Mario may be worthy of touching a Keyblade in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Sora reveal trailer, but Kirby is apparently not. While that may seem like a confusing contradiction at first glance, there’s a very good reason in the Kingdom Hearts universe for why Kirby doesn’t get a Keyblade when he swallows Sora.
He never experienced a Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony.
Nintendo revealed the final Smash Ultimate fighter on October 5, and it’s Sora, the young protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series. Like many other characters from the franchise, Sora wields a Keyblade, a special magical weapon that resembles a key-shaped sword. In addition to allowing its wielder to use various kinds of magic, a Keyblade’s most important power is in opening or sealing the barriers between worlds (in the games, that pertains to mostly Disney worlds).
In the cinematic trailer for Sora’s debut, Mario plunges his hand into a curious bit of flame. He hurls the mote of fire, and it transforms into Sora’s iconic Kingdom Key Keyblade. Much has been said about how this means that Mario is a “true Keyblade wielder” like Mickey Mouse, but we really shouldn’t take Smash Bros. cinematics too seriously. They’re always utterly ridiculous and not canonically relevant to the franchises that the many characters represent.
However, we are fully prepared to consider the canonical implications of what happens when Kirby devours Sora with his vacuum mouth.
Kirby always steals some powers and a bit of the costume from whatever enemy he swallows. With Sora, Kirby gains access to magic like Blizzaga and Thundaga, but no Keyblade. Whenever he casts a spell, he does conjure a weird Keyblade shape made of the magical energy he’s using. In terms of Kingdom Hearts canon, this makes perfect sense because Kirby never experienced a Keyblade Inheritance ceremony.
As with all things in Kingdom Hearts, being able to wield a Keyblade at all has a very convoluted in-universe explanation mired in contradictions. We learn the most about this process in the prequel game Birth By Sleep. A powerful Keyblade-wielder essentially has to bequeath the power to someone. Terra, who went on to be possessed by the villainous Xehanort, deliberately passed the power on to Riku, Sora’s best friend. The Keyblade Master Aqua accidentally gave the power to Sora’s longtime crush Kairi when they had a chance meeting.
Sora’s situation, however, is much more complicated.
Terra and Riku’s companion Ventus (also a Keyblade wielder) had his heart fractured by Xehanort. For reasons unknown, Sora’s heart reaches out through the cosmos and forms a connection with Ventus. At the end of Birth By Sleep, Ventus is left in a coma and his heart has fully retreated into Sora to heal. This deep connection between them is what makes Sora special: Not only is he able to circumvent the need for a Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony altogether because he’s part-Ventus, but his heart is especially effective at forming connections with others. And he’s proven himself time and again to be worthy of the right.
Kirby, however, is just a gluttonous blob who can never wield the true power of a Keyblade. So there’s no chance of Kirby ever joining those hallowed ranks of warriors. The best he can manage is a pitiful imitation of Sora’s magic!
Sora joins the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fight on October 18, 2021.