The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)

"Well excuuuuuuuuuse me, Princess!"--Link, The Legend of Zelda: The Animated Series

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/ZeldaDVD.thumbnail.jpg)

You either love Nintendo's Zelda games, or you do not; and you either remember fondly the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, or you do not. Just how you respond to these questions will determine whether or not The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series is for you. This is not a show which can stand on its own two legs. If you are not prepared to fill in the blanks, to overlook the flaws, and to refrain from violently rejecting some of the more unpleasant aspects of late-1980s pop culture, then the recent DVD release of the animated Legend of Zelda can only bring pain and misfortune to your refined sensibilities.

For everyone else, these discs constitute a godsend.

All 13 episodes of the 1989 The Legend of Zelda series are included in their entirety, along with five live-action episodes of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, all of which feature the ridiculous, semi-Italian duo of Mario and Luigi, who must confront such pressing issues as how to rid themselves of intrusive and annoying punk rockers in the most diplomatic fashion possible, or how to pay for an enormous pizza tab. Clearly, these are not the kinds of problems that adults must face, but they certainly constitute the kinds of problems that most kids think adults must face on a regular basis. To take these segments seriously, then, requires of the viewer that she abandon her worldly knowledge, and become once more as a simplistic child.

The Zelda cartoons themselves, though, are of a different nature. For, in spite of the fact that they are in every instance silly and absurd, they are yet overwhelmingly preoccupied with sexual tension, the accompanying problems of which are well known to adults everywhere. We are supposed to believe that Link's ultimate mission is to steal the triforce of power from his nemesis, Ganon, in order that the forces of good may rule the land. But after only a few episodes, we adults realize that Link has an ulterior motive: to quench his man-thirst in the eager stream of womanly passion.

Nearly every single episode is concerned, first and foremost, with Link's romantic advances toward Princess Zelda. But this word, "romantic" is almost certainly too benign. For it is established even in the first episode that Link is not simply interested in winning Zelda's chivalric favor, but is rather more concerned with certain base desires. It is here, in the first episode, that we see Link peering down from a tower at Zelda's exposed bosom, and commenting brazenly about how remarkable she looks from on high. We soon realize that Link is a sex-crazed maniac; for whenever Zelda is in need of aid, Link expects his heroic efforts to be repaid through sexual affection. And whenever a new, attractive, female character is introduced, Link immediately attempts to engage her in physical lasciviousness. In fact, in one episode, Ganon, recognizing Link's single-track mind, attempts to lure him into a trap using a beautiful seductress as bait. There is even a sexual tension between Link and Sprite, the tiny, winged fairy who helps Link and Zelda fight the forces of evil. In one episode, Sprite barges in on Link while he is naked in the bath, and repeatedly insists that he allow her to wash his nude body--this, in spite of the fact that she is hardly larger than Link's rigid sword hilt!

It seems that every occasion in which Link conspires to sneak a kiss from Zelda is interrupted or overruled by some more immediate concern. The Legend of Zelda: The Animated Series is therefore characterized not only by sexual desire, but by sexual frustration. We, as mature viewers, are likely to grow quite annoyed by Link's many failed attempts at earning Zelda's affections. And yet, it is this very annoyance which makes the show so compelling, since viewers never know for certain just whether Link and Zelda will finally get it on.

In this regard, the animated series can hardly be said to be unfaithful to the games on which it is based. Let's face it: the princess Zelda has always been a symbol of sexual desire, and the act of "rescuing" her is but a polite euphemism for sexual conquest. Insofar as the cartoon series recognizes these aspects of Zelda lore, it is only making explicit what had previously been confined to implicit snickering.

And yet, it cannot be denied that Zelda, as she appears in the cartoon, is a strong and admirable character on her own. She fights the minions of Ganon on many occasions, and frequently displays a brand of good, common sense that Link himself lacks. That she is ultimately relegated to an object of desire does not speak ill of her, but rather of Link, the masculine hero who seems incapable of recognizing that the merits of a woman extend well beyond her bountiful breasts.

Aside from these issues of sexuality, the cartoon series remains, even to this day, a surprisingly evocative expression of all the things that have made the games so memorable. Nearly every single monster from the original Legend of Zelda makes an appearance: from Moblins and Octoroks to Tektites and Zola; from caped, sword-and-shield-bearing monsters and crazy, multi-layered mummies, to every other creature type whose name I'm too lazy to Google, the cartoons constantly draw upon the original game for inspiration. Even many of the sound effects are ripped straight from the NES game. And I daresay that the cartoon's musical score is superior to that of any Zelda game, no matter its age.

As a rational inquirer who is interested in my own role in the world, I am forever bound to the task of describing just what factors make me what I am. I am therefore thankful for this DVD release; for I am indeed a product of my time, and, in spite of my more conscientious wishes otherwise, I cannot deny that this animated Zelda series represents an important formative component of my own personal history. For anyone who can say the same, the modest purchase is a no-brainer.

Comments

I know I said it in the other thread, but...

Link wrote:

Hey Princess, great view! Especially from up here!

Not buying unless Sonic makes a guest star appearance.

Nei wrote:

:| Not buying unless Sonic makes a guest star appearance.

Are you implying you'd like to see some sort of sexual advances on Sonic by this sex-starved Link? There's plenty of slash fiction out there to quench your thirst for man on hedgehog action.

I love that graphic you chose of Link brandishing his sword. So overtly sexual, and yet, so impotent at the same time. Awesome. Great review.

"Rescuing princesses is for pussies!" - Lewis Black

PyromanFO wrote:

Are you implying you'd like to see some sort of sexual advances on Sonic by this sex-starved Link? There's plenty of slash fiction out there to quench your thirst for man on hedgehog action.

IMAGE(http://img200.exs.cx/img200/7135/eyebrow1qb.gif) ...um, uh?...

Oh man. I never watched the Zelda cartoon as a kid, so I can't process my reactions through the filter of nostaligia. The few scenes I've seen as an adult have always made me cringe, though. Interesting take on the apparently overt sexuality of the cartoon. It's something I wouldn't have suspected, given Link's apparently asexual chivalrousness in the games.

The Fly wrote:

Oh man. I never watched the Zelda cartoon as a kid, so I can't process my reactions through the filter of nostaligia. The few scenes I've seen as an adult have always made me cringe, though. Interesting take on the apparently overt sexuality of the cartoon. It's something I wouldn't have suspected, given Link's apparently asexual chivalrousness in the games.

Yeah, that is kind of surprising, isn't it? Nintendo seems to make every effort to keep the Zelda games themselves squeaky-clean, but this animation studio really pushed beyond that threshold. There is actually occasional lip-locking in this show! And whenever Link asks (or commands) Zelda to "Gimme a kiss!," he does so in an innocent or even saccharine tone... but he always goes for the lips!

Sexual Tension?

Do you also laugh out loud every time you see the number 69 anywhere?

Reading this review made me feel like I was in 7th grade all over again. Thanks!

Hey, Lobo, look: You got Slashdotted! I thought as much.

vanillatoast wrote:

Sexual Tension?

Yeah, I really do think it's there. Kids won't pick up on it, but for adults it's pretty plain, in addition to being utterly hilarious. I can only imagine the jokes that were told among the teams of writers and animators. And even as a kid, I recall being struck by how heavily the show emphasizes the kind of playful friction that exists between girls and boys at that age. In addition to the incidents mentioned above, there are entire episodes devoted to exploring the relationship between Link and Zelda, in which all the standard emotions--rage, jealousy, resentment, and desire--come into play.

I hope not to have befuddled you with the maturity of my response.

Lobo wrote:

And even as a kid, I recall being struck by how heavily the show emphasizes the kind of playful friction that exists between girls and boys at that age. In addition to the incidents mentioned above, there are entire episodes devoted to exploring the relationship between Link and Zelda, in which all the standard emotions--rage, jealousy, resentment, and desire--come into play.

I hope not to have befuddled you with the maturity of my response. ;-)

Um, no. I'm with you on all of the above (BTW, I just bought the set this weekend). But I have a feeling that for most people, asking for a kiss does not equal a request for sexual favors. You seem to think adults are going to read it that way while watching the cartoon; I would argue that only those with a juvenile sense of humor would.

Certainly you are free to read whatever you want into the cartoon. But think of the people who are going to see this article now, and you make it seem like it's a cartoon made for kids but created by obvious perverts. I think it's a great cartoon (not in an artistic, or even intelligent sense, of course) for kids, but no one is going to think so after reading this review.

Actually, having watched the entire series fairly recently, I would indeed argue that the creators of this show are obvious perverts

I mean, I could in fact quote you lines which would demonstrate this point, as I did in my initial response. No one is saying this is bad, mind you, but I feel it is very, very obvious.

I think it's a pretty lousy cartoon for anyone (kids or adults) and have since I saw it as a kid.

Lobo's analysis is spot-on, though, and I don't think I picked up on that watching the show on TV. When you're eleven or so, and obsessed with homonal desires and response, it's a little hard to discern that that kind of behavior may be out of place in certain circumstances. LIke when you're waving a sword around and saving the universe.

As to the issue of asking for a kiss, etc. representing or not representing sexual tension ... well, I guess there is some grey area there, maybe, if you look hard enough for it, but to be fair I'm not sure how many people (kids or adults) go around kissing people in whom they are not at least a little bit intrested, sexually.

I think what we have here is an attempted slam followed by an attempted justification. Better to just take your lump and carry on. This is an unusual place, and we all pretty much accept that there's an adjustment period. No hard feelings.

vanillatoast wrote:

But I have a feeling that for most people, asking for a kiss does not equal a request for sexual favors.

Perhaps not, but that's not all that goes on in the show. For one, Link asks for kisses incessantly, sometimes several times during the same episode. For another, he often demands kisses explicitly in return for helping Zelda out of a tough spot. This is not merely a once-in-a-while phenomenon, but is in fact one of the cornerstones of the show. Nor is it even equivalent to the kinds of cartoon kisses we see at the ends of animated Disney films; Link's efforts are highly protracted, premeditated, and very specific in their intent. Combine these with the many trysts and quarrels, love interests and coy glances--not to mention the more blatant things like seductresses and the spying on exposed bosoms--and it seems pretty clear that the show can be enjoyed on multiple levels, and not necessarily by resorting to a seventh-grade mindset.

Think about it: nearly every episode (and quite possibly all of them, I'm not sure) includes at least one incident in which Link and Zelda are about to finally kiss... but then don't, because an enemy suddenly attacks, or because Link swallows a fly and grosses Zelda out, or some other contrived event. The cartoons deliberately pluck at the viewers' emotions, raising them just to the point of elation, before suddenly letting them down. If that's not sexual tension, I don't know what is. We see this same technique at work in everything from the most sublime Latin elegies, to the most trashy teen dramas of our day.

I remember watching the show, but I don't remember a single thing about it. I'll have to go pick the set up and snicker uncontrollably. Good times.

Oh, and vanillatoast? You can't kill the Lobo. Y'know, he ain't gonna die.

I'm still waiting for them to release the Super Mario Bros. Super Show itself on DVD. And not those stupid ones that only have selected episodes, I mean the whole shebang. I loved that show when I was a kid, even the live-action parts with Captain Lou Albano as Mario.

Really? Lou always gave me the creeps. Big time.

Best not to mess with Lobo, as he is in possession of a mechanical monocle that allows him to see logic. That said, I feel it necessary to mess with Lobo. Who else would turn loose the finer points of introspection upon the childhood origins of his own deviancy and lay the results at our feet to scrutinize? A braver man than I, that's who.

Seriously, though, Link can't jump. What up with that? I think that's the reason I never did take to the Zelda, game and cartoon. I choose not to watch the Mario cartoons lest I realize that my own aberrant behavior was a result of Lou Albano.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

Who else would turn loose the finer points of introspection upon the childhood origins of his own deviancy and lay the results at our feet to scrutinize?

I didn't really go into this in the review, except for a few hints in the last paragraph, so I'm surprised you caught it. But that's one of the reasons why I find this show so interesting: it explains certain things about me. Perhaps I should say no more.

I think you just burrowed into my head. I've done that in response to some of Fletcher's articles. Brains is warm.

Welcome Perverts!

Lobo wrote:

It is here, in the first episode, that we see Link peering down from a tower at Zelda's exposed bosom, and commenting brazenly about how remarkable she looks from on high.

Need screen caps!

I also owe much of my childhood development to this cartoon series. The fact that it was on at the same time as my piano lessons remains the only real reason why, to this day, I have never mastered the instrument.

Swing...your...arms...From side-to-side...
Come On...it's time...to do...the Mhar-reee-oooh.