Posted on September 04 2017 by Alexis Anderson
Dreams are typically joyful escapes from reality, journeys into worlds with limitless potential and lifted restrictions. Most people would jump at the chance to live in a dream, but that apparent freedom we as humans find in our dips into the surreal turn to enchaining and stagnant nightmares when there’s no way out. When stuck in one place without the possibility of growth nor fulfillment, one would likely go insane and just give up. But Marin isn’t one to conform. Trapped on the island of Koholint like an evergreen in a snow globe, this girl remained vivacious in the face of confinement. She was always encouraging to those around her and expressive through music and her fixation on flight. But above all, she was hopeful. Let’s further examine the significance of our precious seagull without wings: Marin.
Often forgotten because Link’s Awakening was a rather early game in the series, Marin was the sweet island girl who rescued Link after a shipwreck landed him on Koholint’s shores. She was made to resemble Princess Zelda, but was replaced in later games by Malon (another reason why Marin is often disregarded). Marin was, however, pretty important to the progression of this game. She and her father nursed a waterlogged Link back to health to begin his adventure, she later wakes a Walrus that is blocking the path to Yama Desert by singing to it, and in the end Marin is the one who teaches Link the Ballad of the Wind Fish allowing him to escape the island.
Aside from playing an instrumental role in the events of Link’s Awakening, the more fascinating thing about Marin is her character. She has this multifaceted psyche brought on by her predicament that may be one of the most captivating in the series. Marin is a lonely, but dreamy girl. Despite being cut off from opportunity, she’s able to remain almost aloof and keep this playful innocence about her; thus she spends her days singing and helping her fellow islanders.
Even though her environment refuses to change and allow her to grow, Marin’s mind has matured far beyond her body. She appears to be this carefree young girl, but deep down she knows that her whole world is a sham. While expressing her desire to fly from the island, she also looks at Link as a divine messenger, this view leads me to believe she’d nearly given up on the idea of there being a life outside of Koholint. This suggestion of her almost coming to her breaking point is evidence for why she reacts with “Ha ha ha! Do it! Do it! Do it moooore!” when Link hits a Cucco multiple times. Normally she scolds him for hitting one, brands Link a THIEF if he steals, and calls him a bad boy if he breaks a pot. Normally she’s virtuous, but a long enough time of letting her mind unwind caused her to crave chaos over harmonious monotony. Her situation is tragic, and honestly she’s very brave for holding herself together all this time.
Like I said, though Marin is young, she’s at an age when she should be experiencing growth, and one area of growth appropriate for her would be romance. However, it isn’t possible for a girl who lives in a bubble to mingle with new people, so Link’s arrival seemed like a godsend. Marin tells Link, “When I discovered you, Link, my heart skipped a beat! I thought, this person has come to give us a message…” Not only does this perfectly show how desperate her situation was, it also once again showcases her capacity for optimism. She saw Link as a symbol of hope, for both a world outside of her own and for a companion.
In a sense, Marin was suspended in time before discovering Link, he kind of kick starts her life; and that’s where we come into the couple’s romance. Their affection is very childlike, but very potent. With nothing new ever happening in Marin’s life, Link was something and she wasn’t going to waste any time exploring this uncharted territory. That’s why Marin was able to really open up to Link when they were on the beach together before heading to the Animal Village. She expresses that she wants to know everything about Link, but quickly changes her mind and avoids the topic. At that moment, I think she felt like whatever dreamland she had built up in her head, all the hopes she had for far off places, would no longer be valid. That in actually hearing about the world outside of Koholint, something mystical about her existence would cease to be. So she chose to let Link remain this glowing sacred item, ripe with the potential to make or break her fantasies. Consequently, Marin informs Link of her wishes, hopes, and dreams because she knows he’ll be instrumental in possibly making them come true.
And this is another incredibly interesting thing about Marin: she’s clairvoyant. She seemed to be the only Koholint inhabitant that knew something was off about her surroundings. Initially she just seems discontented with the humdrum island life, but as I mentioned she had all but given up on the idea of a world outside of this, maybe even felt at her core that there wasn’t one. Then upon meeting Link she felt he was going to give the islanders a message, that he would free her, and ultimately he does.
Marin told Link she hoped to sing to people in far off places and said, “If I wish to the Wind Fish, I wonder if my dream will come true…” That’s the thing, she only ever had wishes or dreams, never goals; being that her mind was so matured, surely she didn’t feel that wishes could really be granted. Before Link showed up, Marin knew there was no escaping this. And she carried that burden of knowing, knowing everyone and everything around her was just a figment of some flying whale’s imagination. One of the most heartbreaking evidences of her clairvoyance is her telling Link, “…some day you will leave this island… I just know it in my heart… …Don’t ever forget me… If you do, I’ll never forgive you!” Some day you will leave this island. She has come to terms with what she is. She’s just a dream, so she figures as long as Link remembers her, she can live on in his memories.
Now I want to talk for a bit about Marin’s coping mechanisms and what those say about her character. As I stated in the introduction, Marin is expressive through music and her fixation on flight. Music is exactly what one would expect a girl in Marin’s situation to turn to, as music is nonrestrictive. Endless combinations of notes combine to form endless amounts of songs to fit any emotional situation, what’s unsettling though is the fact that she chooses to sing a ballad dedicated to her captor. Her singing bleeds right into her desire surrounding flight. She tells Link, “If I was a seagull, I would fly as far as I could! I would fly to faraway places and sing for many people!” It’s so admirable that if she was ever freed, she would then share something as expressive as music with others probably in the hopes of helping them feel a little more enchanted with their lives.
But that’s beside the point, Marin’s love of flight can be deeply examined and I’ve analyzed it before. Freedom is always equated with flight, and Marin yearns for freedom to such an extent that she wishes she could physically become a seagull to fly from this place. She’s willing to give up her current physical form to escape, which is important because she absolutely has to as she doesn’t really exist. What’s ironic, though, is later in the game monsters kidnap Marin and strand her in Tal Tal Heights; at this point, she admits to Link that she’s afraid of heights. The girl who longs for flight is afraid of heights. For me, this calls back to that moment on the beach when Marin decided she didn’t want to know anything about Link, as much as she wants freedom, the reality of a life outside of this scares her.
Despite her fears, she knows that she can’t live trapped on Koholint forever which is why she puts her faith in Link. She makes a wish to the Wind Fish but doesn’t tell Link what that wish was, but given the context she likely wished for his freedom or for him to be successful in waking the Wind Fish.
She then teaches Link the Ballad of the Wind Fish and leaves her fate in his hands. Ultimately, she made a good decision. If the player beats Link’s Awakening without dying, Marin will be pictured with wings flying across the screen in the ending sequence of the original game, and in the GBA Color version her image comes on screen then disappears to reveal a seagull. This can be interpreted as her either transforming into a seagull or just be something put into the game to signify that she has been freed.
I prefer the original ending, because the way she flies across a totally black screen gives me the impression that she has been freed from the Wind Fish’s imprisonment, but only exists now as a memory to be carried with Link. In this case she follows Link to far off places and joins him on all of his adventures. And because Link knows the Ballad of the Wind Fish, there’s a chance he’ll share the song with others, and in this way Marin would technically be singing to people in far away places, meaning her wish will have been entirely fulfilled.
Although Marin may not have physical strength or prove her importance through blatant acts of heroism, she’s still an incredibly interesting and unique character in the Zelda series. Her situation is heartbreaking, yet she is impossibly brave and optimistic regardless. She’s usually glossed over because she seems like a generic sweet island girl or simply a realistic love interest for Link, but this is an unfortunate under-appreciation of the both her and Link’s Awakening. I’m really passionate about Marin (imagine my elation when she joined the Hyrule Warriors roster, a much deserved form of recognition!). I think she’s a character that players can relate to. There will always come a time in one’s life when he or she feels stuck in one place. Whether it be emotionally trapped or unfulfilled career-wise or anything else, Marin is proof that this entrapment isn’t forever and that meanwhile the best you can do is stay optimistic and keep on pushing through.
If you have anything to add, or disagree with any of the sentiments expressed above, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
Alexis Anderson is an Associate Editor at Zelda Informer. Follow her on Instagram, where she recently posted a redraw she did of Marin from the German Link’s Awakening player’s guide: @triforce3