The following article is only a theory, and is not meant to be taken as anything more than that. It only reflects the opinion of the writer, and not ZeldaInformer as a whole. That said, enjoy the article!
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64) is a side-story in the Zelda series that has sparked off a wide array of different theories based on the interesting background and characters, deduced from the significantly small amount of information provided by the game’s story, in contrast to most of the games that develop the main story of the series. The primary antagonist for the most part of the game, the Skull Kid, wearing the titular Majora’s Mask, was a seemingly insignificant NPC from the game to which Majora’s Mask is a direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64). The game delves into the story of the Skull Kid’s past and develops his character significantly. In this article, I aim to develop his character further, largely using seemingly unrelated evidence from the game’s final events, to point of actually establishing the Skull Kid’s own identity. Read on…
It is revealed in by several events in the game that the Skull Kid had a relationship with the Four Giants in the past, and a seemingly close one at that. This is most clearly revealed in the legend of the Four Giants, as told by Anju’s grandmother, displayed below:
“The Four Giants”
This tale’s from long ago when all the people weren’t separated into four worlds like they are now. In those times all the people lived together, and the four giants lived among them.
On the day of the festival that celebrates the harvest, the giants spoke to the people…
“We have chosen to guard the people while we sleep…”
“100 steps north, 100 steps south, 100 steps east, 100 steps west.”
“If you have need, call us in a loud voice by declaring something such as, ‘The mountain blizzard has trapped us.’”
“Or ‘The ocean is about to swallow us.’ Your cries shall carry to us…”
Now then…There was one who was shocked and saddened by all this.
A little imp.
The imp was a friend of the giants since before they had created the four worlds.
“Why must you leave?”
“Why do you not stay?”
The childhood friend felt neglected, so he spread his anger across the four worlds. Repeatedly, he wronged all people. Overwhelmed with misfortune, the people sang the song of prayer to the giants who lived in each of the four compass directions. The giants heard their cry and responded with a roar.
“Oh, imp. Oh, imp. We are the protectors of the people.”
“You have caused the people pain. Oh, imp, leave these four worlds! Otherwise, we shall tear you apart!”
The imp was frightened and saddened. He had lost his old friends. The imp returned to the heavens, and harmony was restored to the four worlds. And the people rejoiced and they worshiped the giants of the four
worlds like gods. And they lived happily…ever after…
The ‘imp’ is clearly depicted as a Skull Kid in the imagery that accompanies the story. The ‘heavens’ referred to in the legend could possibly be the land of Hyrule. The events of the legend appear to have taken place long ago, as few recall any such story, making it seem that Skull Kids are unaffected by the ravages of time, so it seems likely that the imp and the Skull Kid are the same entity, given the history between the two and the Four Giants. This is supported by the appearance of a Skull Kid that plays Saria’s Song in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN/Wii), set one or more hundred years after OOT‘s child ending (after which MM also takes place), suggesting that it is yet again the same Skull Kid. Indeed, the Skull Kid is referred to as an imp in several instances during the game, and the Skull Kid also confirms that he and the Giants were friends in the aftermath of Majora’s defeat, as he talks to the Giants briefly before they depart, suggesting that he is indeed the imp of legend, and confirms that he is the same Skull Kid as the one to whom Link gives the Skull Mask in OOT (“Eh-hee-hee…You have the same smell as the fairy kid who taught me that song in the woods…”).
As such, it is not difficult to understand why the Skull Kid is so upset, having lost his friends. It is likely that he was shunned by the peoples of Termina due to his peculiar appearance, which would have made it difficult for him to make any new friends, which would logically lead to his wronging of the people. This time, however, he had the power of Majora at his disposal, which allowed him to stomp on those who had shunned him with relative ease, even seemingly effortlessly sealing the Giants in what would likely have been the masks that they themselves wore during the Carnival of Time.
The Moon that hangs over Clock Town is a mysterious body. Prior to the events of the game, it had been slowly drawing closer to the surface of Termina, and is three days from impact upon Link’s arrival. The Moon’s origins are difficult to discern, but regardless, I am certain of one thing: the scene at the Moon’s core is a manifestation of the Skull Kid’s mindset.
Allow me to set the scene. There is an endless field, which rises into a lone hill at the centre, atop which stands a single tree. There are five children, all of whom are identical to the Happy Mask Salesman, albeit much younger versions of him, and wearing masks. Four of them, who wear the masks of the four Temple Guardians, run and play around the tree, at a distance from the fifth child, who sits alone at the trunk, wearing Majora’s Mask.
The tree on the hill is the sole object that breaks the field, much like Clock Town sits elevated in the centre of Termina field. Each child plays alone, separate from one another, similar to each of the Giants guarding one of the four compass directions. Each Giant was also sealed in one of the masks that the children are wearing. The child who wears Majora’s Mask sits alone, left out of play by the other three. The Skull Kid, who wears Majora’s Mask during the game, was left behind when the Giants left Clock Town for the four worlds. Also interesting are the questions that the children ask Link, the first and common to them all being:
“Masks…You have… a lot. You, too…Will you be… a mask salesman?”
This, coupled with their appearance, ties them unquestionably to the Happy Mask Salesman, who, interestingly, doesn’t have a double in Termina whom we meet during the course of the game. More interesting, though, are the individual questions asked by each child as their desire for masks is appeased, which seem to be direct references to the Skull Kid’s anguish. The questions are as follows:
What kind of…people are they?
Do those people…
think of you…as a friend?”
This question reflects on the Skull Kid’s insecurities in regard to the Giants. As he reveals at the end of the game when he talks to the Giants, he had long been worried that they no longer thought of him as a friends after all the trouble he had caused for the people.
What makes you…happy?
What makes you happy…
Does it make…others happy, too?”
This is a reflection of how the Skull Kid longs to be accepted by others, and how he might one day find someone with whom to share joy, as he had once done with the Giants.
“The right thing…What is it?
If you do the right thing…
Does it really make…
This is most likely the Skull Kid reflecting on the actions he has taken, questioning them, and possibly expressing regret, given all the suffering he had caused.
“Your true face…
What kind of…face is it?
The face under the mask…
Is that…your true face?”
MOST IMPORTANT: I believe this is a reference to his own appearance. In OOT, there are four different Navi descriptions for the Skull Kid, each one dependant on certain circumstances:
- As an adult:
Is this what happens to kids who wander into the forest? It looks like he doesn’t like grownups.
- As a child (before teaching him Saria’s Song):
Is this what happens to kids who get lost in the forest? He might be our friend if we do something…
- Before giving him the Skull Mask:
Is this what happens to kids who get lost in this forest? He seems unhappy to have no face…
- After giving him the Skull Mask:
Is this what happens to kids who get lost in this forest? He looks satisfied with his skull face.
One thing is certain from these descriptions: Skull Kids are born from children who lose their way in the Lost Woods, much in the same way that adults become Stalfos, from the account of a Kokiri girl in OOT. The face of a Skull Kid is a bland wooden surface with two black eyes and what appears to be a duck’s bill. Judging by the manner in which Navi refers to them, it would seem that it is not truly a ‘face’ at all, which would make sense, given that the child apparently loses its identity when it becomes this creature. The above quote seems to suggest that the Skull Kid is having an identity crisis: ‘the face under the mask’. I believe this refers to his bland, wooden Skull Kid face, and that his original face is his true face, his true identity.
Summing up these points, the conclusions I have drawn in regard to the Moon scene are as follows:
- The tree represents Clock Town
- The child wearing Majora’s Mask represents the Skull Kid
- The children wearing the Guardian Masks represent the Four Giants
- The scene thus represents the Skull Kid’s sense of abandonment resulting from the departure of the Four Giants
Now, logically, one has to take into consideration that, if all of these parallels are real and intentional, why do the children take the form of the Happy Mask Salesman?
There are three characters in the game that are notably also from OOT, namely Link, the Skull Kid, and the Happy Mask Salesman. The vast majority of the other non-player characters throughout the game are merely counterparts of their doubles from OOT, as Termina is intended to be a parallel world to Hyrule (this is the reason offered by Nintendo for the recycling of OOT‘s character models, but this is beside the point).
If any character in Termina were to be Link’s counterpart, it would most likely be the so-called ‘Fierce Deity’ (as translated by NOA, due to censorship – the character’s original Japanese name was ‘Onigami’, which translates directly as ‘demon god’), if only because the mask itself bears the likeness of Link’s adult self. The Skull Kid and the Happy Mask Salesman, however, are a different story. While it is safe to assume that the Happy Mask Salesman is a Hylian resident of Hyrule, the Skull Kid is somewhat of an enigma, given his extensive history in Termina’s distant past. Neither character has a Terminan counterpart.
Coupling this with all of the above points, I propose that the Skull Kid and the Happy Mask Salesman are the counterparts of one another. It is very possible, if not probable, that the Skull Kid was originally a resident of Termina in his past life. Only three characters have notably crossed between Termina and the Lost Woods; at least, three live ones have. When Link crossed through the ‘rabbit-hole’ if you will (the game is, after all, a very obvious take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) as a Deku Scrub, he came across a peculiar looking tree:
Tatl: “But enough about that for now… Come over to this tree and check it out!
It’s strange, but the way you look right now sort of looks like this tree…
It looks all dark and gloomy… almost like it could start crying any second now… How sad…”
She specifically refers to Deku Link’s similar appearance to the tree. One other character, the Deku Butler, also says that Deku Link looks very similar to his estranged son. Playing the Elegy of Emptiness as Deku Link produces a cast-off shell that also looks remarkably similar to the tree. All of this points unquestionably at the extreme likelihood that the soul of the Deku Mask belonged to that tree, who no doubt had his soul ripped from his body when the Skull Kid transformed Link. The point I’m trying to get across is that this Deku child was trying to leave Termina. His presence in the passageway proves that the path between Hyrule and Termina is not completely unknown to the residents of Termina – indeed, at one point in the game, one of the Gorons refers to a ‘Dodongo’s Cavern’, and given the possible knowledge of the passageway, it is quite likely that it is the same one from OOT.
But I forget myself – what I’m suggesting is that this child may have lost his way while playing one day and stumbled upon the passage. Since the passage leads directly to the Lost Woods, it isn’t too bold to assume that the child became lost and eventually became a Skull Kid. I propose that the child was the counterpart of the Happy Mask Salesman, and that the apparition of the children on the Moon is indeed the Skull Kid’s original form. I have done my best to gather evidence in favour of this. I apologise for being unable to provide artwork and images from the game to back up my findings – I have tried to be as descriptive in my writing as possible. I hope this proves to be an interesting read, and hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here ends the article.