Comic Scope: The Legend of Zelda Viz Legendary Editions

We examine Viz Media’s deluxe printings of its Zelda manga!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 08/09/2017 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Viz Media has been a staple of the manga publishing scene in the United States for decades. The publisher is home to some of the most beloved manga of all-time. Titles like Fullmetal Alchemist, My Hero Academia, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball, and more have all been published under the company’s supervision. It’s only fitting, then, that Viz would be in charge of bringing The Legend of Zelda manga to readers. The publisher originally began printing the series here in the US back in 2008, but in recent months Viz has gone back to the drawing board with its new Legendary Editions of the books.

Viz’s Legendary Edition line puts together two volumes of The Legend of Zelda at a time, printed at a larger size with a new cover design. These Legendary Editions borrow heavily from the look of publisher Dark Horse’s Hyrule Historia and Art and Artifacts books, which have a largely minimalist aesthetic. It was a wise move on Viz’s part to mimic that style, as these new iterations of the Zelda manga are far more sophisticated in appearance when compared to the original volumes of the series.

While the page count is increased in these Legendary Editions compared to the single volumes of yore, there’s an additional caveat in the form of colored pages that appear at the front of each book. There aren’t a ton of them, but what’s there are gorgeous and further add to the premium feel that these volumes have.

It’s unfortunate, however, that Viz didn’t elect to include these colored pages at the beginning of each story within a given Legendary Edition volume. At $17.99 a pop, the books are not the cheapest investment to make, and considering that copies of Dragon Ball Full Color boast entire volumes of colored pages for only $2 more, it’s an egregious oversight.

The question that many fans might have are twofold: do the stories hold up all these years later and is it worth it to invest in purchasing them again if you already bought the original editions? My answer is “yes” to the former, “maybe” to the latter. From a storytelling standpoint, there’s no denying that the Zelda manga skews towards a younger audience. The series is listed as being under Viz’s kids imprint, after all, but I think that’s an oversimplification.

Essentially, creators Arikawa Himekawa (the joint publishing name of two artists who have yet to reveal their identity!) have taken the core stories out of many of the mainline Legend of Zelda games and fleshed them out with additional scenes and sometimes even additional characters. The style of each story is generally reflective of the tone of the game upon which they’re based. Thus, the “toon” Zelda games tend to be more like a cartoon show, while the more realistic installments have a bit more edge.

Generally speaking, though, none of these manga are particularly challenging or innovative. People who love The Legend of Zelda or are fans of straightforward, simple adventure comics will get the most mileage from these stories. The Legendary Edition line is by far the best way to experience this series, at the very least. They look great on a shelf and their larger size makes them much easier to read. Think of these Legendary Editions as luxury manga and be aware of the boundaries that the stories operate within, and you may be pleasantly surprised by these collections of Arikawa’s work.

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