Manga-ka: Akira Himekawa
Rating: All Ages
Released: October 2008
Synopsis: “In the mystical land of Hyrule, three spiritual stones hold the key to the Triforce, and whoever holds them will control the world. A boy named Link sets out on a quest to deliver the Emerald, the spiritual stone of the forest, to Zelda, Princess of the land of Hyrule. The journey will be long and perilous, and Link will need all his skill and courage to defeat evil. The battle for Hyrule and the Sacred Realm has begun! The Legend of Zelda is a high-fantasy adventure based on the wildly successful and long-running video game series by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto.”
The story begins with Link, a young elven boy in who lives in the forest and wonders why he doesn’t have a fairy like the rest of his people. When a fairy named Navi appears before him one night, he begins a journey that leads him to a great castle, a threatened princess and a world in need of a hero.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, part one, is the first in a two-part series of books that follow the plot and characters of the popular Nintendo 64 video game of the same name.
What’s most interesting about this book is all the extra little things it brings to the original story. While the plot remains generally linear and following the path of the video game, there are some creative liberties taken that allow for more fleshing out of the characters. Princess Zelda has some more page time than a straight-from-source adaptation would’ve allowed and Link is given more spunk, as he’s no longer a shy, mute boy, but instead a vocal, enthusiastic young man.
While some of the liberties taken with the story may upset die-hard fans, I found them to be a refreshing addition that helped round out the story in this new format. I had fun seeing how the artist wove together necessary events while adding in some foreshadowing to future ones that proved for situations both humorous and surprisingly emotional.
Unfortunately despite these high points, this version falls victim to the same problem many adaptations have. There’s simply too much information that’s clearly being restricted to too short a timeframe. Events happen very quickly in order to fit a game that easily takes over 40 hours to complete, into a mere two volumes. With a lot to take in and some occasionally wordy pages with tiny text, I think the target audience of younger readers will have trouble following the more detailed aspects of the story but should still find the constant energy entertaining.
Akira Himekawa’s artwork is also a nice treat for the story. It’s fun and positively adorable, working very well with the original character designs. Most impressive to me was the switch from Link’s younger self to his eventual adult form, which maintained style consistency while achieving distinct (and attractive) transition. The art isn’t yet as polished as it becomes in later volumes of Akira Himekawa’s Zelda adaptations, but it’s already well on its way.
While this first volume of Ocarina of Time succeeds past being merely based on an existing property, it does unfortunately fall victim to many of the shortcomings of adaptations. The rushed pacing is a little trying, for readers both new and old to the franchise, but as a fan I really loved the new side of the story that this version brought to the table. These bonuses along with charming artwork thus far make it enjoyable adaptation despite its clunkier moments and I’m happy I have the second part to look forward to.