|This article is about Ansem the Wise. You may be looking for Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.|
I believe darkness sleeps in every heart, no matter how pure. Given the chance, the smallest drop can spread and swallow the heart.
Ansem the Wise is the sage-king of Radiant Garden during Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. In order to protect his people from the darkness, he spent much of his time studying the heart with his apprentices (Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, Ienzo, and Xehanort), but was eventually exiled to the Realm of Darkness when they were corrupted by that same darkness. He himself gained dark powers, renaming himself DiZ (Darkness in Zero) and setting out on a quest to avenge himself throughout Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts II.
Originally, Ansem was a peaceful and kind scholar, who sought to learn more to help him in his reign as Radiant Garden's king. He was ready to trust his closest students with his findings and even asked for their support. Upon nursing Terra-Xehanort back to health, Ansem permitted him to live in his castle, showing compassion for people with amnesia. He bonded with King Mickey, forming a deep friendship that helped heal his heart in times of stress. However, he could be stern, given he yelled at Xehanort for trying to continue their taboo experiments.
After being exiled by the Nobodies of his apprentices, Ansem became consumed by loath, though still retained his dedication to protecting the worlds. Because of his apprentices, he held a strong racism against Nobodies, seeing every one of them as nothing but an empty existence taking up space. This is shown by his use of the term "witch" to describe Naminé, and his refusal to permit Roxas to know the truth about his existence, saying that "a Nobody doesn't have a right to know. Nor does it even have a right to be".
After his encounters with Sora and his friends, Ansem began to see how much he was hurting others in his quest for vengeance. An indication of how greatly he was affected, is seen by his laughing when Riku introduces himself as "Ansem", as means to mask the pain he felt for causing him to go so far to awaken Sora. After contemplating on how insensitive he would have been all just for revenge and how unfair his treatment of Roxas and Namine was, Ansem felt deep remorse and guilt for so easily succumbing to his desire for revenge and how it caused the suffering of many callously. His desire to repent reached levels where he was more than ready to give his life to atone and he sincerely apologized to Roxas for how callously and unceremoniously he treated him before his death. Learning from his lessons of trying to experiment with the heart, Ansem fully acknowledged and showed no bitterness on how little he understood the workings of a heart, instead simply laughing and calling himself a fool for it. While facing Xemnas, the very apprentice who double-crossed him, rather than furiously charging at him, Ansem focused solely on encoding Kingdom Hearts but this did not prevent him from exchanging bitter words with Xemnas.
Ansem the Wise originally wore a periwinkle labcoat, identical to those worn by some of his apprentices (Even, Ienzo, and Xehanort), save for the color. Underneath this, he wore a dark grey vest, white collared shirt, and a violet ascot, as well as black pants and shoes. He also draped a red sweater or coat of some sort over his shoulders. Ansem's hair was blond and worn long and slicked back. He also sported a short mustache and goatee. His eyes are bright orange.
As DiZ, Ansem dons a much more complex outfit. His face is covered in red bandages, save for his right eye and mouth, and he tied two intersecting belts around his head, one passing over where his left eye should be. He wears a long, red cape with a quadrate cross cut taken out at the chest, the edges of which are yellow. This cut exposes a similarly oblong white symbol on a pitch-black shirt.
Overtop this shirt, DiZ wears what seems to be grey, segmented armor over his sides and abdomen. His legs are covered by a long, black cloth lined with yellow, which itself has several brown straps pinned onto the front, seemingly for no purpose other than to create yet another angular pattern. On a yellow sash that hangs around DiZ's waist are three brown pouches, descending downward diagonally on his left hip. These pouches are all identical, all sporting the same design on the top flap, and all closed by a darker brown strap that attaches to a silver button on the right ride, a grey tassel hanging from each button. Like Ansem and his coat, DiZ wears a dark colored scarf around his neck. He also has light colored sleeves.
Notably, Ansem's skin is darker when in his "DiZ" disguise, and his beard is not present, despite his chin being mostly visible. When he removes the bandages, however, these changes disappear in a dark vapor, suggesting that Ansem used his dark magic to artificially change his appearance. His eyes appear to be a much darker shade of amber orange when he is not in the DiZ persona, but this is likely an optical illusion caused by the difference in skin color of Ansem and DiZ. In fact, his skin and eye color while disguised as DiZ are very similar to those of "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness".
Birth by Sleep
From a time before the Unversed began invading the Realm of Light, Ansem was the king of Radiant Garden, the "city of light". He governed the Radiant Garden in peace and studied ways to make it safer with his five apprentices, Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, and the orphan Ienzo.
In the aftermath of the battle between Master Eraqus's pupils and Master Xehanort, Braig led Ansem and Dilan to an amnesiac young man who introduced himself as "Xehanort". Ansem took the young man in, as well as the Keyblade and armor lying next to him, and worked to help him regain his lost memories.
Ansem is later seen walking through the halls of his castle with Ienzo, while both eat sea-salt ice cream. Ienzo suddenly stops, causing Ansem to look behind himself and see Xehanort and Braig in another hallway, deep in conversation.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
As the years went on, Ansem the Wise became worried that the darkness of people's hearts would one day swallow his beloved home. In order to understand and counter it, Ansem began conducting tests on Xehanort's heart. Ansem also hoped that this would unlock Xehanort's hidden memories, and his apprentice showed interest in the plan. However, the more he probed, the more he became worried about Xehanort's well-being and his possibly superhuman abilities.
Even so, Ansem eventually constructed a large laboratory in the basement of his castle, encouraged by Ienzo. However, Ansem's six apprentices used the laboratory in order to conduct inhumane experiments on the human heart and the darkness within it. Ansem immediately ordered his apprentices to cease their experiments and sealed the chamber. Still, Ansem sank into despair over his error in experimenting on Xehanort. However, Gummi Ship travel was now possible, thanks to Xehanort opening the door in Ansem's basement, and a ruler of another world, King Mickey, soon arrived.
The two rulers became great friends, conversing over many subjects, and their companionship began to heal Ansem's heart. King Mickey eventually advised Ansem the Wise to review the research data; Ansem discovered the Ansem Reports, penned under his name, but written by Xehanort. Ansem began to see that the damage he had done had become irreversible.
Eventually and unfortunately, the six apprentices dabbled too deep into the darkness behind his back. They were consumed by it, with Xehanort producing his Heartless and Nobody, while the other five apprentices also produced powerful Nobodies, making the elder members of Organization XIII. His mistakes had caught up to him when Ansem was plunged into the Realm of Darkness by his apprentices, and became resentful at their betrayal.
For some time, Ansem remained in the empty realm, constantly writing his own reports in order to maintain his sanity. Here, he also discarded his old, stolen name, and became DiZ ("Darkness in Zero"). Eventually, he found a way to escape when he gained the power of darkness, though he did not intend to let himself be consumed by it like his apprentices. With his newfound powers, DiZ also garbed himself in a red robe and a mask made of red bandages in order to fully conceal his real identity.
Using the Corridors of Darkness, DiZ found Twilight Town, and took refuge in an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of the town. There, he began researching the Nobodies and the Heartless, as well as watching Sora and King Mickey's efforts to defeat Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, from the sidelines.
Chain of Memories
DiZ, hoping to gain revenge on the Organization, infiltrates their second base, Castle Oblivion. There, he monitors Sora and encounters Naminé. DiZ magically speaks to Riku, waking him from his rest between realms and giving him a world card to begin his journey to conquer the darkness in his heart. After Riku destroys the copy of Maleficent, DiZ appears before him in the form of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, giving him more World Cards to use for facing the dark memories of his past.
Following the defeat of Lexaeus and Zexion, DiZ once more appears before Riku, who just reunited with King Mickey. Still disguised, DiZ attempts to have Riku fight him, but Riku sees through the disguise, and DiZ reveals himself as the voice that had been leading Riku. Having met Namine already, DiZ sends Riku to meet her to choose whether or not he wants her to lock his heart to prevent the true Ansem from escaping.
While waiting to see what Riku's answer is, DiZ reunites with his old friend, the King, but is privately saddened that they cannot talk as they used to; he knows Mickey would try persauding him not to follow his plans for revenge. However, Mickey begins to suspect DiZ's identity as he has an air of familiarity about him. DiZ provides Riku and the King with the Black Coats of the Organization, as well as a card that would help Riku defeat Xehanort's Heartless, though a part of him continued to linger in Riku's heart after the Heartless's death.
DiZ, after Riku and Mickey leave, ask which path will they take. Riku chooses the middle road, which DiZ refers to as the "twilight road to nightfall". Riku corrects him, calling it the "road to dawn".
DiZ soon returns to Naminé to aid her in the task to restore Sora's memories, after they were broken apart in Castle Oblivion. Since the castle is still under control of Organization XIII, DiZ convinces Naminé to move Sora, Donald, and Goofy to his lab in Twilight Town, in order to keep them safe. He finds Namine struggling to put Sora's memory back together. Suspecting that she sees something he cannot because of her magic, DiZ asks her what she thinks is causing it; Namine only answers "If his memories become her memories, she will never survive it". This leaves DiZ puzzled as to who Namine means.
After learning that Xion, a puppet created from Sora's missing memories of Kairi, was the reason Namine was unable to finish on time, DiZ set about obtaining her to return the lost memories. However, after Xion willingly came to his hideout to return the memories at the cost of her own existence/memory, DiZ lost her to the Organization when Axel captured her.
After Xion forced Roxas, Sora's Nobody, to kill and absorb her, DiZ saw Sora's memory restoration had completely halted; the kid gloves needed to come off if they were to finish now. DiZ then sent Riku to retrieve Roxas, telling him it would help Sora awaken if they were merged back together.
Riku has no choice but to take on the form of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness in order to defeat Roxas. Seeing the evidence of Riku's devotion to Sora, DiZ slowly begins to lose his lust for revenge, hiding it behind laughter. Still, DiZ continues with the plan, placing Roxas into a digital copy of Twilight Town where he can live out his days under observation, until it is time for him to reunite with Sora.
Kingdom Hearts II
A week later, DiZ, Riku, and Naminé still cooperate with each other to restore the memories of Sora, Goofy, and Donald. However, Naminé begins reaching out towards Roxas, to DiZ's annoyance, while Riku only intends to stick around until Sora awakens. Nonetheless, Roxas fuses with Sora eventually, though Riku does not dispose of Naminé as DiZ had wanted. The three go on their separate paths, while Sora goes off on his journey. Unfortunately, Sora does not function the way DiZ wanted, and all of his plans fall apart. It becomes increasingly obvious to the former ruler that the heart is something he cannot truly understand.
At this point in the story, DiZ has clearly established prejudices against Nobodies. DiZ, unlike Riku, has no pity for Roxas when they abduct him (DiZ simply saying "It's the fate of a Nobody"). Later, when Roxas demands answers to his questions, stating that he has a right to know, DiZ coldly says, "A Nobody doesn't have a right to know, nor does it even have a right to be", and tells Riku that he doesn't care what happens to Roxas as long as Naminé succeeds in restoring Sora, Donald, and Goofy.
Similarly, he does not care what becomes of Naminé, and only keeps her around due to her usefulness, telling Riku that he can dispose of her once Sora's memories are completely restored. This prejudice is likely due to his hatred of his former apprentices and the Nobodies that they have become.
Apparently, he disregards the fact that Roxas and Naminé are special Nobodies who are truly capable of feeling human emotions. This prejudice is what leads Riku to dislike DiZ greatly, and serves as his reason for defying DiZ by deliberately letting Naminé go with Axel, and leaving DiZ once Sora has awoken. However, as the plot progresses, DiZ begins to see the consequences of his actions. DiZ laughs at Riku in his "Ansem" form at first, but later confesses to Mickey that, in secret, his heart was aching greatly.
DiZ eventually infiltrates Organization XIII's home world, The World That Never Was. He takes it upon himself to stop Xemnas by using his machine to digitally encode Kingdom Hearts, which Xemnas had been feeding human hearts in order to cause it to mature, so that he could extract its power and become a god. However, as he ascends the Organization's castle, he is attacked by Nobodies and Heartless, but is saved by his old friend King Mickey.
Mickey helps him to his feet, and, seeing no more reason to hide his identity, DiZ unmasks himself as Ansem. King Mickey asks Ansem why he didn't come to him before the situation got as bad as it did, but Ansem feels that the task of defeating Organization XIII was his because their leader Xemnas is the Nobody of his apprentice Xehanort. He also explains to King Mickey his part in causing Riku to take on his "Ansem" form, and the regrets he had concealed with his true identity. Ansem and King Mickey then set off to seal away Kingdom Hearts.
Finding a good spot, Ansem begins encoding Kingdom Hearts, but sees that the power of Kingdom Hearts is too great to be controlled. The machine begins to overload, and Ansem does his best to contain it, but his efforts become increasingly futile. Sora, Riku, Kairi, Donald, and Goofy, as well as Xemnas, arrive at Mickey and Ansem's location.
Ansem throws bitter words and accusations at Xemnas, though Xemnas simply retorts that Ansem himself was the reason for the destruction wrought on the worlds. Ansem, admitting his errors, states that both he and his former apprentices know as little about the heart as they did ten years ago.
As the machine then goes critical, Ansem gives King Mickey and Riku his final words, tells Sora that the rest is up to him, and sincerely apologizes to Roxas for all that he had put him through (though he does not know if Roxas could hear him). Though Sora and company want to save him, they have no choice but to let him do as his heart commands. The machine then explodes, apparently killing Ansem.
However, his sacrifice is not in vain, as the explosion completely purifies Riku of the presence of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and undoes the majority of Organization XIII's work on Kingdom Hearts, while involuntarily summoning forth several hundred Heartless in the city below.
In reality, Ansem the Wise survived the explosion, but was transported to the Realm of Darkness with no apparent way to return. Shortly afterward, Ansem, dressed in his own black coat, is found by Aqua at the Dark Meridian; they converse. During their chat, Ansem reveals that he has been slowly losing his memories since his arrival. He then wonders how long it has been since he last saw Sora, thinking it to be a year. He begins explaining his past deeds that lead to many peoples' misery, and mentions that boy has always saved the world from darkness with Keyblade in hand.
She asks him about the worlds, and he tells her how Sora twice saved the worlds from being engulfed by darkness, and recalls his experiences with the boy. He also adds to Aqua that he has hidden his research data within Sora while he was regaining his memories, and hopes that Sora will one day use this to open "the door" and save them along with all the others connected to his heart that are waiting their new beginnings; "birth by sleep".
Dream Drop Distance
A copy of Ansem the Wise appears before Riku inside Sora's heart. He is only made of data, compared to the real Ansem the Wise. He explains briefly to Riku why he is there, what the heart truly does and how Sora is the key to bringing back those who were lost forever. Before telling Riku that he has awakened Sora's heart, Riku has already defeated the Nightmare that had his friend trapped. He then answers the questions put to him by people who connect to Sora: Roxas, Ventus, and Xion. Riku and Ansem also share a laugh at Sora's expense before Riku departs.
Ansem the Wise has no combat abilities to speak of, but since gaining the power of darkness during his banishment, he has been shown to be able to do at least three things. In one of his reports, Ansem stated that after he discovered his new-found powers, he gained the ability to use Corridors of Darkness for travel, though he admits that it was difficult to control initially. This was shown after Riku defeats Roxas; Ansem arrives shortly to take Roxas with him. To avoid being recognized, Ansem has also displayed the ability to change his outward appearance to conceal his identity.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, he uses this ability to become Xehanort's Heartless to guide Riku. He also seems to be quite skilled at manipulating the darkness around himself and in other people's hearts. Both cases were shown when Ansem, as Xehanort's Heartless, easily deflects an attack from Riku with a shield of darkness and when he unlocks the darkness within Riku's heart to allow him to wield it as a weapon.
Ansem is also a technical genius, having created a functioning digital replica of Twilight Town. His facility in Twilight Town is a very high-tech laboratory, filled with computer screens and several suspended-animation pods. He also was able to copy the body of his research, and himself, into Sora's heart whilst Naminé restored his memory.
- The Japanese writing of "Ansem" can be read as anthem, which may be a reference to his devotion and leadership of Radiant Garden. Confusion over "Ansem" versus "anthem" may also explain the otherwise nonsensical title of the fourth Kingdom Hearts II novel Anthem―Meet Again/Axel Last Stand.
- In the English version, Ansem the Wise/DiZ is the second character portrayed by both the late Sir Christopher Lee and Corey Burton after Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus from the Star Wars series.
- On May 18, 2021, Genzō Wakayama, the Japanese voice actor of Ansem the Wise, passed away at the age of 88 due to heart failure. He voiced his last role as Ansem the Wise in Melody of Memory.