Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past"

VIZ MEDIA/Perfect Square – @VIZMedia

CARTOONIST: Shotaro Ishinomori
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7541-4; paperback (May 2015)
192pp, Color, $19.99 U.S., $22.99 CAN, £13.99 U.K.

The manga-ka (artist-creator), the late Shotaro Ishinomori (1938-1998), was an influential figure in manga and anime and in the live-action film and television genre known as “tokusatsu.”  Ishinomori is the creator of such series as Cyborg 009 (1964) and Kamen Rider (a manga and tokusatsu).  VIZ Media recently brought a “lost” work of Ishinomori back into print.

The Legend of Zelda is a high-fantasy themed action-adventure video game series published by Nintendo.  Since 1986, Nintendo has published over 20 Zelda games and spin-offs.  For two decades, Nintendo has also officially endorsed and commissioned manga adaptations of The Legend of Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, loosely based on a 1991 game of the same title, was published in 1992.  Written and drawn by Shotaro Ishinomori, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was a twelve-part series originally published in the magazine, Nintendo Power, from Volume 32 (January 1992) to Volume 43 (December 1992).

VIZ Media brought the long out-of-print The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past back to readers through its “Perfect Square” imprint.  VIZ published the new The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past as an 8” x 11.75” full-color, paperback, graphic novel.  This special, single-volume, print edition, which is exclusive to VIZ Media, carries an SRP of $19.99 U.S. and $22.99 CAN.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is set in the kingdom of Hyrule and focuses on a young man named Link.  One night, he receives a telepathic summons from Princess Zelda, who is being held prisoner by Agahnim, an evil wizard.  Agahnim wants to use the life force of seven maidens to open the Golden Seal to the Dark World, which would allow a great evil to come into the world of light, of which Hyrule is a part.

Rescuing Zelda and keeping her safe turns out to be quite a task.  Link goes on a quest to retrieve the “Three Symbols of Virtue,” a trio of pendants that will make it easier for Link to find and to wield the “Master Sword.”  Is Link really the legendary hero who appears once every hundred years to use the Master Sword in order to save Hyrule?  A difficult journey and quest will answer that question.

I am not sure if I ever realized that there were comics and manga based on The Legend of Zelda, although I was aware of the 1989 American animated television miniseries.  VIZ Media sent me copy-for-review of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and as soon as I flipped through it, I was impressed with this graphic novel.  The colors are dazzling and really show well on the high-quality coated paper stock upon which this book is printed.

As for the story, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an especially fun read.  What “little kid” is left in me loved it.  In fact, I think that this is a perfect graphic novel for elementary school age readers.  It is a simple quest story that jumps around a lot – sometimes in a manner that makes for awkward transitions within an scene and from one scene to the next.  However, the inventive supporting characters and imaginative locales, as depicted by Shotaro Ishinomori, are captivating.

I am surprised that I find myself thinking that VIZ Media's publication of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a good comics reclamation project.  I think some American manga fans will also be glad for the return of this lost comics video game adaptation.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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