Legend of Zelda Manga Guide
The Legend Of Zelda franchise had many manga adaptations, presenting a unique look at the world of Hyrule and even Link himself.
Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s top franchises. Since the release of the first game in 1986. The series has fascinated and fascinated audiences with its mix of action and fantasy adventure. Over the years, the franchise has also had several manga adaptations, covering both the basic games and the many spin-offs and their side effects. However, the various manga adaptations never get the love they deserve.
However, many of these manga are very difficult to find, with most of them being extremely rare. Many were only published in magazines and did not receive collections. And of those who received collected releases, only a handful got an English translation. This means that a large percentage of Zelda’s manga, including Yuu Mishouzaki, Maru Ran and Daisuke Shigoto, of the very different resales of the first game, the extremely popular version of Ataru Cagiva’s A Link To The Past and Junya’s Oath of Riruto Furusawa and Jin Munesue. Available only to hardcore collectors who can afford to pay high prices for the few used copies hidden in bookstores or displayed on eBay.
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While most games have a manga adjustment for each installment, Legend of Zelda games often receive several adjustments, especially during the early years of the franchise. These adaptations were created by different writers and artists and usually follow very different approaches to the original material. However, among the officially translated manga sit many fantastic manga that every fan of Legend of Zelda should read.
One of the first manga Legend of Zelda to get a proper English release was based on 1991 of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Unlike any other Zelda manga, it was first published in American Nintendo Power magazine in 1992. Then, in 1993, it received a combined release in both the United States and Japan, the latter of which maintained the American version. Another thing that stands out about this manga is the author, Shotaro Ishinomori.
Ishinomori is a manga legend known for creating series such as Cyborg 009, Android Kikaider and The Road of Ryuu. He is also the creative force behind tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, so watching him create a comic for the American public is amazing. This manga retells the story of A Link to the Past in a slightly concise way. However, it is still exciting to see Ishinomori take over the Zelda franchise and it has a unique art style that looks like a charming and natural extension of the game’s sprites. In 2015, Viz Media re-released the manga, making it easy to find legible for both Zelda fans and Ishinomori fans.
There can be no discussion of the manga Legend Of Zelda without discussing the work of Akira Himekawa. Akira Himekawa is the common name of two manga creators, A. Honda and S. Nagano. The couple began working together in 1991 and have made manga adaptations for eight Zelda games. Their first manga was based on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. First released in 2000, this manga is an excellent microcosm of Himekawa’s approach to the Zelda manga. As it has a faithful rewording of the game story with some additional elements that build and enhance the basic story.
In 2001, Himekawa released the Majora’s Mask version. This manga tells the story of Majora’s Mask in a shocking but easy to follow way, which is quite an achievement due to all the time travel. The bonus story is fascinating, presenting the story of Majora and explaining how and why Majora’s Mask was created. This story actually answers some of the common questions asked by fans and fits perfectly into the game world, making it feel less like a side story and more like an essential part of the story for Zelda fans.
But Himekawa was not limited to console games. They created a manga adaptation of the Game Boy Color Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages games. Because Game Boy Color games are a little less heavy than console games, these manga add a lot of new characters. But these additions never feel out of place or forced, instead they feel like programmed content cut from the game due to lack of space in the cartridge.
At the same time, Himekawa has also adapted the often overlooked Four Swords, Phantom Hourglass and The Minish Cap, which in themselves are fantastic. In 2020, Viz Media released a Himekawa manga set that includes enhanced legendary manga versions. This collection includes bonus artwork and new color pages and is the best way to experience the epic resale of the team’s Zelda franchise and looks stunning on any shelf due to its beautifully designed chest.
But Himakawa did not stop there. The couple also produced a Skyward Sword prequel that expands on the events that set the game in motion, including an explanation of how Skyloft got to heaven. All this manga was included in the art book and encyclopedia of Hyrule Historia. Himekawa is currently working on a Twilight Princess customization.
This manga began serialization in 2016, with the first volume released in 2017. This version of the story introduces some new characters to the story, including several young knights who have been trained alongside Link. Volumes eight and nine of this series were released in Japan last year and Viz Media intends to bring them to America this year, allowing fans to be easily informed about this epic adventure.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has timeless characters and fantastic worldbuilding and because of that, it is as much fun to read as it is to play. Hopefully other Zelda games will receive manga treatment in the future. We can also hope that some of the other Japanese adaptations will be officially translated and released in America, so that fans can enjoy these varied and unique references to the familiar stories they love.
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About the Author
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Jonathon Greenall is a writer, artist and analog game designer who has been a fan of lifelong anime. I have done everything from being a tour guide, event coordinator, barista and store clerk. I have also written for various websites and published poetry. Apart from writing, I am a fan of table RPGs, LARPing and any other hobby where I get to act as an elf.
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