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Awesome VG Adaptations: Legend of Zelda Manga Books

On 11/06/2021 at 11:15 AM by The Last Ninja

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If you missed my first post on Ace Attorney Anime, you can read it here

These manga books have been released over the last many years, and thankfully, they have been translated into English. The reason why they are so good is because Eiji Aonuma (the man in charge of the Zelda series) has worked closely with the manga’s creator, Akira Himekawa. Himekawa is actually a pseudonym for two ladies: A. Honda and S. Nagano. These two ladies must have a deep passion for the Zelda series because they’ve been doing these mangas for many years. In 2016, the different mangas were released in a series called “Legendary Edition.” There are five of these books: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and A Link to the Past, Minish Cap and Phantom Hourglass, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, and Four Swords. This covers most of the games in the Zelda series, but sadly, Wind Waker is conspicuously missing (I’ll talk about Twilight Princess later). Let me be clear: every one of these books is well worth your time!

The stories, characters, and art are all handled so well that it’s obvious these two ladies are huge Zelda fans. That makes a big difference. Remember the Legend of Zelda cartoon from 1989? Made by American cartoonists who didn’t understand Zelda, the cartoon gave us an annoying Link who only wanted to kiss Zelda, and every episode was basically the same as Ganon would attempt to capture Zelda. It was clear that there wasn’t a passion for the Zelda series from the creators. That’s not true here. The stories delve deep into Zelda lore, the characters are fleshed out remarkably well, and the art looks like it was taken directly from the games. Let’s briefly analyze these three points of interest.

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Stories: The main storylines are taken directly from the games. Most Zelda games don’t have deep stories (usually Link has to get a bunch of somethings and there’s a light and dark thing going on), but here, the authors have fleshed out the stories to include extra lore. Here are some examples: in Ocarina of Time, Link and Volvagia have a history together. Link bought Volvagia when he was a baby dragon, and years later he must fight him as a full-grown dragon. He has no choice but to kill the dragon, and as he dies, Volvagia remembers Link. It’s so sad! In Four Swords, Violet Link ends up joining Shadow Link and the others have to get him back from the “dark side” but that doesn’t happen for the longest time. They also handle dungeons very well. Link will get to a dungeon and meet the boss right away, so we get to enjoy a thrilling fight (a new weapon is sometimes, but not always, involved). The authors are masterful at adding layers to already existing Zelda lore, and it makes reading these books a joy for a Zelda fan.

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Characters: First of all, Link talks in all of these books. He’s not a silent protagonist here! But of course, he’s never annoying. Younger Links are often more mischievous and naive, but still true to his character. Link ends up being relatable because he’s never written as a complete hero, but he always has doubts and fears that often cloud his better judgment. Other characters are excellent as well. The authors take the time to flesh out characters as much as possible, such as Zelda, Ganondorf, Impa, and different villagers. In Four Swords, the four Links are completely unique, and even Shadow Link has a strong personality that makes him so interesting. Villains are never one-sided either, as you will see their clear motivation for what they’re doing. And speaking of villains, they often feel extremely powerful, portrayed in such a way to make the heroes vulnerable. The authors are masterful at giving backstories to characters that didn’t have them in the games, and these backstories are always excellent.

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Art: The art is simply beautiful! It’s incredible how closely the artwork matches the artwork from the games. Characters never look off-model. Even structures such as Hyrule Castle look exactly as they do in the games. Now, this is Japanese, so there will be times when characters are suddenly chibi-style or some other weird art form, but these are always used in a goofy moment and are often hilarious. The authors also understand that Zelda fans want to see some amazing scenes, so they’ll have Link posing heroically on an entire page, or a battle moment will be spread across two pages, and the artwork here never disappoints. I was consistently blown away by the artwork! To make it even better, the Legendary Edition books have several full-color pages at the beginning, and these are truly beautiful.

I also have to talk about Twilight Princess, which is different from the others. Instead of a Legendary Edition, Twilight Princess is the most expansive of all the stories. So far there are nine volumes, and they’re still working on it! Everything I’ve said so far applies to Twilight Princess. The story, characters, and art are all top-notch. Perhaps even more than the other stories, this one has layers and depth to its characters that the game failed to have (not that the game was bad in these regards).

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If you’re a Zelda fan, you will certainly love these books. If you’re wondering which to get first, just go for the one that’s your favorite game. Honestly, they’re all good, and I fully recommend you get them all. Some of the books also have special features—interviews with Aonuma, Honda, and Nagano, or art sketches along with notes by the authors. It’s just great. If Nintendo ever decided to make a Zelda anime, they should base it on these books—it would be amazing! That’s how good they are. Dare I say it—they’re legendary.

Purchase The Legend of Zelda manga books here




11/06/2021 at 11:07 PM

I saw that my library has most of these. Why didn't they do one for WInd Waker? If they had that I would read it immediately. I saw there were mangas for Minish Cap and Oracle of Seasons/Ages as well. I'm curious about those. 

The Last Ninja

11/07/2021 at 12:26 AM

They're all excellent, so get the ones you're missing. I have no clue why they skipped Wind Waker, maybe they'll go back and do it some time, but who knows

Cary Woodham

11/07/2021 at 06:49 PM

I've never been into comic books, including manga.  Not sure why, though.  I do have a few video game manga, though.  I have a Phoenix Wright manga that wasn't good.  Neither was the Splatoon manga.  The Dragon's Crown manga was at least halfway decent.  Did they do a manga of Link's Awakening?  That's my favorite Zelda game.


11/07/2021 at 08:53 PM

They had a Dragon's Crown manga? I want to read that. 

The Last Ninja

11/08/2021 at 10:34 AM

Sadly, they didn't do Link's Awakening. I would recommend getting just one of the Zelda manga books and seeing if you like it. Seriously, they're so good, they take the stories seriously, and the art is excellent, I think you would like it.

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