Does Ansem’s Guardian Recognize Riku?

Does Ansem’s Guardian Recognize Riku?

I’m one of the fans who will argue that Kingdom Hearts basically makes sense if you play all of the games, but there’s one “character” I just can’t figure out.

The Guardian has been in Kingdom Hearts since the first game. It appears to be a pureblood Heartless controlled by Ansem. At times, it seems almost a part of him, yet it’s a separate entity.

It always fights alongside Ansem, which has led to many theories about its nature. Whatever it is, it isn’t a result of Ansem becoming a Heartless, because Terra-Xehanort is also able to summon it in his battle against Aqua.

The Guardian probably isn’t Terra, either (a popular theory), because it’s possible to trigger a joint attack where Terra’s heart/consciousness helps Aqua attack the Guardian. Another popular theory is that it’s the remains of Eraqus, but since Terra-Xehanort was able to summon it right away, it seems more likely that he had some relationship with this creature before claiming Terra’s body.

But what really makes the Guardian unusual is that when Riku has Ansem’s appearance and powers in Kingdom Hearts II and 358/2 Days, he also has the ability to summon the Guardian. It obeys him just as it would the real Ansem.

So what do we have? A unique Heartless that has appeared in the majority of Kingdom Hearts games, that seems to be an individual – a status otherwise limited to Ansem and arguably the Shadow Sora became. Birth By Sleep calls it his “shadowy other,” but that’s not particularly helpful. Is it just an extension of Xehanort’s power?

Then Dream Drop Distance came along and gave us this:

Riku faces the Guardian after defeating Ansem

After Riku defeats Ansem, the Guardian reaches out toward Riku. It’s unclear if it’s meant to be aggressive or not. Unlike most of the Guardian’s attacks, he moves slowly. Riku raises his Keyblade, and the Guardian lowers its hand.

For a moment, they just look at each other. Then the Guardian fades away.

Is it symbolic, meant to represent that Riku is stronger than the darkness? But if the Guardian is just a Heartless, why would it give up like that?

What if the Guardian is bound to obey Xehanort’s power, but still an intelligent being? It doesn’t act like normal Heartless, that much is clear. If so, Riku had the power to summon it while using Ansem’s form, but the Guardian might have been able to tell the difference between the two.

Maybe the Guardian recognizes Riku as the other person who briefly controlled it.

Personally, I love to think Riku was a much friendlier master to the Guardian than Xehanort/Ansem would be, and the Guardian is intelligent enough to recognize this and hope Riku wins.

Whatever the case may be, the Guardian is too mysterious to be unimportant.

What do you think? Will we learn more about the Guardian in Kingdom Hearts III? Is it a regular Heartless, or is it something special? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments.

Tags: ansem, riku, terra-xehanort, the guardian
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