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Manga / The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (2004)

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Kanzenban edition cover featuring both volumes.

Green: W-what the...?!
Blue: So the legend...
Red: "He who draws the sword will split into four..."
Vio: ...It's true!

The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords is a manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventuresnote  and the fifth entry of The Legend of Zelda (Akira Himekawa).

Link is a promising young swordsman in the Kingdom of Hyrule, but refuses to work with older knights and fights by himself. When Princess Zelda is kidnapped by the demon Vaati and an evil version of himself, Link is forced to take the magical Four Sword and is split into four identical heroes. The dysfunctional groupmates compete against each other as well as their enemies as they work to save Zelda.

In 2017, the manga was rereleased in English as the Legendary Edition, featuring the entire manga, a new cover, and interviews.

This manga contains examples of:

  • Aesop Amnesia: The four Links have to work together to defeat Vaati’s golem form, but immediately afterwards they fall back into infighting and have to relearn how to work as a team several times.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, there’s nothing to suggest Link isn’t his usual Ideal Hero self. Here, he’s much more arrogant and standoffish, and each copy of him sans Red follows suit in some way.
  • Adaptation Expansion: We get separated personalities for the four Links, a characterization for Shadow Link, and some insight on everything that was going on, as well as proof that Zelda was mentally strong.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: While Ganondorf still went to the Pyramid, and while he still carries a giant trident as Ganon, the manga doesn't have the game's exposition that the trident itself allowed him to become a demon. Readers could make the reasonable but inaccurate assumption that what Ganondorf found in the Pyramid was the Dark Mirror.
  • All There in the Manual: Why don't all four Link's colors match with the personalities associated with those colors? (Blue is normally a calm color, but Blue Link is anything but.) If you had read the author's note in the second volume Himekawa's Ocarina of Time manga (published 6 years before), you would know that the authors saw the computer-controlled Links of each color in Super Smash Bros. as behaving the way the same color Link does in their Four Swords manga.
    Note: Because of Ocarina, I wanted to have control of Link, so I bought Smash Bros. If you make all four characters Link and have a battle, it may just be my imagination, but Blue Link appears to be the most cruel, ruthless, and brutal. The next strongest one is the calm Purple Link. Next is the passionate Red Link. Hang in there, Green Link!
    • All in the Game: However, though it advertises itself as a manga for the remake, the plot point with the Maidens is only ever explored twice; we see them captured, they free two of them, and that's it. If it weren't for the game, no one would really know their use.
  • Alternative-Self Name-Change: Each of the Links are given names based on their tunics. They go by Green, Red, Blue, and Vio (short for Violet).
  • Animated Armor: After sending the Hylian soldiers to the Dark World, Shadow Link uses their armor to attack the Links.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Vio is tied up with two of the Four Swords to be dropped into lava after his Fake Defector plan is exposed, the other Links having caught on to the plan stage a rescue. Hilariously, the rescue itself almost goes bad because the Links all landed on the unstable ground Vio is tied to and dislodge it to fall into the lava below with them still on it, only to be saved by Red's new Ice Rod.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Mildly. Blood appears in the manga but the original game features Bloodless Carnage.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Valensuela gets brainwashed into becoming the Blue Knight. Later, Link's Father is brainwashed into becoming the Green Knight via a helmet by Vaati disguising himself as Zelda.
  • Broken Aesop: Played for Laughs. Link learns the value of teamwork over the course of the story, but only amongst his doppelgängers. His final panel shows him leaving the Hylian knights in the dust to fight without them.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Link's father. This is the only manga where Link's father is still alive, though it's subverted with the reveal that he's actually the Green Royal Knight miniboss from the game.
    • Played more straight with Artura, the leader of Hyrule's soldiers who is kidnapped by Vaati and gets his armor animated into a Chief Soldier after the Wind Mage himself is freed from the Four Sword's seal.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Shadow Link has a shapeshifting ability that allows him to pretend to be Link. He uses it again near the end of the story to impersonate Vio.
  • Chick Magnet: Link gets attention from Princess Zelda, the village girl Erune, and a Hylian woman he saves while fighting off pirates.
  • Child Soldiers: Link is of the "precocious type", being a knight at his very young age.
  • Clone Angst: Brought up occasionally in the beginning, while the four Links are still getting used to working as a team. Blue takes the thought of being a copy the worst out of the four Links, insisting that he’s the only Link and that he doesn’t need the others.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Done with a twist, given that the illustrations are all black and white; the colored Links are identified by their color in name only and address each other as Green, Red, Blue, and Vio (short for Violet — the purple one). Also, a different texture is used for each Link's tunic. (For more on how to tell them apart, see Twin Desynch below.) In addition, there are differences in their eyes.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: As himself, Link is a One-Man Army. But thanks to his ego and standoffishness, the clones of him created by the Four Sword are very dysfunctional and have to learn to work together.
  • Creepy Doll: After being possessed, Erune's doll begins speaking and intimidates the girl before sending her to the Dark World.
  • Dark World: "The Dark World" is a twisted dimension that Shadow Link can teleport things and people to and from.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: All four Links get distinct personalities.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After regenerating from the Dark Mirror, the previously unstoppable Shadow Link is barely able to breathe and can't walk under his own power. When he sees Zelda staring at him, he screams at her that he won't accept her pity.
  • Evil Twin:
    • Shadow Link, as in the game. Subverted when he pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Downplayed with Blue and Vio, who are functionally Jerkass Twins. Although on the side of good, they are pettier and smugger than either the original green Link or Red, and both need a bite of humble pie before they're truly on the level.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: The bandit Jago is shocked that the “Left-Handed Hero” who defeated him and his men is a young teenager.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The four Links don’t notice that their boat is going downstream until Vio points out that their destination, Death Mountain, is actually shrinking in the distance.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
    • Cynic —> Green Link
    • Realist —> Blue Link
    • Optimist —> Red Link
    • Apathetic —> Purple Link (Vio)
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine —> Red Link; he's the compassionate, optimistic and childish Link who is usually meddling with Blue in terms of comic relief. He's shown to be very cheerful, excitable and highly emotional. Although he can be somewhat as stubborn as the other three, he's clearly the nicest out of the four Links and usually likes to look on the bright side of things. He hates seeing the other Links fight each other and will usually speak out and try to act as the mediator though he ends up dealing with Blue, who tends to bully him around. One clear trait of his is that he's very dependent on the other three and doesn't do too well by himself. He can easily end up feeling depressed and unsure of himself when he’s all alone. He's a warm and considerate person who's the perfect foil for Blue, who rejects the others with his harsh personality.
    • Choleric —> Blue Link; he's the arrogant, brash and self-centered Link. Compared to the other Links, he's very short-tempered, impatient and argumentative. He and Red are usually the comic relief of the group in which he's antagonistic towards Red's happy-go-lucky personality and sometimes resorts to hitting him. He can be terribly single-minded and comes off as being insecure. He believes himself to be the original Link (despite not wearing green) and out of jealousy, questions Green's competency as a hero, gets easily flustered by Vio's condescending attitude, and constantly bullies Red. He further thinks he can do well by himself instead of cooperating with the others. Despite his rude behavior, he's deep down a loyal individual who deeply cares about the other three and is just as determined as Green in saving Zelda, along with the kingdom of Hyrule.
    • Melancholic —> Purple Link (Vio); he's the analytical, calm and thoughtful Link who plays a big role in the story because of the usage of his intellect to trick Shadow Link, learn about his weaknesses along with the grand scheme of everything, and try to put a stop to him by destroying the Mirror Of Darkness. While he can be very helpful and insightful, he can also be a tad bit condescending and arrogant. He is judgmental towards the other Links and enjoys keeping to himself instead of having to deal with constant fighting (mostly between Green and Blue). He's even manipulative when it comes to his interactions with Shadow Link and shown to be a bit of a bookworm.
    • Phlegmatic —> Green Link; according to Vio, Green is very focused, motivated and almost equally as stubborn as Blue (albeit, a bit nicer than him). His personality is supposed to be similar to the original Link's. He's courageous and determined, but can be prone to acting rash. He can be anxious and headstrong while Blue can be extremely arrogant and short-tempered which leads to arguments between the two. He nonetheless attains the role of leader (since he's wearing green) throughout the adventure and is very driven in rescuing Zelda from the clutches of evil.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Link realizes that by pulling the Four Sword, he will release Vaati from his seal. But without the sword, he reasons, he will not be able to save Princess Zelda.
  • Hammer Hilt: Vio wins his fight with Green by switching his forward grip to reverse and striking with the pommel. It's also handy for making it look like he fatally stabbed Green to outsider perspective.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Just like in Four Swords Adventures, Ganon is the true villain of the manga, though at least here there's explicit exposition that someone else is moving behind the scenes of Shadow Link and Vaati such as from Aruta before Shadow Link straight-up tells Vio about Ganon and his influence on the plot.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Link taking the Four Sword splitting him into four Links with their own personalities, and each of them having just as much of an ego as him.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: In the first chapter, the bandit Jago tries to kidnap a woman before being stopped by Link.
  • I'll Kill You!: Shadow Link screams "I'll kill...every last one of you!" after Vio betrays him and is rescued by the other Links.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: One of the sketches gives away that Tetra from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is Princess Zelda.
  • Literal Split Personality: Each Link supposedly represents a facet of Link's personality. In Vio's words, Green is focused and motivated, Blue is hotheaded and aggressive, Red is innocent and optimistic, and Vio is calm and collected.
  • Logical Weakness: Link is a very self-driven and arrogant loner. While he is able to use the Four Sword to clone himself, it is very uphill work to make the copies work together.
  • Market-Based Title: This manga is an adaptation of Four Swords Adventures, but the Viz localization uses the title Four Swords which actually refers to a different game. In Japan, the title is Four Swords Plus which actually refers to the correct game.
  • Medium Awareness: Just one moment, after Red thaws out Blue with the Fire Rod - and scorches his rear:
    Fairy: You did that on purpose! You're as mean as Blue!
    Red: The readers expect me to get even... a little!
  • Missing Mom: Link's mother is never mentioned.
  • Neat Freak: Blue is revealed to be one in an omake. He can't sleep at night unless he knows his clothes are neatly folded before he goes to bed.
  • Ocular Gushers: After defrosting Blue, Red sheds so many tears that Blue uses an umbrella to shield himself.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Subverted, at least in part with Link. We never see his mother but we do see his father, who is one of the plot important knights of Hyrule!
    • Zelda's parents are presumed dead.
  • Punny Name: While Link's name is not meant to be a pun, it hasn't stopped the English translators of Four Swords from having some fun with it. Some examples:
    Shadow Link: There's a new Link in this chain!
    Vio (about to duel Green): Green is about to learn who the weak Link is.
  • Puppy Love:
    • Red crushes on a girl named Erune.
    • Link has some Ship Tease with Zelda..
  • Purple Is Powerful: Vio wears a purple outfit, is the smartest of the four, and is the only Link to decisively beat another Link in a fight. Unfortunately, as he himself admits after the fact, he let that competence get to his head and it would have left him a dead man at Shadow's hands once his Fake Defector plan was exposed were it not for the other Links' Big Damn Heroes.
  • Rescue Romance: A Hylian girl falls for Link when he saves her from Jago's bandits, and cheers him on in the final panel. Link himself doesn't seem to notice her, however.
  • Screw Yourself: Played for Laughs when Red starts acting like he has a crush on Blue after he rescues him
  • Ship Tease: The re-fused Link walks away from the Four Sword hand in hand with Zelda. It's also very subtly implied that Zelda was a mitigating factor in Shadow's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Link resembles a younger version of his father with a lighter shade of hair.
  • Sword Fight: Green and Vio have a match while Vio is pretending to betray the group. While Green is able to get the upper hand at first, Vio manages to overpower him with a series of blows before non-lethally taking him out with a pommel strike.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: The original Link is known as the Left-Handed Hero.
  • Twin Desynch:
    • Although he is meant to be a reflection/shadow of Link, Shadow looks very different from Link.
    • A non-evil-twin version of this is employed when Link later splits into four. You can tell each one apart by looking at their eyes, tunics and sleeves (a bit later), which are done differently:
      • Green has a light gray tunic with black sleeves, his eyes have two shiny spots, and he has prominent dark pupils and smaller white (or light grey) irises.
      • Red has a dark gray tunic with white sleeves, his eyes have one shiny spot (when he's not crying...), and his eyes are dark all over (like a puppy).
      • Blue has a gradient tunic with grey sleeves, two shiny spots in his eyes, and black pupils, smaller than Red's and Green's, with more of his white iris showing.
      • Vio has a dotted tunic (resembling TV static) with white sleeves, and depending on the scene, either one very small shiny spot in his eyes or none at all. In addition, his pupils are the smallest and sometimes even slit-like, and his white iris dominates the majority of his eyes.
  • Uncertain Doom: While Shadow Link dies near the end of the manga, one of the last panels shows Link’s shadow giving a thumbs up. It’s left unclear whether Shadow Link was revived somehow or if it is a new one.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Shadow gets this when Green, Blue, and Red rescue Vio and all four defeat his Hinox henchmen. His Villainous Breakdown has him fly into a rage, hit the four Links with a This Is Unforgivable! and make one last lash at them — only to be defeated by the combined power of their Four Swords. He later returns, reformed after his Villainous Breakdown, to make a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the Dark Mirror and therefore help the other four Links defeat Vaati.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: The Links get weapons tailored to their characters.
    • Green is a Master Swordsman and continues to wield his sword as the leader of the four. Even when he gets a boomerang, he uses it as a complement to his blade.
    • The hot-blooded, violent Blue wields a hammer.
    • Red is childish and immature, but able to keep up with the other three. He transitions from a slingshot to a magic wand.
    • The cool and calculating Vio is an expert with the bow.
  • Years Too Early: Stone Arrghus makes this taunt, claiming that the Links are fighting him ten years too early to be a challenge.
  • Yellow/Purple Contrast:
    • Each of the four Links has blonde hair, while their counterpart Shadow Link has purple hair. The Links are heroic, if dysfunctional, while Shadow is a petty and destructive villain until Princess Zelda, who is also blonde, convinces him that Dark Is Not Evil.
    • Vio (the purple Link) has a purple tunic to contrast his hair, showing that he is simultaneously the most effective Link (The Smart Guy and the team's best swordsman) as well as The Millstone ( plots a Fake Defector plan without telling anyone else, fails to destroy the Dark Mirror, etc.).

Alternative Title(s): The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords, The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords Adventures