Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Link's Awakening Manga... amazing.

I think I've mentioned once or twice that Link's Awakening is among my favorite video games of all time, right? I know I haven't been posting too often, but I'm sure I've at least implied that. Quite frankly, the story and the music are the best in the series.

I have been aware of the existence of the Link's Awakening manga for a while now; I buried that information in the back of my mind long ago, when I was still browsing random pages on Zelda Wiki and managed to find the entry for it, a complete and utter noob to the series trying to learn more about the games I wished to someday own. It didn't interest me back then (I mean, it was going to be translated eventually like the other Zelda manga I was undoubtedly waiting for; duh).

As I stated in my previous post, I've been contributing to the Zelda Dungeon Wiki a lot recently, and yesterday I somehow stumbled upon this wiki's own entry about the Link's Awakening manga. With not much else to do, I decided to follow the link that was listed at the bottom of the page, which led to a translation on History of Hyrule.


This manga managed to perfectly capture everything I loved about the game... and more.

Listen: I used to rant on and on about how incredible the manga series was. I thought they were perfect adaptions of these incredible games. In fact, one might say they were what made me become a Zelda fan – I bought the Ocarina of Time manga, Volume One, when I only owned The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, so I really hadn't cared much about the "Legend of Zelda" aspect of those two games' titles until I read the manga and became interested in previous installments. Actually, now that I think of it, I've been reading the manga since the very first volume released; as this post suggests, I waited until the day almost every volume came out, to get it on the first day or as soon as possible (such as the Christmas following OoT V2's release).

In recent years, I've reread most of the manga, and they're decidedly... cheesy. Oh, no, I still love them to death. The artwork's incredible, and I can't imagine how hard it must be to make a video game into a fully comprehensive story. Not just a story, even – a manga. I won't pretend to know a lot about manga, but I'm pretty sure there's a lot of work put into them.

But... some parts are so cliché, they're cringe-worthy.

Link doesn't have a personality. Or, if he does, he's either annoyingly overconfident, annoyingly under-confident, or way too into the Hero stereotype with helping out people and destroying evil for him to be even somewhat believable. The only exception was Four Swords, where, of course, each of the Links had a defining personality to them – although Green was still our classically annoying sterotype. Plus, a lot of important or interesting plot points are skipped. Seriously, what happened to the Shadow Temple? That was my favorite Ocarina of Time Dungeon. On top of it all, there are tons of mistakes. I'm certain the Japanese writing is better, but still. (I think specifically of "Are you sure you should be telling tell me something so important, Zelda?" from Ocarina of Time Volume One... and the lines were mixed up once in The Minish Cap, twice in Four Swords Volume Two... and I thought for a good while that Ocarina of Time came out in 1996 because of an error...)

Now, back on topic, let's go to the Link's Awakening manga. I discovered that it was actually made by a different artist: Ataru Cagiva. The other mangas are written by Akira Himekawa, a collaboration of two women. I have no idea who Ataru Cagiva is or what his/her other projects might be, but their manga adaptation of one of my favorite games was beautiful.

I suppose one might still say that there were cheesy moments and Link's personality wasn't all that better: he still had that frustrating overconfidence. And, another thing I never really liked about the A Link to the Past official manga was Ghanti, a random OC who appeared to be added in for no reason other than the authors' enjoyment. I still can't figure out the reason behind Master Drona in the Link's Awakening manga. He just appears out of nowhere and wants to fight Link. Seriously, you couldn't have pulled out a mini-boss or something for that role? Why was a random pig-guy necessary? Felicia, Link's fairy companion, also got on my nerves occasionally, but from one point of view, I could kind of see why the author had added her; she held the instruments for Link, which is something that was never really explained in the game, and she was useful when Link needed someone to talk to. She also contributed to the feelings of betrayal that appeared later, and she heighten the emotion – but I'll talk about that more later. And the translators still made mistakes, just like VizKidz (Your dead! Spin Attcak!).

So, if there's still all these problems, what made Link's Awakening the best manga for me?

The emotion. The emotion is exactly why I loved Link's Awakening in the first place. I didn't cry in Skyward Sword, nor in Majora's Mask, nor in any other video game in existence – but I strongly recall, more than any other moment in Zelda history, reading the tablet in Southern Face Shrine in Link's Awakening. This was the real turning point of the game, where everything is revealed to be an illusion... and the point at which all is revealed is just so, so amazing...

This picture...

With this text...


Combined with this hauntingly gorgeous music...

...makes my favorite Zelda moment.

Now, to return to the topic... The manga captured this beautifully. The reason I liked Link's Awakening Manga Link more than any of the others was because of his emotions. He reacted as any normal person would – confusion, anger, feelings of betrayal toward those who had been helping him, and those who had known. I felt one of the best moments was when Link actually tried to escape the island along with Marin on a raft. I really felt that that was a realistic decision someone would make.

...And the whole time Link read that tablet, the music was going through my head...

I'm also going to throw out that I loved the "Messenger of Awakening" title. That should have totally been in the game. I think Link was developed very well, where he starts off completely willing to save the island, from going to denying his destiny, to deciding that it is fate after all.

Another great improvement over Akira Himekawa's manga – there was actually some action! The dungeons all felt rushed in the mangas, where as here, Link was shown fighting not only bosses, but also weaker enemies, even around Koholint Island's overworld while travelling.

Another great point: the characters. ...Besides Link, since I already mentioned that I loved him. When I first started reading it, I wasn't expecting a much different experience than the other Zelda mangas. In fact, the first volume wasn't anything spectacular, although I did still enjoy it more than the other mangas. It wasn't until the second volume where I started thinking about how amazing it was.

But if there's one thing I thought when I started reading, it was that Marin is absolutely adorable.

Okay, okay, um, that's not a good reason to love a character, I suppose... no matter how true it is. Nevertheless, I liked her and Tarin (well... mostly her) and I thought they were portrayed rather well, considering their lack of screen time. I don't know why Tarin didn't turn into a Racoon, though. And personally, Marin and Link's farewell could have been even more emotional. As a side note, I also felt that Felicia and Link's relationship was rather... forced. I didn't feel much change with their attitudes toward one another, until Link outright stated that he felt differently about Felicia than when they first met. I think that the readers should be able to tell on their own that something's changing between them, without having it told to us (although, I must admit, I'm utterly guilty of that in many of my own works of fiction; it's so much easier to just come out and say it). Perhaps if they'd started sharing smiles, or inside jokes, or even simple signs of friendship... or, you know, some touchy-feely moment of some sort. Even so, the characters and plot were very well-done.

Honestly, I loved it all. I can't get enough of this manga.

...It NEEDS an official translation. I'd pay any price for a physical copy of this manga.

I think that's all I'll say about it for tonight – it's 1:30 in the morning. I stayed up for an hour writing this. I'm just on a complete and utter Link's Awakening high right now. I can't stop thinking about how awesome that game is, haha. I'm really sorry about this long, somewhat rambling entry, but I really wanted to talk about this! ^^ I have not had the chance to read over this yet, so there are likely many mistakes and horribly worded sentences. It's also probably rather disorganized. I'll hopefully get around to editing tomorrow; I really want to go to bed now...

Thank you for reading, and as always, have a good day, my nonexistent readers!