Vanitas Kingdom Hearts Guide

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Decay Exists as an Extant Form of Life: Overview

Kingdom Hearts is a video game series near and dear to my heart, and Vanitas is my favorite character. He’s a secondary antagonist in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (with this being his introductory game) and a supporting antagonist in Kingdom Hearts III. Vanitas also briefly appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, where he appears in a few cutscenes.

Initially known as The Masked Boy in Birth by Sleep, I believe Vanitas’s story (and character) is baleful. Tragic and bleak.

A Glimpse Within, a Chance of Heart: Who is Vanitas (Kingdom Hearts)?

Vanitas is defined as the embodiment of Darkness for much of the series. He’s initially thought to be the personification of Ventus’ Darkness, but this gets cleared up in Kingdom Hearts III Re: Mind. It’s not clear what Vanitas is, but there are theories.

True Darkness (explained further down in the overview of Union χ Dark Road) is one theory that Xehanort himself presents.

Vanitas can do things that regular people can’t. His little minions, the Unversed, are a perfect example of this. The members of Organization XIII all have their unique little guys, and the Unversed are Vanitas’s little guys. His design takes points from both Sora and Kingdom Hearts I Riku. His appearance is nigh identical to Sora, and the bodysuit is nearly similar to Riku’s Dark Mode suit in Kingdom Hearts I. The main difference between the two and Vanitas is the color palette.

Vanitas is one of the only morally grey characters in Kingdom Hearts thus far. In Kingdom Hearts III, it is clear that he has no desire to be classified as “good” or “evil.” Because it’s not as clear-cut as that.

Vanitas Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Xehanort is a villain in the series; he doesn’t do what he does with good intentions. He wants to unlock Kingdom Hearts, a power source no one can truly define. So far, no one in the series can tell us precisely what Kingdom Hearts is. Just that it promises whoever uncovers/unlocks it something. But he’s seeking this power source for just that- power.

A clear-cut good character would be easily defined with Sora, our beloved protagonist. Sora has always walked the path of Light, and while I’m sure he has some irreversible trauma, he’s done his best always to smile. Sora wants what’s best for everyone, even at the expense of himself. A typical self-sacrificial hero. A martyr.

Riku is the only example of a character in the series with a fuzzy moral compass. But Riku is still easily defined as “good”; he’s part of the protagonist party. While initially antagonistic (Kingdom Hearts I), it clears up into him being more of an antihero than a villain.

Vanitas’ character is something tragic. He’s wiseacre and sarcastic. He’s rude and knows it; he doesn’t care enough to change it. If any Guardians of Light take offense to his attitude and words, that’s on them. Not his fault that they can’t take a little bit of verbal batting.

One thing that makes Vanitas less of a villainous character and more of a bellicose morally-grey character is that Vanitas doesn’t seek Kingdom Hearts. I doubt he cares whether Xehanort unlocks it. He doesn’t seek power in the same way that Xehanort does. In the grand scheme of things, he doesn’t care what ultimately happens and what doesn’t. He’s apathetic, a little fatalistic, and nihilistic. He doesn’t want to be here but is here anyway, so he might as well give it his all. Vanitas wants nothing more than to die, for the most part.

Vanitas doesn’t care much in the end. A lack of self-understanding heavily drives his character. He doesn’t fully know who he is or why he’s here, but he knows he was forcibly split from Ventus. Much of his character definition comes from his intense desire to end his suffering. He believes that the way to do this is to reunite with Ventus, and he wants to forge the χ-Blade (pronounced Cross Blade) to force himself back into Ventus’ heart.

Obscuring Mist of the Narrative: Vanitas’s Story in Kingdom Hearts

Despite the lacking information about Vantias, we do have something. As the games continue, it becomes known that Vanitas remembers something. Regardless of how much something is from himself or someone else is something unknown. To ensure that Vanitas’ story is as easy to navigate as possible in this guide, I will split this section up. The split will depend on the game and place within the canon timeline.

The Beginning of the End: Kingdom Hearts: Union χ Dark Road

Kingdom Hearts: Union χ Dark Road (χ is pronounced cross) is the mobile game in the series. Square Enix has rebranded and re-done Kingdom Hearts: Union χ more than once, as seen in its general history. There is a distinction between the Union χ base content and the Dark Road content, with Union χ focusing more on other characters like Strelitzia (Lauriam’s younger sister), Ventus, Ephemer, Lauriam (Marluxia’s Somebody), and Elrena (Larxene’s Somebody). On the other hand, Dark Road plays a significant role in developing Xehanort and Eraqus’ stories and introducing some other characters. Both sets of content help establish the events that led up to the Keyblade War (a period known as The Age of Fairy Tales).

Union χ explains several characters that are becoming more important as the series continues, such as Strelitzia, who appears to play a more significant role in Kingdom Hearts IV, given the game’s trailer. One of the characters who will start being a big player in future games is the Master of Masters (commonly abbreviated to MOM or The Master).

The Master is already critical to the story thus far. He’s the guy who instigated the domino effect that created the Keyblade War and, therefore, Sora’s adventures. The Master’s moral allegiance is somewhat mysterious. It’s known that Darkness views the Master as an old friend, but MOM’s feelings are ultimately unknown. The Darkness and MOM come into play with Vanitas, who is Darkness. Dark Road explains that there are beings who do not have a physical body currently, known as the Thirteen Original Darknesses or True Darknesses.

Thirteen Original Darknesses Vanitas Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Vanitas could be one of the Darknesses. While Vanitas denies it himself, the timeline lines up a little too well for it to be a coincidence.

If we were a True Darkness, he would have gone to one of the vessels for Darkness that the Master made sure were ready by the time the Keyblade War swung around. For Vanitas, this vessel was Ventus. Ventus was also an apprentice to Xehanort during this time. In Birth by Sleep, Ventus is an amnesiac and an apprentice to Eraqus.

It is known that after Ventus becomes one of the Darkness’s chosen vessel, the Darkness temporarily takes control of him. Under the influence of the Darkness, he strikes down Strelitzia and steals her Rulebook. This gives him the title of Union Leader, which was meant for Strelitzia. While the Darkness that did this is not identified, it can be assumed to be Vanitas.

Ventus eventually regains consciousness and ultimately ends up in a Dream World where we can piece together precisely what Ventus did. The Union χ Team (Brain, Ephemer, Skuld, Lauriam, and now Ventus) fight the Darkness in Ventus’ heart. Ventus passes out, and the classic Xehanort time-travel shenanigans ensue at this point. They use the Lifeboats (the weird, pod-like things people can find in Kingdom Hearts I) to transport themselves into the future.

Ventus enters his brief apprenticeship under Xehanort. Xehanort is already pushed into being a Seeker of Darkness, so he tries to force Ventus into utilizing the Darkness he knows resides inside him. Ventus ultimately ends up passed out in the Keyblade Graveyard, unable to call out his Darkness, and Xehanort takes the opportunity to unlock his heart. This is where Xehanort unearths Vanitas from Ventus’ heart and where Ventus becomes an amnesiac.

…See what I mean about the timeline lining up a little too well?

5,000 Year Power Naps: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Birth by Sleep takes place four years after Union χ events. Most of Vanitas’ role in this game boils down to Vanitas playing a variation of a cat-and-mouse game with the Wayfinder Trio (Aqua, Terra, and Ventus). Vanitas’ goal of the ploy is to “unify” with Ventus by fusing the χ-Blade between them.

Vanitas kicks off his appearance in this game by telling Xehanort (Who is the old man version and is referred to as Master Xehanort.) that he needs to “break that looser in” (referencing Ventus). Xehanort tells him to do that elsewhere, citing his need to keep up his cunning and trickery. So instead of duking it out with Ventus in the middle of a field somewhere in the Land of Departure, Vanitas waits and stalks Ventus for a minute. Eventually, Ventus laments that Terra has changed fundamentally somewhere. Vanitas takes advantage of Ventus’ insecurity regarding his and Terra’s relationship. It helps that Xehanort is working on manipulating Terra, so Ventus’ observation is rooted in that.

PS4 Ventus Vanitas Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Vanitas provokes Ventus to leave the Land of Departure by mocking his friendship with Terra. Vanitas hops out of the Land of Departure and spreads his Unversed around several worlds. He hopes this will force Ventus to become strong enough to forge the χ-blade with him. This ultimately ends with Vanitas possessing Ventus, creating Ventus-Vanitas.

…Although Ventus-Vanitas is more Vanitas than Ventus.

United in Sleep: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Vanitas Cathedral Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

As stated earlier, Vanitas only briefly appears in Dream Drop Distance. He appears as a mirage behind Young Xehanort in La Cité des Cloches while Sora talks to Young Xehanort. To say it bluntly, this is an after-effect of Sora’s Heart Hotel. As anyone who’s played the Kingdom Hearts games knows, Sora tends to house others’ hearts in his. Roxas, Xion, and Ventus have all stayed in Sora’s heart while they don’t have access to a body of their own. And, by extension of Ventus, Vanitas has as well.

Due to Ventus’ long-term stay in Sora’s heart, Vantias has been impacted by Sora just as much as he has Ventus. It’s why Vanitas looks like a doppelganger of Sora, just with black hair and gold eyes. Sora sees Vanitas in this scene due to a resonance within himself, Ventus, and Xehanort, which produces an afterimage of Vanitas.

Later, Vanitas shows up in a replica body. He’s donning the black coat, the signature of Organization XIII. He and the rest of the Real Organization XIII that show up during this cutscene gather at Where Nothing Gathers and return to their appropriate points in time.

Time Moves Ever Onward: Kingdom Hearts III + Re: Mind

Vanitas Provoking Aqua Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Vanitas first shows himself in Kingdom Hearts III in Monstropolis. It’s revealed that he wants to merge with Ventus, although he’s long abandoned the idea of fading into the abyss once this happens. He wants to become a complete human, with the Light and the Darkness in his heart.

Vanitas aids Randall in Monstropolis, giving him control over some of his Unversed. As a result of Vanitas’ and Randall’s teamwork, the Lump of Horror Unversed is born with Randall collecting the screams, sadness, and terror of children. Lump of Horror acts as the final boss in Monstropolis.

Later on, Sora will travel to the Land of Departure. Sora, Donald, and Goofy arrive, hoping Sora can awaken Ventus. Vantias tails the party (which now includes Aqua). He extols Aqua for being able to hide Ventus away for so long; Aqua and Vanitas then fight. Sora unlocks Ventus’ heart with the Power of Waking, and the fight stops—Vanitas withdrawals from the Land of Departure.

His final role is during the fight in the Keyblade Graveyard. Vanitas appears with Master Xehanort, Young Xehanort, Xemnas, and Ansem. Together they summon an ungodly number of Heartless, Unversed, and Nobodies to fight the Guardians of Light. Vanitas fights with Terra-Xehanort against Aqua and Ventus.

Re: Mind Content

NOTE: Kingdom Hearts III Re: Mind is the Downloadable Content (DLC) for Kingdom Hearts III; this is the only DLC ever officially released for Kingdom Hearts. The content presented in the DLC is considered canon content.

During the fight between Terra-Xehanort, Aqua, Ventus, and Vanitas, Ventus keeps trying to reach out to Terra (as Terra still exists in Terra-Xehanort). Vanitas snarks that he feels left out, and Ventus tells him that he’ll remerge with him. Vanitas then reveals that he’s not Ventus’ Darkness. He’s an entirely different entity, caged in Ventus’ heart until Xehanort ripped him out, referencing the Thirteen Original Darknesses expounded upon in Dark Road.

Sora joins the battle, and Vanitas is defeated. His helmet shatters, and Sora seems surprised by Vanitas’s uncannily similar appearance. Ventus and Sora plead with Vanitas to join them in the Light, and Vanitas laughs at them and fades away.

NOTE: The Kingdom Hearts III Novel is not considered canon. However, I find that the novel provided fun depth and insight into some of the game characters and scenes.

In the Kingdom Hearts III Novel, you get more backstory with Vanitas. When he is “born,” he is initially faceless, with red eyes. One of the first things he notes is that he’s sad to have been pulled out of Ventus. This sadness is turned into contempt and loathing for this self-perceived weakness, which swiftly congeals into self-hatred.

As Vanitas rapidly becomes aware of his existence, he starts questioning it. Why was he born, created, whatever? Whenever he feels something, an Unversed is made, and he doesn’t know what to do with that. Irritated (or scared), he kills the Unversed. Whenever he destroys an Unversed, he feels a solid physical pain ram through his body. In addition, the emotion the Unversed was created from returns to him, compounding what is already there. This forces the births of more Unversed.

When Sora’s (a baby) heart comes into contact with Ventus’ fractured heart, Sora also contacts Vantias’. Vanitas feels sharp pain lancing through his chest, and he almost loses consciousness. Ventus goes with Sora, and Vantias sees he now has an ordinary boy’s face. He realizes that someone stabilized Ventus, stabilizing him in turn.

Vanitas convinces Xehanort to take Ventus to Eraqus to prevent him from killing Ventus. He states later that he misses Ventus and eventually hardens his resolve to rejoin him. Vanitas decides to go to any length to rejoin Ventus and end his suffering.

May Your Heart Be Your Guiding Key: Vanitas’ Key Relationships

Vanitas doesn’t have too many on-screen relationships. The majority of them can be simplified to he doesn’t like them, such as Aqua and Terra.

Vanitas’ only canonically substantial relationships come with three people: Ventus, Xehanort, and Sora.

Brothers by Bond (And Force!), Not Blood: Ventus

Ventus Sleeping Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Ventus and Vanitas’ relationship is… complicated.

Vanitas frequently refers to Ventus as Brother. However, they don’t have a blood relationship; they’re only thoroughly linked by circumstance. I believe that Vanitas calls him Brother to be derogatory; Vantias doesn’t seriously think that Ventus thinks of him in any familial light. But due to circumstances, they might as well be brothers even if they don’t want to be. A “You get the family you get, not the one you want” thing.

Dubiously Canon: Kingdom Hearts III Novel

NOTE: The novel is not considered canon.

In the Kingdom Hearts III Novel, Vantias is mentioned to miss Ventus. It is also stated that Ventus is with Eraqus in Birth By Sleep, to begin with, because Vanitas convinced Xehanort to put him there. Afraid of killing Ventus, he chose to put Ventus somewhere relatively safe. I like this addition. It adds humanity to Vanitas, that otherwise is harder to find. He cares; he doesn’t trust himself. He’s afraid of himself. He doesn’t know how to show that he cares outside of removing himself entirely.

Ventus housed Vantias in his heart the longest, and Vanitas was ultimately puked out. Initially, everyone thought Vanitas was a personification of Ventus’ Darkness. A long-thought “fact” was that Ventus was void of Darkness, a heart of pure Light. This was accepted as fact by even the characters in the games.

Ventus, an amnesiac, doesn’t remember who Vantias is or how he got into his heart. He doesn’t think there could have been anything other than himself in there. Aqua and Terra never had the context required to put two-and-two together for Vanitas’ identity, and the same can be said for everyone else. The only guys who knew what Vanitas was instantly would be Xehanort (fiend) and Eraqus (dead). Marluxia and Larxene could have called him out, but neither of them is shown to have the memories of their Somebodies.

But Ventus’ heart didn’t make Vanitas. It was a safe house for Vanitas (a True Darkness) until Xehanort ripped him out.

Regardless of the complexity, Ventus and Vantias’ relationship can be called antagonistic. As can all of Vanitas’ relationships.

Nasty Son of a Binomial: Xehanort

Xehanort Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Vanitas and Xehanort’s relationship can be simplified into Master-Servant. Xehanort molded Vanitas into what he is. Vanitas follows him, but not out of loyalty.

Vanitas only really works with Xehanort because Xehanort is the only person who’s always been there. He also gave a clear path to Vantias on how to vanish from the mortal plane. Xehanort is like a crappy father figure for Vanitas; he taught Vantias how to perceive the world and what to do to achieve his end goal. He encouraged Vanitas’ desire to disappear, if only because it worked in his favor.

The Unlucky Third Wheel (Sort-Of): Sora

Sora Goofy Donald Lod Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Sora and Vanitas don’t have a very impressive on-screen relationship. He calls Sora Brother with Ventus, likely due to Sora’s impact on his physical form. Vantias’ identity is just as heavily formed from Sora as he is from Ventus, although Sora has repeatedly forgotten Vanitas. A notable continuity error in the games is that Sora has seen Vanitas in previous games, but he is surprised by Vanitas’ appearance in Kingdom Hearts III.

You Are What You Eat: The Unversed

Vanitas Unversed Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

Vanitas has control over his little freaks called Unversed. They’re born from his emotions, which are frequently (read: always) negative. It’s assumed that Unversed can be created from Vanitas’ positive emotions, but we’ve only ever received examples of negative Unversed.

Vanitas has 50 Unversed that you meet in the games. I’ll provide a table below, including names and images.


Scrapper image from Birth by Sleep: Final Mix. Scrapper Bruiser Red Hot Chili Monotrucker


Shoegazer Spiderchest Archraven



Tank Toppler Vile Phial Sonic Blaster

Triple Wrecker

Wild Bruiser

Blue Sea Salt Yellow Mustard Mandrake

Buckle Bruiser

Chrono Twister

Axe Flapper Prize Pod Blobmob



Flame Box

Lone Runner Vitality Vial Belly Balloon


Gluttonous Goo

Element Cluster Floating Flora Flowersnake


Spiked Turtletoad Wheel Master Symphony Master

Cursed Coach

Spirit of the Magic Mirror
Mad Treant Trinity Armor Metamorphosis Mimic Master Iron Imprisoner I
Iron Imprisoner II Iron Imprisoner III Iron Imprisoner IV

Vanitas Remnant

Lump of Horror


Lump of Horror

A Macabre Art: Vanitas’ Boss Fights

Vanitas has an aggressive fighting style and frequently relies on agility and speed. Vanitas can utilize magic and his Keyblade and perform a Dimension Link (D-Link) with Ventus in Birth by Sleep.

Sims Ladder Removal: Birth by Sleep

Vanitas Ventus Fight Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

In Birth by Sleep, Vanitas fights Terra in the final battle with Master Xehanort. Fortunately, only Vanitas needs to be defeated for story progression.

Vanitas fights Ventus three times. In the Keyblade Graveyard, Destiny Islands, and finally in Ventus’ Dive to the Heart.

Aqua fights him twice. In Radiant Garden and Neverland.

Ability Name and Information Ability Description Which Battle
Continuous Slash


A rushing slash followed by a spinning slash. 

Chance of crescent-shaped blade of Darkness.

– — – — – — – — –

This ability can utilize two different attacks.

Keyblade Attribute Physical Terra


Ventus: Battles 1, 2, 3

Aqua: Battles 1, 2

Guard Yes, with knockback/interrupt
Blade of Darkness Attribute Physical
Guard Yes, without knockback/interrupt
Warp Downslash


Warps above opponent, leaving afterimage. Downswing while falling.

Attribute Physical Terra


Ventus: Battles 1, 2

Aqua: Battles 1, 2

Guard Yes, with knockback/interrupt
Dark Firaga


Homing fireball that later splits into multiple, smaller homing fireballs.

Attribute Fire Terra


Ventus: Battles 1, 2

Aqua: Battles 1, 2

Guard Yes, without knockback/interrupt
Dark Thundaga


Vanitas jumps up and casts a fan-shaped lightning attack.

Attribute Neutral Terra


Ventus: Battles 1, 2, 3

Aqua: Battles 1, 2

Guard No
Shadow Dive


Swings Keyblade down and plunge into the earth. He follows the opponent and leaps out of the ground with a swing, creating a shock wave. Done 1-3 times, fires flame spells around him on final leap out. Flames make a U-shape and create flame pillars.

– — – — – — – — –

This ability can utilize five different attacks.

Keyblade Attribute Neutral Terra


Ventus: Battle 2

Aqua: Battle 2

Guard No
Jump Out Attribute Neutral
Guard No
Shock Wave Attribute Neutral
Guard No
Flames Attribute Neutral
Guard No
Flame Pillar Attribute Neutral
Guard No
Keyblade Ride


Rides a swarm of Keyblades. Will either rush the opponent or fire three ice bullets.

— – — – — – — –

This ability can utilize two different attacks.

Rush Attribute Physical Ventus: Battle 2
Guard Yes, without knockback/interrupt
Ice Bullets Attribute Blizzard
Guard Yes, without knockback/interrupt
X Discharge


A shock wave is emitted from Vanitas, followed by a spinning slash. He follows up with a jumping slash that releases four shockwaves in different directions. Another spinning slash follows this, followed by an X-shaped slash which releases an X-shaped blade.

— – — – — – — –

This ability can utilize five different attacks.

Shock Wave Attribute Neutral Ventus: Battle 3
Guard No
Spinning Slash Attribute Neutral
Guard No
Jump Slash Attribute Neutral
Guard No
X-Shaped Slash Attribute Neutral
Guard No
X-Shaped Blade Attribute Neutral
Guard No
Dark Splicer


Warp to the opponent’s side with several slashes. The warping also damages the opponent.

Attribute Dark Ventus: Battle 3
Guard Yes, with knockback/interrupt
Dark Spiral


Rush attack performed three times, with the χ-Blade held sideways.

Attribute Neutral Ventus: Battle 3
Guard No
Dark Cannon


This is utilized after breaking the Station of Awakening—multiple lock-ons are followed by one laser fired.

Attribute Neutral Ventus: Battle 3
Guard No

Framed Kitchen Quotes in the Bathroom: Kingdom Hearts III

Vanitas Boss Kingdom Hearts
Image by Lisette Spalding

In Kingdom Hearts III, Vantias is fought twice. In the Land of Departure and the Keyblade Graveyard.

Ability Name Attack Attribute Does Guard Work? Repel Level Required Which Battle
Continuous Slash


Downward swing while somersaulting creates a forward-moving shock wave.

– — – — – — – — –

This ability utilizes two different attacks.

Keyblade Physical Yes, without knockback/interrupt 2 Battles 1, 2
Shock Wave N/A
Warp Downward Slash


Warp over the opponent with a downward slash. Includes an icicle sprouting from below. 

It can be blocked from behind.

– — – — – — – — –

This ability utilizes two different attacks.

Keyblade Physical Yes, without knockback/interrupt 2 Battles 1, 2
Icicle Blizzard 3
Dark Firaga


Launches one giant homing fireball that later splits into five small homing fireballs.

– — – — – — – — –

*Cannot be guarded against after the split.

  Yes, without knockback/interrupt 2* Battles 1, 2
Shadow Dive


Dives into the underground. When hopping out, Vanitas sprays fireballs around himself.

– — – — – — – — –

This ability utilizes two different attacks.

Keyblade Physical Yes, without knockback/interrupt 2 Battles 1, 2
Fireball Fire N/A
Keyblade Ride


This attack follows the following steps:

A cascade of homing ice projectiles

Charges at the opponents three times

He creates a Keyblade tornado centered on himself and fires ten bunches of Keyblades at opponents.

– — – — – — – — –

This ability utilizes three different attacks.

Ice Bullets Blizzard Yes, with knockback/interrupt 2 Battle 2
Charge Physical Yes, without knockback/interrupt N/A
Fired Keyblades 2


Brimming Glass of Spiders: FAQ

Question: Why does Vantias look like Sora?

Answer: When Sora contacted Ventus’ heart to stabilize him as a baby, he also inadvertently contacted Vantias’. It can be assumed that Vantias holds a piece of Sora’s heart and vice-versa. Sora has made just as much of an impact on Vanitas as Ventus has.

Question: What is Vanitas Kingdom Hearts?

Answer: Vanitas is revealed in Kingdom Hearts III Re: Mind to not be Ventus’ Darkness. This statement is explained further in Dark Road, where we learn about True Darkness, although we have no confirmation or denial.

Question: Is Vantias Sora’s Heartless?

Answer: No. Although, as mentioned above, Vanitas’ status (… species?) is uncertain.

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