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July 21, 2017

Bento Bako Weekly: Legend of Zelda: Four Swords – Legendary Edition

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Written by: Eric
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Legend of Zelda: Four Swords – Legendary Edition
Publisher: Viz Media
Writer & Artist: Akira Himekawa

A very long time ago, a hero used a magical weapon known as The Four Sword to defend Hyrule against the evil wizard Vaati, ultimately sealing him away forever.  Now, the Four Sword stands as the seal to Vaati’s prison allowing the land and it’s people to flourish.  In present Hyrule, a young Hylean Knight named Link takes joy in rescuing damsels and battling thieves.  He believes that he doesn’t need anyone’s help and uses his friendship with the Princess Zelda to avoid authority and his duty to work with the Hylean Knights to protect the kingdom.  When a shadowy figure resembling Link kidnaps Princess Zelda and her maidens, Link pulls the Four Sword from it’s pedestal in an attempt to save her by himself, ultimately releasing Vaati and placing the entirety of Hyrule in danger in the process.

Legend of Zelda: Four Swords is the first book in the Legendary collection of which I have no prior history.  Having never played the game my idea of who Link is as a character and what he would do as a hero on a constant quest against evil gets turned on it’s head here.

Himekawa establishes early on that Link isn’t much of a team player. In essence, Link himself is both the protagonist and the antagonist of Four Swords as it is Link’s own personality flaws that lead directly to the rise of evil in the land of Hyrule this time around. The moment he removes the Four Sword from the pedestal, it’s magic splits him into four physical manifestations of his own personality. Here, Link is finally given a taste of his own arrogance as he has to learn to work with himself to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule.  Despite the breakneck pacing typical of the Zelda manga, Himekawa still manages to give each Link their moment in the spotlight. This includes antagonist Shadow Link. Reader’s get ample time to get to know them and form an attachment.

In my opinion this is probably some of the best storytelling I’ve seen in a Zelda manga. While there is still the overarching good v evil storyline, it’s the character building within the team of Links that really stands out as the focus of the story.  Shadow Link, is a great antagonist and carries the story along nicely. He’s more than a match for the four Links and consistently pushes them and challenges their progress in unique ways. The downside is that Shadow Link is such a strongly written antagonist that he makes the battle against Vaati seem anticlimactic. Even Ganon, the series main villain, only shows up for a few pages of this story but quite honestly isn’t needed.  This may be a let down for the more hardcore Zelda fans out there who expect that grand battle at the end. Four Swords also suffers a little for being rendered in black in white as it may be difficult to tell each Link apart visually.  Thankfully, the dialogue and actions of each Link help to alleviate that problem.

I’d definitely recommend Four Swords to a reader of any age. While it will be an enjoyable read for adults, Four Swords is clearly aimed at the younger crowd.  It’s beautifully drawn in a more “cutesy” style than some of the other Zelda manga and spends nearly the entirety of the story teaching life lessons through Link’s trials that children everywhere can adopt.  It’s strong messages of teamwork, humility and empathy are reminiscent of the old Berenstain Bears books where by the end the main characters have grown to be just a little more mature than they were when it started.

Eric Snell
esnell@comicattack.net

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