In case you’re living under a rock, Nintendo released its final Tears of the Kingdom trailer on Thursday and didn’t disappoint in delivering the hype ahead of its May 12 release. But folks, I’ve gotta tell you, this TotK trailer is not beating the Princess Mononoke parallel allegations. In fact, against my better judgment, it has me begging Nintendo to do the right thing and make Zelda a playable badass like Princess Mononoke’s San.
Admittedly, I’ve got zero experience with the Legend of Zelda franchise so if you were to ask me if there were any lore implications for the new beasts twink Link is battling in the final trailer, I’d tell you to double that question and pass it on to a different games journalist. However, I am pretty knowledgeable about anime, especially Studio Ghibli’s 1997 animated film, Princess Mononoke (my favorite Ghibli flick).
Princess Mononoke is a multi-time award-winning anime film about a prince named Ashitaka who, after defeating a menacing forest spirit, must find a cure to a fatal curse the demon placed upon him. While on his journey, Ashitaka stumbles into a village’s conflict with a warrior girl named San who wants to stop the village from destroying her forest’s natural resources for the sake of industrialization. Aside from having an impactful environmental message, Princess Mononoke director Hayao Miyazaki famously prevented the former Hollywood tycoon and convicted rapist, Harvey Weinstein, from having Miramax tamper with the film by sending him a katana with “No cuts” inscribed on it. This has nothing to do with the article, but it’s metal AF.
Now I know we’ve already got playable Zelda at home in 2020’s Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity, but each TotK trailer rang my weeb alarm, in its suggestion that the Nintendo Switch’s upcoming video game might not just be lifting iconic moments from Ghibli’s famous film. Maybe Nintendo’s cool enough to fully commit to the bit by making Zelda playable this time around. Seeing as how I was pretty on the money in suggesting how isekai anime could help predict The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s plotline, allow me to theorize how anime could predict what happens with Zelda and Link in TotK.
First off, aside from Link looking really hot with his hair down and his little peacock chest exposed to the world, Link’s arm is very fucky wucky in all of the TotK trailers. As we saw in the final trailer, Ganon’s “rehydration” leads to some powerful force corrupting Hyrule’s wildlife and creeping up Link’s arm like a bunch of snakes. A similar event occurs at the start of Princess Mononoke with its protag, Ashitaka.
In Ashitaka’s case, his village was also attacked by a demon that, before being slain, cursed Ashitka’s right arm. Said curse grants Ashitaka newfound strength, but it comes at the cost of serving as a countdown timer to his untimely demise. Mayhaps the curious case of Link’s glowy red arm is the reason why he can fuse meat arrows together, among other things.
Much like how Ashitaka is tasked with finding a cure to his curse while playing peacemaker to the forest spirits and humans, Link will likely have to find a solution to his Ganon-related glowy arm corruption situation and the unrest between the Hyrulians and the mysterious Zonai tribe. While this parallel isn’t uninteresting on paper, I’m personally more intrigued by how TotK’s auspicious parallel with Princess Mononoke coincides with what Zelda is up to in the game. Much like how Link is a narrative parallel to Ashitaka, I theorize that Zelda is a direct parallel to Princess Mononoke’s fierce heroine, San.
The most obvious change to Zelda in Totk is that she’s gotten a haircut. It’s cute and I clapped when I saw it. However, the final shot of her from the trailer has the princess looking like the spitting image of San. She wears a bone necklace, face paint, and a shirt that exposes her shoulders, just like San does. While the matching character designs don’t definitively point towards us getting a playable warrior princess Zelda in TotK, her voice lines hint at her being pivotal to defeating Ganon.
At the end of the trailer, Zelda says she knows why she’s here and that she must do something only she can do. On the one hand, this line can easily be interpreted as her restoring the master sword and, potentially, using it herself in the game. On the other hand, this line, and the shot of her holding the master sword, could have been thrown in as a complete red herring to swerve fans.
Personally, I’m hoping that both myself and masochistic Zelda fans that are tired of being let down in the “playable Zelda” department will be thrown a bone by having the anime-centric parallels between TotK and Princess Mononoke manifest in a badass playable Zelda when the game comes out on Nintendo Switch. If we’re paying $70 for the damn thing, the least they can do is give us a badass Zelda we can glide with around Hyrule. Whether that actually happens or not, I think we can all agree that there’s a 99% chance of Ganon absolutely bodying Link at the start of the game. The dude’s absolutely yoked.