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Organization XIII (Japanese: XIII機関 Hepburn: Jūsan Kikan?) is a fictional group of characters featured in Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios' Kingdom Hearts video game series. The group comprises thirteen beings without hearts called "Nobodies".[Note 1]
The Organization was originally introduced in the secret battle of the unknown (Xemnas) and the bonus trailer of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, "Another Side, Another Story [deep dive]", where their Japanese name was translated as the "Thirteenth Order". The group was later introduced as the "Organization" in the game Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, where they serve as the main antagonists, and returns in the same role in Kingdom Hearts II. Organization XIII is prominently featured in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days as characters available for play, along with a new female member named Xion. Several members, prior to becoming Nobodies, appear in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, return following their restoration in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and will return in Kingdom Hearts III.
The group was moderately well received by reviewers. Comments focused on their difficulty as adversaries and mysterious nature which fueled expectations of future titles. Roxas specifically received press comments, focused on his introduction in Kingdom Hearts II.
The Organization XIII characters were created by Tetsuya Nomura, director of the series, and other members of his development staff. The concept began with Xemnas as the first member and Roxas as the last. Each member's name is an anagram of their name prior to becoming a Nobody, with the letter "X" added to it. As of the end of Dream Drop Distance, the names of the Organization members' original selves are all known except for Demyx, Luxord, Marluxia, and Larxene. The emblem associated with the Nobodies and Organization XIII was designed to look like a splintered heart as a complement to the Heartless emblem. In terms of good and evil, Nomura tried to portray the characters ambiguously. Throughout the development of the games, Nomura has often left certain events related to and connections between the Organization XIII characters—along with the series' other characters—unexplained until the release of sequels; he feels that games should have room for fans to speculate and use their imagination.
In Chain of Memories, the staff had several of the Organization's members defeated as part of the plot. For Kingdom Hearts II, Nomura intended to allow players to fight these members again at the Coliseum. This idea, however, was dropped due to time constraints. Instead, the characters were included in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix along with the rest of the members as data-based versions in separate optional boss fights and in a new location. Since the battles were optional, the difficulty levels of the fights was increased and the Chain of Memories-exclusive characters were given previously unseen powers. After working with the first game, Nomura gained interest in mushroom Heartless, most of which served to gain rare items in the title. This interest continued during the development of Kingdom Hearts II. He intended to add new variants in the game, but was unable to do so due to time constraints. Consequently, they are featured in the Final Mix release as the "Mushroom XIII", thirteen Heartless wearing black cloaks that also mimic traits of the Organization XIII members. For 358/2 Days, the developers believed the Organization and its large number of characters was a good fit for the intended multiplayer gameplay. Once the group was decided to be a central part of the gameplay, the staff felt Roxas's role as a member would be a suitable theme for the plot. In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, it is revealed that the "X" that is added to their names is derived from the concept of the χ-blade, an extremely powerful Keyblade that has the ability to directly unlock Kingdom Hearts. Several members appear in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, having regained their hearts following the destruction of their Heartless and Nobodies.
Prior to the first game in the series, the six former disciples of Ansem the Wise became Heartless and their Nobodies created the Organization. Members are numbered in the order in which they joined, with Xemnas, the Nobody of Xehanort, numbered one as their leader. Each member is given a cloak made of a special material that allows them to pass through the Corridors of Darkness into other worlds safely without being attacked by the Heartless there. Members are given titles indicating both their role in Organization XIII and their personality, as well as their own breed of lesser Nobodies to control, usually suited to their fighting style and unique themed powers. As Nobodies, they lack emotion and morality, and are unable to feel guilt and remorse for their actions. However, most of the members' personalities are based from what memories they have of their original selves. About half of the members were introduced in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, with the remaining members introduced in Kingdom Hearts II. In Chain of Memories, the series' protagonist Sora and his friends Donald Duck and Goofy are led to a mysterious fortress called Castle Oblivion by members of the Organization, who intend to turn Sora into their pawn by manipulating his memories. Sora's friend Riku also arrives at Castle Oblivion, but in the basement where he encounters other Organization members. Sora and Riku traverse the levels of the castle to reach the top, fighting and defeating several members along the way. By Kingdom Hearts II, the actions of Sora and Riku, along with Roxas' resignation, reduce the Organization to seven members, who seek to use the power of Kingdom Hearts[Note 2] to become complete beings.
The events of the game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance reveal that the true purpose of Organization XIII's formation is for Master Xehanort, the true incarnation of Xemnas' human form, to place pieces of his own heart into the bodies of its other members, effectively transforming them into clones of Xehanort so he may use their thirteen hearts of darkness to clash with the seven hearts of light to recreate the χ-blade. They also reveal that Nobodies such as those in the Organization are capable of developing hearts of their own over time, but are deceived by Xemnas into thinking they lack hearts so they can cooperate with his plans. Though the agenda was not realized for various reasons, a new Organization XIII was founded by recruiting not only the original selves of previous Organization members who became "half Xehanort" (Isa and Braig) but also induct various incarnations of Xehanort himself like Xemnas and "Ansem" from across time itself. This gathering of Xehanort's incarnations was accomplished by a younger version of Master Xehanort granted the power of time travel by his future self, who also serves as a member of the new Organization.
Xigbar (シグバール Shigubāru?), also known as the "Freeshooter" (魔弾の射手 Madan no Shashu?, lit. "Magic Bullet Shooter"), is Braig's Nobody and the second member of Organization XIII. Xigbar controls Sniper Nobodies, and attacks with a pair of rayguns, classified as "arrowguns", called Sharpshooter (シャープシューター Shāpushūtā?), which can be combined to form a sniper rifle. Xigbar can also manipulate space to teleport himself, warp his bullets, and levitate in battle.
Because of his original self's ties to Xehanort, Xigbar is the only Organization member who knows Xemnas' true intentions but realizes the plan is falling apart since the events at Castle Oblivion where they lost half of the members they gathered.
During Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Xigbar shows interest in Roxas and drops several hints about his true nature. He finds out about the Replica Project much sooner than most of the members, and takes it upon himself to monitor Xion, smirking over how she assumes the form of Ventus from his perspective as she leaves the Organization. Xigbar confronts Sora, whose glare reminded him of the look Ventus gave him ages ago, various times during Kingdom Hearts II until he reaches the World That Never Was, where he confuses him by calling him Roxas and cryptically mentioning his three predecessors. After losing to Sora, Xigbar refuses to answer Sora's question on why he is calling him Roxas.
Xigbar makes a surprising return in Dream Drop Distance and explains how he and Xemnas gathered a group of human-like Nobodies to link to the Kingdom Hearts Roxas and Xion built. That way, Xemnas and Xigbar would turn themselves and the other 11 members into 13 Xehanorts.
Xaldin (ザルディン Zarudin?), the "Whirlwind Lancer" (旋風の六槍 Senpū no Rokusō?, lit. "Six Lances of the Whirlwind"), is the Nobody of Dilan that uses wind to manipulate his six lances, named Lindworm (竜牙閃 Ryūgasen?, lit. "Dragon's Fang Flash"), and to shield himself. Xaldin's lances can transform into a dragon-shaped contraption to attack opponents with whirlwinds. He controls the lance-wielding Dragoon Nobodies. Becoming a Nobody to be free of emotion, Xaldin understands the set backs of lacking a heart, but keeps a clear disdain towards people who follow their hearts, especially towards the Beast, who he becomes obsessed with as shown in 358/2 Days. Xaldin appears in Kingdom Hearts II where he primarily confronts Sora in the world Beast's Castle, where he attempts to manipulate the Beast's rage to create a powerful Nobody and Heartless. Sora's intervention forces him to steal the Beast's enchanted rose and kidnap Belle to stoke the Beast's rage. Prior to their final confrontation at the Beast's Castle, Xaldin clarifies that the Organization needs Kingdom Hearts to become complete beings. His plans fail when Belle escapes with the rose, and Xaldin is defeated by Sora and the Beast, fading to nothingness. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Xaldin's defeat results in the restoration of Dilan. Xaldin is voiced in Japanese by Yōsuke Akimoto and in English by David Dayan Fisher.
Vexen (ヴィクセン Vikusen?), also known as the "Chilly Academic" (いてつく学究 Itetsuku Gakkyū?), is Even's Nobody. Vexen can control ice and carries a large shield called Frozen Pride (フリーズプライド Furīzu Puraido?, lit. "Freeze Pride") in battle. In the Japanese version, Tatsuya Kando provided Vexen's simple battle expressions in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and the late Nachi Nozawa provided Vexen's voice acting in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Both characters English voice acting is done by Derek Stephen Prince.
As revealed in 358/2 Days, Vexen experiments with the creation of Replicas, the first of which is Xion. In Chain of Memories, Vexen occupies the basement of Castle Oblivion with Lexaeus and Zexion, who he sides with to prevent Marluxia's plan to overthrow the Organization, later being assigned to personally investigate Marluxia's intentions. He battles Riku in order to gather data to create a Replica of him, and allows Naminé to manipulate the Replica's memories to test Sora's worth. After the Replica fails to defeat Sora and Marluxia threatens to reveal the shortcoming to Xemnas, Vexen fights Sora himself and gives him a card to access Twilight Town in Castle Oblivion with the intention of revealing to Sora both Roxas' existence and Marluxia's plan. As a result, Marluxia declares Vexen a traitor and sends Axel to eliminate him, which Axel does by incinerating Vexen before he can reveal the truth to Sora, mainly to gain Marluxia's trust and prevent him from using Vexen's Replica research. Vexen's death leads to Even's restoration (two years later) in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
Lexaeus (レクセウス Rekuseusu?) is one of the two members of the Organization in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories that only appears in Riku's story mode. He is also known as the "Silent Hero" (静かなる豪傑 Shizuka-naru Gōketsu?), and he employs a large axe-sword, Skysplitter (破天 Haten?), which is able to break rocks and shake the area itself with his elemental power of earth and superhuman strength, and is the Nobody of Aeleus. In the Japanese version, Tatsuya Kando provided simple battle expressions for Lexaeus in Chain of Memories, but Fumihiko Tachiki replaces him in Re:Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days and voices Aeleus as well. In the English releases, Dave Boat voices the character.
During the events of Chain of Memories, Lexaeus and Zexion discover Marluxia's plans to overthrow the Organization by capturing and manipulating Sora, and decide to capture Riku and use him in the same fashion to counter Marluxia. When they believe that Sora might fall into Marluxia's grasp, Lexaeus confronts Riku directly, trying to convince him to open himself up to the power of the darkness in his heart. After Riku defeats him in the original Chain of Memories, Lexaeus uses the last of his strength to release all of the darkness within him to consume Riku. In Re:Chain of Memories, however, Riku is knocked unconscious by Lexaeus, only to be possessed by Xehanort's Heartless, who swiftly cuts Lexaeus down, the dying warrior lamenting his decision to battle Riku. Lexaeus's demise leads to Aeleus's revival in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. In the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 opening for 358/2 Days, Lexeaus' title is changed to "Stalwart Taciturn".
Zexion (ゼクシオン Zekushion?), also known as the "Cloaked Schemer" (影歩む策士 Kage Ayumu Sakushi?, lit. "Shadow-walking Schemer"), uses his power of illusion to mimic others' weapons, disguise himself as others, and create duplicates of himself. While it was unknown what was Zexion's weapon in the original Chain of Memories, the remake Re:Chain of Memories shows he uses a lexicon, the Book of Retribution (裁きの書 Sabaki no Sho?), as his weapon. He is the Nobody of Ienzo. Zexion is voiced by Akira Ishida for the Japanese releases and Vince Corazza for the English releases.
Zexion is one of two Organization members who only appear in Riku's story mode in Chain of Memories. Zexion initially plans to use Riku against Marluxia and his co-conspirators, but sees Riku to be of no use after Sora defeats Marluxia and attempts to destroy him. Using the card created by Axel from Sora's memories, Zexion draws Riku into a simulation of Destiny Islands where he torments the Riku with his guilt over the islands being destroyed. He then assumes the guise of Sora and attacks Riku, engulfing him in light. However, Naminé—disguised as Kairi—intervenes to convince Riku to accept both light and darkness. With newfound confidence, Riku overpowers Zexion, causing him to retreat. Afterward, Axel determines that Zexion "knows too much", and brings the Riku Replica to Zexion, convincing the Replica that he can become "real" by gaining power that the real Riku does not have, which he does by killing Zexion and taking his power as his own. Zexion's death leads to the revival of an adult Ienzo in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
Saïx (サイクス Saikusu?), also known as the "Luna Diviner" (月に舞う魔人 Tsuki ni Mau Majin?, lit. "Devil Dancing in the Moon"), is Isa's Nobody with an X-shaped facial scar who can assume a berserker state of mind by using moonlight. Wielding a claymore called Lunatic (ルナティック Runatikku?), he commands the Berserker Nobodies who wield weapons similar to his. Saïx joins the Organization around the same time as Axel but, lacking the care-free personality and morals his original self had, uses Axel to become Xemnas' second in command, and feels betrayed when Axel befriends Roxas, putting his plan to get leverage over Xemnas on hold. Saïx appears completely void of emotion and completely embraces his status as a Nobody, yet continually reflects on previously having a heart. The character is voiced by Ginpei Sato in Japanese while Kirk Thornton provided English.
During Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Saïx assigns missions to the other Organization members. He is also assigned by Xemnas to oversee the progress of Xion, and is the one to discover Marluxia's plans to betray the Organization with Larxene, sending Axel to eliminate them. Towards the end of the game, he attacks Roxas when he attempts to leave the Organization, only to lose to the younger Nobody. In Kingdom Hearts II, Saïx appears before Sora in Twilight Town to stir unrest in him by warning him of Axel's intention to turn him into a Heartless. He later appears after Sora defeats the Heartless army at Hollow Bastion, where he explains Sora's purpose in the Organization's plans, and reveals to him that the Organization are holding Kairi hostage, Saïx having kidnapped her from Axel earlier, to ensure Sora keeps destroying Heartless for them. Saïx fights Sora on the latter's climb through the Castle That Never Was, using the moonlight from Kingdom Hearts to assume a berserker state, but Sora defeats him and he fades into darkness while pining for Kingdom Hearts to give him his heart back.
In Dream Drop Distance, Saїx appears as one of the New Organization's members, much to Lea's dismay. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix shows a new secert ending; Isa was restored, but Young Xehabort converted him into a vessel for a fragment of Master Xehanort's heart.
Axel (アクセル Akuseru?), the "Flurry of Dancing Flames" (おどる火の風 Odoru Hi no Kaze?), is a Nobody of Lea. Much like his original self, Axel wishes to achieve his own ideal of immortality by having everyone he comes in contact with remember him, saying the phrase "Got it memorized?" on multiple occasions. Entrusted to deal with Organization traitors, Axel controls the Assassin Nobodies, and fights with a pair of "chakrams" called "Eternal Flames" (エターナルフレイム Etānaru Fureimu?) and fire manipulation. Nomura designed Axel based on a similar concept as Reno from Final Fantasy VII; Nomura wanted to see what it would be like to have a similar character in a different role and world. The character is voiced by Keiji Fujiwara in the Japanese releases while Quinton Flynn provided the voice for English releases.
Axel is assigned to Castle Oblivion during the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, pretending to join with Larxene and Marluxia in their plan to seize control of the Organization. He kills Vexen to gain their trust, but finds himself confronting Sora while Marluxia uses Namine as a shield. While acting as Roxas's mentor in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Axel befriends the new Nobody as well as the other new member, Xion, causing a rift between himself and Saïx, the Nobody of his childhood friend Isa. Upon learning the truth that she is a Replica, Axel reluctantly hides it from Roxas while being forced in hunting down Xion when she attempts to leave the Organization. Once learning the truth, Roxas left the Organization to Axel's dismay. Soon after, Axel recaptures Xion, refusing to let her sacrifice herself.
During Kingdom Hearts II, Axel is ordered by the Organization to capture Roxas or kill him if he refuses to comply. Roxas refuses to return with Axel and defeats him before merging with Sora. Axel later begins acting on his own and kidnaps Kairi, but Saïx takes her under Xemnas's orders. Axel later finds Sora in a pathway to the World That Never Was and chooses to fight the Nobodies with him. Outnumbered, Axel performs a suicide attack to save Sora, and using the last of his strength to open the entrance to the World That Never Was. When asked what he was trying to do, Axel admits he wanted to see Roxas.
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Axel makes a cameo in Lea's dream after his original self's revival. Lea is repeatedly called "Axel" as well by those who knew him.
Demyx (デミックス Demikkusu?) is the Organization's reconnaissance agent who is also referred to as the "Melodious Nocturne" (夜想のしらべ Yasō no Shirabe?). He is a slacker who would rather play his sitar "Arpeggio" (アルペジオ Arupejio?) than go on missions, especially those that require him to perform physical labor. He is a smooth liar (though not as good as Xaldin) as he tricks Roxas into working in his place every time they are sent on missions together. He is constantly talked about behind his back by Roxas, Axel, and Xion on their ice cream breaks. Though he admits he is not much of a fighter, Demyx has power over water, using it to create duplicates of himself. He also has control over the Dancer Nobodies. Demyx is voiced by Kenichi Suzumura and Ryan O'Donohue in the Japanese and English versions of the series, respectively.
Soon after appearing in Kingdom Hearts II at Hollow Bastion with the other Organization XIII members, he is assigned to look over Sora's progress in the Organization's plan, much to his chagrin. Demyx confronts Sora in the Underworld of Olympus Coliseum, stealing a medallion called the Olympus Stone to protect him from the Underworld's energy-reducing curse. After attempting to talk to Roxas through Sora, Demyx pits him against his water copies, and leaves after losing. Demyx later crosses paths with the protagonists again at Hollow Bastion, and battles them after they enrage him by mocking his nature as a Nobody, but is defeated and fades into darkness. In his first chronological appearance in 358/2 Days, Demyx reluctantly participates in the missions Saix assigns to him out of fear of what Xemnas could do to him.
Luxord (ルクソード Rukusōdo?) is a Nobody also known as the "Gambler of Fate" (運命を賭す者 Unmei o Tosu Mono?). He controls the Gambler Nobodies, can transform his foes into a card or a die and uses a deck of cards called "Fair Game" (フェアゲーム Fea Gēmu?) as offensive and defensive weapons. Luxord also has power over time, which he uses to force his opponents to play timed games. Luxord speaks formally, often suggesting rhetorical questions and using metaphors related to gambling and other games. The character is voiced by Jouji Nakata in Japanese and Robin Atkin Downes in English.
Luxord appears 358/2 Days, where he assists Roxas in various missions on Wonderland, understanding the riddles of the Cheshrie Cat quite easily while Roxas is stumped. Like most of the surviving members, he does not know about the Replica Project and Xion's origin until late in the game. Shortly after, he laments his subordination to the Organization to Roxas. His next appearance was in Kingdom Hearts II, where he reveals himself at Port Royal and revives the curse of the Aztec gold to create a Heartless, indirectly cursing Jack Sparrow in the process. Sora later frees Jack from the curse, but Luxord escapes without fighting Sora and his party. At the World That Never Was, Luxord traps Sora's companions in his cards, leaving Sora to fight alone in a game-like battle, but is defeated and fades into darkness, asking "Roxas" why he attacked him.
Marluxia (マールーシャ Mārūsha?) is lord of Castle Oblivion and the main antagonist of Sora's story in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Also known as the "Graceful Assassin" (優雅なる凶刃 Yūga-naru Kyōjin?, lit. "Graceful Assassin's Blade"), he uses a scythe called Graceful Dahlia (優美なるダリア Yūbinaru Daria?) and power over flowers. In the Japanese version of the series, Tatsuya Kando provided simple battle expressions in Chain of Memories, and Shūichi Ikeda took over voice acting for Re:Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days, while Keith Ferguson provided the voice in the English releases.
In Chain of Memories, Marluxia lures Sora to Castle Oblivion so Naminé can manipulate Sora's memories as part of his plan to take over the Organization, giving Sora a set of cards allowing him to proceed through the castle. Marluxia assigns Axel to eliminate Vexen to prevent him from revealing the conspiracy to Sora. After kidnapping Naminé in the aftermath of Larxene's death, Marluxia is confronted by Axel, who attempts to kill Marluxia for conspiring against the Organization. However, Marluxia uses Naminé to have Sora fight Axel for him. After Axel's defeat, Marluxia orders Naminé to erase Sora's memories so he can rebuild Sora into his pawn, but she refuses. Marluxia engages Sora using an illusion of himself, but Sora finds the real Marluxia fused to a massive cloaked Nobody and defeats him. Marluxia makes a minor appearance in 358/2 Days, training Roxas before he leaves for Castle Oblivion.
Larxene (ラクシーヌ Rakushīnu?), also known as the "Savage Nymph" (非情の妖姫 Hijō no Yōki?, lit. "Callous Vixen"), was first introduced in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories where she conspired with Marluxia to overthrow Organization XIII. Larxene wields a set of knives called Foudre (エクレール Ekurēru?, lit. "Éclair"), the French word for lightning, and uses the power of electricity to fight. Rude, impatient and loving to bring others down, Larxene is not well liked within the Organization; Demyx "fears" her, commenting "I like days when Larxene is out; I can play sitar instead of gopher." In the Japanese version of the series, the character was first voiced by Rieko Katayama in Chain of Memories, but Yuko Miyamura took over the role for the Japanese releases of Re:Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days, while Shanelle Workman provided her voice in the two titles' English releases.
She first meets Sora in Chain of Memories and helps manipulate his memories by causing him to remember Naminé's name. She then fights him and gives him new cards to access more areas of Castle Oblivion. After she discovers Axel's betrayal and sees that Marluxia's plans have fallen apart, she decides to reveal her and Marluxia's plans to Sora with the intention of killing him. However, Donald and Goofy arrive to assist Sora, and the three defeat Larxene, who fades into darkness. Larxene makes a minor appearance in 358/2 Days, reluctantly training Roxas before she leaves for Castle Oblivion.
The True Organization XIII, also known as the Seekers of Darkness (闇の探求者 Yami no Tankyūsha?), are various incarnations of Xehanort gathered into a group as embodiments of the 13 darknesses required to reforge the χ-blade. Originally, while Ansem (Xehanort's Heartless) used Maleficent to capture the Princesses of Heart to provide the seven lights of the χ-blade, Organization XIII's true goal was to turn its members in vessels for fragments of Xehanort's heart. Although the two plans were foiled, Master Xehanort devised forming a second Organization XIII consisting of various incarnations and/or existing vessels as members. In Kingdom Hearts 3D, twelve of Xehanort's incarnations and/or vessels gathered together across time and space to complete his/"their" ideal Organization with Sora about to be made into the thirteenth vessel/"member" but certain forces interfered and Xehanort's Organization had to fall back until the time that the χ-blade will be recreated.
The obscure nature of the Organization's activities throughout Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II have led reviewers to describe them as an "ominous" group that "seems to be intent on guiding Sora and his friends to accomplish some dark purpose". Similarly, Rice Burner of GamePro emphasizes this plot when reviewing the group's debut, noting how the "strange inhabitants of the castle trap our heroes" and "force Sora on a ponderous journey into his own memories to face his subconscious thoughts and fears". This mysterious perception is furthered by the fact that some members of Organization XIII present themselves as dark silhouettes with their faces covered, acting as an "enigmatic robed and cowled figure speaking in riddles". These interrogatives surrounding the group have created expectation; Andrew Reiner of Game Informer included "What secret lies behind Organization XIII?" as one of the main questions that are answered and that serve as plot devices in Kingdom Hearts II, creating situations that "certainly give you shivers and make your heart leap". Visually, the artwork of Organization XIII's members is based more on the styles of Final Fantasy rather than those of Disney. Bethany Massimilla of GameSpot referred to their models as "very much cut from the Final Fantasy spiky-haired cloth".
While writing BradyGames' Kingdom Hearts II strategy guide, Beth Hollinger, Matt Berner, David Cassady and Grag Sepelak reviewed the role of Organization XIII's members as adversaries. Both Axel and Demyx were described as providing easier battles during their first encounters. The ones found later in the game were regarded as more difficult enemies, as is the case with Xaldin, Xigbar, and Saïx, the first of which were described as "tough" and "tricky" opponents respectively, while the ferocity of Saïx's "Berserk" attack was noted. Luxord's battle was considered one that "brings something new to the table", mostly based on the unique use of a "Time" parameter instead of the common system based on "Health Points". The various battles against Xemnas gathered different points of interest; during the first one, the writer praises the "Facedown" Reaction Command, while the final battle’s focus is on its difficulty and the need of constantly using Reaction Commands to switch between Riku and Sora. GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd noted in a preview of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, that Xigbar's ranged magic proved helpful while fighting as an ally along Roxas.
Individually, the members of Organization XIII have received varied receptions. Jeff Haynes of IGN felt that Roxas was a "likable kid", Ron Fahey of Eurogamer concurred calling him a "likeable enough young chap who just happens to be troubled by memories and visions of people he doesn't even know". His playable involvement in the game was regarded as a transitional arc, being used to introduce the gameplay to players that are new to the franchise. Fahey also considered it a good introduction, as it lets the player become familiar with the basic elements in a manner that "isn't a bad way at all of setting the scene for the game". However, Reiner emphasizes his role as a "troubled boy", calling his story arc "an amazing chain of events", particularly noting that the revelation of his nature as a Nobody creates a "devilish yet remarkable plot twist" which may impact the player in a way that he "may not want Sora back". The introduction of Xion in trailers for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, created expectation, particularly based on the facts that her face could not be distinguished and that she wields a keyblade. In the 2009 Nintendo Power Awards, the magazine's readers voted Xion the "Best New Character" of the year.