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Xehanort's Heartless is the brown Robed Figure. The Robed Figure then possessed Riku and sort of molded/shaped Riku's body into one that's more to his likeness, and became the Ansem, Seeker of Darkness we all know and love. Bodies are just as malleable as hearts. Heartless typically cannot wield Keyblades. When a Keyblade wielder becomes a Heartless, the darkness steals their heart, and the Keyblade with it, as explained by Riku when he was talking to Ansem, Seeker of Darkness in Dream Drop Distance. So, the Robed Figure possessed Riku's body in order to use his body to wield a Keyblade. Riku's heart was banished to the Realm of Darkness. Keyblade wielder's bodies can wield Keyblades, even without the heart present within it. This is also why the Nobodies of Keyblade wielders can wield Keyblades. So, anyways, the Robed Figure possessed Riku's body in order to wield the Keyblade of Heart made from the Princesses of Heart's hearts. And he changed the appearance of Riku's body into the one that comes up in your head when you hear the name "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness". This is still technically Riku's body. It looks different, but it's still Riku's body. The body of a Keyblade wielder. So, if Ansem, Seeker of Darkness had a Keyblade, he would be able to wield it. He doesn't have a Keyblade of his own, because it was taken from him from being a Heartless, but if he found a Keyblade or was given one, he'd be able to wield it. Just a neat little bit of information I thought I should share. Seeing this image inspired this train of thought.
I understand time travel in Dream Drop Distance for the most part, but there's always been this one thing that I don't really understand. in the game, we are told that the Robed Figure passed on the ability to time travel to Young Xehanort, so that Young Xehanort doesn't have to get rid of his body or something like that. I was confused as to how you can just simply "give" someone the ability to time travel, so I looked into it. I found a Nomura interview where he says this: "to transcend time one must ‘first’ discard their form. As a result of the actions of the Brown Robed Figure, they all were in a state where they had gained the power to transcend time. The Brown Robed Figure explains the facts. The thirteen were summoned at the same time, this time thanks to Young Xehanort who borrowed that power." What does this mean exactly? Am I the only one who has no idea what he's saying here? Could it be the translation that's making it more confusing that it actually is, because I'm not sure what he's trying to say? It seems like he's saying that they all gained the ability to time travel because the Robed Figure was Xehanort reduced to just a heart, but how does that make it so they all have the ability to time travel? Sora and Riku have both been reduced to just a heart before, but they can't just randomly time travel as they please, they need Yen Sid's magic in order to time travel. I thought that you actually need to be a heart while you're time travelling, because that's what Yen Sid said, but Nomura's making it sound like all you need to do in order to be able to time travel is you have to have been just a heart once in your lifetime. That seems way too OP. Plus, it completely contradicts what Yen Sid said. Since this is the case, it makes me believe that's not really what Nomura's saying here, so is there any other way to interpret what he's saying? EDIT: After doing some more digging, I found this in the KH Ultimania: "Discarded his body and became able to travel through time. Traveled back in time to the Destiny Islands and gave Young Xehanort some of his own power. Due to discarding his body and becoming the Robed Figure, all incarnations of Xehanort gained the ability to travel through time. However, the only ones actually able to do so were the Robed Figure and the one he had given his power to, Young Xehanort." I guess it sort of works like how Keyblades work. Just because you have the ability to wield a Keyblade, doesn't mean you have a Keyblade/doesn't mean you know how to summon a Keyblade.. Similarly, just because you have the ability to time travel, doesn't mean you can time travel/doesn't mean you know how to time travel. And what the game really meant by "the Robed Figure gave Young Xehanort the ability to travel through time" is "the Robed Figure shared some of his powers with Young Xehanort". So, it all makes sense...I guess? It "makes sense" in a very Kingdom Heartsy kind of way lol EDIT: Just found this interview with Nomura. What he says he throws me back into confusion: "Nomura: First off, when Young Xehanort made contact with the Brown Robed Figure, that is to say, the Xehanort who called himself Ansem, his abilities were transferred to him. As a result of Master Xehanort tossing his physical body, he was able to exceed time, and this power was carried into the Brown Robed Figure. Thus when Young Xehanort made contact with him, he gained this power. Possessing this power. Young Xehanort functioned as a “portal”, summoning Xemnas and Ansem each time they appeared. That’s why Young Xehanort was there whenever they appeared. Additionally, when Sora and Riku dropped into the worlds of sleep, simultaneously Young Xehanort himself goes into the world of sleep.' I have no idea what Nomura is saying at this point. I really really really hope this gets cleared up in KH3.
I will explain time travel in Kingdom Hearts and how it works for those of you who don't quite understand it, or don't understand it at all. I hope this helps anyone who was confused with how it was explained in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. (This is a part of my "Explained" series of posts. To view my "Heartless, Nobodies, Unversed, and Dream Eaters Explained" post, click here, to view my "The Braig/Xigbar Situation Explained" post, click here, and to view my "The Realm of Sleep Explained" post, click here.) What is time travel in the Kingdom Hearts universe? Well, it's like time travel from any other game, movie, or show. It's where you leave your present time and move either backwards or forwards to a different time. How does somebody time travel in the Kingdom Hearts universe? First, you must abandon your body and become just a heart. One way to become just a heart is to extract your heart with a Keyblade. Another method would be to become a Heartless, since Heartless are technically just corrupted hearts. Once you become just a heart, then you have the ability to move through time. Becoming just a heart also gives all versions of yourself from across time the ability to time travel. But, they're not actually able to do so without assistance from someone who actually has a time travel power. Just because you have the ability to travel through time, doesn't mean you're actually able to do so. You can only time travel if you are just a heart, or if you have the time travel ability plus assistance. I will elaborate what I mean by "assistance" later in this post. What are the laws of time travel in the Kingdom Hearts universe? You are only able to travel through time if there is a version of yourself present at the time you want to travel to. Also, you cannot change what is destined to happen. All that really means though is that you cannot change the future, because everything is already set in stone. Once you return back to your respective time, you will forget everything that has happened during your experience time traveling. However, these memories and experiences will be etched into your heart and could influence your decisions and the paths you take. Since you lose your memories after you get back to your respective time, there would be no point in traveling to the future to try and find out what happens. That is what we know so far about time travel in the Kingdom Hearts universe. Now, I will explain various characters' involvements with time travel. Terra-Xehanort Terra-Xehanort is Terra's body taken over by Master Xehanort. He apprentices under Ansem the Wise so he can further study the darkness and get access to things that could potentially help him further gain powers of the darkness. He steals Ansem's name and identity, then splits himself into a Heartless and a Nobody. His Heartless is known as the Robed Figure, and his Nobody is known as Xemnas. Robed Figure/Ansem, Seeker of Darkness The Robed Figure is Xehanort's Heartless, as stated above. Since he is technically just a heart since he is a Heartless, he is able to travel through time. He goes back in time to Destiny Islands, where he meets a young version of himself. Now that Xehanort is just a heart, all versions of Xehanort throughout time have the ability to move through time. Not without assistance though of course. The Robed Figure gives/shares his time travel powers that he has from being just a heart to this Young Xehanort. Now, this Young Xehanort is able to time travel without becoming just a heart and without assistance. The Robed Figure then goes back to his own time (during the first Kingdom Hearts) and places himself on Destiny Islands. He marks the time traveling Sora with the Recusant's Sigil. The Robed Figure later possesses Riku and sort of molds/forms Riku's body into a body that's more to his likeness. Bodies are just as malleable as hearts. This amalgamate is known as Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. Young Xehanort As explained above, Young Xehanort, and all other versions of Xehanort, now have the ability to move through time. And Young Xehanort is able to do this without assistance as if he was just a heart, because the Robed Figure shared/gave him some of his powers. He then goes through time and brings with him various versions of himself and some followers/vessels who have been loyal to him before. He gathers 10 versions of himself and brings them to the present day. Out of those people, the current known ones are Xemnas and Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, Xigbar, and Saïx. These are all people who are deceased in the present time. The individuals that Young Xehanort brought through time have the ability to move through time, because Xehanort became just a heart somewhere along his timeline (when he became a Heartless/the Robed Figure). They aren't actually able to do so though without assistance from someone who actually has a time travel power. Young Xehanort is their assistance, since he has an actual time travel power that he got from the Robed Figure. If someone has never became just a heart somewhere along their timeline, then they can't move through time even with assistance. Young Xehanort time travels to Destiny Islands during the first Kingdom Hearts. He is able to do this because the Robed Figure placed himself there. He follows Sora and Riku into the realm of sleep. Now that Sora is marked with the Recusant's Sigil and now that Young Xehanort is in the same time period as Sora, Young Xehanort is able to teleport to wherever Sora is and keep tabs on him. Master Xehanort Master Xehanort is the one who took over Terra's body, as explained above. He has returned to the present day because Xemnas and Ansem, Seeker of Darkness have been destroyed, which are his Nobody and Heartless. Once someone's Nobody and Heartless are destroyed, the original person is revived. It is currently unknown why Master Xehanort's old man self was recompleted instead of Terra-Xehanort. Master Xehanort gathers with Young Xehanort and the 10 people that Young Xehanort had gathered. Xemnas Xemnas is the Nobody of Terra-Xehanort. He was destroyed by Sora. He has now been brought back to the present day by Young Xehanort. Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (pt.II) Sora has destroyed him. Young Xehanort brings him back to the present day. Xigbar Xigbar is the Nobody of Braig. Xigbar has been destroyed by Sora, and has revived as Braig, but he has also been brought back to the present day by Young Xehanort. It's also possible though that he wasn't brought back from the past, and the recompleted Braig was just turned back into a Nobody in order to be a more suitable vessel. Either of those two situations are possible. Saïx Saïx is the Nobody of Isa. Saïx has been destroyed by Sora, and has revived as Isa, but he has also been brought back to the present day by Young Xehanort. It's also possible though that he wasn't brought back from the past, and the recompleted Isa was just turned back into a Nobody in order to be a more suitable vessel. Either of those two situations are possible. Extra Info Xehanort's plan has been to gather 13 vessels that all would bear a piece of his heart inside of them. This was Xemnas' plan with Organization XIII, but a few of the members he had gathered were inadequate. This is what lead to the various new people that Young Xehanort had been gathering. He gathered 10 people and along with himself and Master Xehanort, that makes 12 people. Their original planned 13th member was Riku, but he became immune to the darkness, so he was of no use to them, then they chose Roxas, but he became too aware of himself and returned to Sora. Xion was also a possible candidate, but she returned to Sora as well. Now, they moved down the list to Sora. They were able to capture him, but he had been saved. They are currently missing a 13th member for their new Organization XIII and will soon find a replacement. Sora and Riku In the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Sora and Riku traveled back in time to the day Destiny Islands fell to darkness. They had the ability to move through time because both of them have become just hearts at one point in the first Kingdom Hearts. Sora became just a heart/a Heartless when he stabbed himself with the Keyblade of Heart, and Riku became just a heart when his heart was sort of kicked out of his body into the Realm of Darkness when he was possessed by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. This caused all versions of Sora and Riku from throughout time to gain the ability to time travel. But, they weren't able to do so without assistance, so Yen Sid assisted them. Yen Sid used magic to send them back in time, which is a different method of time travel than Xehanort's method. Instead of becoming just a heart and going back in time to give a version of themself the time travel power in order to assist other versions of themself through time, Yen Sid just assisted them by using time travel magic to send them back in time. Characters like Yen Sid and Merlin have time magic. But, Yen Sid's time travel magic still follows the rules of time travel that this post has been explaining. He could only send Sora and Riku back in time to a point in time where versions of them existed/were present. Sora and Riku are younger in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance simply because of Yen Sid's magic as well. He used his magic to make them younger again in order to sort of help with the whole starting over from scratch for the Mark of Mastery exam thing. They didn't inhabit their younger bodies contrary to popular belief. They didn't need to become just hearts in order to time travel, because they had the time travel ability plus assistance. Them becoming just hearts would've been a big mess as well. They would've turned into Heartless/Nobodies. Timeless River In case anybody was wondering, no, Timeless River has nothing to do with any of this. Timeless River is a completely separate time anomaly that brings you to the world of Disney Castle before Disney Castle has been built. Now that I explained various characters' involvements, I'll list some currently unanswered questions concerning time travel in the Kingdom Hearts universe. Hopefully these get answered and cleared up in the future. Unanswered Questions Why did the time traveling members of the Thirteen Seekers of Darkness go back to their own time? And how are they going to come back? In the Kingdom Hearts Re:coded secret ending, we see the Organization XIII members who were residents of Radiant Garden lying on the floor after being recompleted as people again. We also see Braig, who is not lying on the floor like the rest of them. He presumably woke up before them. (We know this Kingdom Hearts Re:coded secret ending takes place after Kingdom Hearts Re:coded and before Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance because Ienzo is an adult in this cutscene. There is a cutscene in the beginning of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance that shows Even and Ienzo on the floor turning into Heartless/Nobodies and Ienzo is a little kid in that cutscene, so we know the Kingdom Hearts Re:coded secret ending takes place after Kingdom Hearts Re:coded because we know Ienzo grew up as an adult while he was a Nobody.) In Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, we see Xigbar. It is thought that this is actually Braig, not Xigbar and he's just going by the name Xigbar for some reason (most likely because of the Recusant's Sigil in that name). If this is the same recompleted Braig that we saw in the Kingdom Hearts Re:coded secret ending, then how come he has long hair again and how come he has gray in his hair again? It would not make sense for him to just all of a sudden change appearance and grow hair that quickly. Is this actually Xigbar and not Braig, and they were just implying that it was Braig just to trick us? If it's Xigbar, then that can either mean that he was brought to the present day from time travel, or that can mean that Young Xehanort turned the recompleted Braig back into a Nobody for some reason (maybe he's stronger as a Nobody?). Also, do people keep their appearances that they had as Nobodies when they turn back into people, or are they reverted to how they looked before they were turned into Nobodies? This is very unclear. It seems that some parts of them did keep their appearance and some parts of them didn't for some reason. Ienzo, Lea, and Isa aged as Nobodies and kept their ages when they turned back into people. Lea lost the markings under his eyes when he became a person again though for some reason. From what we know, this is how it is: You are reverted back to how you looked before you became a Nobody, but you keep your age. For example, Lea was reverted to how he looked before he became a Nobody which is why he lost the markings under his eyes, but he still looks older because he kept his age. What was the Riku that Riku saw in Monstro in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance? Was it the dream world projecting an image of Riku from the first Kingdom Hearts? Putting Riku "back in his place," like it did to Jiminy in Sora's side of Prankster's Paradise? If so, then why is he wearing a black coat? Riku wasn't wearing a black coat in the first Kingdom Hearts, and the worlds only dream about their pasts, so this wouldn't make sense. Is it a Seeker of Darkness? If that Riku is a Seeker of Darkness, is it Riku Replica? If it's Riku Replica, then why did Riku say "That was my... my dark side. I gave into the darkness once, and ever since, it's chased be around in one form or another. The seeker of darkness who stole my body, a puppet replica of the shadows in my heart, and now, I'm facing me."? He lists the versions of his darkness that have chased him around in one form or another. He lists Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Riku Replica and then says that now, he's facing himself. So, it's not Riku Replica, right? Unless Riku's just assuming it's not Riku Replica. If it's just himself (Riku) that he was facing, then was it when he was a villain in the first Kingdom Hearts that's time traveled to present-day to be a Seeker of Darkness? If it's Riku Replica or himself from the first game time traveled to present-day to be a Seeker of Darkness, then how come Young Xehanort isn't there with him? Like stated above, Tetsuya Nomura stated that Young Xehanort functioned as a "portal" that summoned the Xemnas and Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. Wouldn't it be the same for Riku Replica/Riku from the first game and any other time traveling Seekers of Darkness? If not, then why? You can check out my post that lists every single currently unanswered question in Kingdom Hearts here. I hope this helped anybody and I hope it cleared up confusion that any of you had.