged with a character when you know they’re not going to be around anymore soon. But that being said, her theme music never fails to make me emotional – especially the version of it that plays during her boss fight.

The slow pace and combination of piano and violins make this piece so tragic; you can tell even without context that this is supposed to be sorrowful. It sounds almost strained at points, which perfectly represents Xion – a being that was never supposed to exist now doomed to either destroy her best friend, Roxas, and take his power or be destroyed herself so as to save him and wake up Sora. It captures the pain she feels knowing that, no matter how hard she fights, she must die.

It’s such a departure from all the other climactic boss fights throughout the series, which are usually dramatic or ominous or triumphant. But this one is just sad, also arguably reflecting Roxas’ desire to not fight his friend. And what’s even more amazing is that this is from a DS game. I’m not trying to knock the handheld’s quality of music by writing that but the fact that Yoko Shimomura was able to make such a track on a handheld is simply amazing. And if you don’t like the DS version, there’s a proper orchestra version below from the 1.5 collection.

Oh, and here’s a couple of extra details to help keep the tears flowing. During this track, there is a moment where you can plainly here an excerpt from Sora’s theme, reminding us of the connection between him and Xion and how this tragic act is ultimately for his sake.

Secondly, what exactly does ‘vector’ mean? Well, it’s a verb meaning ‘to guide’ or ‘direct’. And where are the heavens usually associated with? The sky. Sora is the Japanese word for sky. Even the song’s title is a reminder that the boss fight it accompanies is Roxas (unknowingly) helping Xion rejoin with Sora, even though it means she’ll no longer exist.

I may not care for Xion as a character that much but I consider this piece to be one of the best in the whole series and it still manages to make me occasionally teary-eyed.

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