Manga-ka: Akira Himekawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: All Ages
Release Date: October 2009
Synopsis: “The Green, Red and Blue Links reach Death Mountain, where they challenge Shadow Link and Violet Link in battle. Then, inside the Fire Temple they learn a terrible secret about the Dark World and the evil power behind Vaati. To defeat this great enemy, the different colored Links must find a way to become one again in order to harness the power of the Four Sword!”
Part one of this story arc left us with an unnerving betrayal as the battle between Links becomes two against three. But with characters’ motives still unclear, and the evil Ganon pulling the strings of the dark lord Vati, Hyrule and its Princess only have the remainder of this volume to see their heroes reconnected and the country saved.
The four Links already had some really distinct personalities forming in volume one but here in volume two the quartet are even more distinct and all bring their own entertainment value to the story. Red and Blue are the most defined of the group – Red being the emotional, clingy and often overly honest while Blue is the rash, impatient and temperamental one. They have some cute interactions, pinning two extremes against each other, that are sure to bring a smile to any readers’ face. Artistically I loved how by the end of the book you can also tell each Link apart from their faces alone, in particular the eyes, which are rendered with stylistic choices to match their dominant personality traits.
That said, it then becomes really sad when the evitable rejoining occurs even knowing about it since the beginning. Sure they’re all joining together into their original form but you still feel like you’re losing a fun and familiar group of heroes. I know I already miss them all!
This is just one of the more emotional twists throughout the book. Others include a darker scene when the Links are forced to fight their brainwashed Father, and then later in the book when Dark Link’s ego begins unravelling in the midst of his self-doubt. Dark Link easily becomes the most empathetic character of this arc as hints about how he really feels come out in subtle ways throughout the story before it concludes.
Some of my favourite moments in this book include a cool spread shot of Hyrule’s Knights coming to back up Link after their release (cool adult Hyrulian Knights? Yes please!) and the enthusiasm shared among the Links as they band together for their first battle after a short separation. This gusto stays with them all the way to the top of the windy tower where Vati hides away with the imprisoned Princess Zelda and straight through to the (literally) entangling battle against the tentacle-armed eyeball.
As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I find the artist’s work getting stronger and stronger with every volume and this one continues the trend. The cinematic flair in particular is impressively entertaining – really complimenting the climatic moments of the video games, from the smaller successes to that rush of finally reaching that last boss. The artist’s attention to humour is still prevalent as well and helps maintain the series’ overall light-hearted appeal while balancing out the occasionally grimmer aspects.
Legend of Zelda: Four Swords wraps up with this part two, paving the way for another alternative-universe take on Zelda’s quest to save the world in Viz’s next release. As much as I’ve loved all the different instalments of the series’ thus far, Four Swords definitely left me with the biggest smile on my face. Lengthy interaction is something all versions have lacked since Link’s adventures tend to be solo with short meet-and-greets along the way. The Link-quartet brought a great extra dimension to the story and make it a must-read portion of the manga for those who love it for its imaginative charms.