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|Origin||Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep|
|Home World||Keyblade Graveyard|
|Haley Joel Osment|
- "He has no control over the darkness in his heart. The Keyblade is not his to bear. He's an abomination beyond hope of salvation."
- —Master Xehanort to Terra, regarding Vanitas
Vanitas, also known as The Masked Boy (仮面の少年 Kamen no Shōnen?), is a Keyblade wielder, the creation and second apprentice of Master Xehanort, the embodiment of the extracted darkness from Ventus's heart and the progenitor of the Unversed. Vanitas is one of the main antagonists in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
Vanitas's name is derived from the Latin word for "Vanity" or "Emptiness", and was chosen for its meaning, that it sounded similar to "Ventus" and that it was a written pun on "Sora" in Japanese.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
- The Masked Boy
A mysterious figure with ties to Master Xehanort.
He warned Ventus that Terra was in some kind of danger, but disappeared before explaining any further.
A mysterious boy who hides his face behind a mask. He has ties to Master Xehanort.
Vanitas warned Ventus that Terra was in some kind of danger, but disappeared before explaining any further.
Pre-Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
- "Empty creature from Ventus riven... to you, the name Vanitas shall be given."
- —Master Xehanort, upon Vanitas's creation
Four years before the events of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Ventus served as Master Xehanort's apprentice. The Keyblade wielder was sent to the Keyblade Graveyard, where he was forced by his master to face several Heartless in an attempt to forge the χ-blade. Ventus was unable to use his darkness, and was knocked unconscious.
Master Xehanort then proceeded to use his Keyblade to unlock Ventus's heart, extracting the darkness within and resulting in an orb of dark energy forming into a young boy in a mask who is then given the name "Vanitas" by Master Xehanort. The dark enigma is also the source of the Unversed, as well as a key component in Master Xehanort's plans.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Novels
In the novels, Vanitas's life between his creation and the events of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is expanded upon. At first, Vanitas was a faceless being much like a Heartless but with red eyes, that felt sad for his separation from Ventus. However, that sadness soon turned to hate and contempt for what he considered his weakness. In a way, Vanitas hated himself for being so weak.
Vanitas was well aware of his existence, and soon started questioning why he was born, and every time he felt something, an Unversed would come to be. This caused him to be irritated by the fact that such a monster was born from him, so he destroyed the Unversed with his Keyblade without any hesitation; but every time he destroyed an Unversed, he himself would feel strong physical pain running through his body, and after the Unversed was destroyed, the pain and negative feeling would return to Vanitas's mind, which added more to the irritation he was feeling and in turn another Unversed of "irritation" would be born from him.
When a newborn's heart came in contact with Ventus's fractured heart, he also directly contacted Vanitas's heart. After feeling a sharp pain in his chest, Vanitas's body fell to the ground of the wasteland near the Keyblade Graveyard and almost lost his consciousness, feeling being engulfed by absolute Darkness. That was when Vanitas heard Sora's voice and then he saw Light.
The Light eventually surrounded his whole body. He then heard a voice saying, "Let's open the door". Vanitas then opened his eyes and found out that now he had a normal boy's face. He also realized that someone, probably also a newborn heart like himself, had saved Ventus's heart from completely fading away.
Because Vanitas told Master Xehanort that if he kept both him and Ventus, he couldn't guarantee that he could keep Ventus alive, since he found it was hard to suppress his impulse to hurt Ventus, Xehanort had to take Ventus to the Land of Departure, asking Eraqus to take care of the boy. But after Ventus left, Vanitas started to miss him, and he kept wondering why they got separated from each other. This caused him to feel miserable and immense pain.
At the same time, he also felt very lost and anxious about his future; without Ventus, what would become of him? What was he supposed to do? What was the meaning of his existence? Why did he feel so suffocated in his chest? The more he thought about these questions, the more anxious, irritated, and lonely he felt. And the more he felt that, the more Unversed were created. Looking at the Unversed was like looking at his own weakness that he did not want to admit, so he started to kill them in a cycle of suffering that he could not escape.
At the same time, Master Xehanort could only coldly watch Vanitas harming himself from far away. Vanitas desperately wanted to escape from this vicious cycle of pain and suffering. But as young as he was at that time, he simply didn't know any other ways other than killing the Unversed. Until the point the pain was too much to endure, he finally collapsed onto the ground of Keyblade Graveyard, and cried. Tears started running down his face silently as he lay on the ground, alone. Master Xehanort came to him, telling him the only way for him to achieve salvation was to become the χ-blade.
Becoming the χ-blade was the only way for him to truly unite with Ventus again, and the χ-blade would bring salvation not only to him but also to the whole world. Vanitas desperately wanted to free himself from this unbearable fate, thus to become the χ-blade had now become his goal, his whole life purpose, and his only Light of Hope to lead him out of this Darkness.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
After Master Xehanort views the battle between Terra and Aqua as part of their Mark of Mastery exam, he leaves the room to find Vanitas hidden awaiting him. The two converse about Ventus, and Vanitas claims that Ventus's performance was weak, and he still needs to "break that loser in". Master Xehanort instructs him to do so somewhere else as he needed to keep up appearances.
So Vanitas decides to give Ventus an "incentive" to leave home. Vanitas later appears before Ventus in his room, speaking of Terra being a different person, and that Ventus should follow and try to help him before it's too late.
Ventus becomes very defensive, saying that Vanitas does not know the first thing about Terra, and that they will always be friends. Vanitas simply mocks his friendship with Terra, telling him to grow up and vanishes into a Corridor of Darkness, claiming that unless Ventus sees it for himself and looks beyond his "tiny world," he will never know the truth.
Vanitas then travels to different worlds, spreading his Unversed across them in hopes of making Ventus strong enough to forge the χ-blade.
After his first few ventures throughout the worlds, Ventus spots Vanitas in the Lanes Between and is lured to the Keyblade Graveyard. Ventus interrogates him about what he meant about Terra being a different person. Vanitas simply reiterates what he said before, that Terra will be gone forever, and challenges him to a duel, intent on testing his power and revealing for the first time he is a Keyblade wielder.
Despite Ventus's best efforts, Vanitas easily outmatches Ventus, gaining the upper hand mid-way, and knocking him down. Vanitas then prepares to eliminate Ventus, deeming the boy too worthless to be of use, but before he could deal the final blow, Mickey Mouse appears, healing Ventus. Mickey then reprimands Vanitas for using his Keyblade to bully others, and the two then proceed to fight Vanitas, who simply shrugs off the fight and leaves yet again upon his defeat, claiming that Ventus is on "probation".
After the battle against the Trinity Armor in Radiant Garden, the ensuing argument forces Terra, Ventus, and Aqua to go their separate ways. While Aqua is in the Central Square, Vanitas appears, taunting her by calmly inquiring about Ventus and if he has gotten stronger. When Aqua asks what he means, Vanitas, in a more hostile tone, states that he is asking the questions as he claims that between the two of them, he will be the only one who will walk away alive, and attacks, the two fighting a vicious battle with Aqua as the victor.
After the duel, Aqua attempts to unmask Vanitas while he is unconscious, but the dark enigma quickly recovers, startling her with an insane laugh. He then compliments her skill and congratulates her on her victory, making an ambiguous comment about her being his backup plan, revealing that it was all a ruse to test her strength. Ventus returns to Aqua's side just as he leaves in another Corridor of Darkness.
While in Neverland, Vanitas encounters and kidnaps Mickey on Master Xehanort's orders to use Mickey as bait to lure Ventus back to the Keyblade Graveyard. Though the fight is not shown, it is clear Vanitas wins. The villain later crosses paths with Aqua again, this time with Ventus's cherished Wooden Keyblade. Vanitas cruelly mocks Aqua for playing treasure hunter with the "kiddies", proceeding to tell her that, with Ventus's new-found strength, he has "outgrown" the toy, and then snaps it in half, an act that both enrages and horrifies Aqua.
Throwing the pieces aside, Vanitas also claims that he has outgrown his need for Aqua as his backup plan and draws his Keyblade, intent on eliminating her. Aqua, outraged by the act of cruelty and at the thought of Ventus being in danger, calls Vanitas a freak and battles the dark enigma once again, soundly defeating him and knocking him unconscious. Aqua, believing she has finally finished Vanitas, and exhausted by the battle, passes out, as a revived Vanitas takes the opportunity to escape once again.
Vanitas encounters Ventus again in Destiny Islands, after the latter is thrown through a portal summoned by Terra. Ventus initially tells Vanitas that he is through with him. But Vanitas simply tells him that since he is strong enough, Ventus can join with him to forge the χ-blade. Ventus refuses, claiming that the χ-blade cannot be forged if he does not fight. Vanitas, though slightly angered, remains unfazed, responding only by coldly stating that Ventus was once "too broken to talk back".
Then, in the ensuing flashback, Vanitas explains his birth from the darkness in Ventus's heart, and how he took his place as Master Xehanort's apprentice. This causes Ventus great pain in regaining his memories. Vanitas then gives Ventus a reason to fight, challenging the boy to come find him in the Keyblade Graveyard, the one and only place where the χ-blade can be forged, where he threatens to kill Terra and Aqua to see how long Ventus will "play the pacifist". He then disappears into a Corridor of Darkness. Ventus, haunted by Vanitas's deranged threats, and determined to end this once and for all, goes to the Keyblade Graveyard.
When Terra, Ventus, and Aqua approach their final battle with Vanitas and Master Xehanort at the Keyblade Graveyard, intense battles ensue. The two villains meet up with the trio, and after Master Xehanort explains his plans for the χ-blade, the trio armors up and Terra quickly charges towards them. Master Xehanort intervenes, however, blocking Terra's path with massive rock formations. As Terra continues to pursue Master Xehanort, Vanitas goes after Aqua and Ventus, riding on a cloud of Keyblades Master Xehanort created. The two fight valiantly against the dark apprentice, but not before Vanitas returns to Master Xehanort's side before the latter freezes Ventus. He battles Terra alongside Master Xehanort, who later commands Vanitas to go after Ventus and Aqua again.
Vanitas attacks Aqua from above, knocking her unconscious with a devastating blow, and prepares to impale her through the chest while Ventus lies helpless and frozen. Ventus summons all of his willpower, however, and thaws out of the ice to face Vanitas in battle, defeating him once again. Vanitas compliments Ventus on his skill and finally reveals his face, explaining himself to be the source of all Unversed.
Glowing with dark energy, Vanitas then summons several Unversed to restrain Ventus as he proudly explains his plan: to spread the Unversed across the worlds, in hopes of luring Ventus from home and making him strong enough to forge the χ-blade. He then forcefully integrates into him. In a burst of light, Vanitas and Ventus are transported to the Dive to the Heart. Ventus's pillar now hosts a picture of Vanitas alongside his own. There, Vanitas wields an incomplete version of the χ-blade.
Vanitas claims their union was incomplete, and they only managed to make a fraction of the χ-blade. He then tries to join with Ventus once again, but Ventus refuses, vowing to defeat Vanitas and destroy the χ-blade. The dark apprentice simply laughs, confident in the fact that they both know that if the χ-blade is destroyed, Ventus's heart would vanish forever. However, Ventus rebukes him, saying he will fight for his friends and destroy both him and the χ-blade no matter what, even if the price is his heart, despite Vanitas's mocking of his reason to fight. The two Keyblade wielders then begin a final showdown in the Dive to the Heart.
As Ventus battles Vanitas in their shared mind, Aqua and Mickey in the Keyblade Graveyard are attacked by Ventus-Vanitas. Ventus-Vanitas summons the completed χ-blade, and tries to attack Aqua, only for her to be saved by Mickey. He then goes on to explain that he plans to unlock Kingdom Hearts so the worlds can be connected and the legendary Keyblade War can begin again. Aqua, sick of Vanitas's nonsense, confronts him in battle one last time.
As Aqua defeats her possessed friend and destroys the χ-blade, Vanitas's metaphysical battle with Ventus comes to an end after he shatters the pillar on which they were fighting. Vanitas is completely destroyed, taking all Unversed in existence with him and relinquishing his control over Ventus. Unfortunately, it is a pyrrhic victory, as Ventus loses his heart and falls into a coma in the process.
- "Even if you are not the prisoner."
- —Vanitas to Sora
Twelve years later, Vanitas' heart appears within Xehanort in the Realm of Sleep, talking to Sora inside La Cité des Cloches, claiming that Sora has made his heart into a prison. Though he still lacks a body following his defeat, Sora was able to see him physically due to Ventus' heart reacting to Vanitas' from within him.
Vanitas wears a black and red organic-looking bodysuit, which is quite similar to Riku's Dark Mode. He wears a silver helmet covered with dark glass, hiding his face from view. Behind his mask, he looks identical to Sora, although he possesses golden-yellow eyes, jet-black hair, paler skin and a taller, more muscular build.
In an interview with Tetsuya Nomura as well as various novelizations of the game, it is revealed that this similarity is due to Sora's heart connecting with Ventus near the beginning of the game, and had anyone else connected with Ventus's heart, Vanitas would look like that person. His appearance prior to Ventus's connection with Sora was that of a humanoid creature similar to a Heartless but with red eyes.
He normally wields his personal Keyblade, the Void Gear, that is colored primarily in red and black, with two blue eyes like Riku's Soul Eater and Way to the Dawn, Terra's Chaos Ripper, Master Xehanort's personal Keyblade and the alternate reality Xehanort's Keyblade. However, near the end of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, he gains the χ-blade, and when he fuses with Ventus, he also alters Ventus's body to accommodate his yellow eyes and bodysuit.
- "There, you're gonna see me choke the life out of Terra and Aqua. Then we'll see how long you play the pacifist."
- —Vanitas to Ventus
As the "dark" half of Ventus's Heart, Vanitas was at first much like him. However, due to the suffering he endured by the hands of Master Xehanort, and his desperate desire for salvation, he became proud, cunning, and cruel in order to achieve enough strength to forge the χ-Blade with Ventus, believing that to be the salvation he desires. As such, the lives of others, including that of even Master Xehanort, hold absolutely no value to him, and he shows zero remorse for his actions. As a pragmatist, he will strike without a moment's thought, warning, or hesitation, as seen when he ambushes Aqua in the Keyblade Graveyard and attempts to eliminate her.
Despite his loyalty to Master Xehanort, he has no qualms with disregarding his orders if he feels the need arises; for example, he attempts to eliminate Ventus after defeating him in their first battle despite full knowledge that Master Xehanort needed Ventus alive for his plans, all while openly acknowledging that he'd be going against Xehanort's plans by doing so.
He is also shown to be an uncaring, cold, and ruthless individual, having not the slightest sympathy for anyone but himself. Vanitas holds everything and everyone in contempt, and holds a great resentment against Ventus and the friends he has. The envy he feels against them is seen in his frequent criticizing of Ventus's friendships with Terra and Aqua, when he callously breaks Ventus's wooden Keyblade while cruelly antagonizing Aqua for playing with the Lost Boys, his constantly calling Ventus "idiot", and forcing Ventus to fight him by threatening to kill Terra and Aqua after Ventus refused to.
He also possesses a high degree of arrogance, believing his skills surpass all others; in his first fight with Aqua, he claims that he will be the only one that will walk away alive, even bursting into a fit of laughter upon defeat. When fighting her for the final time, Vanitas taunts her by sarcastically asking if she has given up, and boasts that Aqua was just "wasting her energy" trying to stop him. Right before possessing Ventus, he remarks that Ventus never stood a chance against him and Master Xehanort.
When fighting Ventus for the final time, he laughs when Ventus declared he would defeat him and destroy the χ-blade. During this same battle, Vanitas directly states his belief that he is the superior half of Ventus's heart. This extreme overconfidence in his abilities usually leads to his downfall as he underestimates his opponents when fighting.
The only time in the entire game when Vanitas expresses genuine concern and fear is when he has been defeated by Ventus for the final time. He begins to panic and makes a desperate attempt to grab the floating χ-blade in a hopeless flurry to hold onto his only way of salvation before dying. Despite his villainous and fearsome persona, however, Vanitas was actually a tragic and sympathetic character, having become the way he was due to Xehanort's ambitions and manipulations.
Vanitas is, to say the least, a skilled and extremely aggressive opponent, showing a mastery in both dark magic and wielding the Keyblade. He is swift and agile, able to perform complicated and nearly impossible acrobatic feats such as jumping off of a high cliff while landing squarely on his feet, and even riding a cloud of flying Keyblades. He can teleport behind opponents at high speeds to launch attacks while leaving after-images of himself to confuse them.
He is also able to combine physical combos with magic such as attacking from above and causing a large pillar of ice to shoot out of the ground, or attacking opponents from below while bombarding them with fireballs. He can also leap into the air and fire dark lightning bolts from his Keyblade, as well as energize the Keyblade with darkness. Vanitas can also fire dark energy blasts from his Keyblade, and even has his own personal Shotlock dubbed the "Dark Cannon", wherein he creates three large crystals which focus together and fire a large beam of dark energy.
He appears to have superhuman endurance, surviving most of his battles while taking little to no bodily damage, able to make instant recoveries. Vanitas also seems to possess superhuman strength; while possessing Ventus, he is able to shatter Ventus's metaphysical Dive to the Heart pillar with a single strike and create a gust of wind powerful enough to send Aqua and Mickey flying with a single swing of his arm. It is most likely that these actions were made possible only through the χ-blade, which Vanitas wielded on both occasions.
Vanitas is also a difficult opponent to fight in close combat, as he can quickly counterattack if struck multiple times, making him very dangerous. He also demonstrates the ability to levitate. Though he typically uses the Corridors of Darkness to travel, it is shown that Vanitas is freely capable of surviving in and navigating the Lanes Between unaided by surrounding himself in an aura of dark energy.
While Vanitas acts based on his own desires, it appears that Master Xehanort can summon him at will. Vanitas's arguably most dangerous and destructive ability, however, is the power to create and control the Unversed. As he was born from the purest form of darkness, Vanitas can manipulate negative emotions and spawn them as Unversed. Vanitas can also absorb the negativity of any defeated Unversed, able to summon them if needed. According to the novels, the destruction of each Unversed actually causes Vanitas physical pain.
During the last battle against Vanitas in Ventus story, Vanitas becomes a D-Link to Ventus. While using him as a D-Link, Ventus can fly and use some of Vanitas's attacks. It also changes Ventus's Shotlock into Dark Link, a light based version of Vanitas's Shotlock, Dark Cannon. The Finish Command, Last Word, surrounds Vanitas with crystallized beams of light, followed by a powerful slash, to end the battle.
Dark Cannon (ダークキャノン Dāku Kyanon?) is Vanitas's Shotlock. Vanitas Remnant can also use this Shotlock, and when Ventus uses his Vanitas D-Link, his Shotlock becomes a light-version of Dark Cannon named "Dark Link". Dark Cannon generates three crystals in a trigram formation which project rays that fuse and become a giant beam of dark energy.
Vanitas wields a Keyblade known as the Void Gear, and has a battle pose that is very similar to Riku's and Master Xehanort's stance. The Keyblade can be summoned at will, appearing in Vanitas's hand in a flash of purple flame. Vanitas can energize the weapon with dark energy, increasing his attack strength. The Vanitas Remnant also wields a monochrome version of this Keyblade.
When fused with Ventus, Vanitas gains the ability to wield the most powerful Keyblade of all, the χ-blade. This weapon multiplies his initial strength and attack range a great deal. Vanitas shows great skill in wielding both the incomplete and finalized versions of the χ-blade, able to perform strong combos and powerful desperation moves.
- After his first spoken line, Nomura made a joke saying that he was to voice Vanitas. Nomura also stated in another interview that Vanitas's identity was familiar and perhaps also shocking. It was later revealed that Vanitas was voiced by Miyu Irino, the Japanese voice actor for Sora. According to Tetsuya Nomura, Irino had said for a while that he wanted to play an evil character, and Nomura jokingly stated he sort of got carried away with it.
- Vanitas's theme - "Enter the Darkness" samples Roxas's, Ventus's & Sora's theme (In that order).
- Some fans believe that Vanitas's appearance in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance foreshadows his revival.
Notes and references
- ↑ Tetsuya Nomura: I wanted to give him a name that meant "empty", and so I looked for something that would be appropriate. When I was searching I found a word that meant "emptiness" in Latin, "Vanitas". It looked a lot like Ventus's name, and in Japanese it has the kanji for "sora" in it, so I thought it was perfect. Of course in Vanitas's case it doesn't mean "sora [sky]" but "kara [empty]" [These two words are written with the same kanji, but are said differently and have different meanings.]