The second volume of the manga adaptation of Twilight Princess has arrived. Let’s give it a look and see what lies in store as Link ventures into the Twilight.
Twilight Princess Vol. 2 covers the events between Link waking up and discovering that he’s been turned into a wolf up to obtaining the first Shadow Crystal from defeating Diababa. There are also some creative liberties taken–we see the banishment of Ganon to the Twilight Realm now instead of later, and we continue building upon Link’s new, troubled backstory with him running away from his home country. We also really diverge during the Forest Temple portion, focusing mostly on Wolf Link overcoming Ook, the monkey leader, and quickly taking down Diababa. As an adaptation of the source material, with all of that in mind, it is still very solid and well put together. The story can feel rushed, but I found it to be the best kind of adaptation. It keeps the important material, excludes and changes things to better fit the medium the story is being told in, and adds new stuff to give the material a new take. It’s a good time all around for fans of the game and I really enjoyed the creator’s take on these early moments.
The storytelling is honestly a bit of a mixed bag. The pacing can be a little uneven, taking its time on some parts and quickly rushing through points. For instance, the scene where Link meets Zelda for the first time is pretty slow and goes on for a while even though it’s just a lot of exposition dumping. Then later during the Forest Temple portion of the story, the story is blazing from point to point to point. The dialogue is generally fine and there’s some solid characterization and personality in the exchanges, mostly in Midna and Link’s interactions. The story flows pretty well from scene to scene with no abrupt or awkward cuts at all. There are interesting takes on some of the game moments here that I quite like and work a lot better than they would have if the creator just completely copied them from the game, like Wolf Link’s return to Ordon and meeting the villagers. Additional scenes added for the manga also help to characterize and get into the heads of the cast more, like King Bulblin talking with Ilia.
However, there are a few parts to the story and storytelling that didn’t work. The manga clearly contradicted itself with how animals can see through people and see their true selves. Also, the manga has the big surprise reveal of Princes Zelda from the game with her in the hood, building it up for an entire chapter. However, they introduced her two chapters earlier wearing the same clothing and in the same location, so the scene is just completely anti-climactic and kind of silly in hindsight.
Character wise, everyone felt mostly on point. Midna is mischievous, focused solely on saving her realm initially, and hard on Link–though perhaps a bit more brutal and harsh like where she zaps him. Zelda is still the solemn princess watching over her ruined kingdom and reflecting about what has happened (I do appreciate the extended scene of her trying to fight off the shadow beats instead of her immediately surrendering like in the game). Bulblin is still a creature focused on his belief of "might makes right" and "only the strongest survive," but seeing it here and his own internal thoughts, his sudden change at the end of the game makes more sense. Ook gets a bit more depth here, giving insight into how he protects his monkey tribe and his dedication to them all, which gives him more personality than just being a menace turned helper in the game. As far as Link is concerned, we continue to build upon his new past and get insight into his own doubts, self-loathing, and disbelief in him being a hero. It’s not bad at all and makes for the start of a cliched, but effective character journey.
The artwork on this book is just a thing of beauty. Himekawa does a wonderful job bringing every character to life, capturing their look from the game perfectly and giving them so much personality and humanity. Sometimes even more than the games themselves, like with Zelda talking to Link and Midna, which made the scene feel more powerful. The layouts are constructed well and the backgrounds and locations are beautiful, such as the Twilight Realm double-page spread or the Forest Temple. The monsters and animals are detailed to perfection, just drawing you in and captivating you with it all (Diababa is amazing here). Some of the scenes are captured wonderfully in the angles, use of ink and space, like Midna introducing herself to Wolf Link in the cell. It’s a visual feast and perfectly captures the mood, tone, and eeriness of the game quite well.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol. 2 is a solid follow up to the first volume, continuing the story and bringing the video game to life in ways you may not expect. The writing suffers a little bit in a few different areas, but the quality of the adaptation is still very strong and should please both fans of the game and people just jumping into the manga only. Combined with beautiful artwork, I definitely give this book a recommendation. My only concern for the series is that it is supposed to be four volumes long from what I heard and given what’s left in the game… that’s going to be hard to adapt this without it feeling rushed.