Some fans noted that Breath of the Wild, the latest installation in the Legend of Zelda franchise, seems to be the Most Anime Zelda game ever made, but it’s hardly the first time Zelda has gone full anime. For fans of moody heroes who groan about their dark pasts, look no further than Twlight Princess, the latest adaptation from the masters of Zelda manga, the pair of female manga artists known by the pen name Akira Himekawa.
The 2006 Twilight Princess game is a bit dull thanks to an atmospheric but empty world, and Himekawa’s manga adaptation adds a lot of much-needed personality to the otherwise sparse game. Link is a farmhand at Ordon Village, hiding a much less innocent past. He wants to live a peaceful life, but soon monsters from the Twilight Realm attack the village, launching him into his quest. The story is only roughly inspired by the original one, and like most of Himekawa’s Zelda manga, takes considerable liberties with plot and characters.
Unfortunately, that results in a Link that feels wildly out of place in a Zelda story. He’s not a hero setting out on his first quest, but a former warrior seeking solace, not unlike Kenshin in Rurouni Kenshin. That would be fine if his whining about his past and solemnly warning about “the darkness” wasn’t stretched across a full volume of introductory scenes before kicking off the primary conflict. Midna, the quirky sprite who serves as Link’s companion and a rare splash of personality in the game, only appears at the end of the first volume!
Himekawa’s art matches the tone, with detailed character designs and moody, high-contrast lighting. And unlike many of Himekawa’s other adaptations, this is not a light-hearted kids’ manga; it features a fair bit of bloody violence and some dark themes.
Twilight Princess, with its darker story and less expansive cast, has the potential to tell a much more interesting Zelda tale than some of Himekawa’s other adaptations, but the first volume is just a little too melodramatic to take seriously.
story and art: Akira Himekawa