Let’s get one thing straight. Manga has never been a part of my regular reading. In fact, my opinion on all anime has been nothing short of

loathing. Japanese culture has a tendency to be a bit extreme for my

taste, but once The Legend of Zelda got involved, it was too hard not

to take a look. After all, it has been almost a decade since Nintendo

has even tried to take the series into a multimedia format in North

America. Will this new manga properly represent the series, or will it

fall on its face like so many other shoddy attempts?



Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time manga was released in Japan, 1998,

written and drawn by Akira Himekawa, a collaborative pen name of two

women A. Honda and S. Nagano. The project consisted of two volumes, the

first consisting of six chapters, and the second with nine including

two additional side stories. Many fans fully translated both volumes of

the books, but it was not until ten years later that a publisher

officially translated the book for North America. Vizkids, a children’s

book publisher, shipped the book on October 7th. However the book was

not exactly easy to come by.

After two or three weeks of mild

searching, one copy was available for me at my nearby Barnes and Noble.

It felt very awkward standing in the manga section, searching for the

book, and then receiving stereotypical looks from other customers and

the cashier, but at least I finally had my copy. Anyone that had a

strong interest in a Legend of Zelda manga had probably already read a

translated version for free five or six years ago, so estimated sales

were probably low. Having not read a fan translation until recently, my

intrigue of an official translation was still strong.

The book

is a manga, so reading went from right to left like the original. Most

fans seemed pleased with this decision, but simply rearranging the

pages didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. After reading as many

Spider-man comic books as I have, it can be very confusing to read

everything in reverse for the first several chapters. For veteran manga

readers, this probably isn’t a big deal, but it is doubtful that very

many children read manga making it difficult to attract Vizkids younger

target audience. To its credit, the book does a nice job of explaining

how to read it, with a few directing signs, and the inside back cover

has a nice step by step guide on how to read a manga. So clearly

Vizkids did put a lot of care into helping the reader, but did they

take the same amount of effort into making an accurate translation?


off, the back cover does have an official Nintendo seal of approval,

which definitely brings hope for a quality translation. However, on the

second page it credits the source material to The Legend of Zelda:

Ocarina of Time Nintendo 64 released in 1996. Anyone with half

a brain knows that Ocarina of Time was release in 1998. This was a very

obvious error that should have been caught during the editing, so to

have such a huge error on the second page certainly doesn’t boost

anyone’s confidence.


the story gets rolling, it is actually quite enjoyable. Ocarina of Time

couldn’t possibly translate into a book 100%, so quite a few changes

were expected. Some alterations worked, and some didn’t, but the

overall respect for the source material was a nice relief.


beginning of the story takes quite a different step than the game.

Rather than explaining Hyrule’s origins, the book has a brief image of

Link’s mother fleeing her burning village, then shows her collapsed in

front of the Deku tree.



game has no images of Link’s mother, rather adult Link hears a very

simplified story from the Deku Sprout. It was neat to actually see an

extra glimpse of Link’s origin rather than just hear about it later.

The book then briefly explains the Kokiri and then introduces Link.


thing that definitely varies from the game is that Link talks. For his

first display of speech, Link has a small argument with Mido over how

Link does not have a fairy yet. At first, this argument with Mido makes

Link appear to be a little hot headed, but otherwise his personality

throughout the story is reasonable. He is very respectful to the

overall franchise, so for those of you who worried that Link would be

another Steve Martin

rip off, like in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show incarnation, you can

put your worries to rest. The Great Deku Tree breaks up the fight

between Link and Mido, and Saria takes her first step into the


The relationship between Link and Saria does feel a

little more personal than my impressions from the game. Numerous

references like Saria calling Link her best friend seem over

exaggerated, but mostly Mido constantly shows extreme jealousy of the

two spending time together. Obviously Mido thinks he is competing with

Link for Saria’s affection, however Link remains oblivious to what is

going on. During Link’s conversation with Saria, he shows her a sling

shot he invented. This strongly contradicts the game since most items,

including this one, are found exclusively inside dungeons. The book’s

explanation for the item was reasonable, considering how the book

almost completely omits dungeons.

Gohma attacks the Deku Tree in

desperate search for the Kokiri stone. Gohma talks directly to the Deku

Tree demanding he give up the stone. In the game, Gohma is simply the

boss of the first temple. It does not speak and has no such

introduction like in the book. While my feelings are mixed about this

interactive version of Gohma, it does present more clearly the purpose

behind casting a curse over the Deku Tree early in the story.


Great Deku Tree then summons Navi to go bring Link. Link sets off to

help the Deku tree only armed with his sling shot. Mido, wanting to

impress Saria over Link, went as well, equipped with the Kokiri sword.

In the game, Link has the sword, not Mido, and Link goes alone, but for

the story, this was an intriguing twist. Link and Mido go inside the

Deku tree and basically skip straight to fighting Gohma. This decision

to skip the dungeon is understandable, and explains why Link acquires

the sling shot so early. It can’t be easy to write a compelling story

about solving puzzles, but sending both Link and Mido into the dungeon

does add an interesting modification to make up for it. However,

dungeons are still an important part of the Legend of Zelda franchise,

so it disappoints me to see that the writers couldn’t do a better job

of fitting in at least something. What they did instead, though, is

still interesting enough to grab the reader’s attention. The book can’t

perfectly match the game, because if it did, people would just play the

game instead.

Link and Mido evade Gohma until Navi figures out

its weak spot. Link shoots Gohma in the eye once and it dies. A little

less epic than the in game battle, but it gets the job done. The Deku

tree thanks Link and gives him the Kokiri stone and sends him off to

find Princess Zelda moments before passing away. Mido gives Link the

Kokiri Sword and Saria gives him an ocarina before Link leaves.


Link gets to Castle Town, he meets a young girl. Link tells her he

needs to find Princess Zelda, so the girl promises to bring him to the

princess later if he plays with her for the rest of the day. The two go

around town playing all the different games, and shop together for the

rest of the day. None of these events happens in the game, but it was a

unique way for the reader to still get to explore around Castle Town.

Normally the player in the game would explore the town at their own

leisure, so to still include this form of exploration in the story was

very fitting. Including exploration is a staple aspect of the series,

and after editing out most of the first dungeon, the book needed to

make up for it. At the end of the day, two Gerudo thieves attack the

young girl. Link fends them off, and they both flee, but during the

commotion, the girl leaves as well. A little disappointed, Link heads

towards the castle.

Link finds Zelda in the castle, he discovers

the girl he had been with before was in fact Zelda. This is very

similar to the game The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, when at the

beginning, Princess Zelda escorts Link throughout the Castle Town

festival looking at shops and playing games with one another.


an unexpected adjustment, Ganondorf enters the room and has a brief

conversation with Zelda, giving Link his first glimpse of his enemy. In

the game, Link merely sees Ganondorf through the window which serves

the purpose of introduction well enough. The scene in the book feels a

little forced, and ends up looking like page padding rather than

intriguing new additions to the story. Link learns about the Temple of

Time and how he needs two other stones to open the path to the sacred


oot-manga-kiss.jpgLink promises to get the other two stones and bring them back to Zelda. Before he left, Zelda kisses him on the cheek.


has kissed Link before in previous games, but she never kisses Link in

Ocarina of Time. The writers probably decided to throw this in as a fan

service. A little stereotypical, but so was Link’s relationship with

Saria, so this addition comes with no surprise. While Link’s thoughts

were still reflecting on Zelda, Navi gets upset with Link reminding him

of Saria, as if implying that Saria is his girl rather than Zelda. Once

again, this is just a fan service in reference to all the debates

people have had in the past over who is Link’s girlfriend.


plays his ocarina on his way to Death Mountain, which gets the

attention of the nearby Epona. Taking advantage of the situation, Link

rides the horse the rest of the way to Death Mountain, somehow

bypassing Kakariko Village. Young Link is not supposed to meet Epona

outside of Lon Lon Ranch until he is an adult. Establishing a

relationship with the horse while he is still a child is important, but

at this stage in the story, it seems a little early. As for the part

about bypassing Kakariko Village, the writers confused me for omitting

the town from Link’s path. The writers probably wanted to avoid

introducing another village due to pacing issues, but to invent new

paths in the environment is a little steep for artistic licensing.


traveling to Goron City, Link meets Darunia and makes a deal with him

to clear out Dodongo’s cavern in exchange for his spiritual stone. Link

recruits a young Goron to show him the way. So Link, Epona, and the

young Goron enter the cavern and instantly find Dodongo, once again

omitting the dungeon. The young Goron shows Link a bomb flower and Link

throws one into Dodongo’s mouth to defeat it. Darunia gives Link the

second spiritual stone, and the Gorons throw a huge celebration, during

which Epona runs away. So by now we can see the pattern the book takes

for dungeons. Link finds an assistant, both the Goron and Epona, he

skips the dungeon, and he defeats the boss with one blow. This

certainly takes away some of the complexity behind each dungeon.


off to find the last spiritual stone, Link finds himself near Lon Lon

Ranch. Epona recognizes Link and greets him, which gains Malon’s

attention. So excited to have a visitor, Malon shows Link around the

ranch. Kaepora Gaebora sees Link at the ranch and offers to fly him to

Zora’s Domain. As they leave, Malon asks Link to come back soon. Navi

then teases Link referring to his three girls.

oot-manga-ladies.pngOnce again, an obvious note to the fan service love circle, leaving just one key left.


Zora’s Domain, King Zora informs Link of Ruto, and sends him to find

her in exchange for the last spiritual stone. Inside, Link finds her

just before Barinade with the Spiritual Stone of Water located beneath

the monster. Ruto greets Link with the same high and mighty royalty

attitude from the game, but once he defeats Barinade, by using his

sword for the first time in the book, she of course opens up. She

reveals to Link that she ran away because her father was arranging for

her to marry another Zora. In the game, she had simply lost the Zora’s

Sapphire and wanted to get it back, but the manga’s version does add a

new bit of depth to her character. Link tells her that he envies her

and her father, in reference to missing his father figure, the Deku

Tree, who had died earlier. Touched by his sensitivity, she gives the

stone to Link informing him that he was now her fiancé. Not knowing

what this meant, Link accepts and heads back to the castle.


sees the castle burning off in the distance and quickly arrives to see

Ganondorf’s minions destroying the town. Link tries to fight a Stalfo,

but his sword is ineffective. Zelda and Impa ride past Link on

horseback when Zelda throws the Ocarina of Time to him. Ganondorf sees

Link pick up the Ocarina and tells him to give it to him. This is very

odd, because in the game, Ganondorf asks Link which direction Zelda

went, but in the manga, he doesn’t seem interested in her. Instead, he

wants the Ocarina. Perhaps he wanted to open the sacred realm himself

with it, but later we will see that this is not the case. It makes much

more sense for Ganondorf to want to capture Zelda, but his odd

obsession with the Ocarina of Time is really unfounded. Link manages to

drop Saria’s Ocarina by accident, and Ganondorf mistakes it for the

real Ocarina of Time. Sure, it gives a nice purpose behind Saria’s

Ocarina, but the writers leave the reader wondering why Ganondorf

wanted the Ocarina of Time rather than Princess Zelda.


after Ganondorf leaves, Link goes to the Temple of Time and opens the

door of time. Link finds the Master Sword and pulls it from the stone,

sending him seven years into the future. Link meets Rauru in the

Chamber of Sages where he explains to Link how Ganondorf has entered

the Sacred Realm and has claimed Hyrule. Rauru tells Link he must

awaken the five other sages in order to defeat Ganondorf. As an adult,

Link sets out once again to save Hyrule. Link steps outside the Temple

of Time to find a castle guard fighting off a group of Stalfos.



must have been one dedicated soldier because before Link left, the

castle was already on fire and under siege by Ganondorf’s army, then

seven years later, this one man was still fighting. Either this guard

held off armies by himself for seven years, or he randomly decided to

come back by himself several years later and try to take back the

kingdom. Whatever the writers were thinking, they didn’t try too hard

to explain this new background character which left the reader

scratching their heads. It was a nice idea to have guards fighting off

Ganondorf’s minions, but the timing here was really far off. Link

fights off the Stalfos and begins to wander the wasteland that was once


The story shifts focus to Ganondorf, inside of his

castle. He crushes the fake ocarina and curses the boy for tricking

him. This scene is even more confusing than the last. Remembering the

fact that Ganondorf has an unfounded obsession with the Ocarina of

Time, here we see him just now checking the ocarina he took seven years

ago. If the Ocarina was so important to him, why didn’t he check it

sooner? Seven years is a very long time to sit around with a fake

ocarina. Also, after seven years of not using the Ocarina, why did he

suddenly need it now? The Door of Time was already opened for him by

Link, he had already visited the sacred realm, and he had already

obtained a piece of the triforce. The Ocarina of Time can’t serve him

any other purpose unless he just really likes quality music.


defeated Stalfo reports to Ganondorf about the Hero of Time and the

Master Sword. One bystanding Gerudo asks if the Hero of Time had the

Ocarina, proving even more how obsessed they all were for it. Ganondorf

then declares they must seize the Ocarina of Time before Link learns

how to properly use the Master Sword.



again, why do they even care? In the game, Ganondorf never even

mentions the Ocarina of Time. In fact, once Link is an adult, the

Ocarina doesn’t play much of a part aside from a few helpful

teleportation songs. The Ocarina is still very important to the game,

but not nearly as much as the book is trying to make it out to be.


travels back to the Kokiri Forest to find Mido. Link and Mido once

again team up to find the Forest Temple. After briefly wandering the

temple, Phantom Ganon makes his appearance. Mido finds a bow inside the

dungeon, for once, and Link shoots Phantom Ganon inside a painting to

defeat him. Saria appears and informs Link that she has awakened as a

sage. It is nice to have Link actually find an item inside the temple,

and for a few panels, Link and Mido do get to wander the Forest Temple.

This was still a very simplified version of the temple, but the writers

did try harder on this dungeon then the previous ones. Link leaves the

forest and heads back to Death Mountain, once again completely

bypassing Kakariko Village somehow.

The next chapter skips ahead

straight to a fight with Volvagia, with little explanation. It felt a

little rushed, considering how much time the story has spent outside of

the temples, but perhaps the writers were just changing to a more

action oriented pacing now that Link was an adult. Link is once again

with another Goron, probably the same one from before. For some reason

Link hesitates and takes a critical blow from Volvagia. When Link

regains consciousness, he meets Sheik who had saved him and treated his

wounds. Link explains to Sheik his unknown relationship with Volvagia.

Apparently, at some point when Link was a child in Castle Town, he

bought a pet dragon that learned how to say his name, kind of like a




never happened in the game, but the fact that they wanted to add a bit

of personality to Volvagia is fun idea. However, this chapter is all

over the place. They skip straight to the fight, and then Link has a

flash back that basically says by the way, in addition to what you read earlier, this origin story fits in somehow.

Basically this sub story really feels like a last minute decision that

intended to be creative but instead turned out looking very lazy. Would

it have been so hard to have Link buy that dragon several chapters ago

when he unknowingly met Zelda in Castle Town? The way they wrote it, it

leaves the reader, once again, scratching their head trying to figure

out exactly what the writer was thinking.

Sheik tries to

motivate Link to face Volvagia again. Link tries to remind Volvagia who

he was, but it was to no avail and in the end cuts his head off.

Volvagia, still alive for some reason, softly says “Link” before

finally dying. This whole chapter could have been a very creative

addition to the game, but instead it was devastated with poor planning

leaving us with nothing more than a missed opportunity.


probably the most interesting development in the book, Sheik is then

seen kneeling before Ganondorf reporting the results of the battle with

Volvagia. She informs Ganondorf that Link’s spirits are down after

killing his friend and now is the time to strike. Ganondorf then asks

Sheik about the search for Zelda stating “we cannot let those two find one another”.

This was a nice relief considering this is the first time in the entire

book that Ganondorf showed any interest in capturing Zelda, since

before he’s been only focused on finding the Ocarina. Having Sheik be

Ganondorf’s spy is a very unique addition, roughly explaining some of

her secrecy seen from the game. With such an interesting development,

the writers can really add a lot of new elements to the story.


travels back down the mountain and begins to feel very thirsty. Once

completely exhausted, Link finds Kakariko Village, for the first time.

Just before reaching the village, Impa attacks him catching Link off

guard. Impa recognizes him and then promptly scolds him for foolishly

traveling such a vast distance without water, and then letting his

guard down. A few questions arise from this scene. First of all, where

was Link traveling? Death Mountain isn’t that far away from the

Kakariko village. It is nice to see the writers make Hyrule appear much

bigger than in the game, but at this point it is really hard to tell

where Kakariko Village is. Apparently Link can travel to Death Mountain

without going through the village, and it also lies a great distance

from Death Mountain since Link exhausted himself traveling there.

Artistic licensing is one thing, but ignoring the source material is

another. Since the game series puts so much enthuses on exploration,

the writers probably decided to make this area have huge landscapes to

compensate for the lack of any actual exploration. It is a cool aspect

that really gets the reader to ponder how big the landscapes from

Ocarina of Time could have been had there not been any technological

limitations for the Nintendo 64.

Impa and the villagers feed

Link, and Impa continues to scold Link for his carelessness. Link asks

for Impa to train him how to be a better fighter. After several days of

training, Link’s skill begins to improve. At one point, Link gets a

drink from the well when suddenly a black shadow appears and forms into

Dark Link. In the game, Dark Link is in the Water Temple, but it

actually plays out well here. The well served as a pre-dungeon before

entering the Shadow Temple. Since Dark Link basically shadows all of

Links abilities, it actually makes a fair amount of sense to have Dark

Link be attributed to the Shadow Temple rather than the Water Temple in

the first place. So, props to the writers for thinking up this

plausible alteration.



of Link’s training is put to the test against Dark Link. After probably

the nicest looking battle in the entire book, Link defeats the dark

shadow. Impa, proud of Link’s progress, pierces his ear with an earring

which Impa calls the coming of age ritual piece of the

Sheikah. The game never tries to explain how Link acquires these

earrings in between childhood and adulthood. We can only assume Rauru

pierced his ears in his sleep, which is kind of creepy. Link says his

goodbyes and leaves Kakariko village, ending the first volume.


a bad first impression, by incorrectly dating the Ocarina of Time game,

the book still turned out very pleasant. My initial concerns were how

well the Japanese would translate into English, and there were only a

few instances that didn’t quite work. At one point when Link was

talking with Zelda, he said: “Are you sure you should be telling tell me something so important, Zelda?”


may just be another bad job of editing, but it could have also been

just a bad translation. The quote is incorrectly translated and should

have been fixed before being published.

oot-manga-maam.jpgAt one point, Link calls Impa “ma’am”, which oddly offends her for some reason. In a fan translation, the translator said that the word used here was supposed to mean something to the extent of “old lady

but it was for some reason hard to translate appropriately. Ma’am,

however, is a very respectable title that demonstrates authority rather

than age, so having Impa react negatively to ma’am doesn’t make

any sense in North American culture. This mistake could have been fixed

had the publisher put forth the effort to notice. Finally, in chapter

5, Link meets the Zoras who supposedly speak with some form of accent.

When the Gorons speak, they occasionally end their sentences with “Goro,” which does occur in some Legend of Zelda games. Comparatively, the Zoras for some reason do something similar by saying “Zora” after their sentences.


the game, Zoras never speak like this. Perhaps they did something

similar in the Japanese version, but if that is the case, they still

should have fixed the translation to match the North American version.

Otherwise it looks like a cheap knock-off of Goron speech.


these mistakes, the translation still stands pretty solid. Some fan

translations tried to fit in curse words to add maturity to the book,

which really looked inconsistent with the series, but the official

translation made much more sense in regards to the family friendly

Nintendo product. The question still stands of whether or not the book

is worth the eight dollars.

Chances are, the market that would

want to read this manga have already done so. The Japanese version came

out ten years ago, and numerous fan translations have been available

for free for quite some time. For those who would prefer to read the

fan translations for free, you are really missing out. While the

official translation was overlooked in certain areas, it is still a

solid read. The artwork looks great, all directly inspired by the

official artwork published by Nintendo.


in fan translations, artwork always has Japanese symbols plaguing each

page to simulate sounds. In the official translation, all of these

symbols are artistically replaced with English which completely changes

numerous panels. So to get the full experience, the official

translation is the only way to go, even if you’ve read it before.


more people that take interest in this book, the bigger message we will

send to Nintendo. Numerous Legend of Zelda manga books have been

announced for localization, but that doesn’t necessarily make it

definite. If this book doesn’t sell well enough, future projects may be

canceled. If sales are good, Nintendo might consider localizing more.

With enough of a reader fan base, Nintendo could also get the message

that story is important to their fans. In recent Legend of Zelda games,

story has taken a backseat. Gameplay should always be top priority, but

fans, like me, also crave a new intriguing story for the franchise. The

manga does nothing but focus on story, so if sales are noticeably high,

Nintendo may venture into those uncharted waters. Manga also has a

tendency to turn into television adaptations as well, like Naruto,

Yugioh, Dragon Ball Z, etc., but only if popularity remain consistent.


Martin Link will always haunt us, but that shouldn’t prevent Nintendo

from trying again, this time with a lot more care and quality. With

enough devotion, the Legend of Zelda could make a great animated

series; however, paying no attention once again will leave us with

things like Super Mario Bros. Super Show. For the truly hopeful, these

books could be the initial steps taken towards the Legend of Zelda

movie. Video Games are infamously bad at becoming movies, but books,

and recently comic books, have been made into some of the greatest

movies of the modern era. If the Legend of Zelda manga gets popular

enough, Nintendo might be motivated to write a book into a script.

There is a lot of potential here to expand the Legend of Zelda

franchise into new mediums, and right now Nintendo is testing the water

with manga for western audiences. Should we choose to ignore this

trial, then we’ll always get what we always had, but if we show the

slightest interest, it could open the door wide open for new ideas.

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