I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving week/break, for those of you who celebrate it. For this week’s feature, I’ve opted for something people requested in the comments last week: a look at the themes for each of the companions throughout the series.
Now first, I want to clarify who Link’s companions are. The term refers specifically to the guide characters that tend to tag along with him on his adventures since Ocarina of Time. By that definition the companion characters are Navi, Tatl, The King of Red Lions, Ezlo, Midna, Ciela, and Fi. I am not including Princess Zelda’s Spirit as a companion, despite her fulfilling that role in Spirit Tracks. I consider Zelda’s character to be something much more than just a companion character so she doesn’t quite fit with this category. Plus, I gave an extensive look at her theme in last week‘s feature, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t.
Jump in to take a look at each character’s theme and how it pertains to them, but be warned that in order for me to properly discuss each character’s theme I will have to spoil some story elements so there are Spoilers for The Wind Waker and The Minish Cap!
Now, something I realized with the first two companions, Navi and Tatl: they don’t really have designated themes. In the entire soundtrack for their games, no one song is dedicated to them. However, through the magic of context and association, Navi does have a song which always makes us think of her.
“Fairy Flying” is played for multiple events throughout Ocarina of Time, particularly when you hitch a ride with the owl Kaepora Gaebora from Death Mountain or Lake Hylia. No matter what, though, the sound of this cheerful and adventurous tune always makes us think of Navi’s flight through Kokiri Forest to visit Link. Because of that I think it fair to say that “Fairy Flying” is Navi’s theme music.
With that in mind, the song makes a good match for Navi. It is light and playful with a bit of curiosity and adventure in it; it really is the perfect soundtrack for a fairy (or fairy boy) in flight. For the character herself the song still matches excellently. Navi is best known as being energetic, flitting all over the place shouting her usual lines and never seeming to sit still. Really, there isn’t much more to it. Playful and energetic character, playful and energetic song. There you go.
As for Tatl, I still cannot manage to figure out a specific theme for her. Her name is in the title of one of the tracks from Majora’s Mask‘s soundtrack, “Tatl and Tael.” However, that song is not so much a representative theme for her as it is a song of reunion. Sure, Tatl and Tael’s reunion is touching, but remember that there is a much more memorable scene that also uses the song. Sorry Tatl, but this song belongs to the stars of what is arguably Zelda’s greatest sidequest.
Fortunately, every other companion in the series has a clearly named theme song…
…More or less.
When you reach the sunken Hyrule Kingdom, a surprising twist awaits you: your boat, The King of Red Lions, is actually King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule. You have been riding in the back of royalty. To accompany that reveal, you get to hear a rousing remix of the Hyrule Castle theme from A Link to the Past. This song, though originally background music for a castle dungeon, makes an excellent accompaniment to the King of Hyrule. It carries a somber brass overtone supported by softer strings that are all opened with fanfare and cymbals. These sounds and tones make us think of great kingdoms and their rulers, setting up the King’s character so you truly know you are in the presence of greatness. The song befits a grand character like Daphnes.
However, further beyond that you come to learn more about the King’s story and his regret for his kingdom. With such a heavy background, the King’s grandeur seems lessened by sorrow. It almost makes you wonder if his theme really is really so fitting for him anymore.
Bingo. “Hyrule King Appears” works as a great representative theme for the King and his kingdom, but then “Farewell Hyrule King” serves as more than its title lets on. It isn’t just a goodbye to a treasured companion, though it captures that mood excellently. This deep and moving piano version of his song makes for a perfect theme for his troubles, regrets, and wishes as well. The song really caught my attention the last time I played The Wind Waker and still remains one of my favorites. From its slow beginning to the rapid piano arpeggios closer to the end, this song makes a beautiful compliment to the other. One song’s tune tells of a great kingdom of old, the other tells of its downfall and the regrets of its king. The pair excels at telling two parts of that king’s story.
Next, we move on to The Minish Cap, one of the less-appreciated entries in the series. Shame on anyone who thinks that because it’s on the GameBoy Advance this isn’t a full-fledged Zelda game.
Oh, Ezlo. Such a silly little character, that guy. Your introduction to this wizard-turned-hat is strange, silly, and playful, and the song “Ezlo Appears” matches that mood perfectly. The tune’s upbeat and bouncing melody almost makes you want to dance with it. It really is just that happy. Ezlo may be grumpy and impatient, but as a character I always remember him as being a lovable nut and this song goes well with that.
As much as his introduction shows the happier side of Ezlo, he also has a sad story to tell much like the King’s. “Ezlo’s Past” plays while the story of his apprentice Vaati comes to light, and it is drastically different from his intro theme. This song barely makes itself heard. It is made up of slow, quiet strings laid over with a high tinkling that is likely from a xylophone or other metallic percussion instrument. The theme sets the mood for how saddening Ezlo’s story is considering Vaati’s betrayal and the sorcerer’s transformation into his comical hat form. The song does not really aspire to be much more than that; it is simply quiet and sad, and that works perfectly.
Now, I still have three more of Link’s companions to look at, but in order to do their themes justice without making this feature longer than my personal limit I am going to have to split it. So, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below! Let me know your favorite characters and themes from the ones above, give me some ideas for future editions of Flute Boy’s Meadow, and be sure to check in next week for Midna, Ciela, and Fi’s themes. Until then, have a great week!