After waiting in the Sealed Temple for thousands of years before the Era of Sky, Impa became a calm and centered woman. She learns to intertwine responsibility with compassion in a more recognizable way, and her confidence in Link and the Goddess’ plan allows her to direct the situation with more ease. Some of her physical features even denote this change. Impa’s braided hair swings like a pendulum, which were used to keep time. This methodical swinging of the braid both marks how long Impa has waited within the Sealed Temple (and remarks on time’s importance in the game as a whole), and reflects Impa’s balanced emotional state that is controlled and soothing. Old Impa isn’t an entirely new woman, though, and her dedication to the Goddess’ plan is still apparent– especially in her death. Impa lives for much longer than any average mortal could, and it’s unclear if divine intervention or Sheikah power resulted in this prolonged life but what’s important is that Impa departed only after she had completed her mission.
In keeping with young Impa’s role in Zelda’s awakening, it is the guiding hand of this older Impa that awakens Link and, let’s not forget, Groose. With Link, Impa sets him off on his journey telling him to follow Zelda to Faron Woods and informing him that she has her own destiny to fulfill. She says, “I have sat here for many years waiting for you to arrive. All so that I could fulfill my purpose as your guide.” And she is just that. She’s the only one who knows the Goddess’ plan (except Fi, to some extent), and she instructs Link on where to go to hone his skills and become the hero the Goddess hoped him to be. Remember young Impa’s stinging words for Link when they first met? Even that was said to set link on the path to awakening.
Impa’s final act as spiritual enlightener is her transformation of Groose. Groose’s character had a lot of room to grow in Skyward Sword, but when he was told he couldn’t be Zelda’s hero he nearly gave up altogether. Before he could waltz out of the Sealed Temple, Impa said to him, “Ah. You sell yourself short, my friend. You’ll see in time that you have your own role to play in this.” After this Groose shifted his focus, he decided that he would still be useful to Zelda in some way and thus the Groosenator was born. (Groose didn’t even know he was capable of creating such an engineering feat, so Impa indirectly helped him learn something new about himself.) Though, when he first put the Groosenator into use, Groose’s attitude was still rather aggressive and self serving; but this changed as Groose spent more time in the temple growing closer to Impa. When Link finally prepared to enter the Gate of Time, Groose’s new selfless attitude came through as he told Link, “I’m gonna hang back here… That stupid monster doesn’t know when to quit, and Grannie here keeps yapping on and on about how we never know when it might bust free again. Someone’s gotta stick around and guard the place. Might as well be me. Besides, if I’m not here, who’s gonna look out for the old girl.” He is no longer preoccupied with being the center of attention, and his affection for Impa is clear in his relaxed use of the nicknames “Grannie” and “old girl.” His love for her is even clearer when he hugs her after Zelda wakes from her slumber, protects her when Ghirahim invades the temple, and falls to his knees overcome with grief after her passing.Impa’s influence not only affected the major players in the Goddess’ plan, but extended through generations of Sheikah and into the real world. Impa was a part of the first Sheikah tribe to aid the Goddess, the actions of her (especially her aid to Zelda) and her tribe thus helped to establish the unending tradition of Sheikah serving the Royal Family. Additionally, being the Goddess’ right arm who was instrumental in saving the Surface from being ravaged by Demise once again, Impa left a legacy behind. She was– as far as we know– the first Sheikah to bear the name Impa, in any case she’s the reason that the name continued to be passed down through generations of Sheikah. As for her affect in the real world, Impa is black. To have a figure look aboriginal in nature and be accurate in skin tone to that cultural resemblance is impressive and forward thinking. Not to mention a black main character, which let’s face it are sparse in the video game industry, is great for representation (I myself am biracial, so my skin tone is very similar to Impa’s and I can attest to the significance of being able to closely identify with her) especially given that she is such a complex and important character for both Skyward Sword and the series’ lore.
The great thing about Skyward Sword is that it established the origin of the Legend of Zelda, and there could be no better woman than this Impa to first bear her name. I would say she is a perfect beginning, but she was perfect because she was flawed. Her character needed to grow right alongside the rest of the players in the fight against Demise, because of this she was able to affect change in those around her as they all learned from each other while growing together. Impa was also a caring individual who came to love Link, Zelda, and Groose, though her affection was subtly perceived. I couldn’t dream of a more relatable and admirable character than Impa to represent the black community, the Goddess, and the Sheikah race. It seems only right that her name and her legacy be passed down through the ages.