This week I’m reviewing a manga spin-off of the popular Legend of Zelda game, Wind Waker. This manga is pretty special in a few ways, but let’s get some basic information out of the way. It’s done by OYSTER, who I’ve never heard of (clicking through the other works he’s done though… I’m kind of glad I haven’t). It was released in 2002, and only one volume, and complete. That’s kind of interesting, considering Wind Waker was released in Japan in December of 2002, but I guess sometimes these manga can precede things. Anyway, one important fact about this manga is that it’s a 4koma. That means that the story is told in a series of 4 panel strips. That doesn’t mean that there ISN’T a significant plot (it loosely follows Windwaker’s plot), but its main focus, like most 4koma, is humor. It’s primarily a comedy piece. And boy, does it do it well!
So let’s get under way here. Starting with the plot. Well, like I said earlier. It loosely follows Windwaker’s plot. But the plot and the way it moves isn’t very important here. More than that, the manga uses the plot as a way to create new funny situations. For example, when the plot has Link meet The King of Red Lions, there’s several pages of jokes about that. That’s basically as far as this manga goes in terms of plot. It never takes the forefront and becomes something important. More than that, the plot isn’t explained incredibly well, so this is definitely more for people that have already played The Windwaker and are looking for a neat little spin-off series.
The characters are great. Since there isn’t too much characterization in the actual games (The Legend of Zelda series isn’t particularly known for gripping, deep, developed characters, even if those characters are very recognizable) this manga takes it a little farther to give the characters some endearing personalities. For example, Link doesn’t talk in this manga at all. Which keeps in line with his regular Legend of Zelda persona. However, he’s also portrayed as kind of a child in this manga. He’s kind of easily deceived and acts on instinct a lot of the time. In such small ways the manga breathes a lot of life and interesting characterizations into characters that may not have had that luxury before. Of course, this kind of thing is necessary for a manga like this. Without giving these characters something more to their personalities, the well of possible jokes would dry up fast.
I love the art of this manga. I think it does a decent job of portraying the unique, cartoon-y style of Windwaker. It’s kind of weird to say, but their huge heads and big faces lead to some really expressive faces, and that’s really funny. Obviously there’s not too much work insofar as character design or background design (well, maybe a bit on the backgrounds) as they’ve all been established in-game already. Still, the artist’s portrayal of Link leads to some hilarious faces, and I think the art plays a huge part in making it as funny as it is.
The presentation is the biggest reason this manga works as well as it does. The art and dialogue are brought together in a wonderful mix to keep the situations fresh and very funny. A lot of the humor is reflecting on some of the odd choices in the game, which I think lends itself well to jokes. And really, it’s such an easy topic to do jokes about. If you consider a lot of games, in some slightly more realistic scenarios, don’t they come off as odd? For example, if you want to raise your walking distance counter in some game, and you just run around in circles for hours, what must the townsfolk think? Simple things like that are funny to make general commentary about, and it’s something gamers may think about as they play the game but there’s not really an outlet for that kind of stuff. For that reason I think Windwaker – Link’s Logbook so successfully makes a hilarious spin-off of a Legend of Zelda classic.