LINK & ZELDA
I’ll admit, I never truly got into the game series The Legend of Zelda as a kid mostly due to the fact that no one could tell me if any of the games were connected in some way aside from those rather obvious ones like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Heck, it wasn’t until the release of the Hyrule Historia that the truth of the convolution that is the timeline of events was made clear and it all, rather ironically, encircles the end result of the game Ocarina of Time.
In the actual games themselves, it is never outright confirmed that Link and Zelda end up in a relationship though they do tease this to the extremes throughout the games. In point of fact, it’s in the not-quite-canon-but-not-quite-fanon manga based on the games, which drives the romance home via… Well, Link being able to freaking talk. Seriously, how is it that he never speaks in any of his games but can’t seem to shut up in the awful animated series?
Never mind, I think I just answered my own question…
If I had to pick a specific incarnation of the two to favor above the rest, I’d have to say it is the pair from Skyward Sword not strictly for the numerous hints of attraction between them but rather… Yes, rather because of a popular romantic trope known simply as the “childhood friend.” This trope is not altogether that uncommon, particularly in Eastern media such as manga or anime, particularly those that fall under the “harem” genre wherein one boy has the possibility of ending up with any one of a horde of girls.
The problem is that nearly all of those instances have the boy falling for a girl he’s only known for a short time, oftentimes because of the age-old “sees childhood friend as sister rather not” trope that got unbelievably old in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the game Skyward Sword however, though it does play, however briefly, the trope of two guys one girl, Link and Zelda are childhood friends whose bounds could not be broken even by the likes of a Demon King. Heck, if anything, they were made even stronger because of that though, to be fair, their connection was a whole other lifetime previous.
It is specifically in the game Skyward Sword and its prequel manga where the origin of Link and Zelda’s reincarnation/romance is at long last revealed. It is a confirmed fact that Zelda is the goddess Hylia reborn throughout the ages and that Ganon(dorf) is her cruel and malicious counterpart: the Demon King Demise. Yet it is Link that comes as quite the surprise. From his first incarnation to his last, including those diverting timelines, Link is a mortal man, and one that catches the eyes of two powerful immortal forces for, ironically enough, the same reason though both feel quite differently over it.
The Hero, as I’ll refer to him for convenience’s sake, was a warrior that had previously been imprisoned under false pretenses for several years but upon his release took no revenge upon the people who slandered him and let him go because they had a need for him. Because they had a need for him, the people and the land they called home, The Hero took up sword and arms against the Demon King Demise with the blessings and gifts of the goddess Hylia to aid him. It was his prowess on the battlefield and his near godly resolve that made him the last fighter standing against Demise while Hylia sealed the Demon King away and brought The Hero’s people to the sky above as the land below had been scarred beyond sustainability by the war.
Taking the dying The Hero in her arms, Hylia vowed that his unerring spirit would live on through the ages and that when next he was reborn she would be there to greet him not as an immortal goddess but a mortal woman.
In the actual game of Skyward Sword however, Demise took this blessing and made it into a curse by guaranteeing that his own evil would be resurrected through the ages in search of dominion over the world. That his evil would hunt down she who had the blood of the goddess and he who held the spirit of the ancient hero in a never-ending cycle.
Yet… save for one dark instance, Link and Zelda come through and defeat Ganon(dorf) time and time again, and though their individual stories may not end happily, most of them seem to at least hint that their stories end at each other’s side.
That, more than any other reason, is why I like this pairing so much. Sure, it’s an endless tease of not quite confirmations and not really denials but they are all done right. Relationships between two people do not start as something so foolish as being instantaneously in love with one another, particularly those whose affections arise from a series of unbelievably stressful events. Though such is the case for most of Link and Zelda’s beginnings in their relationships, that they don’t end with anything more than a hint of romance is positively refreshing.
Besides that… I’ve always been a sucker for those tales of romance where the couple has to… not really struggle to be together but to sincerely work towards it, to put some actual effort into it rather than following the stereotypical tropes seen in most media nowadays.