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Some of the insane characters in The Legend of Zelda series

In this article I examine some of insane habitants of the Zelda Universe. How dark is the Legend of Zelda series...

Joshua Temblett, Blogger

November 1, 2011

7 Min Read

[In celebration of the soon to be released The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, this article is the first in a variety of articles examining the popular Legend of Zelda series.  Originally published on Candlelight-Studios.com]

The Legend of Zelda series has been around since 1985 and has provided fans with a plethora of excellent video games since its inception.  Each game has had a host of memorable characters, personalised and characterised to perfection.  What’s interesting is that some of the most remembered characters of the series are not the ones who are overly happy, sad, or angry but rather those who are insane, crazy and slightly depressing.  It’s quite odd that a fairly family friendly game would have these dark and complex characters; however the fact these games can fit them into the world is indeed a testament to their creation.

The most memorable character by far is Guru-Guru.  Does the name ring a bell?  It might not, allow me to explain.  In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, there is a mountainous village known as Kakariko Village.  At the back of this village there is a windmill.  Inside, there is a man playing a musical instrument which resembles a combination of a grinder organ and a phonograph.  When you visit him as a child, you find that he his is trying to come up with a song that is inspired by the windmill.  Later on in the game you can transform into adult Link and visit him again where you’ll find him enraged and on the brink of insanity as the windmill is spinning dangerous fast.  Guru-Guru is playing a song continuously, the “Song of Storms”[i], and in an attempt to rescue his sanity, teaches you the song.  As it turns out, seven years prior a young boy in green clothes had played him a song that made the windmill spin out of control.  That boy is you, as later on in the game you’ll have to travel back in time, becoming young Link, and play the song to him, driving him crazy.

The Guru-Guru who players meet as adult Link has red eyes that are without pupils.  He also plays his grinder organ constantly, whether it’s day or night.   The song that you play to him, the Song of Storms, is within itself insane inducing as it has an incredibly catchy tune.  It’s easy to understand how such a song could drive a man to insanity.

Guru-Guru’s insane nature is built upon in the sequel to Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s MaskMajora’s Mask is set in a semi-parallel world to Ocarina of Time, featuring many of the same characters found in Hyrule.  Guru-Guru is still a musician in this parallel world, and during the game is employed by a musical company, the Gorman Troupe.  When you talk to him at night, he’ll retell a story from his youth.

It turns out that Guru-Guru used to be a member of an animal troupe; however he disliked the fact that the animal’s leader was a dog.  Despite his hatred for the animal, he tells you of how much he admired the dog’s leadership skills.  The dog had a special mask which enabled him to make the other animals follow his orders.  Guru-Guru, out of jealously, stole this mask from the dog. 

Whilst the Guru-Guru from Marjora’s Mask seems to be calmer and more relaxed than the Ocarina of Time counterpart, the fact that a man could be a part of an animal troupe, and perhaps even believe that he could communicate with the animals and get along with them, leaves many a questioned to be asked.  Even in a world with magic.

Tingle is another character who players have a fond spot for.  Tingle is a thirty-five year old man who dreams of becoming a “forest fairy”.  The “forest fairy” that he is referring to is the Kokiri race, small ageless children each of which have a fairy who is their friend, parent and teacher.  Tingle dreams of becoming such a being, even though it is obvious that he will never be so.  This delusional character makes an appearance in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where he is more characterized and appears to be selfish and slightly evil as he forces people to work for him on his island.

His insanity is hinted at in multiply games as he refuses to listen to several characters, including his father in Majora’s Mask, as they explain to him that he is not a Kokiri.  He even makes his own flying device, a small balloon which allows him to fly.  Even the clothes he wears, a green costume similar to Link’s and the Kokiri, imply a man of delusion and desperation.  The character represents a fear of growing up, a theme found in Peter Pan, and accepting responsibility.  Ironically, this collides with Link in the Ocarina of Time, as our hero is forced to lose his childhood to become an adult and deal with all of the perils and harshness of the real world.

One of the most insane characters from The Legend of Zelda series is Majora from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.  Majora’s mask is an item which contains a mysterious being, Majora.  Majora is portrayed as a highly disturbed, insane and childish individual.  The Skull Kid, a lonely child, somehow manages to get a hold of the mask and becomes a puppet to it.  The enslaved Skull Kid uses the power inside the mask to do evil to the inhabitants of Termina.  He turns an engaged adult, Kafei, into a boy, transforms Link into a tree-like Deku scrub and even takes control of the moon, hoping to collide it with the land.

He does not appear to have a motive other than wanting to inflict as much damage as possible onto the citizens of Termina.  Before Link’s final battle with Majora, after he has escaped to the moon, he takes on the form of a child.  This child is surrounded by other children, who refuse to play with him.  It is believed that in his youth Majora belonged to an ancient civilisation and that one of festivals involved wearing a mask for a whole day.  This mask had to represent something physical, for example a boar or a bird.  Majora didn’t have such a mask, so instead he created his own with ancient magic.  This mask would harness the emotions of the wearer.  Majora hoped that it would be filled with happiness from the festival however as his mask looked like nothing physical, the other children bullied him and thus Majora spent the whole day being alone and taunted, with his mask absorbing his emotions of anger, spite and hatred. 

The mask became powerful and evil, until it was weakened by a being known as the Fierce Deity.  The Fierce Deity realised that the mask could not be destroyed and sealed it away.  He also contained his own soul and power within a mask so that if Majora ever returned, he could be destroyed for good. 

Ultimately the tale is a reminder that we should be nice and respectful to others and how one can easily negatively impact another.  Before the last battle, Majora hands you the Fierce Deity mask saying "good guys against bad guys", and that if Link would wear the mask he would be the “ultimate bad guy”.  The fact that Majora views himself as a good guy despite his evil deeds shows how delusional he is.  It’s also interesting that he gives Link a power, the Fierce Deity mask, which is obviously above his own, essentially giving himself a death sentence.

What’s truly fascinating about these insane, and twisted characters, is that their stories and craziness is never truly explored throughout the game.  Instead information about the characters is given to the player in small chunks, begging to be pieced together and discovered. 

It is this which makes The Legend of Zelda series something to be admired.  A series of games whose core focus is on gameplay and yet manage to captivate and control its audience with a story which appears simplistic, yet has a significantly deeper meaning.  But enough of that for now, as this is something that I will be exploring in the next few articles in this series.  For the time being, I think I’m going to listen to the “Song of Storms” again.

-Joshua Temblett

[i] Listen to “Song of Storms” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43IPAGw01IY


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