The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Part One)
Author: Akira Himekawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Format: Manga, Paperback
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
When I was about eight years old, I received my very own Nintendo 64 for Christmas, packaged with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I had never played a Zelda game before and I began to explore Hyrule and become immersed in that world. I spent so much time playing the game that long after I’d beaten it, I would play just to wander aimlessly around Hyrule, riding Epona across it’s fields, swimming in it’s rivers, exploring it’s dungeons and towns, speaking with the people, and going back to do battle with Ganondorf and save Hyrule again and again.
Ocarina of Time (Part One) is the story of that same adventure from the Nintendo 64 game, retold by creative team Arika Himekawa. The story chronicles the adventure of a young boy named Link who lives in a vast forest with a race of elf-like children called the Kokiri, each with their own guardian fairy. Link has never been given a fairy companion of his own, and as such is picked on by the other children. When the guardian spirit of the forest, the Great Deku Tree, is cursed by a parasitic spider hunting for the forest’s sacred relic, the Kokiri Emerald, he sends for Link’s help, and the fairy carrying his message becomes Link’s companion. Link manages to stop the parasite but he’s too late to save the Great Deku Tree, who bequeaths to Link the Kokiri Emerald and sends him out of the forest on a quest to save the land of Hyrule from Ganondorf, the evil king of the western desert, who wishes to rule over Hyrule and usher in an era of chaos and suffering. He urges Link to take the Emerald to the Princess Zelda and help her in keeping Hyrule safe from the evil king.
Link’s story can be touching at times, and the characters from the original game are given much more personality, especially Link himself who traditionally never speaks in the video games. Link is a likable protagonist, a timid young boy who sometimes doubts himself but always shows courage in dire situations, and manages to make his way through perilous challenges with his wits and intelligence. Princess Zelda is a bright young girl who cares for her people and wants to help her country, but she’s also a child who just wants to have a friend to play with, and her friendship with Link is genuine.Though the story is fairly fast-paced and goes from scene to scene quickly, the characters are all likable and leave a mark on the story.
The art is very well done, and the narrative is much more solid than that of the original Nintendo 64 game. Readers who are expecting a simple retelling of Ocarina of Time will be surprised at how much life and personality is breathed into Hyrule and it’s characters. For example, when Link faces the dragon Volvagia on Death Mountain, we learn that as a child, Link found a baby dragon in the Castle Town market and set it free in Hyrule field, where the dragon became it’s friend and learned to speak Link’s name. The dragon grew into the fearsome beast Volvagia, and though it causes him great pain to kill his friend, Link slays the dragon to save the people of the mountain, and as Volvagia dies he speaks Link’s name again, showing that he hadn’t forgotten him after all. Scenes like this show just how fresh a take this is on the original story, and things like this happens constantly. Link doubts his abilities as a warrior, having never wielded a sword before his quest, and he learns to fight from Zelda’s caretaker Impa. Characters like the enigmatic Sheik are spun in a new way, with Sheik apparently working as a double agent for Ganondorf, spying on Link and reporting back to him.
Fans of the Legend of Zelda will probably enjoy experiencing the story of Ocarina of Time from a new perspective, seeing events unfold in a new way and getting to know the classic characters more intimately. It isn’t a demanding read, and it’s a fun little adventure into a world that many gamers are familiar with. There are certainly bigger Zelda fans than I, but I found this take on the story to be cute and fun, it’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s certainly deeper than the plot of the original game, and we get a chance to see Link as his own person, not merely a voiceless representation of a player.
Part One ends with Link as an adult, having slept for seven years in the Temple of Time and taken up the mantle of the hero, riding his horse out into Hyrule field to gather the tools needed to seize Ganondorf’s castle and rescue Hyrule. For video game and manga fans who want to have an adventure that is more harmless fun than it is a grand spectacle, Ocarina of Time is a good read.