Brown and tan
|Also known as|
Bear of Love
- For Kenai's gallery, see here.
Kenai was born an Inuk human. He grew up in his tribe under the watchful eye of his elder brothers, learning to hunt, fish, and honor the Great Spirits of the deceased. When he came of age, he was gifted with a totem, the Bear of Love, much to his disappointment.
Shortly after the ceremony, Kenai found that a bear had stolen his tribe's basket of fish and tracked it down with the intention of getting the basket back. However, the encounter led to a perilous fight between man and beast, which drew the attention of both Sitka and Denahi. During the fight, Sitka sacrificed himself to save his brothers, and Kenai became obsessed with tracking down and killing the bear to avenge his brother's death.
After a deadly fight on a mountain, Kenai killed the bear. The Great Spirits were disturbed by Kenai's senseless act of murder, and so Sitka transformed Kenai into a bear to give him a different perspective on his actions. After the transformation, Kenai sought help from his village leader, Tanana, who told him to return to Sitka and ask to be changed back.
Along the way to the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth, Kenai met a bear cub named Koda, who became his traveling companion. At first, Kenai was endlessly aggravated by Koda, but over time, he learned to love the cub as a brother. Near the end of his journey, Kenai was welcomed into Koda's home, the Salmon Run, where he learned to appreciate being a bear. However, while at the Salmon Run, Kenai discovered that the bear he had killed had actually been Koda's mother, and he professed his guilt to Koda. The cub fled in horror, and Kenai dejectedly made his way to the mountain, alone.
Kenai attempted to reason with Sitka's spirit, but before he could make contact with Sitka, Denahi appeared, mistaking Kenai for the bear who had seemingly killed both his brothers. A fight ensued, in which Koda came to Kenai's rescue, but before Denahi could kill Kenai, Sitka transformed him back into a man, and Kenai reunited with his brothers. He then asked Sitka's spirit to change him back into a bear so that he could care for Koda, and Sitka obliged. After his transformation, Kenai was welcomed back into his village and allowed to mark the wall of his ancestors with his paw print, having learned what it means to be a man.
Later, Kenai encountered his childhood friend, Nita, who implored him to help her burn an amulet he had given her when they were children; in doing so, he would break their bond before the Great Spirits and thus allow Nita to marry another. Kenai agreed, but over the course of their time together, he and Nita developed feelings for one another. Eventually, the pair burned the amulet, and Nita returned to her village. However, she ultimately chose to transform into a bear so that she could be with Kenai. The two were married, with Koda still a part of their family.
As a child, Kenai formed a friendship with a girl from another tribe named Nita. The two often played together. One day, Nita fell through a frozen lake, and Kenai dove in after her, saving her life. While helping her recover at Hokani Falls, Kenai gave Nita an amulet. Unbeknownst to the two, the amulet bonded them in the eyes of the Great Spirits.
One day, while out with his brothers, a rash adolescent Kenai foolishly starts a stampede of caribou. Exhilarated, he races toward his brothers, Sitka and Denahi, yelling at them to take cover, and the three boys take shelter behind their canoes. After the stampede passes, Kenai jokingly warns his brothers to never try milking a caribou, and a furious Denahi tackles Kenai to the ground, attempting to drool into his face. Sitka promptly splits his brothers apart and reminds them that they need to get along until their work is done.
With the argument behind them, the three brothers take to their canoes and paddle back to their village. Along the way, Sitka and Denahi attempt to catch fish while Kenai rides on a mammoth's back, disturbing their work. Eventually, the brothers manage to catch a fair amount of salmon and return to the village, where Kenai is instructed to tie up their basket of fish. While working, he is approached by the village children, who question him on his totem.
Just then, the villagers call out that Kenai's ceremony is about to start, and Kenai rushes to finish tying up his basket. He finishes hastily, and the basket falls, splitting open on the ground. Kenai briefly considers going back for it, but decides instead to continue on to the village.
The ceremony begins, and Kenai comes forward to receive his facial painting marks from the village elder, Tanana. She questions him on whether he is nervous, and he tells her that he is excited. She then tells him that he should be, for his totem is a good one. To the crowd, she announces that she has been to the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth and received Kenai's totem from the Great Spirits. She then presents Kenai with his totem, the Bear of Love, which severely dampens his enthusiasm. Kenai attempts to trade with someone else, but Tanana rebukes him, reminding him that he must let love guide his actions so that he can someday place his handprint on the wall of his ancestors. As the crowd cheers, Tanana lifts Kenai's hand, recognizing his status before the village.
After the ceremony, Kenai is teased relentlessly by Denahi, who nicknames him "Lover Boy" and throws a wreath of flowers on his head. Sitka arrives and sends Denahi to check on the fish, but before he leaves, Denahi throws one last playful jab at Kenai. Furious, Kenai attempts to throw a rock at Denahi until he is stopped by Sitka, who reminds Kenai that a totem does not necessarily symbolize a trait one carries. He then points out Denahi, whose totem is wisdom, and explains how he is not necessarily wise because of it.
Sitka goes on to admit that he had had misgivings about his totem at first as well, but had eventually realized that he was supposed to take care of his brothers. Kenai expresses his desire to place his handprint on the wall of his ancestors, and Sitka tells him to be patient and that if he lives by his totem, he will.
In the middle of Kenai's conversation with Sitka, Denahi accuses Kenai of having failed to tie up their basket and shows him that a bear has stolen their fish and made off with the basket. Though Sitka encourages Denahi to simply make another basket, Denahi insists that Kenai make the new basket, since he is always messing up their plans. As the brothers argue, Kenai fetches his spear and takes off after the bear, ignoring Sitka's protests.
Eventually, Kenai catches up to the bear and sees that the basket has been torn to shreds. He throws a rock at the bear, antagonizing it, and the two get into a brief scuffle. When the bear roars and takes a swipe at Kenai, he cries out and falls onto a steep ledge, alerting Sitka and Denahi to his presence. Sitka attempts to help Kenai up the ledge, but Kenai warns him to keep away from the bear. Too late, the bear approaches, roaring over Sitka.
Just then, Denahi arrives and begins tossing stones at the bear, distracting it from its fight with Kenai and Sitka. As Sitka helps Kenai up the ledge, Denahi leads the bear onto an unstable glacier and falls through a fissure in the ice. Kenai struggles to help Denahi climb back to safety, while Sitka takes on the bear. However, the bear overpowers Sitka and begins advancing on Kenai and Denahi. This leads Sitka to stab his spear into the ice and break apart the glacier in an effort to save his brothers, though both the bear and Sitka fall into the water below.
Together, Kenai and Denahi climb down the glacier and begin searching the water for Sitka. Eventually, Denahi finds Sitka's hood. Kenai refuses to accept that Sitka is dead and continues to comb the water for any signs of his brother, but Denahi resignedly gives up the search.
That night, the tribe holds a funeral for Sitka in which his totem is burned, thus releasing his spirit to the heavens. Though Denahi watches the proceedings in sorrow, Kenai broils with rage and departs early to collect his spear. He soon returns to the funeral pyre and tosses Denahi a spear of his own, telling him that they must hunt down the bear to avenge Sitka's death. Denahi refuses and claims that it is wrong to kill the bear, but Kenai accuses the bear of having killed their brother. Coldly, Denahi retorts that he does not blame the bear for Sitka's death, then tells Kenai that killing the bear will not make him a man. In response, Kenai asserts that a man would not stand by and do nothing. Denahi attempts to warn Kenai to not upset the Great Spirits, but Kenai merely scoffs at him and throws his totem in a pile of embers.
Once Kenai departs the village, he tracks the bear's paw prints as well as signs of its passing until he reaches a berry thicket. There, he stops to rest briefly, but the bear soon emerges from the underbrush, though it flees at Kenai's presence. Kenai pursues the bear, eventually cornering it atop a mountain. The two engage in a fight, and Kenai narrowly manages to fatally impale the bear on his spear.
After the bear's death, Kenai releases an anguished cry, which is heard by Denahi, who had been in pursuit so as to stop the fight. As Kenai recovers from the fight, the Great Spirits descend upon the mountain, surrounding Kenai in brilliant light. The spirit of Sitka materializes before Kenai and draws his attention to the bear's body, which is promptly drawn up into the heavens to join the Great Spirits. Afterward, Sitka – this time in the form of an eagle – lifts Kenai into the air and transforms him into a bear.
After the transformation, a storm forms overhead. Denahi reaches the summit just in time to see the bear, whom he does not know is Kenai, stumbling among the remains of Kenai's torn clothing. Before the two can have a confrontation, a fork of lightning strikes the ground, sending Kenai falling off the side of the mountain into a raging river below. He is borne downstream by the current until he washes ashore, unconscious. Meanwhile, Denahi, believing Kenai to have been killed, resolves to avenge his brother's death by hunting down the bear himself.
The next morning, Kenai awakens to find himself in a forest, with Tanana nursing his wounds. Kenai attempts to relate his encounter with the Great Spirits to her, but Tanana interrupts him, explaining that she does not speak bear. A confused Kenai looks at his reflection in a nearby river and realizes that he has been transformed. Distraught and horrified, Kenai has a brief panic attack until Tanana hits him in the head with a boot and informs him that the transformation was of Sitka's doing.
With Kenai calm, Tanana examines his transformed body and comments that the Great Spirits rarely make such big changes. She deduces that Sitka must have something important planned for Kenai and so instructs Kenai to take up his case with Sitka's spirit at the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth. Kenai protests that he did not do anything wrong, but Tanana promptly disappears.
With Tanana gone, Kenai notices other voices and creeps closer to investigate. He finds two chipmunks arguing over the disappearance of some acorns, which leads him to discover that animals can talk. He begs a passing flock of birds to help him find the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth, but they fly on, ignoring him. However, in doing so, he draws the attention of two nearby moose, Rutt and Tuke, who hide from him in fear of being eaten.
Kenai promises that he does not intend to eat them, which calms them. He attempts to explain that he is a human who has been transformed into a bear, but the moose simply believe him to be crazy. Eventually, Kenai grows too frustrated to continue the conversation, and so he sets out to find the mountain on his own. However, before he can get too far, he gets caught in a bear trap, which holds him suspended from a tree by one foot.
Kenai struggles against the trap and manages to grab a stick that is lying on the ground nearby. Just then, a bear cub named Koda bursts into the clearing, spooking Kenai and causing him to lose his grip on the stick. Koda picks up the stick himself and begins whacking Kenai with it in an effort to free him, only ceasing when Kenai shouts at him to stop. Kenai then orders Koda to return the stick to where he had found it. Koda does so and begins to tell Kenai stories, all while Kenai strains to reach the stick.
After several hours of watching Kenai struggle, Koda scoots the stick within his reach. With the stick in hand, Kenai attempts to free himself, but his efforts fail, which amuses Koda. Annoyed at Koda's presence, Kenai asks if he has somewhere to be, and Koda responds that he is journeying to the Salmon Run. He then strikes a deal with Kenai, promising to free him in exchange for his help in reaching the Salmon Run. Though Kenai is doubtful, Koda easily frees him from the trap.
Shortly after Kenai is free, Koda inexplicably runs away in terror, to Kenai's relief. No sooner has Koda disappeared when Denahi emerges from the forest with a spear in hand. At first, Kenai reacts with relief, believing his brother to have recognized and found him, but when Denahi attempts to kill Kenai, he runs away in terror and takes refuge in a nearby ice cave.
Once to safety, Kenai wonders why his brother is trying to kill him, noting that Denahi's violent actions are contrary to his usual nature. Koda puts on bravado about taking on the hunter himself, but Kenai quickly calls him out on his act. Kenai then attempts to move on, but Koda begs him to stay and confesses that he has been separated from his mother. Despite Koda's pleas, Kenai continually refuses, claiming that he has his own problems to solve. This changes when Koda mentions that the Salmon Run borders the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth, which leads Kenai to reluctantly agree to accompany Koda there.
The next morning, Koda introduces himself, but Kenai simply mocks him by asking if his mother had ditched him. The two journey on, with Koda telling story after story until Kenai suggests that he stop talking. Koda agrees, only to break into song, not stopping even when Kenai shoves him headfirst into a hollow log. Together, Kenai and Koda continue their journey, with Kenai continually rebuffing Koda's attempts at affection, friendship, and fun.
Over time, Kenai warms to Koda, even playing with him. One day, Rutt and Tuke catch up to the pair and beg Kenai to protect them from Denahi. Initially, Kenai does not believe that Denahi is a threat, but when Rutt and Tuke indicate his and Koda's paw prints in the dirt, he realizes that Denahi will be able to track them. In order to prevent this from happening, Kenai suggests that they ride on the backs of mammoths.
That night, Kenai and Koda ride on the trunk of a mammoth. Koda chatters away about his friends at the Salmon Run, but is interrupted by Kenai, who covers his mouth and asks if he ever stops talking. Instead of answering, Koda points out the Great Spirits overhead, which he calls the "night rainbow." Kenai expresses shock that Koda is aware of the Great Spirits, and Koda explains that his grandparents are spirits and that his mother had taught him how the Great Spirits are responsible for all the changes in the world.
At this reminder, Kenai comments bitterly that he wishes the spirits would leave things alone. Koda reacts with confusion, so Kenai explains that his brother Sitka is a spirit and that, without his interference, Kenai would not be in his current predicament. To Kenai's surprise, Koda thanks Sitka for allowing the two of them to have met. He then snuggles up next to Kenai and states that he's always wanted a brother.
The next morning, Kenai asks Koda where they need to go in order to reach the Salmon Run, but Koda looks upon the landscape in confusion. Annoyed, Kenai lashes out at Koda, cutting off his attempt to tell another story. This antagonizes Koda, who blames Kenai for their predicament due to his suggestion that they ride on mammoths. The two have a heated argument in which Koda storms off on his own.
After Kenai's anger cools, he follows Koda, calling out his name. He finds Koda in a cave covered in human paintings of animals. The two look upon one drawing in particular of a man fighting a bear, and though Kenai glowers at the painted bear, Koda comments that "those monsters" are frightening, especially when they are holding sticks.
The two leave the cave, with Koda riding on Kenai's back. As they walk, Kenai jokes and plays with the cub, sending him into gales of laughter. The two are interrupted by a pair of fighting rams who yell aggressively at their own echoes, much to Kenai and Koda's amusement.
Once the two have left the rams behind, Koda leads Kenai to the Valley of Fire and tells him that the Salmon Run is just on the other side. Though Koda is relatively unfazed by the dangerous landscape, Kenai reacts with horror and shock. The two venture in, and Koda soon disappears, only to purposefully spook Kenai. Kenai attempts to scare Koda back, but fails.
Suddenly, Koda warns Kenai to watch out, but Kenai simply believes that Koda is trying to fool him again. However, a spear thuds into the ground next to Kenai, and a moment later, Denahi jumps down after it. While Koda flees, Kenai rears up on his hind legs and uses a geyser to temporarily blind and knock over Denahi. He then races to the edge of a gorge, where a fallen log leads across the chasm to safety, but he hesitates when he hears Koda yelling for help behind him.
Kenai promptly turns back and carries Koda to the edge of the chasm. Once there, they begin to precariously cross the log, though Koda soon alerts Kenai to Denahi closing in behind them. Kenai quickly tosses Koda to safety, just in time for Denahi to seize hold of one end of the log and heave it off the ledge. Kenai barely escapes to the other side, which enrages Denahi. Though Kenai hesitates, worrying over his brother, Koda urges him to leave the danger behind.
Kenai starts to follow Koda away from the gorge when Denahi suddenly screams and jumps across the chasm, barely catching hold of the log, which is still hanging from Kenai and Koda's end of the gorge. Kenai rushes to help Denahi, but is unable to keep the log from slipping off the edge of the gorge and plunging into the river below. Denahi soon surfaces, alive and uninjured, and Kenai watches him drift down the river with concern.
On their way to the Salmon Run, Koda questions Kenai on why humans hate bears so much. Kenai replies that bears are killers, but Koda refutes this by pointing out that neither of them act that way. Kenai argues that bears will find any excuse to attack a human, but Koda reminds him that Denahi had instigated the fight, not them. Giving up, Kenai tells Koda that he will understand when he is older.
Just then, a flock of birds swoops by, shouting, "Fish!" In an attempt to bat them away, Kenai stumbles into the midst of the Salmon Run, where a congregation of bears is fishing for salmon. Terrified, Kenai screams, attracting the group's attention, and the bears warn him not to scare off the fish.
Koda soon arrives and has a delighted reunion with Tug, the leader of the bears. He then launches into a monologue about Kenai's weird ticks, including how he rides on mammoths, drinks water with a leaf, and never hibernates. An embarrassed Kenai rapidly cuts Koda off and speaks with him in private, informing him that it is time for them to part ways. Tug overhears their conversation and asks Kenai if he is leaving. Kenai claims that he does not belong at the Salmon Run, but Tug insists that every bear is welcome and urges Kenai to have some fun.
Cautiously, Kenai ventures deeper into the Salmon Run, observing how the bears fish, lounge, and play together. Gradually, he comes to appreciate the feeling of camaraderie among the bears and even attempts to catch a fish himself. After a great deal of effort, he manages to successfully catch a salmon, albeit with some help from Koda.
That evening, the bears gather for a night of storytelling. After several bears take their turns, Kenai tells his own story, documenting his frustrating journey with Koda, whom he calls "the biggest pain in the neck I've ever met." However, Kenai follows up his story by calling Koda his little brother and giving him a hug, which causes the bears to coo.
Next, Koda takes his turn, sharing the story of how he and his mother had gotten separated. He starts the story by describing how he and his mother had been eating fish when a hunter had emerged from the underbrush. This grabs Kenai's attention. Next, Koda describes how the hunter had cornered his mother against a glacier and then attacked her. As Koda continues to tell the story, Kenai has flashbacks to his encounter with the bear that had stolen his tribe's fish and killed Sitka, and realizes that the bear he had killed was Koda's mother.
In a panic, Kenai flees the Salmon Run and paces restlessly on the edge of the forest. Overhead, the Great Spirits dance in the heavens. Eventually, Kenai calms and lies down, reflecting sadly on the situation. Koda soon approaches and comments that Kenai looks terrible. In answer, Kenai tells Koda that he has a story to tell him about a man, a bear, and a monster. To conclude the story, Kenai tells Koda that his mother will not return to the Salmon Run.
A distraught Koda flees into the forest, and though Kenai pursues him, he soon loses him among the snow. Despite this, Kenai continues to call out for him, telling him that he wishes he could change what he had done and that he is sorry. When Koda does not emerge, a grief-stricken Kenai departs for the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth.
Once atop the mountain, Kenai calls out for Sitka's spirit, but Denahi emerges instead. The two engage in a brief struggle until Denahi manages to pin Kenai to the snow. However, right before Denahi can deliver the final blow, Koda appears and knocks him aside. Once Denahi recovers, he lunges for his spear, but Koda seizes it in his jaws and drags it out of the hunter's reach. As Denahi chases after the cub, Kenai calls out for Koda and attacks Denahi, who takes up his spear and hefts it in Kenai's direction.
Right before Kenai can be impaled on Denahi's spear, Sitka's eagle form lifts Kenai out of harm's reach. As Denahi looks on, Sitka transforms Kenai back into a human, then emerges in human form before his brothers. An incredulous Denahi realizes that the bear he had been hunting was Kenai, and he throws his spear away in disgust. Meanwhile, Sitka takes Denahi's cloak and gives it to Kenai.
From a nearby rock, Koda makes soft noises, drawing Kenai's attention. Slowly, Kenai approaches Koda, causing the cub to back away in fear, but Kenai tells him to not be afraid and reveals his identity. Recognizing Kenai, Koda bounds into his arms, and the two embrace. Sitka then proffers Kenai's totem, which Kenai takes and shows to Koda.
Addressing Sitka, Kenai states that Koda needs him. Denahi jokes that Kenai did look better as a bear, and though Kenai initially laughs, he soon grows somber and wonders at Denahi's fate. Denahi tells Kenai that he will be all right and that they will always be brothers, no matter what Kenai chooses. As the two embrace, Sitka grants Kenai's request by transforming him back into a bear. The three brothers share an embrace, while Koda reunites with his mother's spirit.
After Sitka and Koda's mother return to the heavens, Kenai approaches Koda, who greets him delightedly. The two begin to playfully wrestle, with Denahi joining in.
Later, Kenai journeys back to his village to place his paw print on the wall of his ancestors. With Koda looking on, Denahi dips Kenai's paw in paint, then leaves his print on the wall.
After six months of hibernation, Kenai and his adoptive brother Koda race back to the Salmon Run. Along the way, they run into Rutt and Tuke, who are being chased by an angry female buffalo, whom they had mistaken for a "moosette," or female moose. Kenai and Koda continue on until they reach the Salmon Run, where they inform the leader of the bears, Tug, that they are planning to visit Crowberry Ridge for berries.
Koda invites Tug to accompany them, but Tug refuses, as he wants to spend time with a female bear named Hoonah. The two scoff at him, with Kenai asserting that they do not need anyone else, but Tug warns him that love will catch up with him eventually.
Afterward, Koda laughs off Tug's comments, while Kenai insists that they need some rest before they journey to Crowberry Ridge. That night, Kenai dreams about his childhood friend, Nita. As a child, the two had been playing together when Nita had fallen through a frozen lake. Kenai had rescued her and helped her recover at Hokani Falls, where he'd given her an amulet.
Kenai awakens to Koda questioning him about "Nita," the name he'd been mumbling in his sleep. Embarrassed, Kenai explains that Nita had been a girl he'd used to know. When Koda asks what had happened to her, Kenai answers that she must have grown up.
Meanwhile, Nita's wedding to Atka is interrupted by the Great Spirits, who do not approve of the union. The village's shawoman, Innoko, consults the Great Spirits and learns that Nita is bonded to Kenai through the amulet he'd given her as a child. After blessing Nita with the ability to communicate with animals, Innoko sends her on a journey to find Kenai, who must help her burn the amulet at Hokani Falls on the equinox in order to sever the bond between them.
Later, Kenai and Koda are digging for roots when Koda smells something suspicious, and the two spot Nita, garbed in hunter's gear, combing the woods. Kenai quickly hides Koda in a hollow log, then attacks Nita, shattering her spear and nearly killing her. However, after a moment of hesitation, he recognizes her and reveals his identity to her. Nita reacts with disbelief, telling him that she'd been told of his transformation, but that she hadn't realized he would look so much like a bear.
Though overjoyed to see her, Kenai is confused as to how she can understand them, and Nita explains that the Great Spirits had gifted her with the ability. She then explains her mission to Kenai, who does not take the news well, specifically her use of the words "little trinket" to describe the amulet he'd given her.
Just then, Koda butts into the conversation, and Kenai introduces his two friends to one another. Koda starts to tell Nita about how Kenai had been dreaming about her, but Kenai cuts him off quickly and declares that they are heading to Hokani Falls. However, he pauses when Nita tells him that the Great Spirits might transform him back into a human unless he helps her. This makes Kenai acquiesce to her request.
As the three start their journey, Koda relates embarrassing stories about Kenai to Nita, including the time he had stuck his head in a hollow tree and gotten sprayed by a skunk. Just then, Rutt and Tuke approach and tell Kenai that they want to get to know a pair of moosettes named Anda and Kata. Nita approaches, causing the moose to panic, but Koda explains that she is traveling with him and Kenai.
Though Nita insists that they must keep going if they are going to reach Hokani Falls by the equinox, Kenai decides to help Rutt and Tuke woo the moosettes. He hatches a plan to pretend to hunt the moosettes so that Rutt and Tuke can swoop in and "save" them. However, the plan backfires, as the moosettes are not afraid of Kenai, and Rutt and Tuke panic at Kenai's fearsome display. Infuriated by Kenai, the moosettes shove him headfirst into a dam.
As Koda and Nita struggle to help Kenai get free, Nita's bag drifts away down the river. Kenai manages to wrench himself free, but the three are too late to stop the bag from going over a waterfall. It drifts ashore, where a raccoon named Bering steals and runs off with it. Furious, Nita blames Kenai for delaying them, but Kenai points out that she had let the bag drift down the river.
That night, Kenai guiltily watches Nita sleep. He then spends the rest of the night following Bering's tracks to the raccoon hideout. With help from Koda, Nita tracks Kenai down and insists on climbing the tree to where Bering has hidden the amulet, despite Kenai's protests that they should wait until the raccoons are asleep. The ruckus awakens Bering, whom Kenai attempts to distract by trying to barter for the amulet with pine cones.
Despite Kenai's best efforts, Nita is spotted, and the raccoons take chase. Kenai orders Nita to climb higher and then let go, and though she is unsure of his plan, she does as he asks. Kenai catches her, and the two tumble down a hill, landing in a heap at the bottom. This causes them to burst into laughter. Kenai praises her for loosening up, which causes Nita to become defensive.
Just then, Koda approaches, complaining about a bad smell. The trio follow the stench to where Rutt and Tuke are rolling in the mud in an effort to attract the moosettes with their scent. Nita steps in, offering her feminine advice. Per Nita's request, the moose brothers send Koda to speak with the moosettes, who find him adorable. This endears them to Rutt and Tuke, who claim to be friends with many small, cute animals. Nita teases Kenai about how her plan to hook up the moose had worked better than his, but Kenai dismisses it as "beginner's luck."
The two then walk off, ignoring Koda. The three begin to discuss how they plan to reach Hokani Falls, and Kenai explains that the fastest way to get there is by crossing a river. Nita suggests that they take a longer, alternative route, which confuses both Kenai and Koda. As Kenai continues to argue with Nita, Koda tosses a fish at her, causing her to fall into a nearby pond. In a panic, she crawls back to shore, while Kenai and Koda laugh at her. However, Kenai soon notices her discomfort, and he yells at Koda to stop making fun of her.
With Koda quiet, Kenai sits next to Nita, who explains that she is afraid of water due to her traumatic experience falling through the ice as a child. She goes on to admit that her fear had prevented her from grabbing the amulet before it had disappeared down the river. Kindly, Kenai tells her that they had rescued the amulet in the end. He then asserts that they will cross the river together.
The three continue their journey, with Kenai and Nita continually neglecting Koda. Eventually, the trio arrive at the river. Though terrified, Nita rides on Kenai's back and manages to make it to the other side. Once safely on the opposite shore, Nita thanks Kenai and hugs him gratefully.
Meanwhile, Koda complains to Rutt that Kenai is neglecting him for Nita. In response, Rutt warns Koda that Kenai might abandon him altogether.
That night, Kenai and Nita are sitting by the fire, talking and laughing, with Koda eavesdropping. Eventually, the conversation turns somber, as Nita asks Kenai if he has ever considered transforming back into a human. Kenai admits that he has. This upsets Koda, who accuses Kenai of leaving him for Nita before running away. Though Kenai and Nita pursue him, they soon lose him in the snow.
The two continue to search for Koda, following his paw prints up a mountain. While Kenai forges farther up the mountain, Nita follows Koda's tracks into an ice cave and manages to rescue him from a cave-in. However, the cave-in causes an avalanche, which sweeps Koda and Nita off the mountainside. Kenai hears Nita's screams and cries out for Koda.
The snow buries Koda and Nita, but Kenai promptly digs them out. After the rescue, Kenai asks Koda what he would have done if he had lost him. Tearfully, Koda accuses Kenai of wanting to leave him and become a human again, but Kenai reminds him that they are brothers and promises that he will never leave him. The two then share an embrace.
That night, the three arrive at Hokani Falls, where they watch the Great Spirits bring about the equinox. Afterward, Kenai watches sorrowfully as Nita burns the amulet. Once the deed is done, she attempts to tell him and Koda goodbye, but finds that the spell has broken, for she can no longer understand them. In tears, Nita tells them goodbye, then runs away.
With Nita gone, Kenai and Koda continue on to Crowberry Ridge, though Kenai continues to act sorrowful. Noticing Kenai's dark mood, Koda asks him if he had given the amulet to Nita because he loves her. Kenai tries to brush it off as having been a relationship from a long time ago, but Koda reminds him that Nita is still with him in his heart. Koda then wonders why Kenai does not tell her, but Kenai reminds him that it is complicated.
Once he is alone, Koda speaks to his mother's spirit, asking her to transform Kenai back into a human so he can be happy again. The next morning, Kenai awakens to find that Koda has gone to Nita's village to retrieve her and bring her back to Kenai. Terrified that the hunters will hurt Koda, Kenai rushes off to find him.
When Kenai arrives at Nita's village, Koda is being attacked by hunters. Kenai leaps into the fray, battling the villagers back, and bears Koda to safety. However, Nita's fiancée, Atka, pursues Kenai up the side of a steep ridge. In order to protect Koda, Kenai hides him in a tangle of tree roots, then forges on alone.
Atka tracks Kenai, cornering him on a ledge. The two have a brief scuffle in which Kenai nearly overpowers Atka. However, he hesitates when Nita yells his name, which gives Atka enough time to throw a torch at Kenai and shove him off the edge of the cliff. Enraged, Nita yells at Atka that Kenai is her friend. She then scrambles down the ridge to Kenai's side, with Koda joining her shortly afterward.
Though Nita cannot understand Kenai, he lifts his paw to hers, and she understands, telling him that she loves him in return. As they speak, the Great Spirits appear overhead, allowing Nita to understand animals once more. Kenai questions the appearance of the spirits, and Koda explains that he had asked them to transform Kenai back into a human so that he can be with Nita. However, Kenai refuses to abandon Koda and tells Nita that he must remain as he is.
Accepting Kenai's predicament, Nita decides to change into a bear herself. The Great Spirits do as she wishes, and Kenai watches the transformation with awe. Afterward, Nita asks Kenai how she looks, and he jokes that the spirits had given her antlers. Laughing, the two embrace, with Koda joining in.
Later, Kenai marries Nita in the presence of the bears of the Salmon Run as well as Nita's tribe. After the ceremony, they nuzzle Koda and greet their family and friends enthusiastically. Meanwhile, the Great Spirits change the cave painting of Kenai and Nita from humans to bears in order to reflect their new forms.
As a human, Kenai is somewhat small, being the shortest and rangiest of his brothers. He is several inches shorter than both Denahi and Sitka, with thinner shoulders and a slightly smaller build. He has bronze skin, like his tribesmen, and black hair that hangs past his ears. His eyes are brown.
He also wears an orange (resembling golden) parka in Return of the Bear of Love.
As a bear, Kenai is notably smaller than the others bears, likely because of his age. He has a light brown pelt with patches of darker fur on his ears, legs, and underbelly, though his muzzle is a light cream color. He has thin eyebrows, a dark brown nose, and a slight hump on his back.
It is a running gag that Kenai has a "fat head," both as a human and as a bear.
Personality and traits
Kenai is an impulsive, hot-headed youth with a penchant for mischief. Unlike his more responsible brothers, Denahi and Sitka, Kenai enjoys goofing around and shirking his work. He and Denahi have an especially teasing relationship, with both brothers making fun of and playing pranks on the other. However, Kenai's more frivolous nature often annoys Denahi, especially when Kenai ruins Denahi's hard work with his antics.
One of Kenai's biggest flaws is his need to prove his own capability and strength. He chafes at his totem for being centered around love, as he does not see the value in such a virtue, and never takes time to consider alternative viewpoints, instead reacting with hostility and self-righteousness to any who challenge him. He is brash and quick to anger, and often jumps headfirst into situations, causing undue problems and trouble.
His anger becomes especially extreme after Sitka's death. He hunts down the bear responsible in a blind, bloodthirsty rage and does not allow the bear any chance of escape. He provokes the fight, just as he had initially, and fights with a vengeance.
After being transformed into a bear, Kenai reacts with disgust to his new form, as he harbors a particular hatred for bears. He shows a hot-tempered, sarcastic side in his dealings with the other animals, particularly with Koda, whom he perceives as an annoying kid. He is quite rude to Koda, as he shows disregard for Koda's situation and frequently puts him down for his sociable nature. When pushed, Kenai can turn nasty, making mean comments and raising his voice.
Over time, Kenai grows more affectionate and mature in his dealings with Koda, even becoming a brother-like figure to him. Kenai displays protectiveness and responsibility, and comes clean about his past mistakes, despite the negative repercussions. It is ultimately because of his relationship with Koda that Kenai takes accountability for his past actions and learns to react with love and understanding to those around him. He goes so far as to surrender his human life in order to care for Koda and make up for his previous wrongdoings.
- Kenai is voiced by Joaquin Phoenix in Brother Bear and Return of the Bear of Love. He is voiced by Patrick Dempsey in Brother Bear 2.
- Kenai is named for the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.