A manga that’s a nice expansion to the Zelda universe for younger fans.
In the land of Hyrule, whenever danger has threatened the kingdom, a warrior named Link has always appeared to fight evil and save everyone from darkness. But, what happens when Link’s biggest challenge turns out to be himself? Link must find a way to defeat Shadow Link, but first he must deal with the three other versions of himself and master the “Four Swords.” Even if he is able to, will he then be strong enough to brave the Dark World to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil wizard Vaati?
The Viz manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda video game series has covered almost every major release up to Twilight Princess. Akira Himekawa, which is a pen name for the two anonymous, female manga creators, has written and drawn all the volumes so far. The original Four Swords manga was broken into two books, but now the “Legendary Edition” has been released, packaging both volumes together, along with new cover art, come colored pages, and a look behind the scenes with the creators and producers of the series.
Four Swords starts off a little different than other Zelda entries, as this version of Link isn’t an orphan. In fact, his father is commander of the knights at Hyrule Castle, where Link is shown to live and be friends with Princess Zelda. Zelda and six other maidens are responsible for checking on a seal that was placed on the evil wind mage Vaati long ago. Wouldn’t you know it, something goes wrong and the handmaidens are sucked into a mysterious power, along with Princess Zelda, while Link is torn away into another vortex.
He reappears at the sanctuary, where the seal is kept in place by the powerful Four Sword. Determined to save Zelda, he pulls the sword free, causing himself to split into four unique Links, all with different aspects of his personality. Unfortunately, pulling the sword free released the seal and Vaati along with it.
I haven’t read any of the other Zelda manga in the series, even though I’m a huge Zelda fan, so I found this manga interesting. Himekawa showed good imagination in expanding the premise of the Four Swords video game, as this was one of the multiplayer efforts from Nintendo and contained even less plot than most of the other puzzle-solving affairs. It’s full of action and comedy–clearly aimed at a kid-friendly audience, in line with Nintendo’s image and reputation.
Most of the jokes come at the expense of the four versions of Link, with each representing a different aspect of his personality, such as Blue Link being the hotheaded, battle-ready Link and Red Link being naive and innocent. It’s been done many times before, but the premise of the game was begging for something to differentiate the characters. It seemed more of a natural fit, rather than a case of mining old concepts. None of the wordplay or jokes in the script had me bending over laughing, though I should mention the localization was very good. It’s humor appropriate for younger kids, with lots of the comedy done visually, with exaggerated expressions and reactions typical of many children’s manga.
The best part of the book is probably the visuals. You could tell the creators loved the material, as it would have been easy to turn in a less than stellar effort and slap Zelda on the front to make a quick buck. The detail is there, with recognizable locations, characters, and backgrounds items that Zelda fans will appreciate. Link is drawn in his traditional, younger version, which looks straight from video game box art. Zelda looks a little bit like she could have been pulled from the Dragon Quest VII universe, but that’s forgivable as her form has stayed a little less consistent through the different titles.
Is It Good?
The story was a little long for my taste, considering there wasn’t a ton of plot to uncover. However, I’m an old Zelda fan that remembers buying the golden NES version of the original game. To younger fans, it’s just more for your money, considering the Legendary Edition also has some bonus comic strips at the end as well as some discussion on the making of the series. It may not be breaking new ground, but for a game adaptation aimed at younger readers, it pushes the right buttons, with a lovingly drawn style that captures the feel of the game.