I believe darkness sleeps in every heart, no matter how pure. Given the chance, the smallest drop can spread and swallow the heart."
- —Ansem, Ansem Report
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, and Ienzo, and Xehanort), but was eventually exiled to the Realm of Nothingness when they were corrupted by that same darkness. He himself gained dark powers and renamed himself DiZ, then set out on a quest to avenge himself against his apprentices, leading him to cross paths with Riku and King Mickey and ally with them throughout Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts II.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories
Truly an enigma.
DiZ appeared before Riku in the guise of Ansem, presenting him with choices regarding the darkness within his heart.
It is said he and the king have met.
Kingdom Hearts II
An entity shrouded in mystery.
- Ansem the Wise
The man who called himself "DiZ" and dressed his face in bandages to conceal it, now revealed to be none other than Ansem the Wise.
The true Ansem once studied hearts and the Heartless, but soon ceased his research for fear of disrupting the order of the worlds. But his apprentice Xehanort betrayed him, robbing Ansem of his discoveries and pride.
Since that time, Ansem was driven by vengeance -- but when he saw Riku go so far as to give up his physical form to help Sora, he had a change of heart.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)In the aftermath of the battle between Master Xehanort and Master Eraqus's pupils, Braig led Ansem and Dilan to an amnesiac young man who introduced himself as "Xehanort". Ansem took Xehanort in and worked to help him regain his lost memories. Spoilers end here
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.
Still, 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. Gummi Ship travel was now possible, thanks to Xehanort opening the door in Ansem's basement, and a king of another world, King Mickey 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 Nothingness by his apprentices, and became embittered at their betrayal.
For some time, Ansem remained in the empty realm, constantly writing 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 new found 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 the Xehanort's Heartless from the sidelines.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
DiZ, hoping to gain revenge on the Organization, infiltrates the Organization's second base, Castle Oblivion. There, he monitors Sora and encounters Naminé. DiZ magically speaks to Riku, waking him from his rest between realms, and leading him through the castle to assist Riku in his quest to defeat his darkness. He appears to Riku at the second basement, using his powers to disguise himself as the Heartless "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness", but Riku sees through the disguise, and DiZ reveals himself as the "Voice" that had been leading Riku. With Riku is King Mickey, and DiZ is privately saddened that they cannot talk as they used to, but Mickey begins to suspect DiZ's identity. DiZ provides Riku and the King with the black coats of the Organization, as well as a card that will draw out "Ansem". Using it, Riku defeats the Heartless, though a part of him still lingers in Riku's heart. Riku and King Mickey then set off, and DiZ appears to them at the crossroads in the grassy plain, asking which path they will 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".
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
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. However, Sora is taking too long to awaken, and DiZ convinces Riku to retrieve Roxas, the Nobody of Sora. 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 facsimile 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 co-operate 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 Riku-Ansem form at first, but later tells King Mickey in secret that his heart was aching greatly at the mere sight of Riku.
DiZ eventually infiltrates Organization XIII's home world, The World That Never Was. He takes it upon himself to stop Xemnas by using his Kingdom Hearts Encoder 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, 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 Riku-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 inadvertently summoning forth several hundred Heartless in the city below.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)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, now dressed in his own black coat, is found by Aqua at the Dark Meridian. She and Ansem talk, and Ansem reveals that he is once again losing his memories. He begins explaining his past deeds, and mentions that a boy with a Keyblade has always saved the world from darkness. She asks him about the worlds, and he tells her how Sora will save the worlds from being engulfed by darkness, and recalls his experiences with the boy. He felt reassured as he hid his research data within Sora while he slept, so as to open the door and help those who are "crippled". Spoilers end here
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.
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 an odd, angular 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 sems 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 puches are all identical, all sporting the same design on the top flap, and all closed by a darker brown strap that attatches 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".
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.
- "That is correct. DiZ, or so I am known. You—I’ve watched you all along."
- "It appears we've come to a standstill. This has gone on long enough. Riku...I think you know what needs to be done."
- "It's been too long, my friend."
- "Sora and Riku are together. We have no part to play here."
- "I was...obsessed with thoughts of revenge. My apprentices stole everything precious to me—my research, and my pride."
- "Riku was the victim of my revenge...Oh, how my heart ached. I could only laugh to hide my shame."
- "I'm a fool. I've spent years studying the workings of the heart. Yet it seems like I still haven't learned a thing!"
- "It's always the same. I try to wrap my mind around things my heart already knows, only to fail."
- "I'm afraid that any world you try to create...Any world of yours...would be an empire of ignorance. That is why you and your creation are destined to fall!"
- "King Mickey, my friend, forgive me! Farewell!"
- 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.
- Prior to Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories's American release, Derek Stephen Prince confirmed on his blog that Sir Christopher Lee would reprise his role as DiZ, but Corey Burton replaced him on the release date. The reasons why Lee couldn't return are still unexplained, but he reprises his role in the English version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.