Posted on November 20 2023 by Alexis S. Anderson
Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Tears of the Kingdom’s director, recently spoke with Nintendo Dream about the development of Princess Zelda’s character for the critically-acclaimed sequel. He discussed how the team built on the maturation Zelda experienced by the end of Breath of the Wild, how her haircut reflected her character’s growth, and the significance of her relationship with Sonia and Rauru. A translation of the excerpt from the interview is below:
Princess Zelda’s story develops from a separate point of view from Link’s, and I wonder what things you kept in mind for that.
Fujibayashi: Tears of the Kingdom is a story built from multiple tales layering upon each other, such as the story from Link’s perspective, and the story from the perspective of the heroine, Princess Zelda. In the last game, Breath of the Wild, Princess Zelda’s story was about struggling with feeling worthless due to not being able to meet the expectations others had for her, but finally finding her path and maturing in the end. In this sequel, Princess Zelda has overcome her troubles and determined the path she has to take, and now she has started to wonder what she can do for the people who currently live in the land of Hyrule, after the Kingdom had been destroyed by the Calamity. There, we tried to practically imagine how Princess Zelda’s life has been since the end of Breath of the Wild’s story.
When her appearance was first revealed, her shortened hair left a strong impression.
Fujibayashi: The change in hairstyle is something that lets players feel that Princess Zelda has been living her life in the land of Hyrule, isn’t it? After the battle with the Calamity, Princess Zelda has been actively participating in restoring people’s livelihoods and other forms of humanitarian aid, so I think she decided to make moving around easier. There are elements that hint at how Princess Zelda has changed scattered all around the game, and I think it would be fun to try finding them.
Sonia released a powerful light in a Dragon Tear cutscene, and I wonder if that is also related to Princess Zelda’s growth.
Fujibayashi: She might be one of the more powerful Princess Zeldas in history. Princess Zelda’s story in Breath of the Wild was about overcoming a hurdle and maturing, while in Tears of the Kingdom, she is thinking about what to do in this world after her kingdom was destroyed; deep down, she wonders if the Kingdom of Hyrule should even be revived in the first place. At this point, this event led to her going back to the past, and seeing the age of her ancestors founding their kingdom. Princess Zelda’s father was a strict man, and she wasn’t able to learn from her mother as she passed away so soon. But in the past, she meets a kind father figure, and an experienced mother figure. I think the Dragon Tear cutscenes show how she learns a lot from them, and grows as a result. She faces off against Ganondorf much later, and is shown to be in control of her powers. I think if you rewatch all the Dragon Tear cutscenes in order after beating the game, you’ll be able to see her steadily grow.
You can observe how the people have been rebuilding their lives or how time has been passing from conversations with the people of Hyrule too.
Fujibayashi: Tears of the Kingdom follows up on events post-Breath of the Wild, so naturally we wanted to demonstrate the passing of time for the people living in the world. This isn’t limited to just Princess Zelda; we wanted to make every character feel “alive”. Instead of having everyone wait around for the main character, Link, the world has continued to move even without him. That’s why we made all the characters’ dialogue change depending on the current situation.
Do you feel the developers did a good job developing Zelda’s character in Tears of the Kingdom? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Alexis S. Anderson is a Senior Editor at Zelda Dungeon who joined the writing team in November, 2014. She has a JD from the UCLA School of Law and is pursuing a career in Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. She grew up in the New Jersey suburbs with her parents, twin brother, and family shih-tzu.