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From Akira to Zelda, the Japanese comic books known as Manga cover many different genres and cover as many age groups as well. Recently the French magazine – AnimeLand covered some of the most sort after mangas in the gaming world: the Zelda mangas. This unique article will give us English readers a perpsective into the way that the minds of French anime and manga fans consider the artform and the gaming style.

However, before we begin Rauru’s Return would like to officially thank Vilya0 who translated this from the original French format into this English one. It’s been touched up a little by both of us so the original meaning remains intact.

For those of you who are interested, you can see the original scans here.

The original scans were found on a French Zelda site called Zelda Gaming Community, so thanks go out to them for scanning the article.

Zelda
From screen to manga

Akira Himekawa are two women authors, S. Nagano. and A. Honda, who draw manga as part of the Hiuri Pro studio and whose most notable works include Nazca, Astro Boy (2003 edition), Brave Story (the movie) and Legend of Zelda. Let’s take a look at the latter of these, the adaptation of one of Nintendo’s most famous franchise.

The Legend of Zelda is a video game taking place in the legendary kingdom of Hyrule. In this heroic-fantasy world, a unique wildlife along with fantastic races (Hylians, Gorons, Zoras…) and magical artifacts await the hero of time on his quest to free the kingdom every time it is in peril. The manga is true to the games’s background and follows the story. This wonderful land created by the three goddesses is often threatened by creatures who want to obtain power by capturing their ultimate relic, the Triforce. The Princess - known as Zelda and the rest of the Royal Family always come to the support of the hero, known as Link.

Himekawa + Zelda = faithful manga

With Ocarina of Time, Nintendo wants to launch a manga series that will please the fans, especially the younger ones, while still appealing to the older fan. Ocarina is the first release of a comic book series, which is essential to fans but less so to others. Either way, these manga are the best at matching the mood and the storyline of the games and are the finest out there. It has to be said that creator Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, Pikmin…) and Eiji Aonuma, director on the latest Zelda projects, monitor the development of the comic books closely. Between 2000 and 2006, manga installments of the video game saga have been published at Shôgakukan by Akira Himekawa : Majora’s Mask, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords + volume 1 and 2, A Link to the Past, The Minish Cap. Other Zelda games are yet to be covered, like the early ones on the NES platform : Legend of Zelda and Adventure of Link, or Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy, all of which have had manga adaptations by Yu Mishozaki and Ataru Cagiva respectively. Cagiva had also made a first version of A Link to the Past in the 90s.

« In the manga, as opposed to the game, we understand what Link says. »

Hero of Time

Taking all the games into account, we have to think up our own theories as to the chronology of the installments, the evolution of the races, creatures and myths. By gathering clues from each game, we can think up a Zelda mythology. This manga puts forward a Nintendo approved theory, a marketing commitment for some, but consistent throughout the books. The series offers its vision of Hyrule History with a capital H while still remaining in the spirit intended by Miyamoto & co. New elements are transposed, like added scenes to dramatise the action, thus giving feelings to the hero to build up his psychological evolution. In the games, Link has no soul. We take control of his body and our stance becomes his: if we are nervous and brutal, so is he. The manga gives us for the first time a hero who thinks and acts of his own will. Just like on the console, most of the time the hero isn’t the same Link per installment but a genetic or spiritual descendant who carries on the adventure in a different Hyrule time frame. Though his nature is unchanging, each Link has a character development of his own. These alterations to the game’s storyline bring in the pressure that makes Link go on. In the Ocarina of Time comic book, an emotional bond between Link and Volvagia was added. In the game, Volvagia is a stage boss that Link must slay. Himekawa turned it into an old pet of Link’s so that he, as an adult, must kill his childhood friend.

Arise and talk... Young Hylian

In the manga, as opposed to the game, we understand what Link says. Speech can tell us a lot about one’s personality and, since Link never talks in the game, he is virtually devoid of one. In the books, Link is capable of inner debates, betraying his thoughts and exposing his flaws to the reader who may or may not relate more to a character than to a video game incarnation.

As for the design, the manga has its own graphical style, while still resembling the original creation. The illustrators manage not to throw off the diehard fans with a character design similar to their favourite game’s. And it works! Like Nintendo, they also put their efforts into making Zelda’s world as homogenous as possible in every volume since Ocarina. In the early games, Hyrule had very little development in terms of towns and villages, but since the History was introduced, every installment tallies with the previous ones. Even graphically the design must barely change. Every shape evolution is pondered as to keep the drawings and the legend consistent. Himekawa’s adaptation is therefore interesting in its attempt at a graphic and storyline continuity and chronology with the game’s desultory plot and various artistic standings.

French Version?

We find it everything that makes a Hiuri Pro studio production: cute design but not overly so, great understanding of the subject, storyline both simple and pleasing (thrilling to gamers), involvement of the authors by adding themes such as nature, wildlife, spirituality. However two things can be criticized about this manga : the childish edge and the rushed narration. In Japan, the series was pre-published in the Shôgaku Gonensei, among others, for children magazine for 8 to 12 year olds. Although, it has to be said that the authors on average only have one book to tell a whole game’s story, whereas it’d take at least four volumes to lay out all the events at a pleasurable pace. Fortunately, chapters of unseen events such as the origin of Majora’s Mask add to the originality. In France, upon the release of the Four Swords + game on GameCube, the official Nintendo magazine gave its readers the first chapter of the game’s manga translated in French. For those who have never played the games, the Zelda manga by Akira Himekawa is a charming piece of fantasy in a lovely and polished shônen by passionate authors. - Alex Lepinay

Technical sheet

* Original title : Zelda no Densetsu
* Manga : 9 volumes in Japan (in progress)
* First publication : 2000-2006 (Shôgaku Gonensei, Nintendo Magazine, etc.)
* Author : Akira Himekawa (Astro Boy 2003, Brave Story 2006, Nazca)
* Publisher (original version) : Shôgakukan

Thumbs up :
* The design is the same as in the games
* The characters are well-known to all

Thumbs down :
* Childish edge to it
Large amount of different titles