If there’s one video game franchise that captured the hearts and minds of an entire generation, it’s The Legend of Zelda. Since its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System, gamers have enjoyed the ongoing adventures of the elf boy in the little green hat. Zelda fandom reached a fever pitch with Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64, which brought the series into 3D. Though the setup is familiar—Ganon wants the Triforce of Power and Link must stop him—its use of time travel made for an interesting tale. Celebrated to this day, the story of Ocarina of Time was adapted into a manga in 2008 by Akira Himekawa. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Edition collects each of the trade volumes into one large work.
This adaptation of Ocarina of Time follows the story of the video game as closely as you’d expect. Link is an inhabitant of the Kokiri Forest, a comfortable retreat protected by the Great Deku Tree. One day, Link wakes from a dark premonition in which an evil figure rides away on horseback with a young girl in his arms. Link visits the Deku Tree for counsel and is set upon a quest to seek out Princess Zelda in the kingdom of Hyrule. Link’s quest sees him collecting three sacred gems in the kingdom, and making a few friends along the way, in order to open the Temple of Time. He must do so because Ganondorf has launched an attack on Hyrule Castle to acquire the Triforce of Power. Link’s quest leads him to acquiring the legendary Master Sword which spurs a fascinating change: to wield the weapon, Link is put to sleep for seven years and aged into a mature adult. To his horror, Hyrule has fallen under the tyrannical rule of Ganondorf and Princess Zelda is nowhere to be found.
To longstanding Zelda fans, The Legendary Collection is a slice of nostalgia to a pivotal moment in video game history. As such, the manga is a slave to the narrative which means it doesn’t veer too far off course, though characters are fleshed out to a larger degree. Divided into chapters, each sees Link dealing with the crisis met by the Hyrulians as they toil under Ganondorf’s rule. This particular medium, however, does allow the action to be much more expressive and dynamic. Where combat and boss battles were limited to the archaic engine of the Nintendo 64, the manga dramatizes such encounters and creates some truly spectacular depictions of battle. Ignoring the conventions of the video game (for example, shortening the encounters with game bosses) creates a faster (though, almost too fast) narrative pace.
The story moves pretty quickly and it sometimes felt like it grabbed me by the wrist as it sped toward its conclusion. Major story set pieces tend to finish before they start and as a result, they don’t leave much of a lasting impact. This is noticeable when Link is confronted by someone he knew before his seven year slumber. There is a surprisingly dark sequence in which Link must kill a dragon he rescued as a child because it had fallen under Ganondorf’s influence. Forced to chop off its head, the scene is tragic, but didn’t resonate too deeply because it felt shoehorned into the story (though to be fair, I never did play Ocarina of Time to completion, so I can’t tell if this scene played out the same way in the game).
The artwork is the manga’s most noteworthy feature. What I liked most was the difference in style across the Child Link and Adult Link timelines. The beginning of the story features a great deal of scenes and panels that look like a comic designed for children, as Link and the other Kokiri residents tend to have exaggerated facial expressions and body language. When Link turns into an adult, the artwork becomes more serious and mature to match the dour tone of the story. All is not too bleak, as the humor featured prominently in the Child arc does find its way into the Adult arc, offering a suitable dose of comic relief and exaggerated artwork. The transition is a great detail that lends itself to powerful imagery of both Link and Princess Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Legendary Edition is sure to please fans of the classic Legend of Zelda franchise. It’s a hefty retelling of the game that will find an audience with those discovering the game for the first time (via its re-release on the Nintendo 3DS) or curious onlookers who want to know what the fuss is about. Though it takes the shorter, faster path to its conclusion, it’s a great primer to the video game industry’s most celebrated and fondly remembered treasure.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Legendary Edition
by Akira Himekawa
VIZ Media LLC, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: Teen (13+)